Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2019: Yesterday (dir by Danny Boyle)


It’s a bit of an odd film, Yesterday is.

Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, a singer-songwriter who has struggled to find much success.  The only person who believes in him is his manager, a school teacher named Ellie Appleton (Lily James).  (Given the film’s subject matter, Ellie’s last name is a significant one.)  One night, the entire world is hit by a brief blackout.  Jack misses most of the excitement because he’s in a coma, having been hit by a bus.

When Jack wakes up from his coma, he’s shocked to discover that he’s lost several teeth and now looks kind of silly whenever he speaks, sings, or even smiles.  However, he also eventually discovers that he is now apparently the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles!

Somehow (it’s never explained how), that global blackout changed history.  It’s not that the Beatles ceased to exist as individuals.  In one of the film’s more affecting scenes, Jack drives out to the country and meets John Lennon (Robert Carlyle), who never became a superstar and who, as a result, was never assassinated.  However, in this new world, the Beatles never came together as a group and, as a result, some of the most beloved songs in history were never written.  Only Jack knows the lyrics and music for Eleanor Rigby, Yesterday, The Long and Riding Road, Let It Be, Back in the USSR, and …. well, everything!

(Oddly enough, the Beatles no longer existing has also led to several other things no longer existing.  It’s impossible not to laugh when Jack discovers that, without the Beatles, there was never an Oasis.  At the same time, there’s also no Coke or Harry Potter books.  I guess the Beatles weren’t around to inspire J.K. Rowling but why Coke would vanish is a bit more confusing.  Since Coke predates the Beatles by a century, perhaps the the film is less about how strange the world is without Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and instead about how we owe everything good in the world to John Pemberton.)

Needless to say, this leads to Jack becoming a huge star.  He’s soon touring with Ed Sheeran and recording his debut album.  And yet, through it all, Jack is haunted by the fact that the music isn’t truly his.  Will Jack continue to plagiarize his way to stardom?  And will Jack and Ellie ever realize that they’re in love and totally meant to be together?  Watch to find out, I suppose!

As I said at the start of this review, Yesterday is a bit of an odd film.  Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, it’s a meeting of two talents that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to compliment each other.  Surprisingly enough, though, the mix of Curtis’s sentimentality and Boyle’s more subversive instincts works well.  This is to especially be found in the scene where Jack meets John Lennon.  On paper, the scene shouldn’t work but it does work because Boyle is enough of a contrarian to direct his actors to play the scene with a wistful sadness.  The script may have intended the scene to prove that Lennon would have found happiness no matter what but Boyle directs it as if to say, “It probably would have been better for John if the Beatles has never existed….”  Stylistically, Boyle is too much of a cheerful anarchist to fully embrace Curtis’s romcom-style love of the Beatles.  At the same time, Curtis’s more earnest dialogue often undercuts Boyle’s more excessive instincts.  The end result is a sweet-natured movie with an edge.

Making his feature film debut, Himsh Patel is likable as Jack, even if he doesn’t quite have rock star charisma.  (Then again, that’s also a part of the film’s humor.  On his own, Jack is destined to forever be the opening act, the acceptable performer who is forgotten as soon as the headliners show up.  It’s only after the Beatles are wiped from everyone’s memory that Jack is able to become a star.)  Lily James does her best with an underwritten role and Ed Sheeran plays a hilariously vapid version of himself.

Yesterday is a good-natured tribute to the power of music and one band in particular.

Song of the Day: Make It Rain from Sons of Anarchy (by Ed Sheeran)


B3X7gZVIIAEx88j.png large

Tonight was the penultimate episode of Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy on FX. It was an episode that truly earned it’s label of being a modern Shakespearean tragedy (a label many shows have been given but rarely live up to). It also unfolded like some of the best Coppola and Scorsese gangland epics with accounts being settled in disturbing, bloody fashion.

SAMCRO was a group that for some reason legion of fans have taken a ride with and despite the man downs the show took with it’s many highs people didn’t get off the ride (or couldn’t). They wanted to see how this outlaw band of brothers and their loved ones will survive (or who will survive) to the end.

We now know that three more names have been struck off the show’s ledger. With one more episode left in the series it’s either going to go out in a blaze of glory or end in a whimper.

To make tonight’s episode even more memorable we got to listen to Ed Sheeran drop his latest song that perfectly encapsulates the events of Sons of Anarchy tonight and all the way back to the beginning.

Make It Rain

When the sins of my father
Weigh down in my soul
And the pain of my mother
Will not let me go

Well I know there can come fire from the sky
To purify pure as the canes
Even though
I know this fire brings me pain
Even so
And just the same

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

And the seed needs the water
Before it grows out of the ground
But it just keeps on getting hotter
And the hunger more profound

Well I know there can come tears from their eyes
But they may as well be in vain
Even though
I know these tears bring me pain
Even so
And just the same

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

Make it rain x8

And the seas are full of water
That stop by the shore
Just like the riches of grandeur
That never reach the port

So let the claps fill with thunderous applause
And let thy death be the veins
And fill the sky
With all that they can drop
When it’s time
To make a change

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain

Make it rain x4

Make it rain
Make it rain down low
Just make it rain
Make it rain