If you’ve ever watched film footage of a Beatles concert – and, once the Fab Four began to hurtle toward legend, there weren’t really all that many – you’ll notice that what you see and hear are out of sync. There are four young men mouthing words and playing on stage, but why is it that all you hear are the screams of young women?
Of course, the girls – and that’s what we would have called them in the 60s – are drowning out the music with their frenzied joy at seeing (if not hearing) the band we all worshipped. This was no less true in Detroit than in New York or London or Paris – and, yes, the Beatles played four shows in Motown, two in 1964 and two in 1966, all at the old Olympia Stadium.
A new Ron Howard-directed documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, seeks to filter out the background noise – literally and artistically – in examining the band’s career through the focus of its road trips. It’s a film you can see this month at the Flint Institute of Arts.
Howard’s ambitious film is a treasure trove of found footage – complemented by interviews and insights from the band and many others – covering the Beatles’ 250 or so concerts between 1963 (when they had emerged in their native England but hadn’t yet conquered America) and 1966 (when their lives had changed forever).
When the Beatles first hit the road, they needed to make money from their performances, since they weren’t getting paid all that much for recording, and they loved the rush of playing live. But by the end of their last tour – capped by a show in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in August of ’66 – they were touring out of obligation. Bored with the road and jaded by their mega-fame, they no longer needed face-to-face contact with their public.
Howard’s cohorts searched the world to find some of the priceless, fascinating footage in Eight Days a Week and then cleaned it up for a potent dose of nostalgia. And, if you want to hear a recording of the very first time the Beatles were played on American radio, you can hear it here. The FIA screenings are at 7:30pm Thursday, January 26; 2pm Saturday, January 28; and 4:30pm Sunday, January 29.
Also in January, the FIA’s Friends of Modern Art film series will present a documentary about comedy and the Holocaust, an erotic thriller from South Korea, and two American indie features.
The documentary, showing January 27-29, is The Last Laugh, which dares to ask, “Is it acceptable to joke about the Holocaust?” The likes of Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman and Gilbert Gottfried provide input.
From South Korea is The Handmaiden (Jan. 20-22), about a woman who is hired as such by a 1930s Japanese heiress in a story that, praises The Hollywood Reporter, “brims with delicious surprises.”
The statewide selections are American Honey (Jan. 6-8) and Free in Deed (Jan. 13-15). American Honey features Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough and others in a coming-of-age story about a teenager who travels the Midwest with a band of magazine-selling, authority-defying misfits. Free in Deed stars David Harewood (TV’s Homeland) as a struggling minister who attempts to heal a child of a severe illness.
The four above-mentioned FOMA films will be shown at 7:30pm Fridays-Saturdays and 2pm Sundays at the FIA, 1120 E. Kearsley St. Tickets, available at the door, are $4-$6.
Also, in collaboration with the local non-profit Communities First, Inc., the FIA will host a 7pm Jan. 12 screening of Jean of the Joneses. A comedy about a high-spirited family brought together by the death of its patriarch, it stars Sherri Shepherd (The View, Precious), Taylour Paige (Hit the Floor) and Gloria Reuben (ER).
For more info, visit FlintArts.org or call 810.234.1695.