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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays-Week 5-Across the Universe

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Honestly, Forest Gump: the Musical is what this movie wanted to be and should have been.

Yep. But Forrest Gump is a film that's steeped in Americana, so to try to translate that into a movie based off of the music of a British band is really strange.

 

Fister - did you notice Max's grandmother at the Thanksgiving table?

I don't think so. Why?

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I think it was just showing how "progressive and modern" she was.

 

And yet she was stunned into silence when her sister? friend? asks "What about adoption?"

 

I don't think so. Why?

 

She's Grandma Carol from Master of None!

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I found this article from the New York Times of March 20, 2007 very interesting. Highlights: comparison to Gigli; comparison to Orson Welles; confirmation of a 90 minute version. Confirmation Taymor's a nutbar.

 

Film Has Two Versions; Only One Is Julie Taymor’s

By SHARON WAXMAN

LOS ANGELES, March 19 — In Hollywood creative differences among moviemakers often make for more interesting results on the screen. But rarely do those battles escalate so much that a studio takes a movie away from an award-winning director.

 

Such is the case — for the moment — with “Across the Universe,” a $45-million psychedelic love story set to the music of the Beatles, directed by Julie Taymor, the stage and screen talent whose innovative interpretation of the Disney animated film “The Lion King” is one of the most successful modern stage musicals.

 

After Ms. Taymor delivered the movie to Joe Roth, the film executive whose production company, Revolution Studios, based at Sony, is making the Beatles musical, he created his own version without her agreement. And last week Mr. Roth tested his cut of the film, which is about a half-hour shorter than Ms. Taymor’s 2-hour-8-minute version.

 

Mr. Roth’s moves have left Ms. Taymor feeling helpless and considering taking her name off the movie, according to an individual close to the movie who would not be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. Disavowing a film is the most radical step available to a director like Ms. Taymor, who does not have final cut, one that could embarrass the studio and hurt the movie’s chances for a successful release in September.

 

Ms. Taymor declined to be interviewed, but issued a carefully worded statement: “My creative team and I are extremely happy about our cut and the response to it,” she wrote. “Sometimes at this stage of the Hollywood process differences of opinion arise, but in order to protect the film, I am not getting into details at this time.”

 

Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his ’60’s-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like “Christmas With the Kranks,”“Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Freedomland.”

 

He said that Ms. Taymor was overreacting to a normal Hollywood process of testing different versions of a movie, something he has done many times before, including with Michael Mann’s “Last of the Mohicans.” He called his version of “Across the Universe” “an experiment.”

 

“She’s a brilliant director,” he said. “She’s made a brilliant movie. This process is not anything out of the ordinary. Her reaction through her representatives might be. But her orientation is stage. It’s different if you’re making a $12-million film, or a $45-million film. No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie.”

 

And he warned that the conflict could hurt the movie. “If you work off her hysteria, that will do the film an injustice,” he said. “Nobody wants to do that. She’s worked long and hard, and made a wonderful movie.”

 

A spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to comment, saying the project was developed by Revolution.

 

“Across the Universe” stars Evan Rachel Wood as Lucy, an American teenager, and Jim Sturgess as Jude, a British import, who fall in love during the turbulent 1960s. The movie, set to 35 Beatles songs, seems to spring from Ms. Taymor’s experimental sandbox, combining live action with painted and three-dimensional animation and puppets, and featuring cameos by Eddie Izzard, dressed as a freakish Mr. Kite; Bono, singing “I Am the Walrus”; and Joe Cocker, singing “Come Together.”

 

Mr. Roth said he had been working with Ms. Taymor on and off during nine months of editing, and that the problem was merely one of length.Ms. Taymor has been editing the film for the better part of the last year, after completing the shoot in 2005. An initial release date of September 2006 was pushed off.

 

Under pressure from Mr. Roth and after test screenings, Ms. Taymor trimmed the film from an initial 2 hours 20 minutes. She told associates she considered the film finished.

 

Fights between visionary filmmakers and studios are nothing new. Orson Welles spent most of his career fighting with studios that took away his movies, editing options and even limited his film stock. And those fights commonly focus on the running times of movies, which, as critics have noted, seem to grow inexorably longer.

 

But it is rare for an executive to step in and cut the movie himself. Ms. Taymor was still making her own final edits to the film when she learned several weeks ago that Mr. Roth had edited another, shorter version. That version was tested last week in Arizona, to a younger audience than the more mixed test group than saw Ms. Taymor’s cut in Los Angeles on March 8, according to an individual close to the film.

 

Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie “Gigli,” said that the various versions were testing well, but that he had a responsibility to find the most successful incarnation. “It’s ‘show’ and it’s ‘business,’ ” he said.

 

Ms. Taymor has been showered with numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1991. The stage version of “The Lion King,” which currently has nine productions worldwide, is notable for Ms. Taymor’s unusual staging and the use of mechanical masks that make the actors seem like real animals. (Mr. Roth, who ran Disney at the time, admitted to having been skeptical about the masks but later told Ms. Taymor he’d been wrong.)

