It was late September, 2007 when chance ushered us to a movie theatre playing Across the Universe. We knew nothing about the movie, had no idea who director Julie Taymor was, let alone watched trailers or checked reviews. Void of external interference, untainted by collective jibber-jabber or prickling with tabloid expectation – we entered blank slates, emerged transformed. Walking to the car in silence, unabashed grins said it all. From that day forward Across the Universe served as a silent barometer – get it you’re in my tribe, miss the point I have serious doubts.
Despite Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band being one of the first albums I owned, I wouldn’t say I was a Beatles super-fan. What Across the Universe did was use Beatles music to transcend time and place, delivering social commentary as relevant today as it was in 1967.
A few days ago a still of the movie Yesterday appeared on my news feed. Starring Himesh Patel as a floundering British singer-songwriter who wakes from a freak bus accident to find himself in a alternate universe where The Beatles never existed. Patel’s character Jack seizes the opportunity to perform Beatles songs to a world that’s never heard them. Directed by Danny Boyle ( Slumdog Millionaire ), Jack finds fame and risks losing everything he loves. Sounds pretty lame, right? Not so fast.
Across the Universe proved Beatle’s music more powerful than quaint skips down memory lane. Those who didn’t get Across the Universe likely described it as a frivolous love story. Here’s hoping Boyle’s Yesterday delivers an equally surprising gift. Scheduled for general release on June 28, 2019 we’ll have to wait and see if Boyle delivers. Until then I’ll avoid media contamination. No reviews, hype, praise, condemnation or analysis of Yesterday shall touch me until seeing it for myself. Stay tuned…..
Earlier this week, myself and Mr. Notes went to a movie. Buzz over Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar found us munching popcorn at The Revenant. How could we lose – interesting televised clips, stunning cinematography in preview trailers, best actor Oscar for DiCaprio – what more could a memorable evening ask for? It was memorable alright.
Memorable, as in monumental clunker. Twenty minutes in, suspicion whispered “bullshit”. Considerable effort granted another twenty of “give it a chance”. Enough! Am I the only person in this theatre stifling inappropriate laughter? The only one playing a game of “count closeups of DiCaprio’s mournful eyes”? Whew – Mr. Notes just went to the washroom, I’m not crazy.
Admittedly a blur, somehow we got through the next hour and a half. Proud to say, fortitude triumphed over bad form. Fortitude forgives one audible transgression – credits rolling, I burst into laughter when someone in the row behind us said “that was a terrible movie”.
Walking to the car we agreed every performance eclipsed DiCaprio. What more was there to say – weak plot, absence of character development, obvious overuse of camera angles and lighting, tediously long. Over hyped, rated and reviewed – it doesn’t get more disappointing than The Revenant.
I don’t make a point of watching South Park as much as I used to. My life is incredibly busy – television low on the list of priorities. All that changed tonight – my son reminded me of a South Park episode – I started watching again. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are pure genius; their political satire and social commentary – flawless.
Parker and Stone met in film class at the University of Colorado in 1992. Their first collaboration was a stop action short using paper cut-outs called The Spirit of Christmas. Brian Graden, a Fox Network executive commissioned them to make a video Christmas card. People who received Graden’s “card” copied and posted it on-line where it soon became one of the first “viral” phenomena. Parker and Stone, buoyed by their internet success started plans for a TV series. Fox wasn’t interested in a program featuring Mr. Hanky or anal probes; ultimately it was the Comedy Network who debuted South Park in 1997.
In South Park nothing is off limits, no subject escapes scrutiny, wicked satire leaves you gasping for breath. Not often do I find myself laughing out load – certain South Park episodes find me dissolving into a puddle of laugh tears. Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Rick Mercer deserve honourable mentions – South Park reigns supreme.
If I had to draw a reality line in the sand , I would place it squarely at the doorstep of MTV in 1992. The Real World experiment gave birth to what has become “reality TV”. They deserve a pat on the back for breaking ground, no doubt about it , they paved the way for declining morals, GPA’s, and ethics.
I remember when MTV aired nothing but music videos and Mark Burnett produced an obscure program called Eco Challenge. I doubt even the most visionary MTV executive imagined the implications of letting Pandora out of her box. They paved the way for young people to grow up with misguided expectations, unrealistic goals, bat shit logic regarding consequences or responsibility, and reverence for the cult of celebrity. MTV made it possible for anyone to become a celebrity – they launched the age of “surreal” reality.
“Reality” tested the waters with vacant rich kids like Paris Hilton attempting to live a normal life. It gave birth to the Kardashion dynasty, “real” housewives, and Bachelorettes. Soon we were laughing at “Joe Average” as producers duped him into believing audiences weren’t mocking his stupidity. Washed up rockers Flavour Flav and Brett Michaels found “love”, geeks were put on display in Beauty and the Geek. Real life apparently involves the privileged becoming richer, while laughing at schmucks. Soon Snookie and Pauly D were driving Escalades because we couldn’t turn away from their bar fights and drunken stupidity. Yeah – this was reality.
Reality took barely a decade to poison our lives with Honey Boo Boo, Moonshiner’s shenanigans and Amish Mafia. Disgraced televangelist Ted Haggard even had his “reality” displayed , trying to put his “ministry” back in the bank from a barn at his sprawling property. Reality it seems has no boundaries; nothing is off limits – as long as we marginalize, mock, emulate or mess up our priorities. Kudos MTV – you are responsible for turning society into marshmallows – when was the last time you even aired a music video?
People I know either love this movie or don’t get it for reasons I’m unable to comprehend. Across the Universe is one of those films that makes you leave the theatre with a grin from ear to ear. Released in 2007 after delays and controversy, director Julie Taymor’s masterpiece faded into obscurity; dead end Golden Globe and Oscar nominations did little to bolster appreciation for what I can honestly say is one of the best musicals in modern history.
My first thought upon hearing about today’s release of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo Dicaprio was “oh, come on”. Not a response to casting Dicaprio; he struck me as a reasonable choice to play Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. Not because Hollywood remade the film – my reaction is attributed to these words “in 3D”.
Pondering 3D Gatsby hurts my head.A little research of reviews proved interesting; the usual mixed bag of comments from Rex Reed in the New York Observer – “overwrought, asinine, exaggerated, and boring – about as romantic as a pet rock” to David Denby in The New Yorker – ” Lubrmann’s (director) vulgarity is designed to win over a young audience, and it suggests that he’s less a filmmaker than music-video director with endless resources and a stunning absence of taste”, or Lou Lumerick in the New York Post – “Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is the first must-see film of Hollywood’s summer season, if for no other reason than the jaw dropping evocation of roaring 20’s New York – in 3D no less” – I wanted to shout “what is wrong with you people”
What happened to the art of film making? Where did camera angles and lighting go? Why does every new movie released require 3D glasses? What’s next – a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest or The Lady Vanishes in 3D? Holy crap. It’s only a matter of time before Raging Bull manifests itself into a 3D travesty, or 3D Taxi Driver surfaces starring teen angst heart-throb of the moment.
If the decline of human civilization could be captured in one word it would be 3-D. Please Hollywood – muster some self respect; you’re making an ass of yourself. Fill those theater seats with 3-D vampires, zombies, or aliens – knock yourselves out with computer generated trickery, there will always be a place for that. I enjoyed Avatar, and your remake of the A-Team wasn’t half bad. All I ask is that you remember – film making is an art, not a dog and pony show.