XIXAX Film Forum

Film Discussion => The Vault => Topic started by: hedwig on January 02, 2007, 08:40:04 PM

Title: Across the Universe
Post by: hedwig on January 02, 2007, 08:40:04 PM
Across the Universe is the upcoming live-action/animation/puppetry hybrid musical romance from director Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus).  starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Martin Luther, and Joe Anderson.

originally mentioned in the Women Directors thread two years ago

All You Need Is 'Frida' Director for Beatle Pic

Two-time Tony Award winner Julie Taymor has come on board to direct the musical romance "All You Need Is Love," which will feature 18 songs by the Beatles.

The love story about a British boy and an American girl is set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the 1960s. Although not about the Fab Four, the musical will use their songs to drive the narrative, with the actors singing and dancing to the classic tunes.

Production is expected to begin in September for a Thanksgiving 2006 release.

The film, written by veteran British scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais ("The Commitments"), is being produced by Sony-based Revolution Studios.

Taymor, who won two Tonys for the Broadway production of "The Lion King" also directed the films "Frida," starring Salma Hayek, and "Titus," starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.

Plot Summary: A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. A young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father. He winds up in Greenwich Village, where he falls in love with an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs. Together they experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60s.

some pics:

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/Leven321/acrossthe.jpg)

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/Leven321/acrosstheun.jpg)

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/Leven321/acrosstheuni.jpg)

and finally, an article (http://www.curbed.com/archives/2005/10/06/lower_east_sides_amazing_technicolor_dreamcoat.php) about the "urban transformations" that took place in Lower East Side during the shooting of the movie.

(http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/Leven321/2005_10_lescolor.jpg)
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: polkablues on January 02, 2007, 08:45:44 PM
Finally, a film that satisfies my passion for both Evan Rachel Wood and giant puppets.  Mostly Evan Rachel Wood.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Pubrick on January 03, 2007, 05:47:22 AM
still one of the best of the decade (so far).
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: modage on January 03, 2007, 08:30:38 AM
i'll see it because those pictures look cool and that Lower East Side stuff was filmed about 2 blocks from my apartment.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on February 02, 2007, 11:17:02 PM
(http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mo/acrosstheuniverse_logoposter.jpg)


Trailer here. (http://playlist.yahoo.com/makeplaylist.dll?id=1552760&sdm=web&qtw=480&qth=300)

Release Date: September 28th, 2007 (wide)
 
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Martin Luther, Eddie Izzard, T.V. Carpio 

Directed by: Julie Taymor (Frida; Titus)

Premise: A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. A young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father. He winds up in Greenwich Village, where he falls in love with an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs. Together they experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60's.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: matt35mm on February 03, 2007, 12:06:02 AM
Goddamned hippies.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: SiliasRuby on February 03, 2007, 09:32:28 AM
This is possibly going to be my most antipatiated movie of 2007.... Man this is a dream come true.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Ghostboy on February 03, 2007, 10:09:55 AM
Hmmm......up until the last thirty seconds or so, when it got all Taymor-tastic, I was cringing.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: mogwai on February 03, 2007, 11:08:21 AM
i felt it was something i'd seen before, judging by the trailer. if you change the music from beatles to galt macdermot you'd have a remake of "hair". but as ghostby mentioned, the last 30 seconds was pretty good.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on February 03, 2007, 12:07:42 PM
i felt it was something i'd seen before, judging by the trailer.

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/6305408998.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg)
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: mogwai on February 03, 2007, 02:30:54 PM
my mistake, i was referring to "hair".
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on March 19, 2007, 09:33:08 PM
Film Has Two Versions; Only One Is Julie Taymor’s
By SHARON WAXMAN; New York Times

LOS ANGELES, March 19 — In Hollywood creative differences among moviemakers often make for more interesting results on the screen. But rarely do those battles escalate so much that a studio takes a movie away from an award-winning director.

Such is the case — for the moment — with “Across the Universe,” a $45-million psychedelic love story set to the music of the Beatles, directed by Julie Taymor, the stage and screen talent whose innovative interpretation of the Disney animated film “The Lion King” is one of the most successful modern stage musicals.

After Ms. Taymor delivered the movie to Joe Roth, the film executive whose production company, Revolution Studios, based at Sony, is making the Beatles musical, he created his own version without her agreement. And last week Mr. Roth tested his cut of the film, which is about a half-hour shorter than Ms. Taymor’s 2-hour-8-minute version.

Mr. Roth’s moves have left Ms. Taymor feeling helpless and considering taking her name off the movie, according to an individual close to the movie who would not be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. Disavowing a film is the most radical step available to a director like Ms. Taymor, who does not have final cut, one that could embarrass the studio and hurt the movie’s chances for a successful release in September.

Ms. Taymor declined to be interviewed, but issued a carefully worded statement: “My creative team and I are extremely happy about our cut and the response to it,” she wrote. “Sometimes at this stage of the Hollywood process differences of opinion arise, but in order to protect the film, I am not getting into details at this time.”

Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his ’60’s-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Freedomland.”

He said that Ms. Taymor was overreacting to a normal Hollywood process of testing different versions of a movie, something he has done many times before, including with Michael Mann’s “Last of the Mohicans.” He called his version of “Across the Universe” “an experiment.”

“She’s a brilliant director,” he said. “She’s made a brilliant movie. This process is not anything out of the ordinary. Her reaction through her representatives might be. But her orientation is stage. It’s different if you’re making a $12-million film, or a $45-million film. No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie.”

And he warned that the conflict could hurt the movie. “If you work off her hysteria, that will do the film an injustice,” he said. “Nobody wants to do that. She’s worked long and hard, and made a wonderful movie.”

A spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to comment, saying the project was developed by Revolution.

“Across the Universe” stars Evan Rachel Wood as Lucy, an American teenager, and Jim Sturgess as Jude, a British import, who fall in love during the turbulent 1960s. The movie, set to 35 Beatles songs, seems to spring from Ms. Taymor’s experimental sandbox, combining live action with painted and three-dimensional animation and puppets, and featuring cameos by Eddie Izzard, dressed as a freakish Mr. Kite; Bono, singing “I Am the Walrus”; and Joe Cocker, singing “Come Together.”

Ms. Taymor has been editing the film for the better part of the last year, after completing the shoot in 2005. An initial release date of September 2006 was pushed off.

Mr. Roth said he had been working with Ms. Taymor on and off during nine months of editing, and that the problem was merely one of length.

Under pressure from Mr. Roth and after test screenings, Ms. Taymor trimmed the film from an initial 2 hours 20 minutes. She told associates she considered the film finished.

Fights between visionary filmmakers and studios are nothing new. Orson Welles spent most of his career fighting with studios that took away his movies, editing options and even limited his film stock. And those fights commonly focus on the running times of movies, which, as critics have noted, seem to grow inexorably longer.

But it is rare for an executive to step in and cut the movie himself. Ms. Taymor was still making her own final edits to the film when she learned several weeks ago that Mr. Roth had edited another, shorter version. That version was tested last week in Arizona, to a younger audience than the more mixed test group than saw Ms. Taymor’s cut in Los Angeles on March 8, according to an individual close to the film.

Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie “Gigli,” said that the various versions were testing well, but that he had a responsibility to find the most successful incarnation. “It’s ‘show’ and it’s ‘business,’ ” he said.

Ms. Taymor has been showered with numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1991. The stage version of “The Lion King,” which currently has nine productions worldwide, is notable for Ms. Taymor’s unusual staging and the use of mechanical masks that make the actors seem like real animals. (Mr. Roth, who ran Disney at the time, admitted to having been skeptical about the masks but later told Ms. Taymor he’d been wrong.)

Ms. Taymor has had more mixed results in Hollywood. Her bloody Shakespeare adaptation, “Titus,” bombed at the box office, taking in just $1.9 million. “Frida,” in 2002, about the artist Frida Kahlo, was successful, winning two Oscars and a moderate financial windfall.

Mr. Roth said he believed that the current tensions would be worked out, and that Ms. Taymor would find the best, final version of the film somewhere between his own and her last cut.

But those in Ms. Taymor’s camp were more skeptical, saying the director was not inclined to make any more changes. Ms. Taymor herself struck a more conciliatory note in her statement: “I only hope that we will be able to complete the film we set out to make.”
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: polkablues on March 19, 2007, 10:37:04 PM
Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his ’60’s-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Freedomland.”

I can only imagine this sentence was intended to embarass the hell out of Joe Roth.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: matt35mm on March 20, 2007, 12:56:15 AM
Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie “Gigli,”

I'm sorry, what?  That's the lesson he learned from Gigli?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on March 22, 2007, 03:34:49 PM
Why Did He Hire Her In The 1st Place?
Details On Taymor vs Roth Not In NYT
Source: Nikki Finke; DeadlineHollywood

What a mess surrounding Revolution Studios' Across the Universe thanks to the idiocy of hiring director Julie Taymor, who may be lauded as a visual iconoclast in the pages of The New York Times but also derided as a cinematic loon based on what Hollywood sources tell me. So now this musical romance pic has dissipated into two warring versions, and its scheduled September playdate hangs in limbo. Meanwhile, distributor Sony Pictures is tiptoeing around the issue of not releasing the pic, especially with a full frills marketing campaign, unless Taymor compromises; the studio is supposed to distribute all of Revolution's film product under Joe Roth's about-to-end deal there. In a perfect world, Sony would love to get behind Across The Universe because it's synergistic. Told mainly through numerous Beatles tunes performed by the characters, it takes advantage of that Sony/ATV music publishing catalog owned with Michael Jackson that boasts some 250 Fab Four songs. Of course, Roth has only himself to blame for his fight with Taymor. This is just the latest of the many missteps he's made at Revolution whose films have mostly bombed at the box office despite expensive Sony marketing campaigns. He is, after all, the one who hired Taymor in the first place even knowing her notorious Hollywood reputation for directorial pretension and indulgence, which is exactly how people describe her impossibly artsy-fartsy cut of this pic which audiences dislike. When Taymor wouldn't listen to reason, Roth (himself a pretty lame film director) went in with an editor to cut his own version which is not just shorter but more commercial. So I can't understand why Taymor isn't kicked to the curb since she doesn't have final cut. And I'm perplexed why The New York Times took Taymor's side in this squabble and ignored the terrible truths people have told me about what a disaster she was on this project. Today's article compares Taymor to Orson Welles. Ridiculous. The article fails to mention Sony's Beatles biz synergy. Good grief. And there's not a word about Taymor's history of awful fights over length and content as the director on Titus (with producers and the MPAA over a possible NC-17 adults-only rating for too much sex and violence and gore, and with Anthony Hopkins who threatened to walk) and on Frida (with Harvey Weinstein, culminating in a loud expletive-filled fight in the lobby of NYC's Sony Lincoln Square as shocked preview-goers filed past.) The NYT must have let its Nexis research account expire. Also, the paper of record implies that Across The Universe has been "taken away" from the director. Not yet. Now the details.

