You all knew this was coming.
A week ago, (if my fuzzy memory serves me) at Fitz, Across the Universe was thrown on the big screen and I finally resigned myself to watch the damn thing. For weeks, it seems like my work has been the only place in town that has the flick (I send out weekly orders for "rapid response" on the title which should let you know corporates interest in pushing it and the rabid reaction of consumers) and I remember, quite unfondly, when I had to FUCKING SUFFER through the soundtrack around Jeebus' B-Day. Everything I had read or heard about the film was this: visually striking but a narrative cluster fuck aka a shitty movie but a cool music video.
I begrudgingly took my seat and then came the pain. Across the Universe has to be one of the worst musicals to ever befoul this cursed Earth. Please do not take that as hyperbole because if you see me and get into a conversation about it, plan on hearing a symposium style deconstruction of the myriad failures of this piece of shit. Now, where do I begin?
Look, I dig the Beatles. I'll admit I have a way larger hard-on for the Beach Boys but I believe the band to truly define pop music (as it was in its former glory) was the Fab Four. And as much as I think Sgt. Pepper is fucking terrible (yeah, THAT topped Brian Wilson) and overrated like A-Rod, everything else is excellent. REVOLVER, people. So, my main argument against this cinematic travesty will be that Julie Taymor and the other filmmakers do NOT respect the Beatles at all. Yeah, I fucking said it.
Where do I need to fucking begin to justify that statement? Well, let me backtrack a bit and state my position on covers. I'm cool with them as long as they maintain the integrity of the original. Pansy Division doing Liz Phair's "Flower" is awesome. Dolly Parton doing the Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me Crazy" is not. Shit, I've even heard a few killer Beatles covers in my time. Check out the Breeders "When I Was a Painter." Or Ramallah's "A Day in the Life." Please, do not believe my narrow mind works outside the realm of re-interpretation for the sake of art. Like Lester Bangs wrote, rock 'n' roll is based on plagiarism. Taking shit WAY out of context to fit your narritive needs is something that is unforigivable. Just ask James Frey about that one.
Anyways, let's start with the Asian lezzie singing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." That's a great tune due to it's inherent naive and juvenile purity (despite the Beatles being total gash-hounds when they wrote it). So why in the hell would Taymor sign off on turning it into a tragic, yearning soliliquy? No reason other than it fits the almost non-existent plot and introduces us to a character who really didn't need to be in the movie at all. Ooh, let's not forget the spoiled, over-privelaged fuck up frat boy who introduces his care-free lifestyle to the poor, working class limey to "With a Little Help From My Friends." Yeah, that's what the cats from Liverpool were envisioning when they wrote the song.
If Paul thought Michael Jackson selling the rights to "Revolution" to Nike was a fucking travesty imagine (heh, heh) his look of astonishment after watching this wretched garbage.
To make things all the more cliched, the two protagonists have been given the names Jude and Lucy. Yes, this is not a clever wink to Beatles fans but just another way to FUCK UP "Hey Jude" (this is my finale and why I'm flying to wherever the fuck she is to murder the cunt Taymor) and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
But it's not just these horrible mininterpretations of the music the world recognizes as brillaint. Nope, Taymor has to constantly remind us that the 60's MATTERED, man. Half the audience at Woodstock is now bankrolling the Dockers expense account (there will be a post later on my absolute disgust of this generation) so that's a dumb argument to force on a generation already to hip to that bullshit. Quick question, baby boomers? Who was the band that played the '68 Democratic Convention? It was the MC5 and while they're good they even admitted all their jive about rights and revolution was just a ruse to wreck vag. Flower children, please get over yourselves. Only a handfull actually paid the price for their dedication and beliefs while the rest of you dropped acid and fucked like dirty pigs. Way to go.
Another HUGE problem I have with Across the Universe is that it is a whore for Pro-Tools. Look, music pics can be done well with the right actor. Homeboy who played Ian Curtis in Control was fucking stellar and sang everything you heard in the movie. John Cameron Michael recorded the music for Hedwig and the Angry Inch live while filming. There is really no excuse for having to use a pitch shifter for your actors unless you don't care about artistic integriy, accurasey, or have the slightest bit of repsect for the source matierial and it's fans. See, I brought it all back to my initial point. Looping rules. Allan Weisbecker has taught me a few things.
And now onto "Hey Jude" which comes at the tail end of the "movie." It's probably my favorite Beatles song and in case you didn't know, Paul wrote it for Julian Lennon after John and his wife hit the splits. Having known that, since I'm sure the "filmmakers" are Beatles geeks, you should leave that the fuck alone. This aint't boy/girl breakup shit here, folks. It makes no sense if you truly understand the Beatles and their music to say, "Fuck it. It fits the non-existent narrative. It's going in." But, of course, as in everything with Hollywood, you have to appease the masses. The random crowd of college kids who never took the time to examine the depth of the Beatles at their peak would bitch and moan about that being left out.
So, we're left with Jude and Lucy being apart and Lucy's Vietnam vet bro tracks Jude down telling them to hook back up. How does he do this? THROUGH THE MAGIC OF SONG, OF COURSE! "Hey Jude" is then played out in Taymor's Pro-Tools, pitch shifter obsessed glory as a boy/girl ode with...no piano. That's right. I needn't say more on that.
Finally, to remind us that the 60's MATTERED, man, it ends on a rooftop with Jude singing "All You Need is Love." Dear readers, I promise I could go on for eons about this shit but I have to go throw up and hit the airport. Happiness will indeed be a warm gun.