Film Review: YESTERDAY (UK 2019) ***

Yesterday Poster
Trailer

A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

Director:

Danny Boyle

Writers:

Jack Barth (story by), Richard Curtis (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

News had it that Danny Boyle was so impressed with Richard Curtis’s script of the idea of a singer rising to fame performing the songs of The Beatles, these songs wiped out of the minds of everybody in the world except for him that he agreed to direct the film without a second thought.  Boyle has obviously not seen many French films like the one in which all the minds were similarly erased on the memory of the songs of French singer Johnny Halliday.  Coincidence maybe? Or plagiarized premise, it will be difficult to prove.  Still YESTERDAY has enough differences in the story to stand on its own.  And it is directed by well-respected Danny Boyle who made 28 DAYS LATER and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and his best film, TRAINSPOTTING.

Jack Malik (newcomer Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter from Clacton-on-Sea, England whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading.  He has the unfailing devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James) and his band. Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up with his guitar broken.  When his friends buy him a new one as a recovery preset, he sings to them the Beatles hit “Yesterday” only to find out that nobody else on Earth besides himself remember The Beatles.

With the assistance of his steel-hearted American agent, Debra, Jack rises to global fame by performing songs by the band. However, as his star rises, he risks losing Ellie — the one person who always believed in him.  The romance between him and Ellie makes the other part of the story.  Jack starts feeling guilty.  But director Boyle shows Jack’s guilt is fear of being caught rather than of theft of the Beatles’s songs, though he finally confesses at the end, something that goes against the trend of his behaviour.

I am not a fan of Boyle’s feel-good movies like this one or SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.  I prefer Boyle’s darker works.  As such, YESTERDAY’s best moments are those with Jack’s agent the over enthusiastic Debra, brilliantly played by Kate McKinnon.  She paints a darker side of the recording industry lampooning it occasionally.

The film is given a tremendous boost by the inclusion of singer Ed Sheeran, playing himself.  Shreeran discovers Jack and gets him to open for him on his Russian tour.  Sheeran has quite the large supporting role in the film so Sheeran fans should make it a point to catch the singer doing his sly acting bit.

One of the pleasures of watching YESTERDAY is to admire once again the genius of The Beatles as song after song of their hits are played.  Paul McCartney has a cameo in the film as does a fictitious John Lennon (with a look alike actor playing him).

But despite Boyle’s enthusiasm that shows throughout the film, the film is highly predictable, particularly the romance and the ending.  The humour with his family is also familiar fare.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY0GBmOxyYY

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Film Review: T2 TRAINSPOTTING (UK 2017) ****

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T2.jpgDirector: Danny Boyle
Writers: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh (novels)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly McDonald

Review by Gilbert Seah

T2 TRAINSPOTTING, the 20-years after sequel to TRAINSPOTTING, is so-called after the filmmakers got the rights to use T2 (hasta la vista baby to T2 standing for TERMINATOR 2) arrives with all the characters as well as the actors and director/writer after ageing a full 20 years. Hopefully, the elapsed 20 years have made each person smarter. Judging from the movie, they certainly have.

The original can be remembered (even after 20 years) for its catchy beginning sequence when Renton runs at full speed on the street only to stop with the camera right in front of him. A reverse of that effect is achieved brilliantly at the start of T2. Renton (Ewan McGregor) is now running on a treadmill at full speed, trips and falls flat on the gym floor. The camera is neither stationary nor the character but ends with both in motion before the final shot.

Boyle is directing in top form with all the energy and innovation as his first films. I have been a Boyle fan for his early films like SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING and 28 DAYS LATER and not too keen on his later ones like his over talky STEVE JOBS (there is an extended talky sequence in T2 when Renton rants about ‘choosing life’), SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and not especially with his 2012 summer Olympics opening ceremonies.

Though it is not necessary to have seen or be familiar with the original, it is recommended to view the fist film in order to appreciate T2. All the four characters have gone on in life, though their personalities have remained intact. Renton leaves Amsterdam to return to Edinburgh. He meets up with Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) who still blames him for ripping him of with money from the first film. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has broken out of prison while Spud (Ewen Bremmer) is still hooked on candy. The villain of the piece is Begbie, who is as violent as ever, seeking to kill Renton for stealing his money.
All the actors are nothing short of perfect in their roles including Kelly Macdonald as Sick’s Boy’s girlfriend, Diane.

The film is much an action film as a character driven piece. The action sequences are well executed (the car chase/escape where Renton jumps on the roof of a car; the fight in the dilapidated building; the club scene) as well as the dramatic confrontations. Audiences should expect and be warned of the excessive violence, swearing and drug use in the film.

Boyle also dazzles the audience with his fancy camerawork at the start and also in the unforgettable sequence when the camera pulls back from Renton’s room into a abysmal corridor.

But T2 delivers – as each actor, director and writer demonstrates. The film is impressive in all departments but most of all, it brings closure to what Boyle celebrated – the use of heroin. This mature film displays the characters now mature and grown up with the drugs perspective put well in place, artistically and less graphically.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGdiACWiMAM

_________

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Happy Birthday: Danny Boyle

dannyboyle.jpgDanny Boyle

Born: October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England, UK

[on Slumdog Millionaire (2008)] – You leave India, but it never leaves you. It’s an extraordinary place and you learn about yourself as a person and as a filmmaker. It’s an incredibly generous place and it’s an incredibly contradictory place. And these contradictions are on a viciously extreme scale: the poverty and the wealth, the nuclear status [but] no toilets – half the population of Mumbai have no toilets. I was trying to capture some of that, really, and we did it by some extreme storytelling. People say, ‘How can you go from the deliberate maiming of a child to a big Bollywood song and dance in the end?’ Well, you don’t try to smooth the path from one to the other. I was trying to put all the elements into the film that belong to the city, that are a part of that city.

SHALLOW GRAVEShallow Grave
1994
dir. Boyle
Starring
Kerry Fox
Ewan McGregor
TRAINSPOTTINGTrainspotting
1996
dir. Boyle
Cast
Ewan McGregor
Ewen Bremner
The Beach
2000
dir. Boyle
Starring
Leonardo DiCaprio
28 DAYS LATER28 Days Later
2002
dir. Boyle
starring
Cillian Murphy
Naomie Harris
MOVIE POSTERTRANCE
2013
dir. Danny Boyle
Stars:
James McAvoy
Rosario Dawson
127 HOURS
dir. Danny Boyle
MILLIONSMillions
2004
dir. Boyle
Starring
Alex Etel
Lewis McGibbon
SUNSHINESunshine
2007
dir. Boyle
starring
Cillian Murphy
Rose Byrne
Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire
dir. Boyle
Starring
Dev Patel
Freida Pinto
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