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Yesterday Film Review: “ A FAIRY TALE/ CARTOON” by Alan Chrisman, copyright.

With the recent Beatles influenced  film, Yesterday,  I wanted to see it in a theater, but I waited until it hit my local second-run movie house(I usually wait until the hype has  boiled down on these things to make up my own mind).  I knew its basic plot about a young aspiring immigrant musician in England being in a bus accident and going into a fantasy that when he wakes up no one else had remembered Beatles’ songs, but himself. But soon after, he starts singing them and claiming he wrote them, and he’s about to become the biggest pop star on the planet. At first, it seemed the movie was a combination of director, Danny Boyle’s (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and screenwriter, Richard Curtis’ quirky Brit. Rom- Coms., usually staring Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill) previous movies.  Or Slumdog Millionaire meets Bridget Jones- but with a Beatles song track-which in many ways, it was.  Interestingly, the back story is somewhat similar to the recent Queen bio.–pic., Bohemian Rhapsody, about real life immigrant , Freddie Mercury, wanting to become the next big  pop star too.  I thought upon viewing that film that it was almost a caricature , especially with the lead actor equipped with an excess of fake teeth, supposedly because Mercury had a larger mouth with more teeth than normal, which partly accounted for his wider range vocals in his songs and with his exaggerated mannerisms(although it was supposed to be a true story).

The characters in Yesterday are also almost carictures too. The musician, Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel( Bit. soap opera, Eastenders) and his childhood friend,  first manager, and eventual crush, Ellie( played  by Lily James from Downton Abbey) are almost too wide-eyed naïve and innocent to be true( certainly in these times). They become pitted against the stereotyped Big Bad Music Business, personified by the Evil New Manager, played by Saturday Night Live comedian, Katherine McKinnon. Her portrayal, especially, is way over the top and extreme, almost like the evil nemesis Cruella de Vil in Disney’s original cartoon, One Hundred and One Dalmations.  I thought at first this movie was meant to be taken straight.  But later I realized the whole film was not only a fantasy, in the lead characters head, but in ours too.  The film was actually, I think, a more like cartoon.  Much as the 2nd Beatles film, Help was. Even though Beatles fans at the time, despite its silly plot (something about Ringo being chased around for his ring)  took it seriously as a continuation of their first Marx Brothers-compared movie classic, A Hard Day’s Night.  Even though the Beatles themselves knew better (spending most of the time on set for Help, high on pot and and giggling to themselves at the absurdity of it all). “We were extras in our own film.”, Lennon later said.

Like Help, what saves Yesterday is, of course, Beatles’ music. It also strangely reminded me of the Beatles cartoon, Yellow Submarine (which The Beatles themselves had little to do with in the making).  Yesterday, at some points as when it visits Liverpool landmarks, puts Yellow Submarine-like big colorful titles of some of their songs across the screen.  But it also continued the clichéd arc of films these days about pop music and rock stars: starting out unknown; being discovered virtually overnight (in Yesterday’s case, current pop idol, Ed Sheeran, playing himself, shows up at Jacks door); then getting caught up in the fame and temptations of the Music Business, but in the end( despite many rock stars in real life dying of their own excesses)– but that’s okay because their music will out survive them- goes the usual theme.  So the myths continue.  But in this fairy tale , of course, the hero comes to his senses and recognizes the error of his ways and they live happily ever after(“Ob La Di Ob La DA. Life Goes on Bra).” There’s also a scene with talk show host, James Cordon, doing his usual in real life fawning to rock and movie stars, which I think was meant to be a satire of the media coverage today and how they both build you up and then tear you down with the next breath. Ironically, it was Cordon who took Paul back to his childhood house in Liverpool last year. Paul probably only did it being the savy PR man he is, to promote his latest album, Egypt Station.

The audience I saw it with was almost entirely Baby Boomers. When it first came out, on several Beatles sites, Boomers defended the film because they said it would allow younger generations to rediscover Beatles music (even in this watered down form) and hoped to take their own children and grandchildren to see it.  I thought it was revealing that my generation was so insecure about their own music, that they were even worried about this. I’m not, for the Beatles will be known, I’m sure, not only for their music, but because they also changed the wider culture. We don’t really know what pop music will be like in a hundred years or more from now. Maybe those grainy black and white photos and films of them playing on Ed Sullivan will be like us watching old silent films from the 20’s and 30’s. But just like we know the best of that era still, Chaplin, Keaton, and the Marx Bros. when people look back on our century the Beatles will be a part of it. Because they also represent a time of historical change, the 60s(which in turn affected them to change too). There’s a scene at the end of Yesterday, where, a character, (you-know-who) makes a brief appearance. The audience actually gets quiet as they recognize him(even though I thought it didn’t look that much like him or especially sound like him), as we waited for the icon he has become, words of wisdom(to borrow Paul’s expression).  But then its right back to Beatles covers. The Beatles and publishers reportedly got $10 Million alone for the use of their songs.

