Across the Universe

It's not difficult to describe this movie. It's a remake of Hair with Beatles songs substituted for the original songs. Period. Oh, nobody said that officially, but it's pretty much the same movie as Hair. In case you've forgotten Hair, it's a Vietnam-era musical with singing and dancing hippies, singing and dancing draft physicals, etc. Love stories are interwoven with the snapshots of the hippie-era cultural landscape. There isn't much more you need to know. The difference between the two films, besides the songs, is that Across the Universe has the benefit of hindsight. Over the years, some memories of events and people which were vivid at the time have faded, and our images of the late 60s have coalesced into a few shorthand images: Peter Max posters, Vietnam, Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, psychedelic images, lava lamps, Janis Joplin, draft notices, Ken Kesey, Kent State, free love, Che posters, Timothy Leary ... and the Beatles. Across the Universe populated its scenes with those images and characters. Bono is a Ken Kesey clone. There's a Jimi clone, and a Janis clone, and mention of a "Dr. Geary."

The film received about a 50% score at RT and Metacritic, but not in the usual way. More often than not, such a score is the result of many middling reviews which might have gone either way with a bit of a nudge. In this case the score resulted from some passionate "yeas" and "nays." Roger Ebert, for example, gave the film his highest rating (****), saying:

"Julie Taymor's Across the Universe is an audacious marriage of cutting-edge visual techniques, heart-warming performances, 1960s history and the Beatles songbook. Sounds like a concept that might be behind its time, but I believe in yesterday. I was drowning in movies and deadlines, and this was the only one I went to see twice."

On the other side of the ledger, Premiere magazine said:

"A few folks I've heard have defended this film on account of its having its heart in the right place. I don't really know where its heart is, quite frankly, but I know for sure said heart isn't doing its job of pumping blood to the brain very well."

And James Berardinelli wrote:

"The songs are a bigger distraction than the visuals. With only a few exceptions, most of them are out of place. They are shoehorned in simply to increase the film's Beatles music content. The expected approach in a musical is for the songs to advance the story. In Across the Universe, the narrative pauses roughly every seven minutes so the characters can break into song, then resumes when they're done. This approach makes it impossible to identify with the characters or be interested in their circumstances. And, while the singing is of variable quality, most of the dance numbers are amateurish."

I suppose those reviews may tell you as much about the reviewers than about the movie. The film has gigantic positives: director Julie Taymor is brilliant at staging bold, ambitious, often symbolic visual set pieces and she used 33 Beatles songs in whole or part. The film also has gigantic negatives: it's virtually humorless, it's too similar to Hair, and everything about its non-musical content is either patently obvious, completely superficial, or a 60s cliché used as a short cut to the intended message. And none of the Beatles songs are originals, so people will have varying reactions to the new cover versions. I believe that your appreciation of the film will depend how you weigh each of those characteristics. If you want to be dazzled with an often surreal visual extravaganza set to Beatles songs, and you don't care that the songs are performed by others, it's your kind of movie, as it was Ebert's. If you're looking for an authentic look at the 60s told in music, just re-watch Hair, which was written by real Age of Aquarians.


Evan Rachel Wood

Three film clips



He Was a Quiet Man

Bob is the ultimate office drone, a character not unlike Milton, the mumbly stapler guy in Office Space. He sits in his office performing tedious data entry procedures on long lists of multi-digit numbers, all the while fantasizing about going Columbine on his co-workers. One day he goes to work and begins to load a handgun, determined to execute his murderous plan for real, but as he crawls on the floor to retrieve a dropped bullet, he hears gunfire.

Another drone in another cubicle has beaten him to the punch! Bob (Christian Slater) uses his own pistol to execute his fellow loser - thus making him the office hero.

He is given a big promotion, a massive raise, and some new responsibilities. His boss also tells him to go to the hospital and visit the gorgeous co-worker (Elisha Cuthbert) whose life he saved when he killed the office gunman. It turns out that Cuthbert is not very grateful. She has been turned into a quadriplegic, and wishes Bob had let the gunman finish what he started. She makes him promise to finish the job by pushing her wheelchair in front of a subway train. He tries, but can't go through with it and pulls her wheelchair away at the last minute. Then a miracle occurs. She gets a bit of life back in one hand, and the medicos say she may recover. This time she is grateful to Bob for saving her life. Bob proceeds to become her full-time boyfriend and caregiver, and they start to fall in love, but he harbors fears that if and when she recovers, she will return to the hunky, rich guys she knows how to get on demand.

