Film review: Eight Days A Week and Shea

31 Responses

  1. Andreas says:

    Roger, I couldn't agree more. This is a brilliant review summing it all up.

  2. Gabor Peterdi says:

    When I heared about Ron Howard I was afraid of Hollywood, colorizing, America in the center etc… just what had happened… No offense to Ron, I like his movies but why on Earth is HE the right guy for this project?

    When it first came to the news that Apple was looking for films and stories I did hope for a real treat. Even the girl with the recorder at Carnegie Hall was hunted for. It seemed they are turning every stone to come up with something great.

    Then it became a nightmare really. Way too short, colorized clips, missed stories, a stupid cover for the Hollywood Bowl. A sloppy, hastily put together project to meet the anniversary deadline.

    Leaving out The Casbah, Pete, Stu, The Cavern, Hamburg, Sweden, the Philippines, Germany???? I mean what kind of film is that about the LIve Beatles?

    Whay can't Apple just get together some people who really know the stuff and put together a nice project? I mean it might be entertaining for nowcomers and the average guy, but we all know what a GREAT project this could have been? This is the GREATEST STORY after all.

    ..and Ron do yourself a favour and VISIT Liverpool, you might just have more ideas how and why the Beatles came from there. This would be my first question for a director who wants to make a movie of the Fabs.

  3. Unknown says:

    I agree with just about everything you said.
    I couldn't really tell the rare stuff being seen for the first time and the much lauded extra Candlestick Park footage was frankly underwhelming.
    I also don't understand some of the audio decisions, such as overdubbing "The Beatles Come To Town" footage with Hollywood Bowl audio, when the original audio is perfectly fine.
    Really disappointed in the lack of European content and some of the best recorded stuff from Australia was skated over in seconds.
    The definitive look at the Beatles live is yet to be made and I so hope that all the stuff that has been gathered doesn't simply fester away in a vault.

  4. Unknown says:

    The film isn't The Beatles Tours, but The Touring Years. That doesn't mean the film is about the tours, but what happened in the years that spanned their tours. The main story arc from those years is how the band went from obscurity in the 1957-61 intro to the highs of 1963-65 to the negatives of 1966. Whatever supported that arc is what made the film. Then the 1967-69 coda pulls a happy ending out of the film. Things like the freezing van ride or Jimmy would have fit the arc had they happened in 1966. US Civil Rights didn't fit the arc, but it was the B story.

    Ron Howard didn't really ruin the original film. He made a different (maybe lesser) film. Hollywood directors are storytellers. "Where is the story?" is their overriding concern in pre-production. A tour documentary that simply moves from show to show or tour to tour wasn't happening once he came aboard. He ripped up a Civil War (tour) documentary and made one about how the war (touring) years affected Lincoln (the band). Note how funny things got sparser and serious things got more time as the film got closer to Candlestick, taking the audience emotionally through the Beatles' emotional ride. It could have been an even heavier ride had the coda taken us through Brian Epstein's death and the growing rifts in the band at the time of the rooftop concert. My brain went there the first time as they showed Pepper and the rooftop which wasn't the film's fault. It didn't go there the 2nd time which brightened my view of the film.

    I gave it a C+ after the 2nd screening. I'd have liked it a lot more had the lion's share of the footage and info been largely new to me. Shea elevated it to a solid B. All of that leads me to believe that Howard's film works best for the more casual Beatle fans with the story arc helping the really casual ones along. The original film would have worked best for the deeper Beatle fans like myself.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Like Adam Clayton said, Ron Howard was tasked with creating a film that appealed to a wide audience and told a story.

    But based on that alone, my issue with the film is that the film doesn't know what it wants to be. They could have made a film from the "outsiders' perspective", about all the fans who went to the concerts, about the reporters and deejays and promoters and others who had contact with them during those concerts, about the police tasked with crowd control amid chaos, about the political and social climate that surrounded the era of those concerts. That would make a great film.

    You could also have a film about the "insiders' perspective", what it was like to be a Beatle in that environment, what happened during individual concerts, about the relationship within the band and their inner circle. That would also make a great film–and it was already made, and it's called "The Beatles Anthology".

    You could also have made a straight concert film, stringing together various performances of the band into one long set, along with some commentary.

