20071017

Love is Old, Love is New


I saw Across the Universe a few nights ago and it resonated enough with me to inspire a post, a review of sorts. Overall, I'd give it a 6/10. I think people that are like "OMG, LOLZ THIS MOVIE IS LIKE, THE BEST EVARRRR" are simply not seeing the forest for the trees. The Beatles have laced their hot chocolate with nostalgia and it's blinding them. There are individual parts of this film that are pretty cool in themselves, but for me, the end result was more of a wash. Here's a brief breakdown:

Plus: The cast sings the songs "themselves".
Minus: The vocals are pitch-corrected to a degree that they are almost mechanical. It's insanely distracting, maddening even, and completely negates from some of the fairly inventive arrangements of classic Beatles tunes while wholly ruining others.

Plus: As evidenced by the trailer, there are some very creative visuals and choreography. A psychedelic busride in hypertechnicolor, a trippy circus-like scene with gigantic puppets and masks, a blood-red addled war/art scene, crashing waves as newspapers and civil unrest.
Minus: Plot definitely takes a backseat to visuals and "music" and sometimes that backseat is that uncomfortable bench in the very rear of an 18-seater Dodge.

Plus: Cameos. Joe Cocker has an amusing trio of roles (bum, hippie, and pimp!) during one of the brighter musical spots of the film ("Come Together", which he sang). Bono makes a near-self-parodying appearance as Dr. Robert and sings "I Am the Walrus" during the aforementioned bus-trip. He even cracks wise. Eddie Izzard appears as "Mr. Kite" in one of the film's funniest scenes.
Minus: Cameos. Izzard's scene only lends to the spotty plot and leads one to ask: "Why?" Selma Hayek shows up as a sexy nurse during "Happiness is a Warm Gun", but why? Cameos for no reason?

Plus: Pleasant surprises not already mentioned: Evan Rachel Wood's unexpected boobie shot, Jim Sturgess' (Jude) performance, a totally sweet Hendrix-esque solo guitar-only version of "A Day in the Life" that isn't included on the soundtrack, the strawberry jamz logo, and real-life musician Dana Fuchs' performance as Sadie (an obvious homage to Janis Joplin). The Bowling scene.
Minus: Unpleasant surprises not already mentioned: Too many songs. Did they really need 33 of them? Songs like "Blackbird" are totally shoehorned into an already crowded and hole-filled plot. A really beautiful slow-motion underwater scene is ruined by a completely unnecessary asian lesbian character (Prudence) kung-fu-ing in from above. The film's cheesy finale (and original title) "All You Need is Love" absolutely reeks of Moulin Rouge, a musical that actually blends plot, amazing visuals, and cast-sung original and cover songs into a cohesive and successful film, something Across the Universe ultimately fails to do. Still, with an undertaking this bold, it's nice when anything works at all.

Listen:
I've Just Seen a Face
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
[from Across the Universe OST|buy]

2 Comments:

Anonymous Sam said...

basically, you his every nail on every head

all but the first of your "pleasant surprises" were my favorite parts of the movie :)

6:16 PM  
Blogger skye said...

im gonna go ahead and say that i would have liked to see MORE of prudence and i, in no way, found her unneccesary. other than that little blip i agree with your argument. i was a bit disappointed tho, when i saw the title of this blog and then realized acapella version of that number was not one of the songs available for download. dirty shame. oh well. im scavenging for that second disc noise now.

9:25 AM  

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