Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Hard Day's Night suffers woefully from being set during the Mop-Top days of The Beatles. Indeed, Richard Lester's New Wave-influenced cinematography and editing would have been much better served by such set pieces as John Lennon tripping out on peyote and Paul McCartney shouting at his bandmates and calling them idiots before storming out of the studio. Ringo would still be pretty much the same.

Actually, this is a mightily impressive piece of work on a cinematographic and editing level, though it took me a second viewing to notice since my first time through was fixated on the gags. Which is just as well, because this is one funny movie beyond its influence on the aesthetics of everything from MTV to independent film to Monty Python's Flying Circus. But although it's humorous and slightly subversive to see George Harrison decry the fakeness of pandering to a manufactured youth in one scene, it's even more subversive to see the way Lester depicts the television crew's own manufacturing of the image The Beatles.

Which isn't to suggest this is an especially profound film. It's a promotional through and through, but it's a likable, tongue-in-cheek, and technically innovative one. Of course, The Beatles got far more experimental in their music as they went along, and I think it makes sense that they'd welcome an experimental film like this as part of their image earlier on. I'm not sure if I like it more than Yellow Submarine, which is on another plane entirely and might as well be a product unto itself, but as one of many Beatles fans I manage to get more enjoyment out of the film than merely watching The Beatles fart about.

Interesting how the usual odd man out actually gets the most attention. Ringo's bigger than Paul as far as these films go. By the way, who the hell was Wilfrid Brambell? He practically almost steals this from The Beatles.

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