Miss Nikki, Fighter of Boys (niko_hime) wrote,
Miss Nikki, Fighter of Boys
niko_hime

Across The Universe

Disclaimer: No spoilers, I've checked and double checked. 

Julie Taymor strikes again!  You may know her name from Titus starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange or perhaps the original Broadway production of The Lion King.  She's an incredible visual director, easily on par with Terry Gilliam.  My mind boggles at the thought of what might happen if the two of them teamed up for something. 

Anywho, to relieve some of my anger of late (all directed toward myself, don't worry) today my Nana and I went to see Julie's latest film Across the Universe, that strange looking new movie-musical about a bunch of late 60s war protesting Bohemia loving drug taking kids set to the music of The Beatles.  Seriously, it is better than it sounds.

My thoughts aren't all praise.  And actually I'll start with what I didn't like, just to prove it. 

Pacing was off, plain and simple.  It felt very rushed.  And I'm glad that I know the reason behind it, otherwise I don't think I could have excused it as easily.  Julie Taymor and either the producers or the company releasing the movie had some beef a few months ago about the version of the film that would be released.  Julie wanted Version A, which I am assuming was a fair bit longer and contained more of her mind and reality bending stunning visuals.  The studio wanted Version C, whatever that is.  There were contentions and in the end Version B, a compromise between A and C, was released.  You can absolutely tell that things are missing out of it - a couple characters only pop up for a split second (or a song, making it seem very out of place), and conflicts, love affairs, etc seem underdeveloped.  But you can tell, just tell that there's got to be more.  So I'm hoping that Julie will be able to swing a DVD release of her own brilliant intended version. 

Eddie Izzard was underutilised.  That's one of the characters I was referring to.  He plays Mr. Kite (For the benefit of Mr Kite, there will be a show tonight on trampoline... Sgt Pepper anybody?).  It is not ever explained who Mr Kite is or why he is in the middle of this field full of puppet cows and giant hands and faces.  Is he a drug induced hallucination?  Is he the rival LSD mind expansion philosophy guru of Bono's Dr Robert?  I was so looking foward to this number, and Eddie's performance.  And while the segment was FANTASTIC as a stand-alone piece - probably my favourite bit actually - it didn't seem to fit into the movie and I was left wanting more of Mr Kite's fantastic circus.  Which might be the point, that the drugs are THAT tempting and wonderful, but I dunno. 

I also think Julie could have gone farther with her visual pallet.  Again, this may be something that fell to the merciless Studio Guillotine.  But it just didn't feel as Taymortastic as I think I was expecting.  The new orchestrations of John Paul and George's already brilliant pieces of music were begging for, I felt, much larger production numbers.  Having grown up on The Beatles, these songs are already so effing huge for me, that to hear them all gussied up with full backing orchestras and griding rock guitars and pounding drums, I wanted more to feast my eyes on.  The two numbers that really did it were the aforementioned "Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)".  "I am the Walrus", "Dear Prudence" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun" also were fantastic, but those first two were positively jaw-dropping.  If I see a Julie Taymor production, I want to be left breathless from the visual onslaught.  As it was, I was only panting slightly.  Good, but not where I know it could be. 

All right!  So those things aside - and really they're not that big - I LOVED THIS MOVIE.  Ever since Moulin Rouge died down for me, I've been looking for another innovative musical to latch my fannish claws onto.  I knew, back in March when I saw my first AtU preview with (believe it or no) 300, I kinda knew.  Mostly because of the director, also because of the music.  Honestly - if you liked Moulin Rouge, you will hopefully be super keen on Across the Universe.  It is very much Moulin Rouge meets (I can't believe I'm saying this) Rent.  Rent the movie, not Rent the play, unfortunately.  I blame the NYC setting.  It has all of the heightened sensibility of Moulin Rouge (but not so many flashing lights and bright colours), the glorification of the idealised Bohemian lifestyle, and what I feel to be masterful revamps of classic songs; plus all the grit and social commentary the movie version of Rent wishes it had retained.  As though it even needs to be said, Across the Universe kicks Rent's tail up and down Alphabet City. 