So why did Roth hire Taymor in the first place? Obviously, they knew each other during The Lion King stage production when Roth was head of Walt Disney Studios, and Taymor had a rep in the New York theater for creating eccentric but visually stunning productions of often hard-to-stage material. But it was really Tom Schumacher and even Michael Eisner at Disney who worked closest with her to bring Lion King to Broadway. (Sources note that Disney hasn't done a major project with the Tony award-winning director since. There was talk of bringing Pinocchio to Broadway under her helm. Then she started calling herself "the Steven Spielberg of the theater" and Schumacher began calling her "a loon.") Insiders tell me that Roth put Taymor on his Revolution's Across The Universe "because he had a relationship with her and thought she had a vision for it." I say neither is a good enough reason to overlook the fact that she gave new meaning to the Hollywood definition of a "difficult" director on both Titus and Frida. "It takes a lot to make Harvey sympathetic," one source close to Roth's production quipped to me.

I'm told everyone began the movie with Taymor expecting trouble. And there was. By some accounts, the film was even flawed from the very start. "She went into production on the movie without a good script. Instead, she went into production on just a great idea." As one insider described the process: "You try to help her, but it's only ever a one-way street. She has a narcissistic disorder."

But her behavior reportedly grew worse after she delivered a cut of the film last October at 2 hours, 32 minutes,and started receiving criticism about the film. Without giving details, Roth himself made reference to Taymor's "hysteria" to the NYT. "I gave her a note to cut two supporting characters, one white and one black," a source told me. "And she starts screaming, 'I'm not cutting all the black people.'"

Unlike the NYT portrayal, I've been assured that problems with Taymor's version went way beyond length to the point where the pic simply doesn't work. "It is visually a really interesting and arresting movie," says one insider, "but as usual with her it veers off into the absurd." Says another source: "Her cut is indulgent and pretentious." Explains an insider: "The visuals get in the way of the narrative, which makes no sense. And the pacing is all wrong. They have a scene with Bono that's psychedelic, and goes on and on, and has to be cut down." Still another source chides: "By the time the dancing puppet heads come out, you're just like no, no, NO."

Despite all this, Taymor again and again expressed unrealistic notions about Across The Universe's box office prospects. "Here she'd made the world's most expensive art film. Yet she kept claiming it was 'the next Titanic,' a movie that did $1.8 billion worldwide," a source told me. (While Revolution puts the movie's budget at $45 million, NYC money guys tell me the original budget was $77 mil and has ballooned from there.) Another insider says: "She told Sony her movie was going to be 'so much bigger than Bond. We have the Beatles.' A Sony exec replied, 'It's not like you have the Beatles performing. You have Beatles cover songs.'"

Sometimes agents can broker peace in wars like this. But Taymor's agency CAA "kept lying to everyone concerned. To her, they said they'd take her side against everyone. To the producers, they said they'd take their side against the client."

The movie's first preview in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was disastrous despite the Taymor-friendly arty crowd. "Everybody's notes were the same; the movie's too long," an insider explained. So then Taymor delivered a cut that was 2 hours, 15 minutes. "Still the previews said it was too long. But she was now refusing to take any more out of it," a source told me. "Everyone was very frustrated by the fact that five months had gone by and she didn't listen and she didn't care." Said another insider: "We were dealing with a woman who has absolutely no sense of commercial potential. At one point, Amy Pascal took her to dinner and diplomatically told her 'how good it could be' if only she'd cut the movie. But Julie still refused. Indeed, that's the refrain of everyone: there's a great movie in there, somewhere. But, as it stands now, it's so complicated it's just a bad movie."

So finally a frustrated Roth handed the movie to an editor and cut it to 1 hour, 45 minutes. That version was shown in Phoenix, Arizona, last week to an audience packed with young girls who are perceived by the conventional wisdom as the primary audience for romantic musicals of this ilk. Sources told me the pic suddenly scored 86% in the top two boxes. Taymor "immediately has a meltdown," I'm told by insiders. Roth offered to preview both cuts of the movie side by side to another audience, but Taymor refuses.

Now insiders tell me that "Sony has made it clear that if something isn't done to the movie, then it wouldn't support it." So the question is: who's going to blink first? Sources say the problem here is that no one wants to be the bad guy even though Taymor doesn't have final cut. "Both Amy and Joe are running away from a confrontation with Julie because they'd rather be popular than take a hard line." All this brouhaha has further soured Sony Pictures' relations with Roth: they've gone from good, to bad, to worse, to awful because of all the major marketing moolah the studio considers wasted on Revolution's mostly piss-poor product. There are audible sighs of relief at Sony that Across The Universe is one of Roth's final projects under that too-autonomous arrangement. "In the old days, Joe would have said to Sony, 'You need to release this.' And Amy Pascal would have humored him. But now Amy barely tolerates him." After all, it was Sony czar Sir Howard Stringer who deserves blame for bringing in Roth in the first place. And for reasons that defy logic, Roth will have a face-saving new deal with Sony, albeit a very small one.

As for Taymor, one insider told me, "I can't imagine anyone giving her another shot. Nobody would make a movie with her after this." Well, that's what people said about Michael Cimino who brought down United Artists. And still Hollywood hired him to direct pics even after that.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: pete on March 22, 2007, 07:24:09 PM
wow, that crappy article talked about taymore like she was the worst director ever, like she'd never directed Frida and Titus.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gold Trumpet on March 23, 2007, 01:11:24 PM
I'm more inclined to believe that the film is too long. When I watched the trailer, I wasn't very excited. The idea behind the movie is dumb and the story seems stupid. The visual effects were interesting, but I doubt it takes up enough of the film.

Frida is an excellent film, but Titus has to be one of the worst films I've seen. I'll argue against that film anyday so Taymour does not stand so beloved to me.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: mogwai on March 23, 2007, 02:42:45 PM
Frida is an excellent film, but Titus has to be one of the worst films I've seen. I'll argue against that film anyday so Taymour does not stand so beloved to me.
why don't you like titus?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gold Trumpet on March 23, 2007, 05:56:05 PM
Frida is an excellent film, but Titus has to be one of the worst films I've seen. I'll argue against that film anyday so Taymour does not stand so beloved to me.
why don't you like titus?

Generally, it lacks the imagination to be a true reinvention of the original play. It sets the play in a different time under a different protocol of living. Certain parts about it mirror modern day times, especially the 1930s and 40s with the clothing choices for some of the characters. Is it updating the play to Nazi times? Is there any specific idea? Is it saying that the period of the play resembled modern day fascism? I didn't see any.

The film seems to combine everything from early day Greeks to modern times and also to futuristic worlds. It also plays with fantasy a little bit with the opening scene of the child playing war with his toys in a kitchen and then being taken out to a coliseum. The addition of the child is used to make a point about the loss in war and feuding later on, but everything in the film is just so murky. The only definite things it has deals with the original drama by Shakespeare.

People liked it for the stylistic reinvention, but since none of the elements really go together, I wasn't so impressed because it seemed to combine little thought or direction. Everything that was thought of was just added in. Kurosawa updated Shakespeare to be high drama for Japanese culture and religion in Ran. Other films have tried to make sense of Shakespeare in our times, but Titus doesn't do anything. It doesn't even try to make sense of the style it is showing so I wasn't too impressed. And then I became annoyed when it became critically accepted.


Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on June 14, 2007, 03:00:37 PM
(http://www.cinemablend.com/images/reviews/2090/_11817758848937.jpg)
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: ponceludon on June 14, 2007, 03:50:02 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

I haven't seen anything by Taymor, so I can't judge the quality, but from the trailer and the poster, it just looks dumb. The psychedelic acid parts (I assume) look kind of neat, but I agree with the previous poster, that they probably won't be a large enough part of the film to save it from the otherwise formulaic drama that it seems to be.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on June 14, 2007, 06:06:26 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0078239/
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: noyes on June 15, 2007, 06:33:56 PM
totally looking forward to this.
doesn't bother me how unoriginal or tacked on it seems.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on August 22, 2007, 09:50:58 AM
Across the Universe
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Lugging a Statue of Liberty through the jungle, gallivanting in fields with Bono, dancing in formation on the streets of Manhattan sporting business suits and briefcases...just another day at the office for Julie Taymor and her cast and crew as they filmed this mind-bending Beatles musical.

The reported $45 million production follows two young lovers, Jude and Lucy (Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood), as they travel from prewar innocence to '60s hippie radicalism. And, as is typical of Taymor — the creative force behind the movies Titus and Frida, as well as the Broadway production of The Lion King — the film mixes theatricality, surrealism, and over-the-top fantasy.

With only 30 minutes of dialogue, most of the story is told through 33 ''reimagined'' Beatles songs, which are all sung by the actors. It was up to Taymor's composer/companion Elliot Goldenthal and music producer T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to make the Fab Four material work. ''The challenge was to create something fresh and new,'' says Taymor. ''If it was too close to the originals, we might as well have had the original people singing them.''

Taymor insisted that all the actors (including U2 frontman Bono, who cameos as the psychedelic Dr. Robert) perform their songs live, which was particularly challenging during several underwater sequences. ''This whole movie was: What the hell are we doing?'' says Wood. ''We're naked in a pool in New York and we're singing really fast underwater. We had no idea what was going on, but it made every day an adventure.''

