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An ACROSS THE UNIVERSE review comes in!!!!

Harry here - ever since the trailer for this hit, I've been DYING to see the film. I'm a fan of Julie Taymor's work - and have watched the trailer for this - dozens of times. I even went frame by frame through it once. I love the musical genre - and have missed the Beatles tunes - as they haven't been on screen nearly as much as I would have enjoyed. This is one of my top anticipated films of 07. Aces definitely helped raise my interest even more. Here he is...

AcesOfSamSpade here... Had a chance to see a screening of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE last night at the Grove in LA. It was fantastic. Basically, ATU is like watching Baz Luhrmann on downers...or maybe Gondry on whatever Baz Luhrmann’s on. From blue screens to puppets, this film is an absolute trip. To sum it up, it’s a Beatles musical dissecting different sects of people in the 60’s. As far as musicals go, it’s similar to Pink Floyd’s THE WALL, in that it’s a series of songs directly translated to screen with broad stroke of surrealist eye-candy through- out. Directed by Julie Taymor (FRIDA...which I thought was mediocre) and shot by Bruno Delbonnel (AMELIE, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT), ATU is ultimately a love story with political overtones. Set in various locations, the film uses different Beatles songs, both literally and abstractly, to insert certain traits and motivations into the characters. For example, when we hear “getting high with a little help from my friends” we see a group of friends puffing a joint, with a joint that seems to make harmonica sounds with every puff). It is this sort of direct translation with a hint of surrealism that helps bring the characters to life. With an innumerable amount of songs (I think it’s over 25 Beatles songs, or 35? I don’t know) there is little room left for dialogue. However, in between each song, from 2-5 minutes, there is some sugary exposition to further pump life into the characters and purpose into the story. This was at first unsettling, for as much as I like Beatles songs, I wanted to actually CARE about these people for the next two hours. However, it didn’t take long for this delicious world to reel me in. I am usually not a fan of modern musicals. I think Luhrmann handles them great, however, I hated CHICAGO, and generally care about them even less than the usual Hollywood schlock. However, I found the trailer to ATU tantalizing and knew that this film would most defiantly be a hit or miss. It’s a hit. EVAN RACHEL WOOD is gorgeous as LUCY (just one of many characters named after Beatle’s lyrics) the Lolita-esque little sister of MAX, an aimless college student who eventually gets sucked into the war. Jim Sturgess is FANTASTIC as JUDE, the protagonist of sorts. It’s hard describing the plot, as there really isn’t much of one, rather themes (LOVE, PEACE, HYPOCRISY, etc) that can be extracted by listening to any album of the Beatles. What’s so great about this film is the obvious care Taymor had for the material. I can just imagine her, smoking a joint on a beanbag listening to the Beatles, overcome with these themes that she felt necessary to share (or at least that’s how the film looks...a drug-induced exploration of the Beatles songs). I saw a sneak peak of THE REAPING last weak...just another heartless shot-for-the-money, with a script dryer than the talent attached (ok...Swank was great in Million Dollar Baby...that’s it). From the opening shot of ATU, you can feel how much Taymor wants to make this film...and it make right. However, this doesn't mean everything worked. This was an early screening, so I’m not sure if anything will be changed. Some of the effects were slightly unpolished (or so it seemed), there was no end credits, and some of the film did drag. At the end of the film a man sitting next to me asked “Didn’t you think it dragged a little? Maybe during some points?” I told him “Yeah, it slowed down at points, but I didn’t care, because I was enjoying it so much.” The film isn’t perfect, but is so endearing that I am inclined to overlook the nitpicking, and simply bask in the fun. The film has absolute cult potential, if not for the built-in Beatles fan-base but for the charming product that will send chills to anyone willing to be sucked into this colorful adventure.
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