A long weekend started for me on Thursday night. I went (alone because some people flaked at the last minute) to the first West Coast audience showing of Julie Taymor’s new film Across the Universe. Although I am a fan of the Beatles, and the cast of the film could sing and sing quite well – I despised the use (or misuse as the case may be) of the songs. One wonders if the story would hold up as its own movie without the gimmick of being told through a mishmash of Beatles lyrics (with characters named Jude, Prudence, Sadie, etc. you know what is coming…).
There were many interesting cameos such as Eddie Izzard playing Mr. Kite, Salma Hayek, Joe Cocker (this time NOT singing the opening tune from The Wonder Years), and Bono as Dr. Roberts (AKA The Walrus). For the duration of the film I was convinced that the character Sadie (as in Sexy) who plays an oversexed New York blues singer (getting as close to sounding like Janis Joplin as humanly possible, so if you ever wondered what Janis coving the Beatles might sound like – this is the film for you) was played by Joan Osborne. This made me happy, as Joan has been out of the public eye for quite some time, and “her” performance in the film both from a musical and acting standpoint was very strong. Imagine my dismay to discover that Sadie was not played by Joan Osborne, but an apparent twin or doppelganger (although younger and better looking) by the name of Dana Fuchs.
Julie Taymor seems to suffer from a problem most directors face when coming in from a similar but different entertainment medium to film. Lack of focus on making a film. Across the Universe is an elaborate musical production with a great sense of color and extensive use of collages to convey content. These things work great in a musical, but get tiring in film. Perhaps the most overblown example comes late in the film where the “artist” Jude envisions a bowl of strawberries (that seems to be bottomless as time goes on) as bombs dropping in Vietnam (the time period of the movie was the turbulent 1960’s). On the other hand, Julie’s use of color and framing throughout the film was spectacular. This is another movie where 90% of the film stills could be hung in a photo gallery.
By the time we get to hour number two (and certainly by hour number three) I heard the first lyrics (or guitar riffs) of a familiar song and would groan knowing the next five minutes would be wasted on elaborate ways to visually convey LSD influenced Beatles lyrics. At two hours and twenty minutes, Julie crams in enough Beatles to cover most of the major songs from their entire catalogue, and misinterpret all of them.
To return to my main criticism of the film only being strung together by the Beatles gimmick – most of the comments overheard in the men’s room afterwards were along the lines of “boy, takes you back, doesn’t it?” and “some good old songs” The audience that would find this movie the most enjoyable is probably the largest segment of the American populous that never sets foot in a multiplex.
After the film I was on my way to a short appearance at a party in Pasadena.
I awoke at 6am the next morning to catch a ride to Bob Hope Airport. My two flights Friday were fairly uneventful. Upon meeting up with my parents in Columbus we ate dinner at Mark Pi’s Express before shopping for Buckeye apparel.
Saturday morning/afternoon I attended the wedding of my cousin Andrea and her husband Justin. I haven’t been to a wedding in years, but this one seemed overly religious, with much more attention given to scripture than marriage. Several members of the grooms’ family were on their knees praying during a majority of the ceremony, and the Eucharist was even given out at one point which the majority of the groom’s family (and the minority of mine) imbibed.
During the ceremony I kept thinking: “I could never do this.” While I’m a fan of traditional pair-bonding and monogamy (unlike most males my age), I just can’t see myself doing the church wedding with bridesmaids, groomsmen, priests, pomp and circumstance. I felt very out of place even being in that environment. Not necessarily uncomfortable (although if I were ten years younger I probably would have been), but distanced and confused by what was happening and sure that this was not in any way part of who I am. However, for what it was intended to be – the wedding worked beautifully.
The reception was held in the atrium of a large downtown Columbus office building. The main course had nuts in it of course so I had to single myself out to the wait staff as the one weirdo that they’d have to cater to. This time however my brother’s girlfriend who also has a nut allergy was there – so we were weirdoes together.
The next morning I awoke at 5am (my time) and walked with my parents to Max and Erma’s for their breakfast buffet. The buffet was a far cry from even cafeteria food. It featured: four bland cereal choices, a platter of cooked eggs, bacon, sausage links, mangled hard waffle bits, and a mile-long line to get a fresh omelet. Needless to say we didn’t stay long. We went shopping for Buckeye apparel again and I found something I liked – but of course they didn’t have my size – so I left Ohio empty-handed. We ate at Mark Pi’s Express once more before heading off to the airport – where my long day was only just beginning. After hopping from Columbus to Chicago I (and my fellow Californians) were forced to wait ten minutes to catch a cramped bus to the proper terminal for our flight to San Francisco (my second time in two weeks at SFO). Once on our giant bird (flight attendants said about 350 people were on board) we waited. And waited. And waited before taking off. About two hours into the four hour flight an old man four rows in front of me had a stroke (or something – it was unclear). Much commotion was made while we were in the air and upon landing we were forced to wait for paramedics to come on and escort the man off before deplaning. I was sitting at the back.
After barely making it to my connecting gate at SFO on time I discovered that my flight was delayed by two hours. I finally touched down in Burbank around 11pm and made it into my bed around midnight after setting my alarm to get up at 6:30am.
Oh – and apparently I’m getting my usual airplane cold. Just in time for the much anticipated Detour Festival this weekend….