Taymor has since encountered a few unexpected adventures of her own. After shooting wrapped, she found herself in the middle of a well-publicized fight with Revolution Studios head Joe Roth over Universe's final edit. Taymor now downplays the dustup, suggesting that her back-and-forth with Roth was just part of the usual filmmaking process. ''Almost no director has final cut anymore,'' she says. ''Not even Martin Scorsese.'' According to Taymor, she and Roth finally worked out a compromise edit that they both could live with. And at least one early viewer seems pleased with it: Paul McCartney. Taymor says she sat next to the legendary musician at a screening in London and ''he loved it. Under his breath he was mouthing the songs.'' Hmm, wonder if he could do that underwater.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on September 09, 2007, 02:53:40 AM
(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/09/09/arts/09gold.xlarge1.jpg)

Re-Meet the Beatles Through the Voices of a New Narrative
Source: New York Times

FOR most anybody who was over 12 and under 30 in 1964, the sound of the Beatles is immutably fixed in the brain, parked somewhere near the Pledge of Allegiance and two plus two makes four. With the opening on Friday of Julie Taymor’s new movie, “Across the Universe,” expect many of those brain cells to be all shook up.

Call it a jukebox musical, or a rock opera, or a long-playing music video. All those labels fit — and don’t. Ms. Taymor’s essentially unclassifiable film puts Beatles songs in the mouths, and sometimes in the heads, of newly invented characters just living their lives. A high school girl, Lucy, awaits her boyfriend’s return from basic training and sings “It Won’t Be Long.” Her college-student brother, Max, parties with Jude, a new buddy from Liverpool — of course! — to a rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Then Jude meets Lucy: “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”

As the ’60s become The Sixties, the proms give way to protests and the bowling parties to jungle patrols. Forty years after the Summer of Love, with Americans again fighting overseas, Ms. Taymor deploys the Beatles’ music to track the history, tell a love story and — this is where the shake-up happens — jettison the familiar contours of those long-ago hit tunes.

It’s not that she doesn’t like them the way they are. “The Beatles songs are perfect,” she says in her downtown Manhattan loft. “Perfectly arranged, perfectly sung.” That’s why the movie versions, she says, need to be complete departures. So “Let It Be” becomes a gospel hymn, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” turns into a ballad, and “I Am the Walrus” is the name of a book by a proto-hippie.

Ms. Taymor, 54, has never been timid about putting her own stamp on the work of others. Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus,” Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and the paintings of Frida Kahlo are among the classics she has scrutinized and reimagined for the stage or the screen. In her best-known act of transformation, “The Lion King,” she turned Disney’s animated fable into a Broadway extravaganza pulsing with African rhythms and theatrical legerdemain. But messing with the Beatles?

“It is a gamble,” Ms. Taymor acknowledges. “Everybody has their own interpretation.” A similar effort to match Beatles music to a story, the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” faltered in 1978.

Still, when she was approached by Revolution Studios (which is affiliated with Sony, co-owner of the Beatles catalog), the idea proved irresistible. She enlisted two frequent collaborators, the composer Elliot Goldenthal (with whom she lives) and the choreographer Daniel Ezralow. And she got Bono, Salma Hayek (the star of Ms. Taymor’s film “Frida”), Joe Cocker and Eddie Izzard to do cameos.

She came at “Across the Universe” from two directions, she says: “What are my favorite Beatles songs? And what are the ones you just have to do?”

She dug into the material with the screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. “We had 200 unbelievably diverse songs to choose from,” she says, and she wanted them to fit the story “as if they were invented at that moment, for those characters.”

She knew some, like “I Am the Walrus,” would be trouble. “I haven’t a clue,” she says. “But you put it into the mouth of a California poet” — that would be Bono’s part — “and you don’t ask what it means.” Ignoring it was not an option. “I didn’t want people to say, ‘They did lightweight Beatles.’ ”

She decided to echo the range of the songs with a range of characters: women, black men, Asian-Americans. The story that emerged revolves around Max and Lucy, played by Joe Anderson and Evan Rachel Wood. Along with Jude, acted by Jim Sturgess; Martin Luther McCoy’s Jo-Jo, a guitarist from riot-ravaged Detroit; and T. V. Carpio’s Prudence, an Asian lesbian fleeing white-bread Ohio, they land in the sprawling East Village pad of Dana Fuchs’s rising soul singer, Sadie, and immerse themselves in the roiling ’60s stew of sex, politics and rock ’n’ roll.

“What we’ve shown on screen is coming out of an era of such trauma,” Ms. Taymor says. “It’s not different from now. But how we’re dealing with it is very different. Where are the protest songs?”

She knew from the start that Max would be drafted, but she wasn’t sure which tune to use. She was leaning toward “Hello Goodbye” when, listening to “I Want You,” she realized that it echoed the famous Uncle Sam recruitment poster. “Bang,” she says, snapping her fingers. “How could it be more perfect?”

In recognition of the Beatles’ debt to American rhythm and blues, she created Jo-Jo, the Jimi Hendrix-like guitarist, and Sadie, the Janis Joplin-like singer (having seen her in the stage show “Love, Janis,” Ms. Taymor had Ms. Fuchs in mind) .

Ms. Taymor began with the assumption that she would use 15 or 16 songs; “that’s kind of the average,” she says. But she kept finding more and more that fit her characters’ emotional states, ending up with 31 sung tunes (and two more that appear only in the scoring). “Why bother talking when they can sing it?” she says.

How and when they sing it is what will most surprise moviegoers. Max is in a veterans hospital, waiting for his next shot of morphine, for “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” The sexy nurses who administer the drug are all Ms. Hayek, multiplied five times and doing five separate cooch dances simultaneously. Jo-Jo picks out “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” during the long night after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. Taymor lets Ms. Fuchs sing the raunchy “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road.” “A man singing that — big deal,” she says.

Mr. Goldenthal’s job, in addition to composing some 20 minutes of additional scoring, was to rejigger the songs so they would fit the dramatic context. And rejigger he did. The movie’s opening moments will shock the ears of anyone who remembers the Beatles’ “Girl,” with its slightly raspy, world-weary vocal backed by simply strummed guitars. Alone on a beach, Jude turns his pensive face to the camera and sings, “Is there anybody going to listen to my story?” with only faint wisps of melody sighing in the background. “It’s composed silence,” says Mr. Goldenthal, who arranged about 20 of the songs. (The rest were arranged by Teese Gohl and T Bone Burnett.) He achieved it with the glass harmonica, the ethereal-sounding instrument invented by Ben Franklin, and four cellos playing harmonics.

As he worked to match each song’s arrangement to its dramatic function, Mr. Goldenthal, who scored Ms. Taymor’s previous films, “Titus” and “Frida,” and won an Oscar for the latter, added accordions, mandolins, slap bass, Asian instruments, tribal drumming or throat singing on some numbers. But sometimes he found himself subtracting. For Ms. Wood’s delicate rendition of “If I Fell,” he says: “I found the more produced it was, the more it detracted. The window into her soul was smudged. When I stripped down the arrangement, her acting started to sparkle.”

This scene, like some two-thirds of the film, uses the vocal track recorded on the set rather than the cleaner studio version, which is almost unheard of in today’s movie musicals. But Ms. Taymor wanted the singing to flow seamlessly from the acting.

Insistent as she was about keeping the narrative scenes as realistic as possible, Ms. Taymor also intended “to play with all the elements of film — all of the elements.” So “Across the Universe” regularly veers from naturalism to the surreal. Songs travel from one character to another, across time and space. In typical musicals the story often stops when someone starts singing. In “Across the Universe” the music propels the plot along.

The title song begins on the subway, but before it’s over Jude is in the midst of the Columbia University riots. Mr. Cocker is the sole lead on “Come Together,” but the number begins at a bus terminal (he’s a panhandler), continues in a coffee shop (he’s a pimp) and ends in the East Village (he’s a street singer).

Some of the movie’s songs travel through mindscapes rather than streetscapes. Built with animation, computer-generated effects and Ms. Taymor’s fluency with imagery, “I Want You” opens with Uncle Sam reaching out from that poster to grab Max; Bono’s “I Am the Walrus” takes a multihued excursion into psychedelia; and Mr. Izzard’s trippy “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” presents a hippie circus that pays homage to the Bread and Puppet Theater, with which Ms. Taymor worked in the early 1970s.

“I wanted ‘Mr. Kite,’ ” she says, even though she concedes that it was not absolutely central to the main story. “It’s part of that era, the stop-making-sense, magical mystery tour.” Choreography plays a crucial role in these scenes, but Ms. Taymor says: “I didn’t want the movie to be dancey. I wanted the choreography to come out of natural movement.”

Mr. Ezralow agreed, but he had to figure out how to “musicalize” scenes like Lucy’s basketball practice in “It Won’t Be Long” or the bowling sequence in “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Eventually, he says, he found what he calls a “key” for each scene — in the gym, rhythmic dribbling; at the bowling alley, exuberant sliding — that allowed him to create dance moments without actual dance steps. In “Come Together,” dancers in business suits strut down the street in lock step. In “I Want You,” robot soldiers execute unison maneuvers while processing draftees. One of Mr. Ezralow’s most ingenious effects — arrived at after long hours in the studio — features Ms. Carpio walking dreamily through a football scrimmage without ever making contact with the colliding players.

Not everything he and Ms. Taymor worked on made it into the movie. She couldn’t find a spot for one of her favorite songs, “And I Love Her.” And she had planned to include “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” for the lesbian character, Prudence. “But we had to say, ‘O.K., the movie’s going to be too long.’ ”

She was not alone in worrying about length. Producers and directors often disagree about the optimal length for a project. Usually they iron out their differences in private. But the dispute between Ms. Taymor and Joe Roth, who leads Revolution Studios, became public in The New York Times in March, after he cut his own version of the movie and screened it for test audiences. (He had not granted her final cut.)

Both Ms. Taymor and Mr. Roth now pooh-pooh the episode. “It was a tempest in a teapot,” he says. “I was just doing my job.” Ms. Taymor is equally discreet, saying, “It happens on a million movies.” At 133 minutes, the film now runs closer to her original than it does to Mr. Roth’s cut.

Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison have all seen the film, Ms. Taymor says. But the director was present only when it was screened for Mr. McCartney. “I have never been so nervous in my life,” she recalls thinking. And then: “Even if it all ends here, at least I got to make this movie and sit next to Paul.”
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on September 10, 2007, 02:42:24 PM
Director Taymor spins Beatles in new film

Julie Taymor has conquered Broadway and won respect in Hollywood, and the groundbreaking director now risks rattling Beatles purists by adapting their beloved songs for a new movie, "Across the Universe."

The musical debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, and Taymor told Reuters she was well aware of the wrath she may face when, for instance, Beatles fans see the bouncy pop tune "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sung slowly by one high school girl longing for another.

"That was the big danger," Taymor said. "Can we take these songs that belong to everybody -- and everybody has their own interpretation -- and can we put them in a context where they start to become specific" and different?"

The gamble is huge, but Taymor is considered a creative visionary, and she knows big risks reap big rewards -- as well as garner major scorn. In her career, she has known both.

Taymor, 54, created the stage play of Disney animated movie "The Lion King," which in 1994 earned $784 million at global box offices and two Oscars. Taymor's wildly imagined musical claimed six of Broadway's Tony awards and is in its 10th year.

Her opera of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and her film "Frida," about the artist Frida Kahlo, met moderate success. But "Titus," her film version of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" earned mixed reviews and flopped at box offices.

Taymor defends "Titus" by saying it lacked adequate theater distribution, among other issues, and regardless of its popularity, Taymor undoubtedly put her own creative stamp on the Bard. She has done the same with the Beatles.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

"Across the Universe," which debuts in major U.S. cities this Friday, adapts Beatles songs into a love story between two young adults living through the turbulent 1960s.

"The main thing is these kids and how they move through the times," Taymor said.

From the decade's carefree early years to the stormy war protests in its latter period, Beatles songs from "Can't Buy Me Love" to "Revolution" helped shape and shift pop culture.

Jude (Jim Sturgess), a boy from Liverpool, travels to the United States where he falls in love with Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a privileged kid from a suburban home whose brother, Max, has left Princeton and faces the Army draft.

The trio move New York where they become immersed in the counter-culture and anti-war movement. They are guided through their experience by characters like Dr. Robert (Bono).

Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal rearranged the melodies and instrumentation -- but not the lyrics -- to 33 Beatles tunes. "I Want You," for instance, transforms from a tale of sexual need into Uncle Sam's desire to draft men.

Goldenthal said he would visit the set, watch the actors perform, then rewrite the songs to fit the scenes.

Taymor said the songs are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s, and the new arrangements possess sounds and invoke feelings meant to reach a new audience.

"Their music doesn't date," she said. "Sometimes it's these new arrangements that ... allow the audience to hear the music as if they are hearing it for the first time."
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: NEON MERCURY on September 10, 2007, 09:38:08 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

I haven't seen anything by Taymor, so I can't judge the quality, but from the trailer and the poster, it just looks dumb. The psychedelic acid parts (I assume) look kind of neat, but I agree with the previous poster, that they probably won't be a large enough part of the film to save it from the otherwise formulaic drama that it seems to be.

go watch titus and frida...then you'll realize why:

1) anyone with marginal tastes in film would be going nuts over this
2) this post of yours that i quoted will make any of your future post (views) invalidated

i know i sound like a douche, but its fact
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: sickfins on September 15, 2007, 07:39:49 PM
stay far far away from this one
you'll dearly wish you had if you don't
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: matt35mm on September 15, 2007, 08:10:08 PM
Okay.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: pete on September 15, 2007, 08:19:14 PM
how bad is it?  what if you're really dense and immune to shallow beatles references and metaphors within their songs?  what if your knowledge of the beatles was limited?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: The Red Vine on September 15, 2007, 08:32:28 PM
I'm surprised at the release of this film. I was somewhat excited when viewing the trailer. Keeping in mind it could be pretentious style, but I was hopeful. Then the film opens with little publicitiy and receives mostly negative reviews. I expected the film to open with a bang, but instead it's opening with a thud.

Perhaps I will see it to satisfy my curiosity, but I assume it won't be on many ten lists.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: ponceludon on September 16, 2007, 10:04:56 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

I haven't seen anything by Taymor, so I can't judge the quality, but from the trailer and the poster, it just looks dumb. The psychedelic acid parts (I assume) look kind of neat, but I agree with the previous poster, that they probably won't be a large enough part of the film to save it from the otherwise formulaic drama that it seems to be.

go watch titus and frida...then you'll realize why:

1) anyone with marginal tastes in film would be going nuts over this
2) this post of yours that i quoted will make any of your future post (views) invalidated

i know i sound like a douche, but its fact


So, I still haven't seen Titus and Frida, but apparently my instinct counts for something because this movie was just as painful and annoying and embarrassing as I thought it would be. If my future posts are invalidated because I know my own taste well enough to predict how I'll feel about a movie without knowing the director's work, so be it.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gold Trumpet on September 16, 2007, 10:28:22 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

I haven't seen anything by Taymor, so I can't judge the quality, but from the trailer and the poster, it just looks dumb. The psychedelic acid parts (I assume) look kind of neat, but I agree with the previous poster, that they probably won't be a large enough part of the film to save it from the otherwise formulaic drama that it seems to be.

go watch titus and frida...then you'll realize why:

1) anyone with marginal tastes in film would be going nuts over this
2) this post of yours that i quoted will make any of your future post (views) invalidated

i know i sound like a douche, but its fact


I liked Frida but hated Titus. I'm interested in the film, but the subject makes me sick to my stomach. What does that make me?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: sickfins on September 16, 2007, 11:59:14 PM
Crap like this really irritates me. It's like a fantasy pop version of what the 1960's was, turned all pretty and magical and painted, with a soundtrack that so disgustingly literally tells a story in Beatles songs. I didn't even have to look at the cast list to figure out that the girl's name would be Lucy. It's so staggeringly unoriginal and  honestly, when I first figured out who the Beatles were (I was 10), I had made up stories like this, lining up the songs in a linear-ish narrative with all my main characters having names like Jude and Lucy and Rita, and who had walruses and fools on the hill lying around.

I haven't seen anything by Taymor, so I can't judge the quality, but from the trailer and the poster, it just looks dumb. The psychedelic acid parts (I assume) look kind of neat, but I agree with the previous poster, that they probably won't be a large enough part of the film to save it from the otherwise formulaic drama that it seems to be.

you summed it up perfectly without even having seen the film.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: pumba on September 17, 2007, 12:33:19 AM
It really wasn't what I was expecting. I had no idea this was a gay musical type movie, because the trailer's really don't advertise it that way. I had this paradox irritating me the entire time. I guess that if I had to sit through a gay musical, it might as well be with Beatles songs. but on the other hand I really don't want to hear beatles songs "gay musicalized".

this movie never ended either.
Some of the psych visuals were really nice to look at though.
Ech,
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on September 18, 2007, 02:53:54 AM
Julie Taymor Soars Across the Universe
Source: ComingSoon

Julie Taymor has directed movies like Titus and Frida and she brought Disney's animated movie The Lion King to Broadway with a hugely successful Tony-sweeping musical. For her latest movie, Taymor combined her two passions to create Across the Universe, a movie musical based on the songs of the Beatles, starring Evan Rachel Wood and newcomer Jim Sturgess in a love story set during the turbulent '60s where hippie peace and love was countered with war and violent protests.

ComingSoon.net had a chance to talk with Taymor along with a small group of journalists at the Toronto Film Festival, and she was more than happy to field even the toughest questions about the movie, as well as drop a few tidbits about the impending "Spider-Man" musical she's working on with Bono, who also makes a cameo appearance in the movie singing "I Am the Walrus."

ComingSoon.net: Why did you decide to do this as a musical movie rather than doing something on Broadway and then converting it into a movie, which is the normal way these things go?
Julie Taymor: Well, I'll tell you exactly. First of all, I am so happy that it was a movie musical because it wouldn't have been written the same way if you did it on the stage. All the movie musicals we've being seeing have come from the stage, except for probably "Moulin Rouge!", I think. Most of them though, are going to have limited locations, range, a kind of epic palette if they're written for the stage first by the sheer limitations of theatre. The reason "Lion King" is the way it is, is because it was a film first, so then I was obligated to do the savannahs you know what I mean, big giant stampedes. I think that, first of all, when this came to me it was already a film. It was not my idea to make it as a film. I was hired, brought on very early when it was only a concept of a love story set in the '60s during this tumultuous period of time, and then I worked with the writers, Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, and created the story, and I pulled the 33 songs and added the three new characters which were Sadie, JoJo and Prudence. I was asked to do it as a Broadway musical before this, six months before when Peter Gelb was at Sony Classical and he said, "Sony has the publishing rights, would you like to make a Broadway musical?" Absolutely, and it wouldn't have been this musical. I has a completely different concept and then Peter moved on to run the Metropolitan Opera House, and that was over and this movie, was happening and Joe Roth asked me to do the movie. It had to be, because I was in a Beatles time or something.

CS: Did you get any influence from the '70s rock opera movies like "Tommy" or "Pink Floyd's The Wall"?
Taymor: No, what I liked about "Pink Floyd's The Wall" was how it played with that incredible animation, and I've been told that probably that one scene "We Don't Need No Education" has reference or that it's to the "I Want You" I don't think we go, "I'm going to take that and do this." Yesterday, a producer friend of mine who saw the movie said, "Do you know that you did Romeo & Juliet in this movie?" And I went, "Well, it's a love story." He said, "No, No, No, don't you know that when Jude goes up on the roof and starts to speak to the world, "There's nothing you can do that can't be done" and then he turns around and she's on the balcony. Do you not know that that's "Romeo & Juliet?" I said, "I wasn't thinking about it," and he said, "Well, that's exactly what that is, where Romeo speaks his love to the universe and he turns around and there she is up on that balcony." It was my idea to stage it that way, but I never thought about "Romeo & Juliet" ever, but who knows what's inside my psyche and my life that knows "Romeo & Juliet"? We as artists, we end up, things filter through you and then they come out hopefully in a fresh way. You don't make everything up! (laughs)

CS: Can you talk a bit about the choice of songs? When you have to pick 33 of the Beatles' songs from such a vast library of great songs, it must have been difficult. Did you write the script and then put the songs into it?
Taymor: No, no not at all, it was a starter 3-page treatment then I became involved and expanded what the concept was and that it would have the war at home through the Detroit riots. It would have much more politics, much more craziness. It would have a double love story, or a triple love story.

