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Across the Universe (Paul Thomas Anderson; 1998)

10 years ago6.2K views

Amid every rash, destructive, feral thing that happens in the mere four minutes of Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Across the Universe' (1998), the overall bearing of Fiona Apple throughout is perhaps the most mysteriously compelling of all. Within the slow-motion, monochromatic chaos that is its backdrop of epic Soda Shop vandalism, she carries herself with neither authority nor submission; neither blissful ignorance of what's happening around her nor knowing assent. She seems a world (or two) apart from the ceaseless shower of paper napkins. straws, flying glass shards, ice cream scoops, gumballs, venetian blinds, chairs and tables hurled in every conceivable direction, but she nevertheless appears to draw an odd, private strength from it in the same instant. Singing this hymn to an exalted state of being (in lyrics that were written by John Lennon three decades before) as if it were a lament, she shines brightly. If you have to give it a name . . . something you must always do in film criticism, whether the object under review deserves to be embalmed in words or not . . . you could say that you were seeing the one perfect expression of post-Christian martyrdom our culture has coughed up.

'Across the Universe' is a music video produced in connection with an immensely obvious and stupid movie called 'Pleasantville' (a film Anderson otherwise had nothing to do with); and if you have to give it a name . . . something you must always do in film criticism, whether the work under review deserves to be embalmed in words or not . . . you could say that you were seeing the one true expression of post-Christian martyrdom our culture has coughed up.

You could say it; and I'd probably agree with you.

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