 

Ms. Taymor has had more mixed results in Hollywood. Her bloody Shakespeare adaptation, “Titus,” bombed at the box office, taking in just $1.9 million. “Frida,” in 2002, about the artist Frida Kahlo, was successful, winning two Oscars and a moderate financial windfall.

 

Mr. Roth said he believed that the current tensions would be worked out, and that Ms. Taymor would find the best, final version of the film somewhere between his own and her last cut.

 

But those in Ms. Taymor’s camp were more skeptical, saying the director was not inclined to make any more changes. Ms. Taymor herself struck a more conciliatory note in her statement: “I only hope that we will be able to complete the film we set out to make.”

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I remember liking this movie the first time I saw it a long time ago (like Cakebug). I think my enjoyment had more to do with it re-introducing me to the Beatles, as I listened to them a lot when I was younger. And I liked (and still do) the visuals/ cinematography and a good amount of their "covers" in this movie.

 

But re-watching recently I didn't enjoy as quite as much. I did not totally hate it and I am still ok with forgiving some of the issues... but I lost a lot of steam around the time Bono showed up (which I totally forgot him & Izzard make appearances in this). And I never totally got back on board.

 

Like most of you have said, a lot of things felt SUPER forced just so they could be like: "hey look we did this song too".

If some side characters were less involved (or cut out completely) it probably could have worked better. That would have cut down on runtime (felt a little too long) and also help focus on the Jude/Lucy storyline.

 

**btw I'm a longtime lurker of the boards, and also a big fan of musicals :)

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**btw I'm a longtime lurker of the boards, and also a big fan of musicals :)

Welcome! Join in often!

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**btw I'm a longtime lurker of the boards, and also a big fan of musicals :)

 

giphy.gif

 

Nice to meet you! Let me know if you want to be added to the rotation!

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giphy.gif

 

Nice to meet you! Let me know if you want to be added to the rotation!

 

Thanks! :) yes please add me to the list!

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Where the heck is Taylor Anne? We need her to bring the blind love for this thing back into play!

Sorry y'all I'm here now!

 

I don't even know where to start now after reading all of this lol.

 

Sadie is my favorite but the songs where Max is heavily featured (I Want You, Strawberry Fields, & Happiness Is a Warm Gun) are all my faves.

 

But Let It Be is actually one of the greatest versions of that song I've ever heard.

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I have to say, I still feel like I'm missing "something." CakeBug, you've said a couple of times that the "All You Need is Love" scene affects you on an emotional level, however, I found I couldn't muster up the energy to care beyond sensing the movie was almost over. And, honestly, I think that is the most damning thing I can say about this movie. I don't hate the characters, I'm just apathetic to them. Why should I care? Why is Jude special? Or Lucy? Or anyone? They all just come off as cyphers set adrift in the Sixties? And even when "events" happen there's little internal context to make it meaningful or impactful.

 

For example, the "Let it Be" scene. Suddenly, we're violently thrust into this riot with no idea where we are in space in time. Basically I'm supposed to make my own contextual connections based upon my knowledge of recent American Histor--and that seems like a real iffy way to tell a narrative. Sure what's going on is terrible, but who are they and what's happening?

 

Also, I fucking hated "Let it Be" being used for that scene. For the funeral, fine, but the Detroit Riots? Fuck that! "Let it Be" literal means "bad things happen so we need to learn to accept them and move on" So...we should just be letting racism "be" now? I don't fucking think so.

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Also, I fucking hated "Let it Be" being used for that scene. For the funeral, fine, but the Detroit Riots? Fuck that! "Let it Be" literal means "bad things happen so we need to learn to accept them and move on" So...we should just be letting racism "be" now? I don't fucking think so.

I didn't see that as a letting it be in terms of racism but just another funeral song for the little boy that was killed during the riots. Cause if we go along those same lines that you've set up then we should just learn to accept the Vietnam War and move on from the amount of young guys being sent home in coffins?

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For example, the "Let it Be" scene. Suddenly, we're violently thrust into this riot with no idea where we are in space in time. Basically I'm supposed to make my own contextual connections based upon my knowledge of recent American History and that seems like a real iffy way to tell a narrative. Sure what's going on is terrible, but who are they and what's happening?

 

You know what's messed up? I didn't realize that the the kid who sang Let it Be was Jojo's brother until my third watch.

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But Let It Be is actually one of the greatest versions of that song I've ever heard.

 

It's actually a lot closer to the original version. Paul actually wrote it for Aretha Franklin, but she kept hesitating on whether or not she wanted to do it, so he finally said, "Fuck it, I'll do it myself..." Finally, after the Beatles released their version, Aretha finally pulled the trigger and recorded it the way it was intended.

 

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I didn't see that as a letting it be in terms of racism but just another funeral song for the little boy that was killed during the riots. Cause if we go along those same lines that you've set up then we should just learn to accept the Vietnam War and move on from the amount of young guys being sent home in coffins?

 

Sorry, I'm not sure I'm following you about the Vietnam thing.