CS: But were all the songs mentioned in the script?
Taymor: No, there were no songs yet--there were two that I remember that we kept in at that stage. It was that "Happiness is a Warm Gun" was set in a veteran's hospital. There was no "bang, bang, shoot, shoot" nurse and no mother superior dancing around, but there was that setting. "All You Need is Love" definitely, because the title of the movie before I became involved was "All You Need is Love". I wanted to change it because I feel, as I still do feel, you have to experience the dark side and go through all of the experience of those characters before you can say the words, "All You Need is Love." "Across the Universe" to me is much more appropriate because also this movie speaks to everybody in the world and the Beatles belonged to everybody in the world. I think, "All You Need Is Love" is a very deep statement, but it can be a very trite statement at the same time.

CS: Why did you decide to not use any of the Beatles performances?
Taymor: How can you use the Beatles performances? It's impossible. What are you going to do? Have these guys lip-syncing the Beatles? No, that's not this movie. I haven't met anybody who hated it, but I'm not saying they wouldn't. I'm just saying it hasn't happened to my face in my presence yet. I think you can object to certain things that you might not like or whatever, like in any movie. If you come in saying, "I don't want to hear other people singing The Beatles" then you've had 40 years of thousands of covers that you have not liked, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Fiona Apple. You know, it's absurd. What one has to really respect is that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and with a little help from Ringo Starr, were great songwriters. That's why you never see the word Beatles in the main credits. Those are songwriters. That means their songs can be interpreted by many performers, and to limit it to being The Beatles is a mistake, because those are perfect performances, but that doesn't mean those songs can be re-interpreted, like all Mozart is or Sondheim. How many "Chicago's" are you going to have? You have different singers singing great artists work. I think people have to get over that hump. Then you can object about, "Well, I don't like this rendition or I don't like your version of this song, or I don't like musicals." (laughs) I don't like people taking Beatles songs and putting them into a literal context. That was always my biggest burden. The biggest fear is taking songs that are not abstract, but they're up for the personal interpretation of all you people who listen to them. But it's a musical, that was my job. It's a musical with a story, with a context and a thrust, so you just do it.

CS: Can you talk about working with such a young and fresh cast on this?
Taymor: Well, the joy in this project is that it had parts for really young people. Evan Rachel Wood is known, but she was growing up, no one had really seen her. She was 17 when we started the movie. Having these young people means you're going to have fresh faces, and they're not jaded in any way. We also had to do a month and a half of rehearsal and pre-record, so they got together and they called it "Beatle Camp." They were living together. Actually, I think a couple of them did move down to the Lower East Side and live together and the thing is that they bonded. They came together as a group from very disparate places and they were what you see in that film. The charisma and the chemistry is what you see on the movie.

CS: You said that the words "The Beatles" never comes up, but also the word Janis never comes up, although Sadie is clearly supposed to represent Janis Joplin.
Taymor: She is, and she is consciously so. I knew Dana Fuchs,; not as a friend, but I knew where she had done "Love Janis" off-Broadway and she did a demo for me for another musical movie that I'm working on and she had that raw…that is who she is. She's from the South, she's from a black neighborhood, gospel churches, she grew up on that music. She's a phenomenal singer. She and Martin Luther McCoy who plays JoJo, I wanted them to bring in the other sound of the '60s. Now you'll say he looks like Jimmy Hendrix, and he certainly plays the guitar and he does all of that, but there were other black performers who had that whole style with the band and the hippie shirts, but the way that Martin sings is actually closer to Marvin Gaye and it's his way of singing. They're both singers with their own careers. They've never acted before, so this was really a joy to see that they're both incredibly talented actors as well. That was an attempt to actually bring in the other kinds of sounds and voices that you would hear from that period.

CS: I noticed that you gave a lot of the love songs to women, and I realized how feminine those lyrics could be.
Taymor: Well, do you think any guy right now would sing "Hold Me Tight" or "It Won't be Long yea…yea..yea"? Those Beatles at that time were channeling fifteen-year-old girls. That's why the girls were going nuts, because they sang their feelings. Jude sings a love song. He sings "Something in the Way She Moves" and what's such a beautiful thing about that love song is how unsimple it is, how complex it is. "I could leave her now, you know I know how. Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover" So you know he's had other lovers. "There is really something in the way she moves me. You know I could leave her now, you know I believe in how..." (Forgive me if I got the lyrics wrong.) There are these love songs and they're poignant and they've got complicated twists and turns.

CS: At what point did Bono get involved with the movie?
Taymor: Bono entered because Elliott Goldenthal had worked with Bono, and I had met him a couple of times and then I had been working with Bono on doing "Spider-Man: The Musical." Did (Jim Sturgess) tell you what he did? He and Evan did the reading. Good, maybe that means he'll do the Broadway musical if he's talking about it. That's a good sign. He was phenomenal, the two of them. First of all, I love Jim and Evan and Jude and Lucy. I love their chemistry so much that I would cast them in a million movies together, because I think like Tracy-Hepburn, that once you get an onscreen couple that clearly connects like that, it's fun for audiences to see them. We don't do that these days. They used to do that. You'd have the paring, remember the old movies? They would have those actors who would pair. There would be pairs that would do many, many movies like Tracy-Hepburn & Bogart-Bacall.

CS: There's a real timelessness to the story and the music, such as the image of the soldiers trudging through the rice patties with the Statue of Liberty. It's so stunning and so "right now" and maybe it's because I'm looking at things through the prism of…
Taymor:Iraq?

CS: Yes, exactly.
Taymor: We were too. Absolutely, you wouldn't have Lucy's line in the laundromat when she says, "Maybe when bombs start going off in this country, people will listen." If you didn't have 9/11, you wouldn't have a line like that. And I think it's absolutely true. I think it took people in this country to get affected personally either on a national level or on a personal level like Lucy is where her boyfriend goes to Vietnam. I and the writers and all of the kids in the movie, we were very aware that this is not a nostalgic period piece. This piece is as important and as contemporary today as it was then. It is what is going on, that there is a war that is not a happy war, that isn't a war that we all believe in, that is a war that goes on and on and on, as she says, "Nobody's listening." Especially through Lucy as the activist, Lucy who's has had the personal trauma of loved ones being affected. She's right now. She's mothers, daughters, girls. Yet this movie, even with that image of the Statue of Liberty is fun. That is the fine line that we directors and writers have to tread. The Beatles are incredibly entertaining and moving and yet they did "Revolution," which was from John Lennon's heart. When he wrote that song, he was being pushed obviously to be much more activist, and he was on that line. That's exactly where Jude is when he comes into that office, not like he doesn't want to have the world change, not like he doesn't believe in violence. So, I think that they're songs which were simple love songs--"Hold Me Tight" and all of those--going right through their psychedelic, more druggie period, they're fabulously moving and entertaining, but they also were social statements. "A Day in the Life" was a social statement at it's time. Now, we don't use the lyrics, but everybody who knows, "A Day in the Life" knows, "I read the news today, oh boy…" That's all you need in the ghost of those lyrics are right there when you see this Vietnam veteran sitting in the hospital in a wheelchair with the other veterans watching the march on the Pentagon on television. Even "Sicko" was an entertaining movie. There's ways that I believe you don't have be mindless and stupid to be enjoyed. I LOVE good comedies. I mean, "Ratatouille" was one of my favorite movies this year and Ben Stiller's movies, I love them, butI think when you have the Beatles you have an obligation and the period to do both. It was a very, very chock-full time. People we both responsible and totally irresponsible.

CS: You talked about the differences in producing something for the screen vs. for the stage and when you choreograph the dance numbers, there's always the issue of things going on off-screen that we don't see because we're limited by the camera.
Taymor: I had a great DP, too! Bruno Delbonnel. You have widescreen, it's a wide format, so there are these wide shots where you have 200 people, especially the street where we do "Come Together." It's one of my favorite moments when JoJo is coming and you see the people shifting.

CS: And also the demonstration that incorporates a large number of people and the giant puppet characters seemed like something that couldn't be done on stage.
Taymor: I think this movie can be done on stage with a very serious…. it would be fun, but I'd have to really, really find a way that 30 people could play everything. You see, that's what's fun. The idea of the limitations of theatre, I enjoy that. When you say, "Okay, how are you going to have a stampede on stage?" Well, I used old-time theatre. I don't know if you ever saw "Lion King", but that I enjoy. If I had started this on stage, I don't think it would have had helicopters and bombs going off in Vietnam and riots in Detroit and then what we do in "I Want You" where we do the body parts. Going straight from full choreography? You can't do that in a theatre. The juxtaposition of theses scenes, the editing is so cinematic. You'd have to find a completely different language in a way to do that.

CS: The psychedelic scenes probably couldn't be done like that on stage either.
Taymor: Oh, you mean with Bono in the "Walrus" section? Mr. Kite and the circus? Well, the circus in a way with the blue people jumping. The exterior of the surface is pure theatre. I could do that on the stage. What I couldn't do is what happens in the circus. I can do it in a different way, that's very theatrical, but we use animation and we use all this kind of different dance, speed it up and all kinds of stuff. I can create an equivalent, but it won't be the same.

CS: I know there've been a few different versions of the movie, so did you end up getting your own edit at the end?
Taymor: Yes, that's my cut.

