It’s been a crazy good summer if, like yours truly, you’re one of the zillions of baby boomers out there. Normally, I ignore the big dumb films that come out each year from June to September but this year, movie theaters have been hosting a feast for those 60 and above. Maybe it’s only a happy coincidence but it feels like the movie summer of 2019 has been designed to appeal to the generation born between 1946 and 1964.
The best of the lot IMO is “Once Upon a Time….in Hollywood” directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie among others. I suspect I’m not alone in having a lifelong fascination with the Manson Murders. As a teen, I’ll never forget the front page of the New York Daily News with the Manson girls proudly strutting into court with swat-stickers on their foreheads. WTF?!?! I thought and still think.
Tarantino has brought it all back–not just the Manson Murders but the entire era and soundtrack along with a violent ending that, crazy to say, is a joy to behold. I’ve never laughed so hard at so much violence. The song playing in the background of the ultimate scene is “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge. I can’t even guess how many high school dances I attended where some garage band tried to recreate it. Let me just say, it brings me back and now it’ll be impossible to forget the way it was used here.
And “Once…” is only the latest example. Earlier this summer, the fantasy film “Yesterday” featuring The Beatles song catalog appeared. The story revolves around “a world without the Beatles” but the film winds up being an homage to the four lad from Liverpool. Not only did the film have a very sweet surprise toward the end (no spoilers here) but it had the effect of making the world see for the umpteenth time how great the Beatles really were. I once read a sentence about the Beatles that sums it up for me: “They weren’t about chemistry; they were about alchemy.”
One of my least favorite Beatles’ songs is “The Long and Winding Road” but the stripped down version that appeared in this film made me hear it with fresh ears and the true power and beauty shone through.
Want more? Go see “Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love.” The documentary features the music and magic of songwriter Leonard Cohen and his muse, the luminescent Marianne Ihlen, the young woman he met on the Greek island of Hydra. Their love is the stuff of mythology except, in this doc, filmmaker Nick Broomfield pulls no punches, showing both the beauty but also the ugliness of what this vaunted love story did to Marianne the muse and her poor son Axel.
I’ve haven’t had this kind of summer in a very long time–nearly every week a film opens that I can’t wait to see in an actual movie theater. Another winner is “David Crosby: Remember My Name” about one of the most ornery figures in rock. David Crosby has quite the CV. Not only was he a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, not only did he play at Woodstock….he also discovered Joni Mitchell and produced her first album. He’s a Zelig-type figure of classic rock. It’s funny and fascinating to see him sitting behind The Beatles at one of their many press conferences. When a reporter asks who he is, none other than John Lennon says, “That’s our friend David.”
What the film brings out so well is how sad it is that Crosby is his own worst enemy. As he quietly admits toward the film’s end, none of the major figures that he made beautiful music with–no one from Roger McGuinn to Neil Young–is talking to Croz any longer.
I’m telling ya this summer has it all and I’ve yet to see “Echoes of the Canyon” about Laurel Canyon in the ’70s. Still to come is a documentary about Linda Ronstadt and “Blinded by the Light,” a feature film centered around the music of Bruce Springsteen. I can’t wait!