Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Hard Day's Night: Does It Still Hold Up 50 Years Later?

It's only natural that everything Boomers experienced in the Sixties will be re-surfacing as our generation attempts to re-live its past. Nostalgia is a normal human behavior, it seems. I once had an elderly friend who grew up in Estonia prior to the Second World War and having emigrated to America after surviving its horrors only had a handful of photos which his continuously revisited and cherished.

Our generation is different. We not only have family photo albums, we have YouTube videos of every conceivable event that touched us, as well as all the ones we never experienced but wish we had, especially concerts that we never had a chance to attend by our favorite supergroups. And then there's The Beatles.

This summer we're seeing the re-mastered release of the moptops' first feature film, and rave reviews are flying in from all points North, South, East and West. Even The New Yorker waxed hyperbolic, calling it "A satiric celebration of anarchistic youth and the blast of oxygen they give to a wheezing kingdom." Was it really this profound?

The reviewers on imdb.com fall all over themselves with praise, some of them castigating the rest of humanity for not giving it a higher rating than the 7.7 its 25,000+ voters had already crowned it with.

Now frankly, I can sort of get it. For a lot of people it was a fun film starring, yes, The Beatles. The soundtrack was good, too. If you like The Beatles. (I liked their music, but some people didn't and don't. I certainly don't require everyone to like the Dylan music I listen to.)

One reviewer called it, "one of the most influential movies ever." That's pretty high praise. Another thought the film should be included amongst the top twenty films of all time. Really? Like, up there with The Godfather, Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane, I suppose.

Several reviews cited their acting. Oh my gosh. Was that really acting? You're kidding, right? Greatest actors of all time: Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, John Lennon.  Or maybe this list of chart toppers: Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Paul McCartney. What do you think?

I've seen the film a couple times over the years. And after reading 100 reviews here's a fellow from Cincy who expresses something of my sentiments:

I am just about the biggest Beatles fan imaginable and so, axiomatically, I enjoy this movie very much. However, I think it's time to put to rest the notion of this being some kind of great film apart from its value as a keyhole onto to the Fabs' heyday. Let's face it, as pure moviemaking, this thing is a bit of a joke.

Well, that may be a little harsh. And maybe not. As far as I'm concerned it was just a Brit variation on Elvis movies, which he himself considered embarrassing to have been part of.

But as Nostalgia... ah yes. Maybe seeing it again will resurrect something for you if you're a Boomer. And the boys are likeable, so it's easy to hang out with them a wee bit. I mean, isn't that why we see a lot of the films we watch? We just kinda like hanging out for a while with Harrison Ford or Brad or whoever for a couple hours. Just don't try to convince me it's great art.

Release date: July 6, 1964 (Britain), August 11 (USA)
Now available on Blu-ray.

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