CS: Is there a longer version or other things that you wound up cutting out?
Taymor: No, what you'll see on the DVD extras, which will be a gas, is expanded musical numbers, which you always knew would be cut. You'll get those because we shot them, they're there, not necessarily the whole song, but you'll get more. When you get into the DVD extras is fun, because you'll see there is a huge dance number at the end of "Come Together" that we knew early on in the editing, it wouldn't work. The story just becomes performance, so that's something with my editor Francoise, who I adore--she did "Frida" and "Titus"--we go through. You have that material. So that's all you get. This is the director's cut, I'm happy to say, and very supported by the studio on that.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: noyes on September 18, 2007, 09:15:05 AM
totally looking forward to this.
doesn't bother me how unoriginal or tacked on it seems.

why did i say this?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Pubrick on September 18, 2007, 10:11:44 AM
totally looking forward to this.
doesn't bother me how unoriginal or tacked on it seems.

why did i say this?

i know how you feel, man. probably.

i shoulda figured female directors have their sophomore jinx one film after dudes.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: hedwig on September 22, 2007, 03:18:49 PM
Across the Universe
Nothing's gonna change my world


Release Date: 2007

Ebert Rating: ****
Sep 14, 2007
By Roger Ebert

Here is a bold, beautiful, visually enchanting musical where we walk into the theater humming the songs. Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe" is an audacious marriage of cutting-edge visual techniques, heart-warming performances, 1960s history and the Beatles songbook. Sounds like a concept that might be behind its time, but I believe in yesterday.

This isn't one of those druggy 1960s movies, although it has what the MPAA shyly calls "some" drug content. It's not grungy, although it has Joe Cocker in it. It's not political, which means it's political to its core. Most miraculous of all, it's not dated; the stories could be happening now, and in fact, they are.

For a film that is almost wall to wall with music, it has a full-bodied plot. The characters, mostly named after Beatles songs, include Lucy (the angelic Evan Rachel Wood), who moves from middle America to New York; Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpool ship welder who works his way to New York on a ship, and Lucy's brother, Max (Joe Anderson), a college student who has dropped out (I guess). They now all share a pad in Greenwich Village with their musician friends, the Hendrixian Jo-Jo (Martin Luther McCoy), the Joplinesque Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and the lovelorn Prudence (T.V. Carpio), who loves women but doesn’t feel free to express her true feelings.

Jude and Lucy fall in love, and they all go through a hippie period on Dr. Robert's Magic Bus, where the doctor (Bono) and his bus bear a striking resemblance to Ken Kesey's magical mystery tour. They also get guidance from Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard), having been some days in preparation. But then things turn serious as Max goes off to Vietnam and the story gets swept up in the anti-war movement.

Yet when I say "story," don't start thinking about a lot of dialogue and plotting. Almost everything happens as an illustration to a Beatles song. The arrangements are sometimes familiar, sometimes radically altered, and the voices are all new; the actors either sing or sync, and often they find a mood in a song that we never knew was there before. When Prudence sings "I Want to Hold Your Hand," for example, I realized how wrong I was to ever think that was a happy song. It's not happy if it's a hand you are never, never, never going to hold. The love that dare not express its name turns in sadness to song.

Julie Taymor, famous as the director of "The Lion King" on Broadway, is a generously inventive choreographer, such as in a basic-training scene where all the drill sergeants look like G.I. Joe; a sequence where inductees in Jockey shorts carry the Statue of Liberty through a Vietnam field, and cross-cutting between dancing to Beatles clone bands at an American high school prom and in a Liverpool dive bar. There are underwater sequences which approach ballet, a stage performance that turns into musical warfare, strawberries that bleed, rooftop concerts and a montage combining crashing waves with the Detroit riots.

But all I'm doing here is list-making. The beauty is in the execution. The experience of the movie is joyous. I don't even want to know about anybody who complains they aren't hearing "the real Beatles." Fred Astaire wasn't Cole Porter, either. These songs are now more than 40 years old, some of them, and are timeless, and hearing these unexpected talents singing them (yes, and Bono, Izzard and Cocker, too) only underlines their astonishing quality.

You weren't alive in the 1960s? Or the '70s or '80s? You're like the guy on the IMDb message board who thought the band was named the "Beetles," and didn't even get it when people made Volkswagen jokes because he hadn't heard of VW Beetles, either. All is forgiven. Jay Leno has a Jaywalking spot for you. Just about anybody else is likely to enjoy "Across the Universe."

I'm sure there were executives who thought it was suicidal to set a "Beatles musical" in the "Vietnam era." But this is a movie that fires its songs like flowers at the way we live now. It's the kind of movie you watch again, like listening to a favorite album. It was scheduled for the Toronto Film Festival but was previewed (as several Toronto films were) for critics in major cities. I was drowning in movies and deadlines, and this was the only one I went to see twice. Now do your homework and rent the DVD of "A Hard Day's Night" if you've never seen it. The thought that there are readers who would get this far in this review of this film and never have seen that film is unbearably sad. Cheer me up. Don't let me down (repeat three times).
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: bonanzataz on September 22, 2007, 03:32:04 PM
since he got better, has ebert reviewed a film that he didn't like?

ps, the more i hear about this movie the less i want to see it.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Ravi on September 22, 2007, 04:15:39 PM
since he got better, has ebert reviewed a film that he didn't like?

He gave one star to Good Luck, Chuck.

Quote
ps, the more i hear about this movie the less i want to see it.

My "not wanting to see this" level is about the same as when I first saw the trailer ages ago.  This doesn't look very good.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: hedwig on September 29, 2007, 02:07:35 AM
spoiler-free

- there were about two or three excellent scenes. too bad they were trapped in such a bad movie.
- i did not give a shit about any of the characters. in fact, i can't remember the last time i cared LESS about the characters in a movie.
- provides absolutely no insight to the social or political climate of the sixties. it's one cliche after another.
- "where did she come from?" "she came in through the bathroom window." jesus christ.
- the worst crime was the music. so mediocre. joe cocker, eddie izzard, and Carol Woods (who sings "Let it Be" beautifully) are the exceptions.
- bono looked like robin williams.
- i really can't wait for I'm Not There.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: SiliasRuby on September 30, 2007, 08:13:19 PM
Let me first put by saying that I Love Love Love The Beatles. I grew up with their music.

This has all of the cliches and rediculousness that I thought it would and you either buy into it and enjoy it or you don't. I did. I recognized every single one of the songs that they sung and I even sang along to a couple. I too felt a bit detached from the characters but I didn't really care I loved it anyway. Bono, I felt, really fit into the movie and so did Joe Cocker.
The let it be sequence had me a bit emotional. I really can't wait for Dylan and Haynes "I'm Not There"
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: hedwig on September 30, 2007, 08:52:00 PM
i know it's weird to argue with you cause you love everything but i just wanted to point out that i also love the beatles, grew up with their music, and recognized every song in the movie... and my familiarity and affection for the music made me dislike the movie even more. i mentioned I'm Not There because i know THAT is going to be the definitive film about the 60s that this movie aspired to be.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on October 04, 2007, 07:10:40 PM
across the universe interview
Director Julie Taymor subverts the musical.
Source: BBC.co.uk

The director of Frida joins forces with veteran British scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) to create a late-60s-set movie musical built around 33 Beatles songs. Across The Universe, then, is nothing if not unusual. "There is no formula for this movie," says director Julie Taymor, who developed the project with Clement and La Frenais, creating an elaborate love story with a backdrop of Vietnam and social tumult.

It must have been quite a challenge, especially in the face of the protective passions of certain Beatles fans. "It's a very big burden to carry, an honour and a burden as well. One of those double things," says Taymor. "But for 40 years there's been some pretty brilliant, brilliant covers – Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin – of Beatles songs, and some horrendous ones."

Despite being an elaborate film with multiple set-pieces, special effects, and half a dozen key characters performing the songs (led by impressive relative newcomers Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood and Joe Anderson), the result are remarkably fluid. "It was very organic," says Taymor. "Where you become spontaneous is where you see what the performers can do… Where there's freedom I really go for the freedom. Like with Eddie Izzard in the recording studio he said, 'I'm not a singer', and I said, 'That's fine – learn the song as best you can and then improvise.' So we cut his track from ten extraordinary improvisations, and on set he did it live. Ninety per cent of this movie is sung live on film, it's not lip-sync."

As well as being a love story, the film is very politicised, with Taymor and co drawing parallels between the late 60s and today. "I feel like I'm on a soapbox," says Taymor, but continues: "We have a war going on, and people just live their lives normally while other young men and women - the poor - are fighting a war that nobody understands. And we shouldn't even be there, we should never have been there. A lot of lines in the movie - like 'if bombs start going off here, maybe people will listen' - are very pointedly post-9/11 and very present. That content in the film is as important to us as the fun, the love story and the beauty of the music and the imagery."

It's not every day that a big studio (Sony) releases a movie that features musical set pieces involving young men being processed into grunts for Vietnam, or a lesbian cheerleader singing I Want to Hold Your Hand while American footballing students balletically clash around her in slow-mo, or Bono and Izzard as counter-culture gurus (inspired by Leary and Kesey), or a supergroup that throws together fictionalised variations on Joplin and Hendrix. It's the most inventive, audacious film you'll see in years. Love it or hate it, you can't fault the ambition of Across The Universe.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: B.C. Long on October 05, 2007, 01:48:34 AM
Actually the problem with the film is it isn't ambitious enough. Terrible, terrible script and uninspired musical numbers with lazy choreography that occasionally rips of Moulin Rouge with it's visuals. Particularly the scene with Eddie Izzard. In theory, the concept of Across the Universe is a promising one. But it just didn't turn out that way. When Prudence, the asian lesbian cheerleader started to sing "I wanna hold your hand" I was convinced the rest of the movie was going to suck. I felt like they used every single song half-assedly (that a word?).

Like they were listening to beatle songs as they wrote the script and went "hey this sorta fits, let's have the characters lip sync the lyrics in this scene." What would have been ambitious is if Prudence would of been a butch dyke singing I want to hold your hand.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: pumba on October 05, 2007, 01:08:51 PM
Well put.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on October 12, 2007, 12:30:33 AM
Is this the next cult sensation?
Teenage girls could make "Across the Universe" a hit of "High School Musical" proportions.
By Chris Lee, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

"All You Need Is Love" may be an abiding principle in the gospel of the Beatles. But the Fab Four-inspired romantic musical "Across the Universe" -- in which winsome young actors and assorted rock stars sing 35 classic Beatles songs vividly re-imagined by acclaimed opera and theater director Julie Taymor -- needed a lot more than that after an uninspiring opening last month.

Then help arrived in the form of an audience whose parents were their age when the first wave of Beatlemania hit.
 
After three weeks in theaters, the PG-13 movie finally penetrated the top 10 by connecting with a zealous core constituency: teenage girls, who, anecdotal evidence suggests, are going to see the movie in packs, bonding with one another (and the film) through repeated viewings and popularizing it with their school chums via word-of-mouth.