Have I spoiled the film? Not at all. That's the set-up. The story goes on from there, and eventually leads to a surprise ending which I never saw coming, although it explained a lot of problems I had with some earlier events. Some reviewers called the ending ambiguous, but I disagree. It was completely clear to me what had happened, particularly when I thought about some earlier events that had seemed confusing. I found the ending disheartening, but not ambiguous. I also found it quite affecting, although many other films have used similar twists, as have many episodes of the Twilight Zone. I half expected Rod Serling to come out of the shadows at the end, puffing away on his usual unfiltered ciggie and pontificating solemnly about the irony of it all.

The script takes us through a few tone shifts, going from jittery suspense to black comedy to social satire to tragedy, and all of the stages are pictured inside a dream-like point of view that always borders on the surreal and occasionally crosses the border. For example, Bob owns a talking fish who mirrors his own world-view. The film's strangeness can prove annoying along the way, but it actually makes perfect sense when all the secrets have been revealed. Christian Slater does an excellent job playing the complete antithesis of his usual cock-sure prick. This time he played an armed and addled Dilbert: quiet, dumpy, and nerdy; and he carried the film on the character's narrow shoulders, with able back-up from the film's cinematographer, who bathed the film in an otherworldly luminescence and employed some dramatic shots and odd camera angles to give the film a surreal look to match its tone.

It's rated 8.2 at IMDb, high enough to place in the best 100 films of all time. It's not that good, but I would not be surprised to see the rating stay in the range of 7.0-7.5. Although surrealism and black comedy are best taken in small doses, Quiet Man's running time is an economical 95 minutes, so it never has a chance to overstay its welcome, and it is a surprisingly good little film.


Elisha Cuthbert's body double. (Must be. She has a no-nudity clause.)





  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.









Another visit with Kate Winslet in "Quills." Kate first gets a whipping and then shows off some boobage. Not a whole lot of nudity, but hey its Kate. Here are 3 clips to go with the caps below.

Rebecca Palmer with a brief boob look as she plays the filling in an Oreo cookie sandwiched between two guys. Caps below and this clip.









Notes and collages


Karen Allen



In this wonderful, heartfelt film an alien visitor takes the form of Ms. Allen's dead husband in order to experience humanity.






Legend of Bloody Jack

A bunch of horny teenagers go to a cabin in the woods for some fun and stories and some guy starts killing them one by one with an Ax. That's it! There is nothing more to this movie

Well, it has a twist ending, and I already wrote it in this review. Can't you find it?


Alicia Klein

Erica Hoag

Jessica Szabo








Some dude took my Kinski image from "pic o' the day" and rendered it in natural skin tones. He did a nice job.

An HDTV film clip of Linda Hamilton in The Terminator

An HDTV film clip of Salma Hayek in Desperado (1920x1080!)

An HDTV film clip of Rollergirl in Boogie Nights

An HDTV film clip of Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights



The Comedy Wire

Comments in yellow...

After the dramatic evening that cost her custody of her kids, Britney
Spears has been released from the hospital, and police say there were no illegal drugs in her system.  But Britain's News of the World tabloid quotes an unnamed source close to her as saying that Britney had taken up to 100 prescription pills in 36 hours in the form of a drink she calls a "Purple Monster."  In includes two bottles of Nyquil, 20 diet pills, 18 herbal uppers bought off the Internet, a bottle of Pepto Bistol, eight antacid tabs, 18 Piriton antihistamine tablets, 10 sleeping pills, 10 Zantac anti-hangover pills, 6 Ritalins, 12 Vicodins, and an unknown amount of the painkiller Oxycontin, known as "hillbilly heroin."

*  In retrospect, she probably should've added a few more anti-hangover pills. 

*  When she takes this before driving, she substitutes Non-drowsy formula Dayquil. 


In a surprise move, children have been banned from an attraction at Walt Disney World. Victoria and Albert's, the swanky, five-star restaurant at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, announced that kids under 10 are no longer welcome. The manager said that based on feedback and research, it was the right move to create a better dining experience for adults. 

*  Adults 11 and up.

*  Now, Goofy can serve them their romantic dinner in peace.

The Daily Telegraph reports that one of the surprise bestsellers this
Christmas was Lucy van Amerongen's "The A-Z of Teen Talk," a translation guide to the latest teenage slang.  The author said she did it to help "'rents" or "moldies" (parents) understand what their kids are talking about.  The words include "book" (cool), "antwacky" (unstylish), "hench" (tough) and "rago" (okay).  To translate a typical sentence: if your teen says that "jamming after school is vanilla, so she's going to tear for a za with her friends," it means, "Hanging out after school is boring, so I'm going to leave quickly for a pizza with my friends."

*  She knows all this, and yet, she's making D's in Spanish. 

*  So today's teenagers' word for "cool" is "book," and their word for "book" is ... well, they have no word for "book." 


On this day in 1927, in Hinckley, Illinois, the Harlem Globetrotters played their very first game.

*  People said they'd never succeed because black people couldn't play basketball.