    Instead, "Eight Days" is a mishmash of the three. There are few complete performances in the film, and it doesn't really tell enough about the outsider perspective to be satisfying, while the Beatle perspective was much better done before. It's pretty clear that Paul and Ringo don't have a whole lot to say about those times–the 1965 and 66 world tours were really only a few weeks long, after all, and they were mostly just a blur of hotel rooms. And the most interesting stories probably have to do with drug use and groupies, which they don't particularly want to relate to the public at large.

    So we ended up with a film where Ringo and Paul really have almost nothing to say, and the most interesting characters are Larry Kane and Whoopi Goldberg. It's essentially the film that the Beatles actively avoided making in the 90s when "Anthology" was made–they didn't want a "talking heads" documentary about their lives where they were merely afterthoughts in their own story.

  6. RAJ says:

    This was a potentially great documentary that lost its original focus and ventured down the highway of dumbed-down type of production you'll probably see playing on PBS in a few months during one of their fund drives.

  7. Tammy says:

    Whatever the film may be, it's been extended by a week here in Australia, and it's still selling out matinee sessions, so they've done something right.

  8. Unknown says:

    Heyfatalbert, just to be clear the U.S. leg of the 1965 tour was only a few weeks long, but don't forget they started the year performing in London, did France, Italy and Spain before the U.S. and finished with a short tour of the U.K.
    Again, only the U.S. seems to matter.

    • James Peet says:

      The Beatles came from America. They had a few hits there and then they had a huge hit in Europe and they had a short visit to England and then Beatlemania struck the world. It's not a surprise the film is centred on America as they were an American band.

      Forgive the cynicism. This review is what i feared about this project. It could have been great. All i think is the bootleggers will continue to make money as they give the hardcore Fabheads what they want.

      I'm sad it has come to this. I don't think Apple care about the long standing fans.

  9. Edward R says:

    I think if you here the interviews from Howard and Giles Martin, you will realise that this is not for the hardcore Beatles fan. A film full of grainy images and tinny sound would lose most of the audience. I'm sure if Let It Be is ever released, there will be people on here moaning that it is not a 30 disc dvd set, and that key moments are missing from that.

    I saw the film, The audience reaction was estatic. And I enjoyed it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    i disagree that the shea concert looked as good as it didn't look very good to me.even the anthology footage of shea looked way better.i thought the shea concert looked grainy and dark in most spots.and the picture didn't look clear.i know they can do a better job of making it look bluray quality.

  11. George Armstrong says:

    Talking about fakery, am I the only one who thinks the new Hollywood Bowl album sounds a bit suspect? The bass and drums now sound crisp and clear, but the guitars are still the same old muddy sound. If the new technology can get the bass and drums sounding so great, then why couldn't they do the same with the guitars? When listening through headphones, it sound almost like two different recordings mixed together.

  12. Peter says:

    The Hollywood Bowl sound was recorded in a weird way on three-track tape, but if you read George Martin's description of remixing it in the 1970s, you'll know why it may still be trouble to work on now.

    Shea Stadium looked great. I imagine some close-up shots looked soft due to blowing up the film. Also, this was arguably the first live concert recorded in this type of venue, so perhaps camera focus wasn't exactly 100% at all times. You also have to consider the other factors of lighting and night-time playing. All-in-all, it looked fine. One more thing is that some footage in the beginning is from 8mm personal film, so it's blurry as heck.

  13. wogew says:

    Peter: I noticed that Dizzy Miss Lizzie from Shea in the "Eight Days A Week" film switched to some blurry 8mm footage for a while, but in the Shea film they avoided that.
    Tammy & Edward: Yes, I also did enjoy the film on the second viewing along with an enthusiastic audience. As I said, it was a full house, and the movie theatre I went to has now put up a second screening on October 10. As for tinny sound, Edward: Where's the bass guitar in the Shea film, anyway?

    The non-inclusion of The Beatles at Shea Stadium on the DVD/Blu-ray release may actually be a blessing in disguise, because it may mean that Apple are preparing complete concerts for spin-off releases following the success of the "documentary".

    As for the DVD/Blu-ray DeLuxe version, they could have made the feature film longer by including more about the touring outside of USA. There's room for that on a 2 disc blu-ray/dvd and that would have remedied a lot.

