TheCSO and I went to see Across the Universe, or as everyone seems to call it "the Beatles movie" on Sunday. It probably won't be a surprise that the hippie-centric movie did not impress. Essentially as string of decent music videos to Beatles songs strung together with a plot that is ripped off of "Hair" but is still porn-movie-thin, it was an amusing way to spend two hours, but not much more.
TheCSO and I left it wondering if like, "the Wild West," "The sixties" will at some point become a standard movie setting that has little to do with historical reality. Seems highly possible. There were a few nods to the historical reality of hippies. It was very clear that the men ran the little activist group the female lead joins, leaving the women to do all the work and act as the moral conscience. But it did seem odd that the publically affectionate interracial couple didn't merit so much as a stare.
The main character, Jude, of course, doesn't really do anything for most of the movie. Things happen to him and one goes through the whole movie with him not getting a sense of who he is. Jude reminded me of a bit from Tempest-Tost, a Robertson Davies novel I like:
Cobbler pondered for a moment. "Well," he said, "I suppose if I were you -- that's to say a somewhat inert chap, half content to be the football of fate -- I'd go right on doing whatever I was doing at the moment, and hope the whole thing would blow over."
The celebrity cameos improve things a bit, particularly Eddie Izzard as Mr. Kite and the five Selma Hayeks (you kinda have too see it to believe it. But it was sexy.)
Toward the end, there is a weird sequence where Jude's girlfriend Lucy, who had broken up with him, is supposed to show up at a rooftop concert. Now, mind you, she doesn't know that Jude will be there. But when the cops won't let her in the door, the tone of the movie suddenly becomes somewhat tense. Jude expected her to be there! And she's not there! Does this mean she doesn't love him after all?
(CC thinks "Huh? Why would it mean that?)*
One would think any realistic person would just assume something came up and he could call her the next day, say "Hey, I came back from England for you because I was worried about you" and ask her out for coffee.
But reality isn't the point of this purely manufactured bit of drama. The point is her showing up at exactly the right time, so they can sing to each other across rooftops. The point is the image.
She makes it in the end, of course.
This is a silly, silly, movie.
And I have to mention my favorite moment, when Lucy-the-activist-hippie is fighting with Jude because he just wants to do his thing without doing a bunch of protesting. Lucy cries, somewhat hysterically, "I would throw myself in front of a tank if it would bring my brother home!"
And Jude says simply, "It wouldn't."
*Upon further reflection, I have to concede that I have known at least one hippie who was a great believer in imagining how something with her lover should go, and if her lover did not follow the mental script and it didn't go exactly the way she had pictured, assuming she wasn't sufficiently loved and creating drama about it. So maybe that part was realistic.