Thursday, February 18, 2010

Across The Universe

Picked this up cheap on Blu-Ray at Costco. I saw some clips on YouTube and figured it was worth watching. I will give it a "should see", especially to music fans, pop culture fans, 1960's gurus, film enthusiasts, and lovers of choreography. For Beatles fans, this is a "must see"... though any true Beatles fan has already seen it, and doesn't need me to tell you that. I would put this as a modern version of the movie "Hair", but with all the music selected from The Beatles' extensive catalog.

The original Broadway play "Hair" did not have contain a narrative, but was a collage of songs, dances, and essays; the movie took those elements and wrapped them loosely around a plot. This is essentially what happens in "Across the Universe". A group of characters meet up and interact as music and dance occurs around them, sometimes occurring within the reality of the movie (such as performances by Sexy Sadie), but more often in typical musical fashion where they just break into song and dance as the plot is revealed.

This is certainly a quality production on many levels. The dancing and singing is quite good, the camera work is very imaginative, the choreography is also innovative and well executed. The script contains uncountable references to Beatles lyrics on top of the fact that all the characters take their names from Beatles tunes. There are also infinite references to various pop culture icons and events of the era. Of course the War in Vietnam is a central theme, the burning of draft cards, Yippies marching in the streets with analogous characters to Abbie Hoffman and other real life people, a scene from an "Electric Cool-Aid" party where you can see a Gerry Garcia-like character, an Allen Ginsberg, and many others.

Oddly enough, though certainly a conscious effort, there are many drug references yet the characters do not themselves partake. They mime smoking weed, but say things like "I don't even smoke". They do, however, drink beer.

The movie is speckled with well known celebrities such as Joe Cocker, Bono and Eddie Izzard (Brit comedian).

There are some anachronistic elements, such as musical interpretations that just didn't exist back then... like a bit of heavy punk-ish sounds, and general singing styles that didn't come into popularity until much later. But this is not really a problem as this is not a historical piece, it is a modern interpretation of the 60's era.

Lots of "making of" features on the Blu-Ray, director's commentary, detailed commentary on the correography, and all that good stuff. This works pretty well as a movie, and pretty well as a video album.

I recommend experiencing this one through a good audio system. I'm not sure it would hold up over plain old TV speakers. Swing on by if you want to have a look.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bizarre occurance on my way to Florida

Finally got around to writing this one up...

So I guess I bit off a bit more than I could chew on my trip to Florida at the end of January. I was leaving on a flight from McArthur Airport on Wednesday at 4:10. So in the best of all worlds, I should have been at the airport at 2:10. But I had noticed that the registration on my car was about to expire, and since I had recently changed license plates, I really wanted to go to DMV in person to be sure all went smoothly. How long could it POSSIBLY take to get my car registered anyway? Half an hour? Forty minutes? An hour? OK, so I budgeted a good hour and a half and gave myself some wiggle room on top of that. I was all packed and ready to go. Just had to get the reggie, and drive 45 minutes to an hour over to Islip.

At the Yonkers DMV I got my form and my "deli" ticket... I was number C706. Checking the light board I saw C660. OK, so I guess there were about 46 people in front of me. Or perhaps more than that, but 46 people in front of me who were there to register their cars? So I sit and wait... and wait... and I see that their are lots of other numbers being called, that begin with A, B, D, E, F, G, H, and I. Oh bloody hell... there could be NINE TIMES forty six people in front of me... and apparently there were. Two and a half hours later, they are up to C700, but I could not wait for one second longer. I would miss my flight. So I ran out of there as angry as a human could be, without actually killing somebody.

Mind you, I was sitting there ready to go with my license, old registration, insurance card, form, and debit card all in my nice little folder ready to just drop at the desk. I shouldn't have had to say a word, and the transaction should have taken about 5-7 minutes.

So out I ran, and headed towards Islip. My travel mate, Corey, assured me that McArthur Airport security is pretty lax, that the place is more like a bus terminal than an airport, and that it's quick to get in and out. Still, I was seriously pressed for time at this point. The plan all along was to leave my car at Corey's house, and have his wife Dom drop us off at the airport. On the way I called ahead and Corey was nervous... he said he's gonna have Dom drop him off at the airport, and then she could make a second trip with me if I got there in time. There was traffic on the Throg's Neck Bridge, but I made good time on the L.I.E. I pulled up to Dom and Corey's house as Dom was on her way back from her first trip. Five minutes later, I'm on my way to the airport, Dom laughing at me the whole time for being so predictably late.

Well I got to the airport a good 20 minutes before the plane was supposed to take off. Corey was right... curb side check-in was a breeze. I gave my bag and told him my name, and had my boarding pass printed up in seconds... keeping my backpack of electronics with me.

So now I'm doing the "Go OJ" through the airport up to security. HERE's where it gets weird.

So I come up to the security maze and pull out my wallet to get out my license. OMFG !!! My license NEVER leaves my wallet... where the HELL is my license ?!?!? Nooooooo... it's in the folder in the compartment of my car along with the DMV form and my insurance card.

So I guess that's it.. there's no way to get my ID in time to catch the flight... and BOY am I gonna hear it from Dom. So this TSA uniform guy sees the look of panic on my face and says "What's the matter son?" Mind you, he was about my age. So I say "I left my license in the car back at the house." He asks, "Well, what DO you have? You got a Costco card???" I simply don't believe he just said that. It's just too surreal to believe. I said "Yeah I have a Costco card... I got credit cards... got a New Jersey boating safety certificate (stamped with the State of NJ seal), etc..."

He looks at my stuff and grills me for about a minute... "You live in New York but your boating certificate if from NJ?? Where are you going anyway? What for? When will you be back???" Apparently I did OK and he could tell that I was not a sweating stammering underwear bomber... though I was nervous as hell and completely upset with myself.

He said "OK, I'm convinced that you are who you say you are. Let me sign off on this boarding pass" as he scribbles with his pen. He said "I don't know what will happen on the other side when you make the return trip, though." He then unhooks the velvet rope and lets me to the front of the line for security check. I unload all my gear into bins, zip through the check point, pack up my gear, and head to the gate.

I still can't believe it happened. I meet up w/ Corey and Ant and we still have 15 minutes before the plane starts to board. I'm totally convinced that any second somebody is gonna come by and say "Would you step over here sir..." but it never happened. In fact, once on the plane, the 4:10 flight actually was IN THE AIR at 4:13. I said "What happened to the 45 minute approach to the runway?" Corey assured me that that NEVER happens at McArthur.

Eventually after a few minutes in the air I finally convinced myself that this was not a dream, ant that this actually happened. BTW: Dom overnighted my license to me. And it's a good thing she did, because there was NO WAY I could have gotten through Tampa airport without it... never mind the obvious fact that this COULD NOT happen at LGA or JFK.