Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

Across The Universe & r & & r & by ED SYMKUS & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his is the rock musical that Milos Forman's splashy but empty Hair wanted to be, with touches of what Ken Russell was doing in his insanely overwrought Tommy. Julie Taylor, best known for nabbing a directing Tony for the Broadway run of The Lion King, must have studied those films to figure out where they went wrong. If so, she got it right.





The genre is known as jukebox musicals, and it has been realized onstage (Jersey Boys) and in film (Moulin Rouge!), but not yet to the extent that Taymor has accomplished here.





The ambitious Across the Universe spans the mid- to late '60s, tracing in dialogue and songs the stories of rich American girl Lucy ("in the sky," etc.), her hippie brother Max ("well's silver hammer"), and the Liverpudlian Jude ("hey!") who comes to the States to search for the father who abandoned his family before Jude was born.





Among the intertwining relationships that revolve around these three people, and their ever-growing group of friends and hangers-on, the film follows the blooming and fading of romances, the birth of the anti-war movement, and adventures in the world of psychedelic drugs.





The 34 Beatles songs that are sung by the actors perfectly aid and abet the narrative. So Max gets through college "With a Little Help From My Friends"; Lucy, wondering about a future with Jude, sings "If I Fell" to herself; Jude, watching Lucy sleep, croons "Something"; cheerleader Prudence, looking longingly at another cheerleader, does a beautiful version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."





The script also makes sly, nonmusical references to the songs, such as when Prudence actually comes in through a bathroom window.





Taymor, who has a propensity for wild costuming and weird puppets that goes back to her early TV days in films such as Fool's Fire, goes at it full-throttle here. A huge production number featuring Max being inducted into the army to the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is brimming with creepy masks, big puppets and animation. When Eddie Izzard pops up to sing-speak "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," the film enters full-blown psychedelia territory.





It's here that the film misses as much as it hits. For instance, an imagery-laden sequence featuring an unrecognizable Bono as Dr. Robert, singing a tepid version of "I Am the Walrus" appears to be there only for the sake of Bono's appearance. Yet a totally cool early sequence, with Joe Cocker donning multiple outfits and powerfully croaking out "Come Together" sits nicely within the film's many moods.





Casting choices are mostly on the mark, with an OK -- if somewhat restrained -- performance by Joe Anderson (Becoming Jane) as Max, and strong ones by Evan Rachel Wood (Running With Scissors) as Lucy, and British TV actor Jim Sturgess, doing the lion's share of the singing, as Jude.





Though Beatles songs spin through this, there's no actual mention of the band. But there sure is a major reference, in a rooftop concert featuring "Don't Let Me Down," complete with people in the streets staring upward and cops stopping the show.





It's no surprise that the songs, in these terrifically arranged new versions, are as fresh as ever. Any nostalgia factor remains in the story. (Rated PG-13)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Pacifying the Future
  • Pacifying the Future

    A local homebuilder has embraced a design strategy that could be the future of buildings
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Surge Protectors
  • Surge Protectors

    Solar and wind power need batteries to be reliable; Demand Energy's software makes those batteries more efficient
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • Innovation Station
  • Innovation Station

    Toolbox is a space for innovative products to grow
    • Apr 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Startup Weekend Spokane

Startup Weekend Spokane @ Spokane Community College

Sun., April 26, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Restore the Honesty

    Re-establishing trust with the public will require courage on the part of our elected officials
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Don't Test Me

    The Smarter Balanced standardized test has sparked a rebellion in Western Washington — and it's spreading
    • Apr 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation