16 September 2016.
THE BEATLES – 8 Days A Week – The Touring Years ***
Most of us have never seen the Beatles performing live, so this is the closest we’ll ever get to the legendary group that rocked England and then the world between 1962 and 1966, their touring years.
Director Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”; “A Beautiful Mind”) has amassed astounding, never-before-seen footage by scouring the Internet for amateur films and clips by fans, and then interspersing candid interviews with the ‘fabulous four’ – John, Paul, George and Ringo – way back then, and now. He also shows the importance of their discreet manager, Brian Epstein and their brilliant producer, George Martin, and some viewpoints of famous friends.
From their early days on the infamous Reeperbahn in Hamburg to their huge welcome in America on the Ed Sullivan Show, through Europe, Asia and their last public appearance together in 1969 on a rooftop in London, Howard takes us on a thrilling ride through the Beatles’ career, including many of their transformative albums and their films such as “Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”. There’s also their evolution from a bouncy, clean-cut foursome to a world-weary hippy group, experimenting with world music along the way, writing an incredible number of songs. Even if you were never a fan, this film could make you one.
I only wish the movie didn’t stop at the end of their concert tour and there was a bit of their private lives, but I guess Howard is sticking to his title – “The Touring Years”. Maybe there could be a sequel recounting how they fell apart as a group and their post-Beatles’ lives, for fans would certainly be interested. But probably the two remaining members, Paul and Ringo, specified that their privacy was sacred, and understandably so…
WAR DOGS ***
War is not only about power, destruction and killing, but also about money, arms and ammunition. Lots of ammunition and incredible amounts of money to be made in procuring it. And this is one (true) story of two young fellows who almost got away with wheeling and dealing between arms suppliers and the Pentagon. They became profitable arms dealers with the info to be found right there, on the Internet. All (almost) legit.
The pace of the film is exhilarating, the direction is as sharp as their ambition, and Miles Teller (the intense drummer in “Backlash”) and Jonah Hill (DiCaprio’s buddy in “The Wolf of Wall Street”) are spot-on, one a curious innocent, the other a conniving pig. There are jabs at the Bush and Cheney crowd, at the corruption and ineptitude in top places, and the comeuppance that fat guy deserves.
As in “Three Kings”, about gold booty in the Iraq war, or “The Big Short”, about the manipulated stock market, this film explores the rottenness and backstabbing, as it was and is, as long as there are humans and greed. From Miami to Las Vegas, Iraq and Albania, these two wise guys follow where the money leads.
But justice somehow prevails – sort of like in “Scarface”.This is an exciting, satisfying, informative piece of work by the “Hangover” and “Due Date” director, Todd Phillips, turning somewhat more serious here.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.