 

And I'm okay with it being sung at his funeral, but the song starts at the riots. I know that she is not literally saying, "Hey, bros, 'Let it Be,'" I'm saying that by playing it over that scene you are sending, intentionally or not, a very weird message. There's a lack of clarity there that I don't like.

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Sorry, I'm not sure I'm following you about the Vietnam thing.

 

And I'm okay with it being sung at his funeral, but the song starts at the riots. I know that she is not literally saying, "Hey, bros, 'Let it Be,'" I'm saying that by playing it over that scene you are sending, intentionally or not, a very weird message. There's a lack of clarity there that I don't like.

I had this whole thing written out and then my kitten jumped on my keyboard and everything got erased lol.

 

Basically the tl;dr version is that I wasn't exactly following your logic by just saying one half of that scene should let it be but the other half wasn't also getting that message. But I see what you are saying now.

 

I think by starting it out with the little boy singing the song was that he was in way over his head by being in the middle of those riots and it was a little prayer for things to turn out alright. But then things of course didn't turn out okay at all...

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I think by starting it out with the little boy singing the song was that he was in way over his head by being in the middle of those riots and it was a little prayer for things to turn out alright. But then things of course didn't turn out okay at all...

 

Maybe. I don't know. Guuuuuuys, this movie is too deep for me.

 

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You know what's messed up? I didn't realize that the the kid who sang Let it Be was Jojo's brother until my third watch.

 

I was thinking, "Who's that kid? Wait! Who's that guy! Where's Jude?"

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I have to say, I still feel like I'm missing "something." CakeBug, you've said a couple of times that the "All You Need is Love" scene affects you on an emotional level, however, I found I couldn't muster up the energy to care beyond sensing the movie was almost over. And, honestly, I think that is the most damning thing I can say about this movie. I don't hate the characters, I'm just apathetic to them. Why should I care? Why is Jude special? Or Lucy? Or anyone? They all just come off as cyphers set adrift in the Sixties? And even when "events" happen there's little internal context to make it meaningful or impactful.

 

For example, the "Let it Be" scene. Suddenly, we're violently thrust into this riot with no idea where we are in space in time. Basically I'm supposed to make my own contextual connections based upon my knowledge of recent American Histor--and that seems like a real iffy way to tell a narrative. Sure what's going on is terrible, but who are they and what's happening?

 

Also, I fucking hated "Let it Be" being used for that scene. For the funeral, fine, but the Detroit Riots? Fuck that! "Let it Be" literal means "bad things happen so we need to learn to accept them and move on" So...we should just be letting racism "be" now? I don't fucking think so.

 

Okay, I'm solo parenting tonight while my wife's off at her burlesque class, so just catching up after feeding and bathing kids.

 

I read all of this and agree with nearly everything said above. I had multiquoted a bunch of stuff but we're all keeping along the same lines, so I'll stick with Cam's insight here.

 

First of all, I have always taken the little boy singing 'Let It Be' (100% agreed with Taylor Anne that this is the best cover version of the song ever) as a prayer for peace; that he's an innocent victim hoping that thinking pacifist thoughts will save him. The transition into the choir always slays me.

 

And that's going to lead me to my second point - Cameron, you ask about how I could be impacted by these characters, and scenarios, since so much in this thing is soulless and kind of meh. I KNOW. Totally agreed. But I have a hair-trigger when it comes to emotional connections to music. I get so fucking emotional when I listen to Australian music because it makes me think of home. For example, this track here:

 

 

Makes me weep every time. Like, WTF!

 

And this one too:

 

 

I mean, COME ON. It's the emotional trigger of the accents, and in the second one, it's hearing a beat-perfect cover of Paul Kelly FEATURING PAUL FUCKING KELLY that messes me up.

 

Anyway. In this film, Let It Be, Hey Jude, and All You Need Is Love wreck me every time, and I don't think it has anything to do with Jude or Max (although I love when Max does the 'Judey Judey Judey Judey Judeyyy' when Jude gets off the boat - SHIT my eyes welled up as I typed that god damn it) but entirely to do with the content and context.

 

I mean, honestly, I truly believe that all you need is love, and when Jude is able to express that (even though Lucy's mostly pretty awful throughout), that makes me happy. I think it's the Beatles that make me emotional more than Jude and Lucy and Max. I can see the awfulness of a lot of this movie, but it's moments like that which elevate it for me and make it worthwhile.

 

This isn't meant to be a negative comment, Cam, but do you maybe think you went in expecting to hate it and then, by analysing the lyrics, you proved yourself right? I kept searching for things to like, but maybe you were searching for things to hate? ;)

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Anyway. In this film, Let It Be, Hey Jude, and All You Need Is Love wreck me every time, and I don't think it has anything to do with Jude or Max (although I love when Max does the 'Judey Judey Judey Judey Judeyyy' when Jude gets off the boat - SHIT my eyes welled up as I typed that god damn it) but entirely to do with the content and context.

 

I feel nothing.

 

I don't hate this movie, but also, I don't anything this movie. It's such a bore. Sure, there are some nice moments, but they aren't enough of them for me.

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