  14. Unknown says:

    Roger, firstly can I say fantastic reviews of both shows, i do have a theory about the Shea concert though – it was first stated here on a blog a couple of months ago that they had obtained "footage" of She's a Woman from home movies from the crowd that night (as they had to change camera reels so no watchable footage existed from the film) which they were going to use as part of the EDAW documentary, after seeing the documentary that didnt eventuate, also George's only lead vocal – Everybodys Trying to be my Baby ( the other omitted song from the film) was in the initial remastered Shea film setlist so is it me or is apple throwing us a couple of hints that these songs now actually have "existing footage" and will hopefully be included in any upcoming dvd/blu-ray release (hopefully soon or at least in our lifetime)

  15. Unknown says:

    I saw it here on Sunday in Japan where the volume was pretty low as well my wife brought her ear plugs just in case ~ Didn't need them ~ I really can't ad to the reviewers take on the film he nailed it really well ~ Being 66 years old and growing up with the Beatles you could say I too was disappointed with the films and no wonder why they added the concert footage as the reviewer sadly stated there was a lack of concert footage ~ I already have a bootleg Pioneer video disk copy of the Beatles live in Japanese show ~ They didn't show it here they showed the Shea show even that was disappointing ~ You know when I heard Ron Howard was producing the film the first thing I thought was how lame Happy Day's was and didn't put much faith in the project ~ My after thought is that I wish John Lennon was still with us I think his interviews would have been more objected than the Disneyland pabulum Paul & Ringo gave us here and with the Anthology series as well ~ I mean I listen to the Lost Lennon tapes years ago ~ What about the groupies ~ 🙂

  16. Rock And Roll Detective® says:

    Hi Roger
    I have to agree that there should have been a small section of the film devoted to Jimmie Nicol joining The Beatles. Attempts were made to find Jimmie, but to no avail. He declined to participate in The Anthology, as described in my book, The Beatle Who Vanished. This time, he could not be found… Vanished. But I think he would have declined again to participate. BTW, Nicol spelled his first name Jimmie, not Jimmy. If you look at any of his autographs during The Beatles' time and if you look at pictures of his self designed bass drum heads, HE always spelled it Jimmie. It was the media and Pye Records that created the Jimmy spelling. All the best. Jim.

  17. Rick says:

    A little disappointed that this was just a shortened version of Anthology, with very little new stuff. I did however enjoy the colourized Washington concert footage. Would love to see the complete concert in colour.

    The Shea Bootleg Blu Rays are better than this condensed 4k showing

  18. Anonymous says:

    they didnt need to blow up the film.shea was shot on 35mm film which was made for theatre screens.even the new star wars film the force awakens was shot on 35mm film.i thought the shea concert looked bad,really looked grainy and some shots looked too whitish and other shots looked too looked like a bad vhs copy to looked nothing like the clear footage i saw of shea on the anthology.and i won't even get into the bad job they did ir didn't do on the original edits of the film or the bad audio they put in parts of the songs.i thin they released this concert in this bad quality on purpose because when they do decide to release it on bluray they know they can make it look so much better and people will buy it.

  19. Unknown says:

    I love this site, Roger you just summed up all that I've been saying about this film and how it made me feel after seeing it on its day of release. I guess I've been more vocal about it because a lot more none Beatle fans have known about the film, of which a few have gone out to see it too. Obviously discussions then ensued and I've felt I was the only wone that took the stand point of "What a missed opportunity".
    Big gaps of historical information left out, basically just so it could cut to the American tour. You don't get a sense of how much touring they did in 63,and the colourised footage looked bad. I wasn't sure why they mentioned and showed things that weren't about the touring Beatles, i.e. the films etc. A nice touch was to show what albums were released, so it gave you that reference point, but they could have done a similar thing and used a callander style graphic to illustrate how many days they were on the road. Plus, why not show where they went to? A on screen name of a city would have just given the viewer a better understanding of how much they travelled and how much they crammed into 4-5 years. Mel and Jimmy should have been focused on too.

  20. wogew says:

    Like I said in the introduction, I wish they could have animated that map by showing an airplane or a band bus going from one town to another just to show us the tour stops and the extent of their tours. The pre-production crew OVOW Productions Inc. did a lot of work in preparation of the film, work that has not been put to good use in the film itself, and one thing they did was to plot in every concert and tour stop on Google maps.

  21. Matheus says:

    No Beatles gigs in Brazil in the 60's, no Beatles movie in Brazilian theathres in 2016. Shame.
    But Paul still keeps coming..