Nicole Sacharow, 15, from Culver City, for one, ranks "Universe" among her "favorite movies ever." She's seen it twice and would already have notched up several more viewings were it not for scheduling conflicts with her friends.

"You go up to a group of people and say, 'Who wants to see "Across the Universe" this weekend?' " Sacharow explained. "The songs are addicting. Everyone who goes to see it has the soundtrack. I listen to it every day. I hear people singing the songs around school."

Matylda Kerry, 15, from Santa Monica, has also seen "Across the Universe" twice and feels the film's stylized depiction of '60s historical touchstones such as the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement -- as set to Beatles music and sung by good-looking young people -- has helped her and her friends make a more personal connection to the era.

"It puts it in a different perspective. It makes it more real," Kerry said. "It reminds me of today's issues. Our government, the war that's going on, how it affects people around us."

As of today, the $45-million film, which has taken in $8.5 million at the box office so far, is expanding from 364 to 953 theaters.

But "Universe's" commercial prognosis hardly looked promising at the outset. Released to mixed reviews -- many condemning the artistic liberties Taymor took with the Beatles' music -- the movie had been in the can for over a year before hitting just 23 screens in its first week of release. Taymor, the creative force behind the Tony-winning musical "The Lion King," famously battled her production company chief, Revolution Studios' Joe Roth, over final cut of the film after he took the unprecedented step of editing a version of "Universe" by himself. She ultimately won the right to assemble footage her way after threatening to take her name off the movie -- tantamount to an act of commercial seppuku in Hollywood. But word of "Universe's" troubled production prejudiced industry expectations.

Even at a time when music-driven fare such as "Hairspray" and "High School Musical" are striking a chord within the culture, capturing the hearts and allowance money of teen fans, "Universe" faced unique marketing obstacles. The movie's stars, indie trauma-drama princess Evan Rachel Wood and unknown British actor Jim Sturgess, weren't sure-fire attractions. And to judge by "Universe's" trailer, which began screening in front of "Spider-Man 3" in May, it wasn't immediately clear which genre "Universe" belongs to. Is it a coming-of-age story? A rock opera á la "Moulin Rouge"? A surrealistic period piece? (Answer: all the above.) Worse for marketers at Sony, the film's distributor, contractual obligations bound them from hitting home with "Universe's" primary selling point.

"Yoko Ono, Paul [McCartney], Ringo [Starr] and [George's widow] Olivia Harrison were all supportive of the film, but I couldn't use the Beatles name in any advertising," Taymor recalled. "That didn't make things easy. And you can't advertise that you have Bono, Eddie Izzard and Joe Cocker in cameo roles. We didn't have a real big push from Sony; they were stumped by it. So nobody was really sure who the film's audience was."

The division's president of domestic marketing, Valerie Van Galder, explained that movie musicals are notoriously difficult to promote. So rather than employ a traditional marketing salvo -- TV commercials, billboards, talk show appearances, etc. -- the studio posted numerous video clips and music videos to the Web that have collectively been streamed millions of times, popularizing "Universe" in cyberspace's most popular kibbitz rooms.

"We gave people the sense that they'd discovered it for themselves," Van Galder said. "On MySpace, YouTube and the message boards, there has been a passionate, vocal following. Young people are discovering the Beatles' music for the first time and Jim Sturgess has been a big draw. It's like fans are in love. There hasn't been a teeny-bopper discovery like this in a long time."

According to Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracking firm Media by Numbers, audiences are now finding their way to "Universe" thanks to Sony's textbook execution of what is known in the industry as a "platform release."

"The movie is so unique. It has an indie sensibility even though it's a Sony picture," he said. "So expectations were unknown. But Sony has handled it perfectly. They got big initial interest in limited release, then they've been capitalizing on that every week."

"They're taking their time. On a movie like this, that's what you have to do."

But while Dergarabedian heaps praise on the marketing plan, Taymor feels the movie has benefited from a kind of benign studio neglect. "In a funny way, young people found the movie because it wasn't marketed huge," she said. "Young people don't want to be dictated to about what's the new cool thing."

Curiously, just as the film's hunky-yet-sensitive male lead, Sturgess, has become the focal point of fan appreciation -- postings on various message boards have proclaimed him "the hotness," and "soooo cute" -- the actor's personal publicist has put him out of reach for "Universe's" new publicity push. Sturgess was made unavailable for an interview with The Times partially out of concern he be perceived as a "teen heartthrob" -- never mind Sturgess' scream-inducing appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the movie's soundtrack, distributed by Interscope Records in both a deluxe and standard version, has also helped drive the film's popularity. It peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes album chart and at No. 24 on the Billboard 200, selling a combined 110,000 copies. "I'm thrilled we can turn on a new generation to Beatles music," said Robbie Snow, Interscope Records head of marketing.

As Matylda Kerry sees it, "Universe's" reworking of the Fab Four songbook has allowed her to appreciate the Beatles more deeply. "Everyone I know is listening to [the soundtrack] again and again, comparing it to the old Beatles songs," she said. "I've heard people saying they're ripping off the Beatles, but it's also a tribute.

"Everybody knows those songs. It makes you like them all over again."
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: The Red Vine on October 12, 2007, 11:08:13 PM
I won't ramble since the point has already been made about this film. Except to say that Julie Taymor seems to have invented the meaning of "ham-fisted".

Let it fucking be.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gamblour. on October 22, 2007, 10:02:39 AM
Well put.

Coming from someone who called it a "gay musical" so much that I thought homosexuality actually might be part of the plot. You're a fucking idiot.

The movie is great. I mean, I don't understand what you guys want from a musical. The film echoes not only the 60s but the lives of the Beatles, and their music is intertwined with that era. But they're also timeless, otherwise the songs wouldn't be so classic. Critics have said it's dated, which is a pointless thing to say.

As for not providing any insight into the 60s, I didn't go into this movie to find a new perspective on Vietnam or radicalism. This film is about the brilliance of the Beatles' songs, emerging from the complex world of the 60s. It's an homage. The movie sets these characters inside the songs, and I think it works. I had a great time watching it. Some say it resembles "Hair" or it's a cliched version of the 60s, but really, a movie about the 60s that doesn't involve anti-war activism, drugs, sex, drugs, and Vietnam would be a boring fucking movie. This is not.

The sequences are really wonderful, especially "I Want You" and "I've Just Seen a Face." Oh, and "With A Little Help From My Friends." The actors have so much fun in these sequences. "Let it Be" is devastating. Julie Taymor's animated sequences, seen clumsily used in "Frida," finally find their home. They work so well. As for the songs being used too literally or references being too obvious. Well, I mean, how else do you make "I've Just Seen a Face" work so well without it being literal? That criticism seems nonsensical.

Oh, and "She's So Heavy." There you go. Literal as hell and fucking brilliant. There is so much to enjoy.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: ponceludon on October 23, 2007, 01:58:43 AM
The film echoes not only the 60s but the lives of the Beatles, and their music is intertwined with that era.

See, I think this is a completely cartoonish and unrealistic view of the 60s. I am definitely not old enough to have been alive back then, but my understanding from the countless histories and biographies of the 60's that I have read is that it was not at all like that. The average person was not so colorfully affected by such things as the Vietnam War and sex and drugs, and it certainly wasn't peppered with such ridiculousness as genius musicians and sexy landladies on every corner. It's simultaneously such a sterilized and vulgarized view of the fantasy of the Beatles as imposed on American history. The film tries to be both Yellow Submarine and some trenchant social commentary at the same time, which cheapens both views of it. It can't be John Lennon vs. The United States AND The Magical Mystery Tour at the same time.

I'm also not entirely sure how much of the Beatles is IN the movie so much as their music is the backdrop. They surely were not laymen, nor were they Americans. The article that MacGuffin posted about how this movie is becoming the cutesy Rocky Horror for the new generation seems more to me like what the view of the 60s and the Beatles is turning into. When I first discovered the Beatles in 5th grade, I imagined creating stories about the people in the songs and making an entire life out of each album, which I'm sure many other people did. This is merely an expensive fairy tale of Jude and Lucy and Rita and Sadie and JoJo which is really no more sophisticated than me at age 10.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gamblour. on October 23, 2007, 11:24:18 AM
OK I don't think the film ever said that it was gonna be a kitchen drama about the 1960s. They're obviously choosing to go with a romanticized version of the era, and I think any social commentary is only visited at the surface because I guess a musical is capable of this, but then again musicals are about the music, so why are we trying to make this movie something it's not? And who cares about what average people were colorfully affected by? These are characters in a musical, why does everyone want this film to be boring. "Let's make it with average people who had no direct interaction with Vietnam, drugs, or any of the hallmarks of popular 60s culture. Music, too. Get rid of the music." Jesus.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: The Sheriff on October 24, 2007, 04:53:21 AM
no it sucked, check again
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gamblour. on October 24, 2007, 07:13:52 AM
hilarious. go get some fountainhead or get your atlas tugged. if you're gonna post something terse and without any actual points for effect, try harder.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: The Sheriff on October 25, 2007, 12:27:29 AM
everything about how it sucked has already been said. what else do you want me to say?
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on November 11, 2007, 06:21:50 PM
This completely worked for me in every possible way. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with you people. I'm so depressed/horrified by the reactions I've read in this thread that I really have to end it there.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gamblour. on November 12, 2007, 09:42:56 AM
This completely worked for me in every possible way. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with you people. I'm so depressed/horrified by the reactions I've read in this thread that I really have to end it there.

I mean, I guess you and I could discuss, being the lone dissidents.

I have to say, after seeing this and now Control, I really, really have a mancrush on Joe Anderson. He's something like Jared Leto and Sam Rockwell's baby, with a bit of Brad Pitt's acting style, but better.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Redlum on January 11, 2008, 02:08:40 PM
I've put off watching the trailer for this for a long time, despite it's alluring title. Watching it, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, but how much of this is down to the power of the songs? I particularly ask Gamblour and JB because I can think of a number of ways in which this film could fail. There has to be a very narrow line this film could walk to pull off what I saw in the trailer and I'm frightened to watch it.

