Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Book and Movie Review: “The Magic Christian” by Terry Southern

A couple weeks ago, I finally decided I needed to see the movie The Magic Christian that is mentioned so often in Beatles books when discussing Ringo or the year 1969 when it was filmed and released. After watching the film, I decided to buy a copy of the book to see…well, read the reviews and you’ll understand…

I tried to find this movie on-demand from several outlets, but eventually I ended up renting this movie from Amazon Prime for about $3.99. The opening credits of The Magic Christian could draw anyone in to wanting to see this movie. Besides the author of the book, Terry Southern, the other writers of the screenplay and script include: Joseph McGrath, Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Peter Sellers – who also stars in the movie with Ringo Starr. There are guest appearances from Richard Attenborough, Spike Milligan, Roman Polanski, Rachel Welch, John Cleese, Gram Chapman and Yul Brenner. Denis O’Dell, who was the Associate Producer of this film, was also the AP of A Hard Day’s Night, Magical Mystery Tour and How I Won the War. Sounds like a winning line-up, huh? There is even a scene where it appears John and Yoko make a cameo, but when looking at the credits on IMDb, it was just two un-credited actors.

I fell asleep after the first 45 minutes and had to watch the second half the following day! The whole thing seems to want to tell a story, but without explanation as to why. Ringo was heralded for his acting in this film, but he really does nothing more than follow around Peter Sellers, his adopted billionaire dad, Guy Grand, in the movie. Ringo’s lines are limited to mostly just one sentence. The plot – they go around spending millions of dollars making rich and poor people look like asses for being so greedy. But why?

I decided that I needed to read the book for more clarity on the who, what and whys to what was happening on the screen….

So I ordered a used copy of The Magic Christian book which took way too long to arrive (damn media mail!). The book, published in 1959, is just 134 pages and can be easily read in a day. Again…it took me two.

The first difference I noticed between the book and film is that Peter Sellers didn’t match the physical description of his character Guy Grand who was “rather stout”. The various scenarios/scenes portrayed in the movie are in the book, but not necessarily in the same order, sometimes with a little more detail or a little less. And Guy Grand does pull off several more antics in the book.

But the major difference…there is no adopted son (aka Ringo’s character Youngman Grand) in the book! I spent the entirety of my reading waiting for him to pop-up, but he never did. Why? Why did Terry Southern and the other writers decide it was necessary to add this character? Was it just to add a Beatle to the film’s line-up and pull in his fan base? Sure seemed that way to me, but I’ll have to do a little research to be sure. Either way, it didn’t work…the critics hated the movie, but loved the book.

So, did I find my answer to the who, what and why of the film in the pages of the book. No. I’ve read it’s an observance of greed in America, but the film was set in England. Does that mean that the author/screenwriters thinks Brits are as greedy as Americans? I have no clue what he thinks. My advice is, don’t feel obligated to watch or read this story because you’re a Beatles or Ringo Starr fan! And for that reason…

I rate the movie: 1 out of 3 Beetles!

 

 

 

I rate the book: 2 out of 3 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review: “Yesterday”

*Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie yet!*

First there was the release of the official trailer for “Yesterday”…

 

And then there were articles being released a week in advance with titles like:

‘Yesterday’ comedy movie gets Beatles’ seal of approval

 

Are Paul McCartney And Ringo Starr In The ‘Yesterday’ Movie?

 

And then the movie came out…and Facebook lit up with everyone say, “It’s amazing…but I won’t spoil it…”, “It fantastic…but there is a twist in the last 10 minutes…but I won’t spoil it”, “It’s great…but I never saw the ending coming…but I won’t spoil it”

At this point, I gave up trying to go see this movie on my own terms and decided it was best that I go see it before someone actually spoiled it more than everyone already had. Now, some people may not consider the above things spoilers, but I do. It gets ones hopes and visions of the movie up and the expectations start to outweigh anything that the movie can produce.

And let’s not forget to mention that before the movie was even released, people were making comparisons between Himesh Patel, the star Yesterday, and Rami Malik – who played Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody! “Himesh actually sings the songs!” So what?! It’s like comparing apples to oranges! And yes, you can buy the Yesterday soundtrack, complete with Himesh singing all the classic Beatles hits….

Himesh Patel does a great job playing the part of Jack Malik (Malik? Where have we heard that name before?) the wanna be rock-star. His manager is played by Lily James, who I was impressed with back in the days of Downton Abbey, but now think I need a break from seeing her in everything. Joel Fry does a fab job playing the sidekick/roadie Rocky, but other than that, most of the performances where mediocre. Except for Kate McKinnon…who’s performance as the agent was annoying from the start.

This movie was fun and funny, even if the theater I was in was only about 1/4 full at a noontime showing when it was 90 degrees and humid outside. I think I was laughing more than anyone else at some of the obvious and inside jokes, like when Jack finds out that the band Oasis doesn’t exist either! (I had to explain to my son that it’s widely known that Oasis ripped off the Beatles when writing their own songs, so if the Beatles didn’t exist, Oasis could never have existed).

Yeah…go see this movie. And I hope you get to see it on your own terms without all the hype and chatter that’s currently going on all over the internet. One of my sons (I took both of them to see it…since, well, I didn’t name them after the Beatles!) asked me what I thought…and I said,

I liked it. And yeah, when it comes on TV, I’ll watch it over and over again whenever it’s on.”

And for that reason,

I rate this movie, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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Documentary Review: “Tony Palmer’s Mighty Good – The Beatles”

Tony Palmer’s All You Need Is Love series episode 13 is Mighty Good: The Beatles. Don’t ask me what the first 12 or the last 4 episodes in this series are about because I have no idea. I was trying to spend some points I had earned on one of my credit cards and that’s how I got this DVD for free. 

I’m not really sure where to begin in telling about this video. I don’t know that it’s worth too many words or my time to type them! It’s approximately 1 hour long and spends the first half talking about the Beatles. Actually, it’s mostly a stoned and/or drunk Derek Taylor talking about the Beatles (and if you follow this blog for any length of time, you’ll know how I feel about Derek!). They have bits of film with John, Paul and Ringo talking and a whole lot of Murray the K. But after about a half hour, the video turns into something else with Roger McGuinn talking about The Byrds and video clips of The Animals. Eventually, it does get back to the Fab Four, but then drifts off again.

I will admit that some of the interview clips about our boys I have never seen before, but I can’t say it’s worth the wasted hour of time and the recycled clips of girls screaming, crying and fainting to invest. And for that reason…

I rate this DVD, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Documentary Review: “I Killed John Lennon”

I Killed John Lennon movie I decided to delve back into my free Amazon Prime movies to see what’s available in the way of Beatles movies/documentaries that I hadn’t seen or heard of yet. It’s been a busy weekend and I didn’t have much time, so I chose the 48 minute documentary I Killed John Lennon. This movie is also available on DVD.

This movie revolves mostly around the 200 minutes of taped interviews that reporter Jack Jones did with Mark David Chapman over a period of six years starting in 1986. Mixed in with bits of audio from those tapes are interviews with Jack Jones and several psychologists who have read over the transcripts and present their analysis of Lennon’s murderer.

As you can imagine, a 48 minute film that covers 200 hours of tape isn’t going to really go very deep into the killers motivation or life history. This movie just seems to skim the surface of the whole story and end with the psychologist and Jones deeming that Chapman is crazy. If you’re truly interested in the who, what, when where and whys of the tragic death of John Lennon there are much better films and books. In fact, Jack Jones wrote a 300 page book about his interviews called, Let Me Take You Down: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman,the Man Who Killed John Lennon that you can buy used on Amazon for as little as $1.78. And for that reason…

I rate this film, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Film Review: “De-constructing The Beatles – Rubber Soul” and winners!

The husband and I took a night off to go out to dinner and movie. This time we were lucky enough to have a Beatles themed flick playing one town over from us.

Deconstructing The Beatles is the brain child of musicologist and Beatles scholar Scott Freiman. He’s made four ‘Deconstructing’ films so far that are showing around the country. You can find out if any of them are playing near you on the website. Before I give my thoughts, here’s the trailer for this film:

 

 

I’ve seen several great Beatles experts who do lectures similar to this one…Kenneth Womack and Walter Everett come to mind and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to see either of these Beatles experts’ lectures, you’re sure to love this film. Scott Freiman literally walks his audience through each day of the 30 days the Beatles had to record their Rubber Soul album. What songs they recorded on what days, what instruments where used on each song, the tracks used, etc.. An amazing process to experience that just about any Beatles fan is sure to enjoy. In fact, I’m going to need to go back and find out where I can go to see the first three Deconstructing films about the White Album, Sgt. Peppers and Revolver. And for that reason…

I rate this film, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

The winners of last week’s giveaway for a copy of John Lennon: The stories behind every song 1970-1980 are: Meredith Floate, Deborah Allen and Rob Conlin! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get your books out to you ASAP. Congrats!

 

 

 

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Movie Review: “The Lennon Report”

The Lennon Report was recommended to my husband and I from a guy my husband met in a cigar store a couple weeks ago. My husband said he was interested in seeing it too, so the search was on to find it! As it turns out, the movie, which seems to have been released in October 2016, is only available to rent or buy online and has yet to be released on blue ray or disc.

The Lennon Report is a 1 hour 24 minutes recreation of the last hours of John Lennon’s life. From the moments before he was shot up until Yoko tells Sean his father is dead, this movie aims to let fans know what exactly happened in the hospital as the doctors and nurses tried to save John.

Here’s the trailer:

Though the acting leaves a bit to be desired, I gotta say, I really enjoyed watching this movie. It’s not over dramatized with a lot of unnecessary screaming and over the top emotions. It appears to show the true to life surprise by the hospital staff when they are told that the dying man on the table in front of them is John Lennon and it then reveals their above and beyond attempts to save his life.