  22. Matthew Love says:

    Well said Mr. Peet 👌

  23. Martin says:

    Eight Days A Week was a disappointment… Too much photo with voiecover bits and why the likes of Richard Curtis, Eddie Izzard, Whoopi Goldberg and all them? Couldn't Howard have got members of the support acts or those who were actually there and still alive (Geoff Emerick, Patti Boyd, Bill Harry, Allan Williams Pete Best) instead of the usual celebrity buffoons?

    Ace Candlestick Park and rooftop ('I've Got A Feeling') footage though. The colourisation is bad (everyone is the same tone and look like they've been using spray-tan!) and the titles (with that Beatles log font) look like they were done for a fan-made YouTube thing…

    As far as I know, The Beatles were English and from Liverpool…

  24. James Peet says:

    No, they were definitely American as the Beatles begain in America in February 1964…This Americanisation of the Beatles really annoys me.

  25. Martin says:

    I agree, James. It's a bit like how U2 became American when the USA adopted them after The Joshua Tree…. The Stones also satirised the creeping Americanisation of Britain with 'Satisfaction' and 'Get Off Of My Cloud'.

    And still no Pete… Apple may want to airbrush him out of the 'official history', but Pete Best was The Beatles drummer for two years and at their earliest 'touring' gigs, and he deserves better treatment than he gets. I would rather listen to what Pete Best has to say than Whoopi Goldberg and Richard Curtis…

  26. Martin says:

    And the Hollywood Bowl album cover is awful… Klaus's 'Anthology' artwork it isn't… After the departure (and sad loss) of Neil Aspinall, it appears Apple has got lazy and just that bit tacky… Like re-using the mundane '1' artwork for a definitive Beatles promo clips collection (and no Avedon postcard prints with the DVD either!),and even the 1977 'Bowl' cover is better than the dreadful one that has just been released. From 'Please Please Me' (the album) right up to the 'Anthology' albums, The Beatles were always associated with classic record covers. Now, for the last two major releases, they've just re-used a design for a compilation from 2000 (which wasn't that good anyway: a number '1' on a red background) and the less said about the new 'Bowl' sleeve, the better.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I agree with absolutely nothing in this piece, I'm afraid.
    Without meaning to be deliberately offensive, but wanting to make my point succinctly, the world is divided between record-buyers, film-goers and 'hysterical accurists', the type of 'fan short for fanatic' whose objection to a statement by Beatle A in Interview X that 'we were wearing clean underwear that day' is to be rebutted by the claim of Hotel Chambermaid Y that 'the garments were soiled'.

    How about a nice cup of STFU?
    'The Beatles Live Project' was a crowdsourcing project. It was never announced as a movie. End of.

  28. Anonymous says:

    And as for the comments here, as with everything the Awful Apple Corps do, well I think a documentary could be made about how The Beatles fan-base has progressed from a bunch of 12 year old girls wetting their pants over the shake of a moptop to a bunch of 72 year old men wetting their pants over the band's choice of this or that in respect of their own work.
    Tedium ad nauseam.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I've been to see the film in the cinema twice. First time, on the premiere night, it did seem to be packed with the boomers and punks who bought Hollywood Bowl in 1977. There was a lot of singalong.
    The second time, a matinee, it was twenty-somethings and mums with kids.
    This is because the film has escaped its target audience and its run has been extended for weeks now (with further theatrical releases to come around the world) and that is because it has had word of mouth as a great night out at the cinema.
    The bootleg market has ALWAYS been for those who are less concerned with showmanship and presentation and more with detail, like the fact that The Beatles once had another drummer or seven.
    Apple Corps, meanwhile, is always a company which puts out what The Beatles sign off on.
    And it's always been more than good enough for me.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ron Howard's done a lot of interviews but in only one I've seen does he get to the beef that is being expressed in this blog and its comments. I think it's pretty damn fine as a statement of intent, a defence and why he was the right person for the job (which the continuing run reflects and which has always been a Beatle definition of 'success'):

    “I also believed – and it turned out to be true – that by being able to apply cutting-edge technology and digitally enhance some of these images, you’re just able to get a lot more detail out of them. I wanted to keep looking at the story through the prism of the guys; this ensemble on this adventure together. They are individuals yet there’s a brotherhood, a collective psyche at work. So we could re-edit some of the performance moments that we’ve seen before but in a way that reflects an idea that we’re trying to express, to make this story as specific and fresh and involving as possible.

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