Yesterday

Yesterday-Movie-1

Sweet, cute and funny. That’s a quick description of Yesterday, the new film from director Danny Boyle.

You’ve seen people like Jack Malik (Himesh Patel). Strumming a guitar and singing in the corner of a bar or restaurant. Not awful but also not great. Being ignored by most patrons except a handful of friends.

Jack has a day gig in a warehouse in the UK and is ready to give up on his musical ambitions. Encouragement keeps coming from his manager and biggest fan Ellie (Lily James). But then something outrageous happens that causes the entire world to erase all memory of the Beatles and their music.

Except Jack. He remembers. And his handling of this exclusive knowledge drives Yesterday’s narrative. I advise you to buy into the fantasy and not question certain plot points. You’ll like (and maybe even love) Yesterday more if you play along.

When Jack performs Beatles songs as his own compositions, people are impressed by these classic tunes. Because they are new to them. He’s stunned when Ed Sheeran (as himself) knocks on his door to draft Jack into his musical realm.

Jack enjoys the fruits of worldwide success but knows that he is a fraud. He likes the acclaim but is conflicted with guilt feelings. Meanwhile, Ellie, who is left behind when Jack goes abroad, keeps appearing on the edges of Jack’s orbit.

Will Jack’s fake songwriting ability be uncovered? Will Jack and Ellie become a couple? Will music biz manager Debra (Kate McKinnon in a hilarious role) ever let up the gas on her hard-nosed attitude?

Director Boyle, whose resumé includes Trainspotting, The Beach and 127 Hours along with Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, delivers a movie that is consistently visually interesting—at times to advance the story and at other times to keep his audience involved. Musical performances in film can sometimes be tedious; in Yesterday they all look good.

The script is by Richard Curtis who has also has an impressive curriculum vitae. Films he’s written include Notting Hill, Bridget Jone’s Diary, War Horse and Love, Actually. Yesterday is a movie that’s funny but not annoyingly so. The romcom angle may be subtle to some viewers but will be plainly obvious to those looking for it.

A must-see? Maybe not. But this fun, light story—featuring some of the best pop music of our lifetimes—will make you happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is like a stage play. The movie is filled with speeches delivered with more passion in the film than one would imagine they might have been in real life. Those speeches are also likely more eloquent than were their real-life antecedents.

The script is by Aaron Sorkin whose screenwriting includes The Social Network, Moneyball and A Few Good Men. Sorkin loosely adapted his screenplay from Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, published shortly after the death of the Apple giant.

The film is brilliantly directed by Danny Boyle. He includes cinematic elements—split-second flashbacks are particularly effective—but gives his actors plenty of room to shine.

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is a man with a narrow focus: his products and their introductions to the world. He has difficulty with personal relationships. He is an egotistical perfectionist who is concerned about design as well as function of his products. He also is obsessed with his own public image and his legacy.

The story is told in three acts, each preceding a product launch: in 1984, the MacIntosh; in the late 80s, the NeXT “black cube” computer; in the late 90s, the iMac.

Jobs interacts throughout the film with Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), Apple’s marketing chief. She is the one person who is rarely intimidated by Jobs and, of necessity, is able to abide his casual disregard for other humans.

Jobs’ Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) has cashed in his chips but hovers on the perimeter, seeking acknowledgement from Jobs for the Apple II computer. Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels) who Jobs recruited for the position has a respectful but sometimes tempestuous relationship with Steve.

Three young women portray Jobs’ daughter Lisa, most notably Perla Haney-Jardine as the oldest version, at age 19. The evolving storyline involving his daughter makes Jobs seem like less of a selfish jerk.

Steve Jobs is not a bio-pic. The 2013 film Jobs, starring Aaron Kutcher in the title role, came closer to being a life story but it stopped at 2001. Click HERE to read my review of that earlier film. A documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine was released last month and is available on demand from iTunes and Amazon.

The actors, screenwriter and director of the new film create a close-up view of the man, his vision, his drive and his many flaws. The music of Daniel Pemberton adds to the tension and gives the scenes momentum. It’s an interesting and entertaining way to look at this intriguing visionary.