As an added bonus – The doctor and one of the nurses who operated on Lennon, along with the reporter who was there, all appear at the end of this movie and talk about that fateful night.

There is no doubt in my mind that every Beatles fan and Lennon fan will love seeing this film. But as I said, you’re going to have to look past the weak acting skills on the part of some of the players. And for that reason…

I rate this movie, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Movie Review: “Lisztomania” (1975)

Several months ago, I went to a lecture that compared the Beatles to classical composer Franz Liszt.  It would seem that Mr. Liszt (b. 1811 – d. 1886) was the rock star of his day!  In April 1844, while reviewing the European music scene that season, writer Heinrich Heine coined the term ‘Lisztomania‘ to describe the frenzy and fainting that occurred when Liszt performed.

I’ve always enjoyed the music of Franz Liszt and you’ve probably heard it yourself.  Here is a video of Liebestraum:

Or, if you prefer, here is a video of Bugs Bunny playing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody:

Lisztomania, was written and directed by Ken Russell, the same guy who had already directed The Who’s classic – Tommy.  The posters for Lisztomania even promoted this movies as ‘Tommy’s Tommy‘!  Unfortunately, even with Roger Daltrey as the star in this film too, this movie doesn’t even come close to the genius of Tommy and makes one think that Russell should have quit while he was ahead.  Even Ringo Starr, who plays the part of The Pope and who had been praised for many of his previous acting roles is mediocre at best.

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Both the acting and the music in this film are terrible.  The only redeeming quality is seeing a naked, young Roger Daltrey!  I can also say that all of Liszt’s women/lovers in the film actually existed in real life and that his daughter really married composer Richard Wagner.  But where Ken Russell came up with idea to put Nazis and Hitler in the film…I’ll never understand.  And for that reason…

I rate this movie, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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I rate Roger Daltrey’s naked boday, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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DVD Review: “Confessions of a Beatlemaniac”


About 2.5 years ago, I reviewed the book  “Confessions of a Beatlemaniac!” A true story of a fan who broke all the rules to MEET THE BEATLES! by Dee Elias after meeting her at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans.  And about a year later, I posted that Dee was having a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a short film based on her book.

For those of us that were lucky enough to get in on the ground floor by contributing to her highly successful campaign, and requested a copy of the DVD as our reward, we got the goods about 2 weeks ago.  I couldn’t wait to pop this movie into my DVD player!

This 20 minute short starts with an animated title page that is just too cute.  Hint: It’s a play on the book cover.   Then the fun starts, as Dee and her friends reminisce about the fab time that had trying to meet the Beatles when they were just young innocent girls.  Flash backs will take you back to 60’s with Dee and company sneaking and conniving their way to actually get up close and personal with the Fab Four.  This movie is delightful…

But Dee’s adventures didn’t end in the 60’s.  Dee and her movie crew have decided to enter this movie as a Short Film in several movie festivals this year.  For the rest of her adoring fans, it’s scheduled to be released to the public in 2017!

For those that haven’t read her delightful true story of meeting the Beatles, you can purchase her book on her website or on Amazon.  It’ll help pass the time while we all wait for the movie to be released to the public!

Good luck at the film festivals, Dee!

 

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Movie Review: Brian Wilson – Songwriter: 1969-1982

Here’s another shameless plug for the 30 day free Amazon Prime trial subscription.  When I went to cancel before my month was up, then informed me that I could continue to use the free benefits until my 30 days was over!  So…I watch another free movie.

Brian Wilson – Songwriter: 1969-1982 was a hell of a lot better than I had expected.  This documentary was a great way to fill in the blanks that were left from watching “Love & Mercy“.  As I said in my review, Love & Mercy was an excellent film, but you really had to know exactly what was going on with Brian in the 1960’s thru 1980’s to understand the movie completely.  This film is going to give you those missing links.

And for that reason…

 

I rate this movie, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Note: And keep an eye out for May Pang’s book, Loving John, on Peter Ames Carlin’s bookshelf!

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Movie Review: “The Beatles: Parting Ways”

I thought I’d throw one more movie review out here before ending my Prime subscription, but it’s not as much a review of this movie, as a warning not to bother wasting even a free membership to Prime on this one.

The Beatles: Parting Ways – is a 52 minute documentary about the life of the Beatles after their split in 1970.  Going in the order of John, Paul, George and Ringo, each of the Beatles is given a little over 10 minutes of air time in this film that seems to take a lot of liberties and uses a lot of stock film footage that was also used in Strange Fruit.

One of the first things that caught my attention was that the makers of this film chose other bands’ music to play as a backdrop to their commentary.  Really…The Animals “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” as background music in a Beatles documentary?  Warning…there is no Beatles music in this film.

The other glaring (disturbing) error was when the narrator says Ringo and Maureen had 3 sons together – Zak, Jason and LEE! Wrong…just so, so wrong.  And for that reason…

I rate this film 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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