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

the-beatles-eight-days-a-week

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

Advertisements

AMY (2015)

amy-52

This is an incredible documentary film about an amazingly talented young woman whose life is cut tragically short by excess, abuse and celebrity.

Asif Kapadia does it again. This time round I have a deeper connection to the subject. Amy’s first album ‘Frank’ really made a huge impression on me, being a jazz fan and hearing whip smart, incredibly personal lyrics sung with the skill and talent of one blessed with a voice well beyond her years. With Kapadia’s other feature documentary, Senna, my interest in the subject was minimal but boy does he know how to get you emotionally involved. I loved Senna and equally I loved Amy. Let’s not forget Kapadia’s feature film debt The Warrior, which if you haven’t seen is definitely worth a look and is NOT a documentary.

The tragedy here unfolds before our eyes as we are (unfortunately?) privileged to witness early home videos showing the trajectory of this brightly burning candle and it is very sad. This film moved me a great deal and sat with me for a long time afterwards. The way the press hounded her and tried as hard as they could to get her to snap was criminal and it hits home how it is so easy to judge and have an opinion about a celebrity as though they are creatures in a zoo, somehow different than the rest of us and what Kapadia does brilliantly is allow the humanity to shine out of his subject.

The use of voice-overs without seeing the interviewees is brilliant, it allows the viewer to focus wholly on Amy, this is not about them, they were merely players in the show, the star was Amy and it is she who shines the brightest. Seeing her insecurities and getting a deeper understanding of this force of nature builds empathy in the viewer. On the one hand she is a scared little girl and on the other a mighty diva who isn’t shy of airing her opinions. This is the human condition, we are all contradictions who sometimes lash out with the same hand we caress our loved ones with.

Amy is a cautionary tale about fame and celebrity, and the importance of having true friends around you when the madness is in full swing. Sometimes the flame of life burns so brightly that it is extinguished sooner as it burns out, Amy joined the 27 Club along with Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

A tragedy, but at least the music is still out there.

A must watch.

4/5

BUY THE FILM ON BLU RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE