28 July 2009

The Beatles

A Hard Day's Night
The first and best of the Beatles films. It's a testament to their talent that they are as photogenic and personable as their music is enjoyable. As a group, they wreak havoc on peaceful communities as Beatlemania follows them around. As individuals, they get into mischief and have surprisingly humorous adventures considering they are playing themselves.

There's no real plot. They are in a town to do a television broadcast. Paul's grandfather, a "king mixer" according to Paul, accompanies them and serves to fill people's heads with false notions, particularly Ringo, who decides to go "parading" late in the film, leading to the narrative's only moment of real crisis.

The scenes of Beatlemania, from all accounts, are toned down. The craze was often more frantic and at times more violent than what the movie shows. And of course the music is great, with the first Beatles album of completely original music. The title track was written over a couple of hours at the behest of the producers, who needed a song to go along with the name of the film.

It's a hugely entertaining film, with a kind of silliness that is missing from a lot of modern films. Every once in a while you need a good flick with little plot and plenty of personality.

Even more silly than Night but with more plot, which becomes problematic at times. Ringo has randomly come into possession of an Indian sacrificial ring which a cult will stop at nothing to get back. For whatever reason, the ring means that Ringo will soon be covered in red paint and killed as a sacrifice. The film follows the Beatles as they travel around evading the cult and playing music along the way.

It's also a good deal more surreal than their previous film. For instance, the house that the Beatles all live in is a cross between a funhouse and a barracks. George's room features a lawn equipped with a gardener who uses fake chattering teeth to trim the grass. John has a bed built into the floor.

The events are sometimes transitioned by humorous intertitles, telling us what to expect or what happened in between scenes. At one point, Paul is shrunk and his impending journey is announced as "The Exciting Adventure of Paul on the Floor."

It's not quite as charming as their first film, and in some ways is one of the strangest films I've ever seen. But The Beatles are all there, with their personalities in tact. And because of that, and the music, it's still a very entertaining movie.

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