Pavarotti

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Pavarotti

A mild warning about the wonderful Pavarotti. Those of you who are genuine opera lovers may find it borders on being frenetic. Those who are looking at it as a biography rather than a musical event will see it differently. Yes, it is frenetic, but so is the man and that’s why this portrait of him is so good. What is more fun than unraveling the mystery of any human being who has had the courage and determination to develop an inborn talent?

Several things become clear quickly about the man himself. He wants to be remembered as a man who brought opera to the people, and the people who made this film want to invite the public to get to know the man who wanted so much to be “just one of the guys.” That is exactly what happens as we watch. In the early days, he has a wife and three children he loves. He sees himself as unsophisticated in life but must deal with fame as his singing tours through rural America make his name familiar to millions.

Away from his family he is a lonely innocent until he undertakes a series of relationships with women who offer him the steady presence he needs. He loves being spoiled by those who become caretakers of him and the 28 suitcases he brings on trips.

Making friends everywhere, Pavarotti never escapes the feeling of fear that creeps over him every time he is about to go on stage. Watch the genuine friendship with Lady Diana in England as she and thousands come to his outdoor concert in pouring rain. As he asks them to close their umbrellas, they are all standing, soaked, and smiling in their affection for this singer they love. He is joined by Navorati who is 34 years younger than he. She becomes his protector.

As he begins to sing with rock stars, opera lovers may groan at the invasion of the ordinary. Baffled and rooted in his lack of sophistication, Pavarotti begins to stop feeling guilty off stage and revels in the “Three Tenor” concerts with his new best friends – Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. By 1994 he feels crushed by injustice in Bosnia and goes there to help the children who return his favors with joy.

This multifaceted man tells us he has lived his songs and we see that clearly as he brings the lessons of his entire life to every performance. He lives in his songs until he dies at 71 in 2007. The riveting thing about Pavarotti is that through all his success, he remained a relatively simple man drawn to people he could help. Stardom never seduced him as he remained himself with friends and fans. It was only when he took to the stage anywhere in the world that he carried with him an inner world that stayed through each performance until he smiled again during the following ovation.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Pavarotti
Word Count : 496
Running Time : 1:26
Rating : G
Date : July 14, 2019

Yesterday

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Yesterday

Any summary of Yesterday would miss its magic. Don’t look for the good, the mediocre or the bad in this one. Just try watching and waiting for it to wrap you in its arms. That takes about five minutes. In its entire length there is nothing by the scriptwriter or any actor that trips the whole, and the whole is not a story so much as it is a fairy tale.

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and his dear friend Ellie (Lily James) have a friendship that borders on more but is rooted in her being his manager while she isn’t working at her job as a school teacher. She never gives up on his career even though singing to unresponsive bar patrons gives him no professional or emotional lift. How’s that for an ordinary beginning?

One night the whole world goes dark and silent for twelve seconds and when that’s over, Jack sings “Yesterday” on his new guitar and discovers the world has become a place where no one has ever heard of The Beatles. He searches frantically for them on his computer and finds no mention of them anywhere. In this sudden new world, they never existed.

By this early time in the movie, we are already hooked by Jack (Himesh Patel) who is now a creature of our imaginations as he sings the songs of the Beatles as if they were his own. As his success grows, he knows he must move to Los Angeles with Rocky (Ed Sheeran) who will manage his career as he soars to the heights of the celebrity he has earned with the songs of a group that has disappeared from world history.

That’s the last you’ll hear from me about the plot that unfolds and envelops us without even an ounce of conventional unpleasantness. Oh yes, one nasty successful business executive (Sophia DiMartino) reaches for control of Jack and fails. Her personality is so out of tone with all the others that we wonder if she was introduced just to show us mean people don’t survive in Jack’s world.

I went in thinking that any new interpretation by unknowns of the Beatles’ music simply couldn’t work and I came out grinning in its success. In no way a true anecdote, it’s a fable designed with imaginative twists and turns and acted by a cast that understood precisely what they were doing.

Sitting in the dark theater and hearing appreciative laughter in all different parts of the story was a lovely tribute to everyone involved. Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis created a flawless script that is interpreted beautifully by a cast of actors who understand exactly how to deliver the magic of the imagination created by those two men.

It’s hard to convey in words the magic running through the performance of Himesh Patel as he carries the fairy tale to all its happy endings. Just go and let it all roll gently over you.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Yesterday
Word Count : 500
Running Time : 1:56
Rating : PG-13
Date : July 7, 2019