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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RICHARD PRYOR: OMIT THE LOGIC (2013)

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The cost of genius.

There is no doubt that Richard Pryor was a genius when it came to comedy. He literally changed the face of stand up and what was possible in that world. His legacy is still felt to this day in the works of Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Katt Williams and hell, just about most famous comedians.

Damon Wayans said at a tribute show “Richard Pryor defined the game of stand-up comedy and comedy itself, and if you haven’t stole from Richard, then you’re probably not that funny.”

Too true.

His physical comedy is like a ballet between him, his material and the audience.

The genius is documented here in this warts and all film that doesn’t shy away from the more difficult side of the late (or even early) comedian’s life.

Charting his journey with an early appearance on Johnny Carson’s show all the way to his death in 2005, we get to see his many wives, successes, failures and addictions through the eyes of friends and family.

When someone is that talented it often goes hand in hand that they may very well be a tortured soul. It is said that many artists self-medicate in one-way or another. If you feel so much being a sensitive, sometimes there has to be a way to escape that intensity. It’s just a fact that certain souls need an outlet to decompress. Look at the history, artists like to experiment and it definitely informs their work, unfortunately it sometimes destroys them.

Richard Pryor famously used his experiences in his routines and this is one of the things about great stand- ups, they lay themselves bare, at least when it come to the stage. It is why we love them. Comedians can say anything and the great ones do and do it well.

Marina Zenovich directs this documentary that, while not being as comprehensive and definitive as it could be, still gives us some interesting talking heads (Robin Williams, Paul Mooney, Whoopi Goldberg, Mel Brooks amongst them) and informs us a little bit more about this great man.

To understand the affect Richard Pryor has had on the world of comedy this quote by the brilliant Dave Chappelle sums up his influence:

“Richard Pryor, undisputed champion of the world, greatest of all times, case closed, period, exclamation point.”

3.3/5