03 November 2007

Earlier this week, I finally had the chance to see Across the Universe, a movie that inspires highly divided reactions, and for good reason. There are sequences (especially "Because" and "Hey Jude") that I wouldn't have missed for the world, and other scenes (notably Eddie Izzard's cover of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite") that play like something from the notorious '70s version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Julie Taymor, who is possibly the leading female director in the world today, has delivered an ambitious, lovingly constructed movie, but it suffers from a general absence of humor, which seems profoundly antithetical to its source material. After all, the Beatles themselves made a number of musicals that were irreverent, fast, and cheeky, which reflects the spirit of their music more than this sometimes lugubrious tribute. I'm always heartened by the fact that the last song on the last album that the Beatles ever recorded wasn't the glorious "The End" but the goofy "Her Majesty," a reminder that everything was always, ultimately, meant to be in fun—a fact that Across the Universe doesn't quite understand.

(Of course, I also believe that the greatest rock movie ever made is Pink Floyd The Wall, an astonishingly pretentious film that perfectly fits the personalities of its creators. There's a time and place for everything, I guess...)

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