THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK-THE TOURING YEARS (2016)

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Directed by Ron Howard and collating footage from many various sources, some of it having never been seen by the public, Howard sets out to appease and delight the die-hard fans and introduce the millenials to the phenomenon of The Beatles to show how extraordinary the group, the time and their journey was.

It is indeed a story worth telling, again and again.

Almost everything has been said or written about the fab four from Liverpool…..almost, which is why this is such an entertaining, enlightening documentary.

A call was put out to fans in 2013 to acquire film footage, photos and audio recordings of the band between the global touring years-1963-1966, the results speak for themselves. Over two hours (including 30 minutes of The Beatles live at the Shea Stadium, New York) of old footage, photos, new interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and archive conversations with George Harrison and John Lennon alongside reminiscences by Whoopi Goldberg, Elvis Costello, Sigourney Weaver, Eddie Izzard and more, this is a fine meal and well worth your attention.

This film charts that time during these four young lads’ journey into stardom, success and fame, not being without its price. You get to see these talented young dudes being swept up in a fervor like never before. They unleashed an energy the likes of which have never been seen before. Sure, bands can enjoy extreme popularity, longevity and still remain relevant for years after but the experience of The Beatles emergence onto the world’s stage was a game-changer for the world of music.

Speaking of fervor, it occurred to me as I saw the hordes of screaming fans greeting them all over the world that this was a new occurrence at that time. Teenagers didn’t really exist until the 20th century. What I mean is ‘teenagers as we know them’ (as we were one), it started in the late 19th century and grew into what we know it to mean here in 2016. It is a generalization but before that you were a child and then you went to work as an adult. So, in 1964 when The Beatles went to America, and with the massive popularity of their single I Wanna Hold Your Hand, teenage girls took adoration to a next level. These images of young girls screaming and fainting have been seen time and time again since but never to this level in a world where it didn’t exist before. This helped catapult The Beatles into the annals of history. Look at most boy bands today, they are effectively marketed towards young girls, that’s where the dollar is.

Interestingly, we find out that The Beatles were the first musicians to play at the famous Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo, Japan. It was originally a martial arts arena and the concert was met with opposition from protesters that felt the music would defile the sacred martial arts space. This venue went on to become host to many great concerts over the years.

Ron Howard directs this documentary with skill and style in what must have been a mammoth task, trawling through all the audio and visual footage and manages to create this hugely enjoyable film that will most certainly appeal to fans and the uninitiated alike and is a phenomenon to behold and definitely worth a watch.

This will be in the cinemas for one week only. Don’t miss.

4/5

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BASTILLE DAY (2016)

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‘Michael Mason (Richard Madden, ‘GAME OF THRONES’) is an American pickpocket living in Paris who finds himself hunted by the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than just a wallet. Sean Briar (Idris Elba, ‘LUTHER’, THE WIRE), the field agent on the case, soon realises that Michael is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale conspiracy. Going against commands, Briar recruits Michael to use his expert pickpocketing skills to help quickly track down the source of the corruption. As a 24hr thrill ride ensues, the unlikely duo discover they are both targets and must rely upon each other in order to take down a common enemy.’

James Watkins (Eden Lake, The Woman in Black) directs this action thriller that has a dash of Die Hard, a flicker of French Connection, a bit of Bourne and a splash of the French tv cop show, Braquo. Watkins has made an assured, above average thriller, the set pieces are well put together creating the right amount of excitement and tension. The rooftop chase is a highlight.

Richard Madden delivers the perfect amount of charm and vulnerability as Michael Mason, a man caught up in a wrong man situation not of his choosing. He plays a pickpocket, a talented pilferer who is working in Paris. In the opening scene he uses a very public distracting technique that makes his job ever so easy, why didn’t anyone else think of this?
He steals the wrong bag and finds himself a target.
Enter Idris Elba playing Sean Briar, a C.I.A. agent working intelligence in Paris, France who is given the job of recovering Mason. Idris gives spot on one man army. In a spot of witty dialogue between the two leads, Elba asks Madden “Why did you run?”
To which Madden replies, “You were coming after me……Have you seen yourself?”
Indeed, at 6ft4 he cuts an imposing figure.
Elba and Madden make a good team with subtly believable chemistry and there is very little mugging for the camera. Assured support comes from French/Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon, English Kelly Reilly and French actors Thierry Godard and José Garcia. This is the film’s biggest strength, it’s European pedigree and Paris setting. Quite refreshing.

Bastille Day is in a better league than the majority of the studio thrillers.
Don’t be fooled, this is better than the average releases.

There are terrorists here who aren’t muslim and don’t have a religious agenda. This is so refreshing. Finally, a thriller with no anti …….(add media baddies of the day) propaganda. In fact, this kneejerk blame tactic is used by the media in the film and those responsible using this prejudice to their own poisonous agendas. Gone is the flag waving of many recent American thrillers and a more layered, multi cultural, Parisian feel replaces it making it closer to the the tone of the American films of the ’70’s, which were massively influenced by the French New wave and European films.

The music used in the film is fun with Reverend Black Grape by Black Grape and it’s always a good day when Shaun Ryder is heard in a big film. Also worth a mention is the Norman Cook/Idris Elba collaboration that is played during the end credits, The Road Less Travelled.

An entertaining Friday night thriller.

3.5/5