Wednesday, October 3, 2024

Words are falling down like endless rain

Across the Universe seems to be getting a love it or hate it kind of reaction from the general public. I for one loved it. Oddly the film skews young audiences hip to the magic of the Fab Four, and oldsters who grew up listening to the Beatles. There's no middle ground.
How can you not fall for a film where the wistful voice of Jim Sturgess (mostly TV work but this film will get him noticed) opens singing, Is there anybody going to listen to my story all about the girl who came to stay? He's the male ingénue and Evan Rachel Wood is the femme for whom he falls. Wood has a number of impressive movies on her resume, an accomplishment considering she's 20, and her upcoming film The King of California could be described as a perfect art house flick.
Across the Universe uses Beatles songs to tell the story of a pair of star crossed lovers set adrift in the turbulence of the 60s. The film uses 33 Beatles songs at a cost of $250K each, or a rough total of $8.25-million. Since the songs are sung by actors and not the actual Beatles recordings the royalties are paid through Sony/ATV Publishing. Sony administers the rights to the songs, the publishing rights of which are owned by Michael Jackson; Sony through subsidiary Columbia Pictures is also releasing Across the Universe.
As cinema Across the Universe is great but not four-star. If it were a Broadway play though it would be bigger than Mamma Mia. Credit that to director Julie Taymor and her unique vision, almost operatic, of a world where emotions are colors and the words of Lennon and McCartney proclaim the ideals of a generation.
The more you know about the 60s the easier it is to spot allusions that abound throughout Across the Universe. Take a pinch of Alice's Restaurant, the plot of Hair, the psychedelic bus from the Tom Wolfe book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the Beatles rooftop concert from Let It Be, and the countryside retreat of Timothy Leary and mix them all up like a key lime fruit smoothie. Familiar faces include Bono and Eddie Izzard but imagine your surprise when Joe Cocker pops up out of nowhere and warbles Come Together. Most impressive is musician Dana Fuchs, making the strongest impression as Sadie the cool headed landlord who lets an aprtment to the cast and lets loose when she opens her mouth to sing.


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