It would be curious to see what young people do see in the film, not having the baggage we do about our own music and memories. They might see the film more like a graphic novel, which ironically, there was a French one in 2011 called Yesterday, with a similar theme (which would fit in with my theory that the film is really more of a cartoon). But I don’t think most of the audience (or the critics, who gave it mixed reviews ) understand this. Most of the audience were just taping their toes along to the catchy nostalgia of it all (I noticed most of the songs were McCartney ones).  I overheard a lady next to me tell her friend that the actor in that climatic scene was played by his son, Julian. I responded that, no it wasn’t, but that if it had of been, it might have looked more like him. And that I had met his mother, Cynthia. We both stayed to watch as the credits rolled to see who was playing the part, but it didn’t seem to be listed. Research later showed it was Scottish actor (no wonder his accent seemed confused) Robert Carlyle, from the previous Boyle film, Trainspotting.  Then that woman said, “Well, the music today is not as good as our music.” I realized that each generation is caught up in its own little bubble. Yesterday was a light bubble of a film, whose Beatles’ songs saved it from bursting into reality. I came with a couple of friends: my ex-wife, whom said afterwards she didn’t get the film, but who usually likes Hugh Grant movies and happy endings. Part of that may be because we arrived a few minutes late and she didn’t realize it was a fantasy inside the lead characters’ head. My male friend, who also came with us and who’s into  early 60’s music, liked the character of Ellie( and the actress who played her, Lily James). He dreams in real life of women like her, which I joked probably don’t even exist anymore, since perhaps 1962, or in movies such as this. In some ways, her character and the film, reminded me of an innocence long gone by. Which is why, “Yesterday”, I maintain, is basically a Baby Boomer fantasy and cartoon. I also saw later, the Rocketman film about Elton John. There’s a scene in it in the Beatles music publisher, Dick James( who did later represent Elton John)  office where  Reg Dwight(” Elton John”) looks at a picture of the Beatles on the wall and the film makes it look like Elton got his name from Lennon- but it isn’t true. Elton John was actually named after Brit. blues singer, Long JOHN Baldry,  and after ELTON Dean (later of the Soft Machine) who, along with an early Rod Stewart, was in Baldry’s band. The Elton John song “ Somebody Saved my Life Today” was about when Elton almost tried to commit suicide, after his failed relationship with a woman, and Baldry had helped talk him out of it(their both having to come  to grips with being gay), at a time when in England it was still illegal. The film should have at least got this right about where Elton got his name. Yet despite that, I thought Rocketman was a better film than either Bohemian Rhapsody or Yesterday. It had more original imagination( and real feeling ) in it than Yesterday or Rhapsody. If you’re going to make a cliched rock film, you should least come up a few new ways to do it.



JENNIFER LAWRENCE, soon not only celebrities private lives may be safe



By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

The recent leak of Jennifer Lawrence’s and other celebrities’ nude photos by a hacker has raised some interesting questions.  It seems to me, to be mainly a generational thing.  The younger generations, who’ve grown up with social media their whole lives, have a whole different definition and practice of “privacy”, than those who haven’t.

Many young people think nothing of revealing anything and everything about themselves on the internet.  And that includes sexting, nude, and explicit photos.  Supposedly, one in four of them has sent them and 40% have received them.  One half of 18-24 year olds, according to another survey, send them.  If these are to be believed, and I’m not saying they aren’t.  Remember back in 1998 (which seems like a century ago now), when Bill Clinton argued that oral sex wasn’t really sex.  This new generation, evidently, agrees.  How far we’ve gone since then.

It’s amazing how fast our social mores have changed.  It started perhaps, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reality shows, people famous for being famous, celebrity sex tapes, selfies, sexting,  etc.  I guess it was just a matter of time until the non-famous would want to be in on the act (no pun intended) too.

So now you can be your own porn star and share it with friends and family.   And with the Universe -Forever.

This younger generation will, no doubt, say “what’s the big deal?” Get with the times, Man!  Every generation thinks the previous ones are out of date.  That’s a necessary part of being young, since time began.

