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post #264
bio: jen

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Across the Universe

This weekend, I went to the local art house multiplex to see Julie Taymor's Across the Universe. Even though I had spent months enduring the annoying preview for this film, I was moved by Stephen Holden's glowing review in the New York Times.

Damn you, Stephen Holden!

Briefly, Taymor uses Beatles songs to tell the story of young love in the 1960s in New York and beyond. Young Jude, a working class lad from Liverpool, comes to the States to find his long lost father who ends up being a janitor at Princeton. While at Princeton, Jude meets Max, a directionless rich boy, and his beautiful straight-tooth sister, Lucy (oh God, these names). Max drops out of Princeton and takes Jude with him to Hippie New York where they meet Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and a lesbian from Dayton named Prudence. And the film goes on from there.

Oh God, I hated it. No other film in recent memory has made my blood boil and my artistic temper flare. A couple of times, I almost stood up and shouted ‘that is sooo stupid!' but I was afraid the twenty-something mall tramps to my left would pummel me. Maybe I need this jolt of pretentiousness to make my creative being alive again. Something to put me through hell. . .what is that song from. . .oh it's Sondheim, never mind.

Why did I go in the first place? I blame myself. I've never liked any of Julie Taymor's work. It's all the same. She always uses those god damn big heads and masks. She always has those god damn big hands coming apart to reveal something like a giant vagina. I know I should support the sister artist–-first woman to win best director of a musical Tony. But come on. Learn to pace. She squanders the energy she builds up in her pieces. I don't even need story. I'm just talking energy.

And how the hell do you do a Beatles juke box musical without Yesterday or Eleanor Rigby or Yellow Submarine or Paperback Writer. You couldn't find one aspiring novelist in the hippie collective?

And the characters, oh don't drive me to the Eminem. Oh what the heck:
These characters
They act like they've never heard
A Beatles song before
Jaws on the floor
Like Paul and Johnny just burst in the door.

What would the sequel to this film be? In the seventies, they sing Carpenters songs? Their kids in the nineties sing Nirvana?

There were moments I liked. I thought Bono's performance of I am the Walrus in Edge-like facial hair was great. Bono (no stranger to pretentious film—see Million Dollar Hotel) might be trying to play psychedelic, but the warrior glint in his eye made me want to get back on the bus with him even though the main characters didn't. Eddie Izzard's Mr. Kite comes on right after the large vaginal hands and is in a funky animated sequence which he didn't need. He was funky enough. There was also a lovely scene in a bowling alley early in the film set to the song I've Just Seen Her Face which wasn't built upon. Also, I missed Dana Fuchs playing Janis Joplin-esque when she wasn't on screen.

Film ends with All You Need Is Love. Yes, all you need is love. I sat through this two hour fifteen minute long and winding road to get to all you need is love.

You might say: See Jen, it wasn't all bad
To which I will just sneer: then why wasn't it fifteen minutes long?

There are much better films about sixties exuberance, and one of them, A Hard Day's Night, starred this band called The Beatles.

As I drove home, Olivia Newton John and John Travolta sang You're The One That I Want on the radio. I cranked it up and sang along. I started to feel good again.

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