The cast was so fresh and new!  I love it!  No big names with preconceived notions to get in the way.  The only main player I really knew was Evan Rachel Wood (from Thirteen, some Cate Blanchette/Tommy Lee Jones movie, and Marilyn Manson's current squeeze).  And she's a small enough name that I wasn't expecting more than what I'd seen her perform previously.  Which is not bad, she is one talented young lady.  Jim Sturgess (leading man) and Joe Anderson (hot hot supporting actor) were positively brilliant.  Jim sounds very much like the fresh faced Ewan at the top of Moulin Rouge.  An entire freaking movie of that.  And his Liverpudlian accent?  *guh*.  And Joe can just come over to my house and be increasingly scruffy.  Just scruff about.  And fall over and drink and be an ass.  The eyes, it is all about those baby blues *_*;   But anyway, yes, the cast!  While they may not have been 100% the strongest and best singers ever in the world, they could more than carry a tune - Beatles songs, being ultimately pop (brilliant pop) are very easy to do - and the untrained quality made it more... real? If a movie-musical could be "Real", I guess.  It sounded like real people singing. 

The guest spots were ridiculous!  As I said before, Eddie Izzard pops in for a quick spoken word rendition of "Mr Kite" (which, as far as fitting it into the story, the BeeGees/Peter Frampton movie did better, sad to say) and is totally freaky looking and just a delicious little treat.  As Eddie Izzard should be!  Salma Hayeck's little cameo was sexy and fun.  Bono was the biggest surprise.  I was expecting him to be another UK refugee, like Jude (Jim Sturgess) but he must have paid damn good attention during dialect training - his heavy Irish accent was positively undetectable.  Who knew that Bono would be so masterful a dialectician?!  I certainly didn't!  His cameo, the longest, was so freaky fun and so Ken Kesey/Neal Cassady/Merry Pranksters/Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests (check out the punch bowls at his pad in the movie!). 

The script was a riot - filled to the brim with subtle Beatles references, if you know your source material.  My fave - Prudence climbs into the apartment during a rain storm.  Sadie enters, looks at the unfamiliar sopping wet girl.  Beat.  Turns to Jude, asks "Where the hell did she come from?" to which Jude replies "She came in through the bathroom window."  XD  There was also Sadie's quip about Max looking harmless enough, but who knows, he might have murdered his grandmother with a silver hammer.  And then the almost-but-not-quite Blue Meanies from the Yellow Submarine cartoon in the Mr Kite scene. 

All in all it was a fantastic movie, and has made me miss the city very much.  It really got me back into the mindset of wanting to do fucking something, anything, to rally against this retarded Conflict in Iraq.  It made me angry that in the new millennium, everyone is too fucking scared or lazy or apathetic to take up our parents' example with their protests against the Vietnam Conflict.  Everyone says "oh yes, they care" but no one does anything.  Lump me in with them if you like, I'm just waiting for the first opportunity I see to jump in on the start of some revolution (be it artistic, social, whatever).  I wish I were enough of a radical to start something, but I haven't got the political smarts or the guts to do it.  People, go see Across the Universe.  Live it, Love it.  Get off your asses and do something.  We've still got a year left, we can still impeach Him, we can still effect some change here.  Even after Bush is gone (thank god finally), regardless of who gets elected, we've still got to be constantly vigilant to make sure that this bullshit doesn't continue to happen.  Guys, we are the next generation to come into power, some of us may already be in a position to do so.  It is only a matter of a decade or so before we inherit this crazy fucked up world and our parents and superiors retire to the background.  They say history is doomed to repeat itself.  They say the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son.  But they also say that we learn from our mistakes and that hindsight is 20/20.  So come on, look around, look back.  Write a letter, a song, paint something, put together an impromptu improv about current events (or script it, hell, and distribute copies) and perform it in a public space - freedom of speech and freedom to assembly and peaceful demonstration, you were given these freedoms by your forefathers for a REASON.  Don't let this become another super conservative, right-thinking, religious reich right, 1950s clone cesspool.  Get off your asses, stop playing Halo 3 and watching... whatever the hell it is that saps your mind of thought and keeps you from acting out.  I know you can do it.  You only just have to act. 

And gee, but that turned into a little socio-political rant, didn't it?  Awesome.
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