(July 5). 

No road too long or too winding should keep you away from seeing the movie Yesterday. My wife and I both agreed it was the most simply enjoyable flick we’ve seen in years.

The premise is ingenious, and executed winningly enough that a viewer can indeed suspend rational disbelief. Somehow, a worldwide, 12-second power surge eliminates all memory and evidence that the Beatles ever existed — with the exception of the clear recollection enjoyed by one Indian-British musician and perhaps a few random, haunted remnants.

NOTE: This picture above doesn’t actually exist. The Beatles never existed. Who? What am I talking about?


Naturally, when faced with the idea of a world without Beatles songs, the musician, Jack, can’t just let it be. He starts performing every Beatles song he can think of — with the exception of “Eleanor Rigby,” because he just can’t quite remember all the words. Was it Father McKenzie who was darning his socks? Or was it the fireman with his hourglass? No, wait, that was from “Penny Lane.”

One can easily see how this all could go off the rails into mega-Sillyland, But it doesn’t. One also could see how it could become a cheap knock-off of Back to the Future. It avoids the latter hazard by not trying to portray a plethora of downstream consequences. This isn’t one of those situations where, if there are no Beatles, that means there also is no Elton John or Billy Joel, and if there’s no Billy Joel then there’s nobody to inspire a sense of rebelliousness among Russian youth while touring the U.S.S.R. in 1987… or something like that.

No, in this case, if you imagine there are no Beatles, that doesn’t mean there’s no heaven. It just means there are no Beatles, so the world still awaits introduction to their catchy, lyrical, unforgettable music. …

[I can’t stress strongly enough how good this is. For the rest of this column explaining why, go here.]


PS  Here are two bonus paragraphs, not published at The Examiner:

I began this little column with the intention of going where Yesterday didn’t, by positing a series of “what would have happened if X never existed” scenarios. Political-cultural columnists are supposed to find deeper meanings, aren’t we?

But, well, no. That wouldn’t be fair to this extraordinarily winsome bit of cinematic magic. This is a movie that, in old-school fashion, insists that sometimes a movie is just supposed to entertain, not expound pretentiously on existential truths. The story, the dialogue, the acting, the sense of fun: Those attributes are more than enough.


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