There are so many streaming options available today, and so many conflicting recommendations, it's hard to see through all the crap you could see. Every Friday, The edgeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the selection by searching the overwhelming amount of films and TV series on subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.
What to watch
Yellow submarine, an animated feature film from 1968 in which cartoon versions of The Beatles help the friendly citizens of Pepperland to resist the authoritarian, fun-hating Blue Meanies. Based (very loosely) on a cheerful, child-friendly, sea-shanty-like song that was originally released on the 1966 album Revolver, the film was the third theatrical release of the group, after the huge hits A well-earned rest and Help out! (The Beatles also played in a 1967 television special, Magical Mystery Tour.) Like those earlier films, Yellow submarine is full of catchy music and absurd humor, and it portrays the band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as fictional characters on a mission to make a boring world more fun.
Why watch now?
Because Yesterday opens this weekend in the cinemas.
Written by the British romantic comedy specialist Richard Curtis (Four marriages and a funeral, actually love) and directed by eclectic filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) Yesterday stars Himesh Patel as Jack Malik, an aspiring singer-songwriter who one day wakes up in an alternative reality that looks almost exactly like the one he always knows … except that no one but Jack has ever heard the music of The Beatles. By singing their songs, Jack becomes a nocturnal sensation, but fame – combined with his sense of doing something ridiculous – complicates the musician's rather low-key life and influences his relationship with his best friend and potential romantic partner (played by Lily James). Eventually the story dissolves in a conventional way, but the biggest, most welcome surprise begins with an open visual reference to the Beatles song & # 39; Yellow Submarine & # 39 ;.
Yesterday joins the so-called "semi-Beatles movies" where the Fab Four and their music are central to what the movies are about, though – unlike A well-earned rest and Help out! – The Beatles themselves are not the stars. In 1978, seven years before director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale made Back to the future together they debuted with the ensemble comedy I want to hold your hand, that a handful of teenagers follow in 1964 as they flock to New York City, hoping to meet The Beatles while performing in the city on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1978, Fat and Saturday evening fever producer Robert Stigwood collected an all-star cast for the disco-fied musical fable Sgt. Pepper & # 39; s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 2007 director Julie Taymor brought her unusual theatrical flair to it About the universe, which assumes that the characters mentioned in Beatles songs were all real people who crossed the pipelines in the turbulent sixties.
It's not that hard to call Yellow submarine the first of these semi-Beatles films. Although the boys appear at the end in a very short live-action epilogue, they did not really provide the voices for the cartoon characters of John, Paul, George and Ringo. And while the movie is full of classic Beatles songs, the story and dialogue offer just as much of a wildly speculative, second-hand interpretation of the meanings of the songs as About the universe.
A team of screenwriters and animators – led by director George Dunning and producer Al Brodax, who were both strongly involved in the earlier comic series on Saturday morning The Beatles – Freely illustrated songs such as "Eleanor Rigby", "When I & # 39; m Sixty-Four", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "All You Need Is Love", where their lyrics and moods are turned into rainbow-colored dream landscapes. The film pretends to tell an epic story about heroic liverpudlian rockers, with catchy tunes and a loving spirit in the battle against the grinning blue-tinted demons. But this plot is really a side issue. The destination does not matter as much as the journey.
For who it is
Anyone interested in psychedelics and advanced animation.
Unlike the simpler, nicer Beatles TV cartoon, Yellow submarine is aggressive mind-bending, with lead visual designer Heinz Edelman drawing inspiration from underground comics, pop art, advertising, vintage photos, Milton Glaser billboards, pulp fantasy magazine covers and posters for hippie "happenings". The film sometimes looks fake with Peter Max, who worked in a similar style, and occasionally even received the credit for it Yellow submarine, although there is no documented evidence that he has contributed to the project. But it is more a synthesis of several contemporary design trends, bubbling from the counterculture to the mainstream.
Even considering the familiarity of the images and the popularity of the music, this is a strikingly strange film. Many young Beatles fans have been stunned by this photo, with its narrative stories and sensory overload. But it is a film that plays better and better with repeated viewings, thanks to the explosion of imagination and the inspiring dedication to positivity.
Yellow submarine was made during the controversial final years of the band, and it is based on a song that has been interpreted as a metaphor for celebrities who feel limited by their fame. But it still builds on the myth of the earlier films that John, Paul, George and Ringo were all best friends, puckishly sharing jokes and crazy adventures. And that is a fantasy that is just as powerful as any science fiction film.
Where to see it
Amazon Prime Video. For those who want to spend the whole weekend and immerse themselves in The Beatles, the Criterion Channel has the band's first film, A well-earned rest, while Hulu has the under documentary Good Ol & # 39; Freda, about the Beatles secretary and her unique view of their superstar. Netflix has About the universe and Martin Scorsese's in-depth doc on guitarist George Harrison, Living in the material world.