By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures.
Across the Universe
Well, now I understand why they're burying Across the Universe. This is clearly not the film the studio wanted. They wanted Mamma Mia with Beatles songs, not a surreal essay on violence. Still, it is a monumental achievement that somehow snuck through the hit machine system.
Review: Across the Universe
The Beatles songs all appear in sensible points in the story. It's never a stretch and they are faithful to the words, even when it means a woman singing "Let me be your man." The lead characters are named Jude and Lucy, so you know where that's going. Actually, Prudence gets paid off first.
Some of the songs get a twist, like a slow version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by the aforementioned lady, or a doo-woppy/punk medley between the U.S. and England, or an a cappella intro. There are 34 songs, with a nice mix of big hits and more obscure choices.
The choreography is intensely clever, using the environment and filling the movie frame. I personally like to believe that a sequence in a bowling alley is giving props to Grease 2. It gets more and more surreal as the piece progresses, utilizing animation, prosthetics, puppets and other visual effects. Some of it is downright F'ed up, but in an awesome way.
The focus of the film is the war protests of the Vietnam era. The love story is there but there's no avoiding the issues. But whatever your feelings, the vision, the music and the pure creativity of the film are captivating in every frame.
There won't be a better film come Oscar time, but then that never was a gauge of the years' real quality films anyway. I'm just grateful that it exists.