Just — ironically — yesterday I was taking my six-year-old and four-year-old granddaughters to reconnect with their parents. Along the way we sang a few Beatles songs. A couple of weeks ago I attended a concert of a Beatles’ tribute band. The place was packed with people of all ages including two 16-year-old girls who sat next to me.
Like my granddaughters, they and their friends love the band.
I grew up with their music. The girls I just mentioned did not. Like many of my generation, we waited impatiently and with much anticipation for the next album to see what incredible musical place the band would go next.
Their music was so good, so original and so inspiring that love for The Beatles and their music has crossed three generations and is now being introduced to and loved by a fourth.
Knowing how much love is out there for the band, and — other than Ron Howard’s documentary “Eight Days a Week” — that no one has done a Beatles movie in awhile, Oscar and Golden Globe winning writer/director Danny Boyle and Emmy winner, and Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Richard Curtis have taken their own love of the band and turned it into a fantasy called “Yesterday.”
Their movie casts relative newcomer Himesh Patel as struggling songwriter Jack Malick. At best his music is terrible. One night all of the power on the planet mysteriously shuts off and reboots. When the lights come back on the collective memory of some things disappears. One of them is the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Malik seems to be the only person that remembers The Beatles and a few other products and inventions that have been forgotten by the rest. Jack starts performing Beatles music and after he’s discovered by real life superstar Ed Sheehan — and to quote the title track’s lyrics — Jack is suddenly, not only not half the man he used to be, but he’s a superstar.
Also involved is a love story. Jack’s biggest supporter since he was a teen is Lily James’ Ellie Appleton. The more famous he gets, the farther apart they grow.
There are two things to like about “Yesterday.” The first is the timeless music of The Beatles. Done with decent instrumentation and vocals from Patel, the music is fresh and fun. Second, the humorous bits involving Google and the things that disappeared from the redo provide a lot of laughs.
All you need is love does not apply to this movie. Boyle who regularly gets nominated for this award or that and who won many of them for “Slumdog Millionaire” and Curtis who penned the gotta love it, “Love Actually,” can’t decide if their film is a drama or a comedy.
The result is that it’s neither.
Another negative. The songs. The Beatles — mostly Lennon and McCartney — wrote 213 songs. Many used in the movie are pretty good but with over 200 to select from, the best songs are left out.
And there aren’t enough of them.
The music — alas — is much more interesting than the movie. Since he didn’t really write the music, Jack has a crisis of conscience for much of the film. He also struggles to tell Ellie he loves her. But that, and many parts of the film feel forced. There’s also really nowhere for the plot to go that ends in any kind of a satisfying way.
How will most of you receive “Yesterday?” Boyle’s playing The Beatles doing Hey, Jude as the credits roll says it all. You’ll have fun — as I did — watching the crowd singing along with the band as they file out of the theater.
As for me? I’ll recommend “Yesterday” but didn’t love it. Or to put it differently and to quote the last lines of Hey Jude in cadence, “Nah, nah, nah…nah, nah, nah…nah.
▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s.
▪ Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
‘Annabelle Comes Home’
I am not a fan of the Conjuring movies. They’re the horror movies produced — and often written and directed — by James Wan. The series is loosely based on the real-life exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The couple continually do battle against evil from the “other side.”
By the way, the key word in the last paragraph is “loosely.”
In the movies Ed and Lorraine use all kinds of psychic paraphernalia to eventually rescue families, individuals and the rest of us from fates worse than death by those that are dead.
Not as dead as these movies but close.
Or to put it another way, if you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. What changes are the locations, victims and source of evil but not much else. “Annabelle Comes Home” is based on the two previous Annabelle movies. In this one the Warrens have imprisoned the demonic doll in a glass cage in their home’s haunted stuff room.
While Ed and Lorraine are on a trip, the babysitter’s best friend — against dire warnings from the babysitter — gets into the locked room, opens the glass door and lets the doll loose. Annabelle then activates the assorted bad things also locked in the room. It leads to a terrifying night for the daughter, the babysitter, the friend and the babysitter’s boyfriend.
To them it’s terrifying. For the rest of us it is snooze-inducing.
When the doll’s creator, and writer of the two previous movies, and the writer and director of this one, Gary Dauberman tries to frighten you with things that pop up on screen, or with a loud sound effect or musical note, it doesn’t come close to working. As Annabelle, other horror story characters and artifacts skitter around and torment the three main characters you never worry about the kid, the babysitter, the friend or the boyfriend.
Well, maybe the best friend but no one else.
This is formula movie-making. Period. I’m still mind-blown that people actually pay to see these films. Fortunately, most of you won’t see it because this is a classic example of why I see movies so you don’t have to.
▪ Rated R for mature themes, violence, horror. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
▪ Rating: 1/2 out of 5
‘The White Crow’
Ralph Fiennes takes his third trip behind the camera with “The White Crow.” He — pun intended — dances around the story of how ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West.
Real-life ballet star Oleg Ivenko of the Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre in Kazan, Ukraine stars. Fiennes plays Alexander Pushkin who tutored and trained Nureyev and the other Russian ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov.
The film roams from the Soviet Union in the 1940s through 1961 when Nureyev defected while in Paris, France. Fiennes movie paints Nureyev as ignoring his communist masters to bathe in French culture. He doesn’t experience French life as much as he breathes it in.
Two performances stand out. The first is Fiennes. He plays Pushkin as a nice man who loves his wife and his life but also turns a blind eye to her wandering eye. He puts on a half-smile and carries on while she carries on.
The second is that of Ivenko. In spite of zero acting experience, Fiennes gets good performance out of the dancer. However, with very little dialogue and playing his character as more or less the strong silent type, Ivenko doesn’t have to do much to impress other than dance.
And dance he does.
Fiennes movie soars during the dance sequences but the flashbacks falter and even the dramatic — you-already-know-what-happens — Nureyev KGB nose-thumbing defection has zero tension. But maybe that’s because we already know what happens and that Nureyev escaped.
I remember the defection and how it caused an international stink. But I’m not a fan of ballet nor of Nureyev. The why he defected is history. What I didn’t really need or want to know that much about is Nureyev’s love life or that he’s bisexual.
You might care. If you do, this film won’t disappoint.
“The White Crow” runs a bit over two-hours. A trim of about 20-minutes and this is a really good movie. Padded? Not so much.
▪ Rated R for mature themes, language, nudity and sex. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12.
▪ Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5