Across the Universe

I swear,


, I'm not completely ripping off your format.

I caught

this film

last night and I must say: It was Taymor-tastic. Julie Taymor directed this much-anticipated movie, which uses songs from The Beatles' repertoire to narrate the emotional upheaval of a few fictional characters living through the 1960s in New York City (and a little of Ohio, New Jersey and Liverpool). I say much-anticipated, and I speak solely for myself. This movie has been on my radar for some time, filmed as it was predominantly in New York, and I'm a hugemongous fan of Taymor and The Beatles.

Most people know Taymor from her movie adaptation of



, or her work developing the popular Broadway adaptation of

The Lion King

(or, her upcoming collaboration with U2 and Sony to produce a

Spider-Man musical

, about which I am [mostly] speechless [it's going to either be the coolest thing ever or forever ruin my impression of her artistry]). Those who still love shows that only live for a few weeks at a time, however, know her from farther back as a director who merges to magnificent effect all kinds of cultural expressions, particularly puppetry.

Across the Universe

is likely the most mainstream, Hollywood-happy film Taymor has yet made, though it's hard for me to say because I have still not seen her


. Yet she still manages to incorporate more-theatrical elements at times, such as huge puppets, mask work and "penny arcade" sequences (as she refers to the animated montages in the



I have to agree with the

The Washington Post review

that laments the unspectacular story and theatrical unity of the whole thing. I expected more from Taymor. However, I believe this review neglects the intentions of the piece as well, which is the poison pill of any critic that swiftly renders his or her critical virility utterly inert. As I understand it, Taymor aspired to create a story based solely on The Beatles's music and lyrics and the cultural goings-on of the period in which they were created--preferably a story with resonance to a contemporary audience. In this aim, I believe she succeeded, whether or not I appreciated the end of the film. (I didn't. There needs to be a separate 'blog entry for my feelings about double conclusions in films of late.) And ultimately I don't believe the film should be judged on its merit as an outstanding or well-constructed musical, because I don't believe it was aiming for that specific genre. Nor should it be judged on how profound a statement it made. The Beatles, after all is said and done, were pop musicians. On that basis, I find the movie a success because I enjoyed it.

Puppets and pop music are figuring into my creative life a lot lately. Or, rather I should say, figuring into my


creative life lately, because it's all in my head, nothing done got creatited yet. Heather and I continue to express mutual enthusiasm for creating a

Punch & Judy

act betwixt us (a plan put somewhat on hold during performances of

Prohibitive Standards

on account of my breaking her toe with a chair), and I just keep thinking more and more about the kind of theatre I want to make for myself, which invariably incorporates popular music. Part of the satisfaction for me of the "homework assignments" during the development of

As Far As We Know

was the awareness that it meant I got to use one of the many pop (or indie) songs that had been scratching my itch of late.

So how does one begin to find one's creative voice, one's unique expression, in all of this? How do you encompass all the vast and profound experiences of thirty years into a moiety of melodrama? I've no idea. But I do believe I'm gathering material for my nest as we speak. The female creative influences of my life share some qualities in common that I seek to emulate, or at least steal with great admiration. A certain approach to creation as perception, a sort of found-object art, only with people and behavior rather than only objects. A release in the surreal, in the way interpretation of something common can make us notice it anew. Compassion, garnished with perspective. And meanwhile the many men of my motley career continue to offer their common, yet still sustaining, examples to follow: the value of discipline and having something to prove, the energy inherent in competition, the unique forge of approaching some things on one's own.

And why now? Why am I becoming, slowly, so hell-bent on directing something, or at least creating something to call my own? Is it the same urge that drove me into play writing after working showcases for a year here in New York, a frustration with things not going my way, or is it a realization that I can't get by on the same skills I used in my twenties, or is it something deeper? It's a curious, and somewhat unrelenting, urge.

I needs me some puppets!