Sunday, October 21, 2007

American Bollywood: Across the Universe

Clocking in at just over 2 hours, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe is not unlike good Bollywood. It has an international, compelling. and emotional story (a good part of the story takes place in England, a site of many a Bollywood flick). The visualizations of the more than 30 songs (far more than in a typical Bollywood movie) is largely commendable, though sometimes forced. Early on, there are some highly innovative and stupendous samples of cinematic choreography (in a bowling alley, and a Princeton dining club), but towards the end there is some poor use of blue-screening and digital effects. The movie ends abruptly, which means I would have been happy to take in a third hour. The music is nicely recorded, combining soundstage and on-site 5.1 recordings, and as far as I can tell (see this highly technical article), there was no playback singing. The interpretations of the Beatles' music is solid and artful. Whether studio recorded or live action, the players do a fine job with some tremendous lyrics and arrangements. Not since Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge (2001) has a mainstream American movie toyed with the Bollywood format of love story/music/dance/politics so successfully. Across the Universe - chock full of songs you already know and love - is worth the $10, or the $25 it will cost to get the DVD on February 5, 2008.

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