Across the Universe is a Trip Well Worth Taking

rich media

Across the Universe enjoyed a relatively short stay in theaters, especially in St. Louis, but I still managed to get a classic Rich Siegel style two viewings in. With the coveted Oscars about to be handed out I’ve been racking my brain as to who I think really deserves them as well as what my favorite movie of 2007 truly is. I just saw Michael Clayton for the first time and was very impressed. This directorial debut for Tony Gilroy is remarkable, building slow intensity before it erupts with extremism. Of the Oscar nominees I’d actually give the best actor spot to George Clooney for his portrayal of a man at wits end in Michael Clayton, but we all know it’s going to Daniel Day Lewis for his oil man in There Will be Blood. Something was lost on me in There Will be Blood and I’m not quite sure what it was. Instead of hailing it as a classic as most critics have been, I thought it was boring and uninspired despite Daniel Day Lewis’s exceptional performance. I also caught a second viewing of the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men which I will hail as a classic without reservations and give my approval for the Best Picture Oscar as well as a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Javier Bardem for his portrayal of the man who is the reason why this is no longer a country for old men. As much as I loved No Country I’ve got to give my top spot, as you might have guessed already, to Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe.

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Taymor’s last directorial effort was 2002’s Frida, a beautiful movie that told the tale of famed artist Frida Kahlo played by Salma Hayek, who has a great cameo in Across the Universe as 5 trippy sexy nurses. Frida was filmed with some of the most vibrant colors I’ve ever seen in a film with each scene more beautiful than the next. Occasionally scenes would start with a painting by the late artist that would quickly transform into a scene of realism. This technique was not overused, was particularly well done and proved to me that Taymor is a talented and innovative director. When I first saw trailers for Across the Universe with Taymor’s name attached I had high hopes, all of which were blown out of the water when I saw the film.

Across the Universe opens with 6 separated characters of Beatles fame: Jude, Lucy, Max, Sadie, JoJo and Prudence. All are broken in their own way and are destined to come together to find happiness. A common criticism I’ve read about the film is that it was disjointed, an opinion I couldn’t disagree more with. The character introductions are each presented in separate music video-esque scenes that may come off as disordered but gains bearing as all of the characters lives begin to intersect. While utilizing Beatles’ songs to tell the story you’ll find no John or Paul vocals in this film. This is a musical in every sense, in which the characters sing the words to express themselves. Whether the song is upbeat or slow is determined by the scene it is trying to tell, not how the original was composed. Using a combination of live action, animation and special effects Taymor really captures the spirit of the time and delivers a tale of love and loss that will remain with you long after the credits roll.

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Some of the musical numbers in this movie I can only classify as pure genius and deserve to be seen instead of described, so I’ll only say that the scene surrounding the song She’s So Heavy should be You-Tubed if you refuse to see the entire film for some unreasonable I’m too macho for musicals complex rationale. Across the Universe hits store shelves on DVD on Tuesday and I urge you all to check it out if you haven’t had the pleasure yet, it is most certainly a trip worth taking.

– Rich

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Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. NO WAY. You clearly need to see more indie circuit films. Across The Universe is cheap by taymor’s standards. She’s So Heavy has echoes of Titus (not a bad thing, but not original by any means) which is a far superior film. Diving Bell, Wristcutters, or Lars are better works considering this is primarily the Beatles genius and not Taymors. Holler at me

    J-Weezy

  2. I dunno, I thought Across the Universe was pretty amazing, and I grew up with the Beatles being played in my house so much that they are practically a band of my childhood even though I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. My dad loved it and he is a pretty die hard Beatles fan, though he did have some minor complaints revolving around the inclusion of a Pete Best lookalike as a guitarist in one of the opening scenes in Liverpool and some other minor snafus along those lines…..
    All in all I think it was a really great film. I bought it on DVD the day it came out.

  3. I just wanted to point out that Across the Universe’s Max fantasizes about the true ultimate orgy: Doing five Salma Hayek clones in matching nurses outfits while being injected with Salma Hayek infused drugs.


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