January 25, 2008

All You Need Is Love

Posted in Drama, Movies, Musical, Romance at 7:21 am by inflickted

Across the universe

I have seen quite a few musicals in my life. A lot were good, some were even Oscar-worthy. Musicals tend to be not everyone’s cup of tea. Movies that break into song which can bring about public dancing can ruin the whole story ambiance.

However, in musicals, it is not the story that takes the lead. It is the music, and in this new musical, it is all about the music of the Beatles. Spoken dialogue is minimized, allowing the music and lyrics to shape the narrative. Let me tell you, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I knew I had to see it and has become one of my most anticipated films for 2007. The psychedelic brilliance that is ACROSS THE UNIVERSE…

Musicals are often successful because of their music. This particular one boasts more than 30 songs from one of the biggest bands in the music industry. A renewed appreciation for these Beatles hits can be found. Stunningly arranged and beautifully sung, “Across the Universe” feels emotionally true both to the Beatles, whose music today seems to exist outside of time, and to the decade it remembers. The music transcends even to us who weren’t fortunate enough to experience the whole Beatles mania.

The main characters’ names offer immediate clues about song offerings (can you guess what the songs are?): Jude (Jim Sturgess), Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Max (Joe Anderson),Sadie (Dana Fuchs), JoJo (Martin Luther), and Prudence (T.V. Carpio). Despite the main cast consisting of virtual unknowns, they all can deliver stellar performances in all fields required: acting, dancing and of course, singing. Interesting cameos from the likes of Eddie Izzard (Mr. Kite), Selma Hayek, Joe Crocker and a mustache wielding Bono (Dr. Robert) can be seen scattered through out the color saturated screen.

All honors must go to the incredible director of this film, Julie Taymor. She could be one of the greatest visionaries working in Hollywood today. She could be one of the few filmmakers that successfully combine high-art concepts with accessible storylines and compelling characters. Ms. Taymor is a true believer in the magic of art. And as the movie intensifies, and she brings in a fantastic array of puppets, eye-popping computer graphics, masks and synergistic effects, you may find yourself in a heightened emotional state amongst all the intense colored 60’s imagery.

There are some areas where the movie falls short. The story is weak, predictable and clichéd. I also would have liked it more if some of the other characters could have received further developments in their backgrounds (e.g. Prudence). At first, you somehow feel overwhelmed with all the characters being introduced simultaneously. Other than that, Across The Universe excels in every other aspect. As the story progressed, I fell in love with the characters, the story and the music. There is a fun anticipation in not knowing what creative imagery or long-loved song Ms. Taymor might use next.

The songs are all too familiar, but delivered in a whole new other level. Every song delivers a specific emotion; some powerful, some emotional, some unconventional, and some are truly profound. Although Prudence’s story is the most underdeveloped, it also contains one of the movie’s best covers of a Beatles song, her lovely and quavering rendition of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” an ode to unrequited lesbian longing. The soulful rendition of “Let It Be” can move you to tears. “Because,” achieves a haunting, yet dreamy, frozen-in-time lyricism. Some of the more powerful and passionate songs are “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Something,” “Revolution” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Other favorites would be the whimsical “Dear Prudence,” the nostalgic “Hey Jude” and of course “Across The Universe.”

Across the Universe is a marvelous masterpiece. Definitely one of the best movies for 2007. Despite its thin story telling, the director’s amazing creative vision, excellent cast performances, outstanding imagery and the channeling of iconic songs completely overwhelms the negative. Across The Universe is nothing short of a work of art.

This flick receives a phantasmagorical 4.8 out of 5 or 96% infectious

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3 Comments »

  1. Juice said,

    I’m reading this now~!!!
    hahaha funny coz when my RSS reader got updated of this post I’m currently listening to Strawberry Fields Forever and the rest of the Beatles tracks which were sung on the movie. Beatles version of course. Though you can’t deny Jim Sturgess had a lovely voice. Okay I’ll shut up and read!!!!

  2. Juice said,

    Amen on the character development. I actually felt that Prudence was just “an extra” so that they could’ve made a story about the song. Parang pinilit lang siya that kind of thing, but still, it was REALLY goood despite everything. Man, I just can’t explain how awesome this movie was. The cast did a stellar performance. Props to Evan and Jim, they totally nailed it. And the cameos! The visuals! Cinematography!

    Best movie of 2007. EVER.

  3. Rhey said,

    hmmm interesting…
    i was never interested to see this movie… now you make me want to see it… im looking forward to mamma mia though… watched the play… it was amazing! 🙂


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