And we live in politically-correct times (have for a while now).  The Baby Boomers, more than any other generation perhaps, will do anything- not to get old.  Youth is the magic elixir. If you have enough money of course, to buy the health supplements and organic food and get our hair dyed and tattoos, to show we’re still hip.  We line up for the latest social media device. Everyone’s a writer.  Everyone’s a musician.  Everyone’s a poet.  Everyone’s an artist.  Everyone has a blog (yes,including me!). Everyone can express themselves.  Of course, few can make a living at these things anymore , because we also don’t want to have to pay for it.

But hey, this is the perfect democratic set-up, right?   Now Everyone can be a STAR!

Sex was once the taboo subject, but not anymore.  Sex is everywhere; it’s out of the closet.  My female bank tellers are wearing low-cut tops as part of their business attire and I have to try and keep my eyes on my bank deposits and not get accused of leering.   Middle-aged women want to look like their daughters. Their daughters want to go on TV Idol shows and imitate famous people who can’t sing.  College students are too often regressing to a rape culture, despite all the sex-equality education.  And there’s little subtlety left about anything anymore.

But it’s dangerous and unpopular and politically incorrect to say these things, because we live in a “liberal” society.  Nobody wants to be labeled a prude or intolerant.  Racists don’t even consider themselves racists.  Remember Donald Sterling?  If you even question some of these things, some people will say,” You against Sex or something”?  The worst crime is to be uncool.

No, we’re all so liberated.   It seems to me that morals and politics is always about, really one thing-thinking the other guy is not as “open “as we are.  Conservatives think liberals are too open and liberals think conservatives are not “open” enough.  To paraphrase comedian, Mort Sahl, “Liberals feel guilty for their possessions and conservatives think they have the right to own everything”.  If we listened to our mainstream media, we’d think the news is just about scandals and what is the latest superficial video that’s gone viral.  At one time, only the tabloids specialized in those things.

I recently read a novel by Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story, set in the, perhaps, not too distant future.  America has a one party government and China owns most of the economy. Everyone has a Credit Ranking and your social standing and any chance for advancement is based on that Ranking.  Poor people have a low Ranking and are basically disposable. Also everyone has a personal device called an apparat, which allows everyone to find out anyone else’s Ranking (as well as their sex lives) and whether it’s worth associating with them or marrying them.  So in this future, everyone knows everything about everyone else.  Of course, the book is a sort of 1984-like Sci. Fi. satire of where we’re heading, perhaps sooner than we realize.   Shteyngart has also, in 2014, released his painful, but uproariously funny memoir, Little Failure, about coming to America as a Russian immigrant and trying to adopt to his new land and how he finally found his true calling as a writer.  In the previous Super Sad True Love Story, his character, Lenny, is a collector of “printed, bound media artifacts”(aka) books.

Some people say that a world of more and more social media is even desirable and less and less privacy is inevitable. As we line up for the latest trendy new devices.  We learn more everyday just how much governments and corporations know about us and everyday there is another mass breach of our privacy.  Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA wanted to have eavesdropping abilities secretly put on every device sold to the public (and almost got away with it).

It’s true that new generations don’t seem too concerned with these things and also many of the older generation seem to just accept this “progress”.  Perhaps, Shteyngart’s future society, where everyone knows everything about everyone else, may not be far off.  But maybe we should at least question where this is leading us all.  And maybe we should remember where we came from and not be so afraid of being accused of not being “with it”


GARY SHTEYNGART’S , “SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, is a Sci. Fi. 1984ish novel/satire of what a near future with technology could hold for us all.

“HUMAN REALITY”                    Lyrics by Alan Chrisman c. 2013

1.There is no perfection                                Chorus:

Not everything is connected                 Everybody lies

There is no excuse                                   Everybody cries

There is no simple truth                         Everybody dies

Not everybody flies

2.There is no black

There is no white                              4. There is no smart addict

There’s only wrong                            There is no escape

There’s only right                               There’s only ourselves to blame

There’s only human joy and pain

3.There’s not always a reason            5.  The Spirit is overrated

Things are never simple                      Our ego’s are inflated

They are always complex                    Most have already made up their minds

It’s always a changing season             Few will take the necessary time

6.Doesn’t matter how much we say

Only what we do

Whether we deliver

And come through

7.We are not equal

We are not the same

We are all different

In more than a name

8.Only you can grow

Only you can know

And not be a slave

And can yourself save


Hear “AL & THE G-MEN” perform “Human Reality”:    http://www.rockthistownproductions.com