What What What?

Okay, what bumblehead recommended this movie?! I have got to stop doing this — going to see a movie or play based on the fact that there’s supposed to be some miniscule amount of dancing. (Did the same with Gypsy, knowing only that the production I was to see contained original Jerome Robbins choreography and therefore expecting West Side Story, not realizing “choreography” can sometimes mean simply placement of actors on a stage). Someone — I think it was Dance Magazine in one of their e-newsletters — mentioned that the brilliant Desmond Richardson was to be in this movie (Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe” — could they have come up with just a slightly more imaginative title??), which, according to the credits, he was, but I have no idea where. Probably in the one scene that looked like it was trying incredibly hard to be something out of The Wall, with cartoonish block-headed military goons doing some kind of group number that looked like it required people slightly more skilled with body movement than actors, but cannot under any circumstances be called dance. Why someone of Desmond’s stature would take on something that amounted to extra work I have no idea.

Anyway, lack of dance and the beautiful Desmond aside, this movie in a word sucked. It was full of cliches, bad acting, an utterly boring and predictable narrative, cheesy cameos (could anyone make Bono look creepier than Taymor), and renditions of the greatest songs of our time that somehow, obscenely sucked the life right out of them (the sole exception to this being “Let it Be” which begins with a young African American boy cowering in the entrails of a burned-out car during a race riot and climaxes with a black choir belting out the lyrics during the slain boy’s funeral).

The only way I made it through the whole thing was this guy. I guess you can’t really blame actors for crappy material; perhaps the fact Joe Anderson gave all the scenes he was in an actual heartbeat attests to his skill. I’ll have to see more of him. Dana Fuchs‘s Janis Joplin-esque diva was fun at the start but somehow began to drain you, likely because of the predictability of her character. I enjoyed her performance far more in the original, off-Broadway play, “Love, Janis.”

Interestingly, there’s a split-second Butoh sequence during one of the Vietnam scenes that failed only semi-miserably because of, once again, the cliched way in which it’s used. Of course, unlike with real Butoh, the dancers here are all women instead of a combo of sexes since male nudity in movies might spook the fifteen-year-old straight boy who it’s assumed is their main patron, or maybe his parents, or whoever … the powers that be who need to maintain for whatever reason the sexist, homophobic status quo. Anyway, I guess kudos to Taymor for even trying to inject a bit of multiculturalism into her film.

The twenty-somethings in my audience cheered wildly at the film’s end, so maybe it’s just that I am just too old for it :) What gets me is, gasp and moan though these young people did during the scenes involving the Vietnam war and the violent police crackdown on campus protesters, do these people see any relevance whatsoever to what is going on in the world today? What’s the difference between the 60s and today? No baby-boom-produced generation gap? Is it because those who are serving in the current war are largely not white and from middle-class families?

So, to the young people who happen to read my blog: perhaps you will really enjoy this movie. If you do see it, though, please please please please please think when you see those aforementioned scenes of all the people coming home in body bags today. Just because they are black and Latino and working-class, unlike the characters in the film, they are still human.

13 Comments

  1. HAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, Tonya. I’m so sorry.

    Take this to heart: I’ve been thinking this movie might be interesting. Thanks to your review, I won’t waste big $$ on it. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I’ll add it to my Netflix, but that’s it.

    In a fit of unintellectual drivel, I watched Blades of Glory today. It was predictably terrible, but all the ice skater cameos (especially Sasha Cohen’s) were great.

  2. I HATED it. I walked out. I’ll be blogging about it later :-) Didn’t read all of yours yet because I want to formulate by own thoughts. BUT I saw that “in one world, it sucked” and I couldn’t agree more. I have friends in it and I couldn’t bear to stay any longer. AWFUL.

    And Melinda, It isn’t even worth renting. :-)

  3. Hahaha, Matt, I was afraid you were going to be one of the ones who liked it and might take offense at my review! I’ll look for yours. Yeah, it’s too bad; I had high hopes too. Melinda, I haven’t seen Blades of Glory yet! I mean, that’s something you expect to be completely vapid but with good cameos, but this … argh!

  4. Oh and Matt, I almost walked out. The only thing that kept me in the theater was the hope that I was going to see Desmond at some point. Where was he, does anyone know?

  5. I knew from the very beginning of the credits (with the tacky pictures over the crashing waves) that it was going to be rough. I tried to stick it through because I have several friends in it (including my goddess Nicole Wolcott of keigwin) but after 1.5 hours I couldn’t take it any more. Once they dropped acid and whatever “story” there was completely unhinged, I gave up and figured I would be better off at home resting. I should have my review up tomorrow sometime. I hear that they cut a TON of stuff from the final cut, so I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the friends I knew that were in it didn’t even make it.

  6. Nicole was in it too!? I didn’t know that! I doesn’t surprise me to learn that there were cuts because Dance Magazine made it sound like Desmond Richardson had a real role…

  7. Thank you for the warning, though I’m sorry to hear that the movie is *this* bad. Still, skimming the NYT review was enough to put me off completely.

  8. are you SERIOUS? This looked sooo good! (I haven’t seen it yet)

    I saw the preview last Friday on the Oprah show…but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Broadway fiasco “Times are a Changin'” a bit, because the songs are taken literally. Bob Dylan and the Beatles were *definitely* not meant to be taken literally!

    Can we at least hope for a new updated remake of Beatles songs?

  9. I know, everyone seems to have had high hopes for this. It’s really too bad. Time Out NY gave it a crappy review too.

  10. Maybe I’m skeptical because I grew up with the Beatles music as a soundtrack (more or less), also because there have been many rumors flying about the cut that’s being shown not having much to do with what Julie Taymor wanted in the theaters. But I don’t know if there’s any truth to the latter or not.

    The idea of literally having a Jude and Lucy and girl who came in through the bathroom window just seems silly to me – but that’s me, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong re. my suspicions! :)

  11. I guess ultimately i think that it’s very hard to pull off this kind of concept – that the result has some chance of being brilliant, but far more likelihood of being a failure. I guess it’s all part of the risks you assume when doing a project like this one.

  12. Yeah, it does seem like a silly concept that’s done way too literally. I mean, at the end the main character is a little dejected, and of course what song do the others sing to him?! I wanted to scream when I heard the beginnings of, “Hey Jude…” I don’t know if she meant it to be funny or what. I thought it was just extremely corny, not at all funny. She was definitely going for something fantastical, but it was so cliched and predictable and a completely unoriginal imaginging of the music that it just became overwhelmingly corny. This is a different kind of a movie and maybe it’s just that I was really really young when I saw it, but I remember The Wall being so much better — fantastical but original and it really kept your attention. But I was really young when I saw it, so that one could have been equally goofy :)

    But there were lots of people really cheering in the theater, and NYTimes guy seemed to like it, so maybe there is something I missed. If any of you guys see it, please let me know what you think!

  13. I think I must *not* be the target audience for this kind of movie. 😉 (Ditto for everything Baz Luhrman has done since “Strictly Ballroom,” which is an all-time fave of mine.)

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