The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (USA/UK, 2016)

Directed by: Ron Howard. It’s hard to gauge if I actually learned anything new from this doc, because I learned so much from reading all 900 pages of this great Bob Spitz biography of the Beatles. Suffice to say, this movie is best enjoyed by established mega fans. But on second thought, Ron Howard is a people’s filmmaker, and he does a good job introducing the band to people who are maybe only half familiar with the whole concept that there’s a big deal about these 4 scruffy idiots from Liverpool. One thing is definitely amazing with this film—it puts you right there, in the middle of the screaming, ear-splitting chaos of the early Beatles days. You can feel it for yourself how new and terrifying it all was for everybody involved, how it kept growing, how out of control it got once they hit Australia and East Asia, and how it would reasonably send these guys, the world’s most successful touring band at the time, to quit touring forever, to start recording some of the most influential albums ever. Not to mention, the extra footage—how is there new footage? It’s pretty amazing to get right up onto the stage at Shea Stadium, for old fans and new converts alike. And as every Beatles fan knows, there are two distinct periods: the touring years, and the recording years. And so, while I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t a mammoth, gargantuan movie (a very reasonable 90 minutes!), I’m tantalized by the long, punctuationally cumbersome title, which indicates (along with the trajectory of the Beatles themselves), that there’s another such movie in the future. Now there is a sequel I can get excited about! And I haven’t seen the DaVinci Code sequels or all the Liam Hemsworth movies he did, but I think this is the best Ron Howard movie since Frost/Nixon at least. Very nice.

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