Can you give me any comparisons? Impromptu song and dance numbers have never been anything but a hit with me but I'm concerned the love story might blow this one for me.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Gamblour. on January 11, 2008, 02:36:21 PM
Talk about pressure. I'm not sure what to say considering people either think this movie works and they love it or they hate everything about it. I went into this movie not expecting some brilliant reinvisioned reworking of Beatles' songs, but with an open mind, and I got a film that encapsulated music, politics, visuals, youth, and energy and it was really fun to watch.

Better yet, read the bottom bold paragraph of this New York Times article:

January 6, 2008
The Oscars
A Mystery Tour More Menacing Than Magical
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
ONE of the most surreal moments in “Across the Universe,” Julie Taymor’s passionate ’60s fantasia set to the songs of the Beatles, is a three-and-a-half-minute sequence at an Army induction center in New York City. Here is where Max Carrigan (Joe Anderson), a spirited hippie rebel from an upper-middle-class family, reluctantly reports for his physical examination after receiving his draft notice. Because he was told that if he swallowed cotton balls they would show up on an X-ray as spots on his lungs, he quickly ingests one as he enters the building.

No sooner has Max arrived than an Uncle Sam recruiting poster stirs to life, and the eagle-eyed glare of the white-haired geezer in his top hat and parade outfit fixes on him. Growling the opening phrases of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” Uncle Sam reaches out a giant animated hand and grabs Max by the shoulder.

Simultaneously two uniformed soldiers clamp their hands on him from behind and roughly push him into a narrow corridor, lined on both sides with uniformed soldiers standing at ramrod attention, wearing prosthetic makeup that turns their faces into identical wooden masks. With their grim, expressionless features and jutting chins, they suggest a nightmarish corps of slit-eyed fascist troopers gazing ahead with a blank malevolence.

As Max moves down the line, their arms robotically reach out and snatch away his shirt and trousers, leaving him in his briefs. Attempting to elude their grasp, he executes a somersault that lands him in a row of nervous fellow recruits, also stripped to their briefs. The half-naked men face a grim herd of soldiers executing a mechanical calisthenicslike war dance that is all right angles, to a grinding metallic soundtrack punctuated with stomping cha-cha-chas.

“I want you so bad, it’s driving me mad,” voices shout on the soundtrack. Suddenly the ceiling, a grid of inverted boxes, lowers to the floor, trapping the recruits in rows of identical cubicles, each with a desk, a lamp and an interrogating officer. Lids crash down from above.

In a quick cutaway, stenciled crates of ammunition double as cramped examination rooms in which the recruits are processed like pieces of meat. A doctor, unseen except for a glimpse of his gloved hand, examines miscellaneous body parts: an arm, a leg, feet, teeth and gums, and an eye stretched wide open in a frightening image reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange.” Urine streams into measuring glasses. Then, abruptly, the doors of the examining rooms are slammed shut.

In another quick cut the recruits are grabbed from behind by the officers and forced to fall into push-ups as the soldiers step over them without looking down. The humiliation of young men, still clad only in briefs, suggests a ritualized gang rape, after which the victims are yanked to their feet and forced to dance briefly with their abusers, then thrown onto the floor on their backs. Before they have time to stir, they begin to slide involuntarily across the room, their hands shielding their eyes.

They emerge in a miniature jungle to the sound of helicopters as the second half of the song begins. The camera pulls back from a close-up of their boots slogging through the mud, to reveal them still half-naked, lugging a giant model of the Statue of Liberty through the steaming forest. As they lumber forward at the laborious pace of a graduation march, the words “She’s so heavy,” sung on the soundtrack, suggest the collective groan of a chain gang.

Max is next seen plunking a tiny Statue of Liberty on the desk of a decorated officer.

“Any reason you shouldn’t be in this man’s Army, son?” he demands.

Max blurts out, “I’m a cross-dressing homosexual pacifist with a spot on my lung.”

Acting as though he hasn’t heard, the officer announces, “Long as you don’t have flat feet,” and stamps Max’s papers. The next moment Max is shown shrink-wrapped from head to toe and labeled 1A. He’s officially in the Army.

The sequence, like everything else in the movie, is charged with emotion, in this case fear. Other scenes use masks and puppetry, music and surreal choreography to evoke ecstasy, fury and sheer strangeness.

Anyone who experienced firsthand the tumult of the counterculture should recognize the volatile mixture of idealism and rage that runs through the movie and through Beatles songs like “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which is used so ingeniously that it sounds as though it had been written for the induction scene.

Despite all their whimsy and cheek, the Beatles’ songs were rarely cynical. “Across the Universe” understands that behind the era’s experimentation with drugs and sex and political confrontation lay a fundamental innocence, a belief that somehow it would all lead toward a more enlightened world. The movie’s power lies in its refusal to offer a skeptical, revisionist take on the period. Its view of the counterculture is unabashedly romantic: Those were the good old days, fondly remembered, never to be recovered.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 11, 2008, 05:41:56 PM
I've put off watching the trailer for this for a long time, despite it's alluring title. Watching it, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, but how much of this is down to the power of the songs? I particularly ask Gamblour and JB because I can think of a number of ways in which this film could fail. There has to be a very narrow line this film could walk to pull off what I saw in the trailer and I'm frightened to watch it.

Can you give me any comparisons? Impromptu song and dance numbers have never been anything but a hit with me but I'm concerned the love story might blow this one for me.

Like Gamblour, I entered the movie with zero expectations. I wouldn't pre-analyze it too much... just keep an open mind and a sense of humor.

Think of it this way. They basically picked through a bunch of Beatles songs and attempted to mash them together into a story. So yes, much of the movie's power comes from the Beatles music. But Taymor is in top form, and it's her cinematics and her interpretations of the songs that really did it for me.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: MacGuffin on February 08, 2008, 04:46:59 PM
For me, it started off as High School Musical, and I understood why 14 year-old Julie Taymor fans wet their panties over this. But as the film went on, it's like that 14 year-old matured, and it was with the powerful Let It Be sequence. It completely showed the beauty of images and music. And that's when I got hooked in to the rest of the film, and yes, the 14 year-old girl in me even shed a tear at the end. Sure there were some flat moments and the cheesy in-joke Beatles references (she came in through the bathroom window, or the silver hammer line), and I could have done without the Prudence character, but the film worked when it was less choreographed and more about the visuals. And the actors' renditions of the songs were excellent; varying the tones to fit the mood, yet still keeping in the spirit of The Beatles.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: last days of gerry the elephant on February 16, 2008, 11:37:41 PM
This was a pile of shit. The Celine Dion renditions of the Beatles put me off completely and you couldn't go more than 2 minutes before the little shits broke into a song. Most of the time this didn't add jack shit to the plot... at all! What I'm I to make of this? This should have been called High School Musical 3 (Beatles Edition). At least I sat through Crash in its entirety, this on the other hand, I could not bare past the 30 minute mark.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: NEON MERCURY on February 17, 2008, 02:51:45 PM
i though this film was awesome.  whoever didn't like this film needs to get their panties tugged on.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 22, 2015, 03:01:50 AM
This completely worked for me in every possible way. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with you people. I'm so depressed/horrified by the reactions I've read in this thread that I really have to end it there.

Re-watched this tonight, and it holds up. There are five or six moments in this movie that absolutely kill me.

I discovered that Evan Rachel Wood is the soul of the film. Such a tastefully sincere and affecting performance, but there's something else about what she's doing here that I can't quite put my finger on.

The Let It Be sequence completely wrecked me this time. (No coincidence that it begins with ERW.) Quite an accomplishment, because I've never particularly liked that song.

It could lose two or three songs (Dear Prudence, For the Benefit of Mr. Kite), but otherwise it's basically perfect. I love this movie so much.
Title: Re: Across the Universe
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 26, 2015, 02:42:24 PM
Lottery [24|Feb 09:41 PM]:   The Beatles musical? Yeah, that wasn't particularly good.
Reelist [24|Feb 09:42 PM]:   My sister loved it
Lottery [24|Feb 09:43 PM]:   The definitive Beatles-related film is yet to exist.
Jeremy Blackman [24|Feb 10:18 PM]:   :yabbse-angry:
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 01:32 AM]:   Can I explain exactly why it works for me? Perhaps not (though I tried).
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 01:32 AM]:   Does it still work for me? Yes.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 01:42 AM]:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpkL5oLqEz8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpkL5oLqEz8)
polkablues [25|Feb 02:43 AM]:   It's a perfectly charming movie, but I remember thinking the story was kind of a disjointed mess, which is a common issue with jukebox musicals.
polkablues [25|Feb 02:47 AM]:   Trying to reverse engineer a story out of a discography will rarely result in anything organic enough to have lasting impact.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:50 AM]:   The seams of the reverse engineering are clearly visible, yeah.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:51 AM]:   But there's something about accepting the mechanics of a musical that completely opens it up for me.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:52 AM]:   The movie knows it's ridiculous, it takes pleasure in all its goofy movie musical elements, and yet it also has a sincerity that's totally affecting.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:54 AM]:   The songs themselves are probably the only thing that allow the tone-shifting to work.
polkablues [25|Feb 02:54 AM]:   It's a well-made movie, by all means, and I can very easily enjoy the individual pieces of it, it just doesn't hang together as a movie to me.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:56 AM]:   Hmm. Yeah. I guess I'm probably so giddy after watching it that I feel like I can't possibly expect anything more.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:57 AM]:   I fully accept it as a novelty.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:57 AM]:   Honestly though I think more meaning came through on the rewatch.
polkablues [25|Feb 02:57 AM]:   And that's legit.
polkablues [25|Feb 02:58 AM]:   I do also remember getting a little annoyed at the way the movie had the characters Forrest-Gumping their way through events of the era.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 02:58 AM]:   There's a bit of that... but really it was mostly just about Vietnam.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 03:00 AM]:   And the civil rights movement in the Let It Be sequence
polkablues [25|Feb 03:00 AM]:   My memory is probably overstating that aspect of the film.
Jeremy Blackman [25|Feb 03:00 AM]:   Which somehow hit me hard this time and didn't quite land with me on the first watch


And here's the clip I linked:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpkL5oLqEz8