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PCR # 250  (Vol. 6, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 3--9, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Beyond The Sea"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part Three
 by William Moriaty
"Beyond The Sea"
 by Mike Smith
Romper Room Memories, 1973....Will Eisner Is Gone...."Sellevision"....While They Suffer, Let's At Least Make Sure We Feel Good
 by Andy Lalino
One Angry Young Man
 by Joshua Montgomery
2004 To Me
 by Clayton Smith
Hell Didn't Freeze, Well, Maybe Not Yet....Some Comments Regarding The Year's End
 by Brandon Jones
Happy New Year....I Am The Champion....Winter Fest
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Congrats....25 More....Passing On
 by Mike Smith
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Lion's Gate Films     
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins and Brenda Blethyn
Directed by: Kevin Spacey
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 54 mins

I was 13 years old on December 20, 1973. It was a Thursday and there was one more day left of school before Christmas vacation. But the reason I remember the date is because the talk of the teachers that day was of the death of Bobby Darin. At that age I only knew of Darin as the guy who sang "Mack the Knife" and "Splish Splash." But from listening to the teachers in class, he had accomplished a lot more. I found myself going through the same explanations when John Lennon passed. As Lennon was a major part of my growing up, Darin was a part of theirs. And, apparently, he was a big part of Kevin Spaceys.

"Beyond the Sea" is a movie within a movie. The film opens with Darin on stage singing his signature song, "Mack the Knife." Halfway through the song, he abruptly stops and begins chastising his band. The camera pulls back to reveal that Darin is making a movie about Darin. This set up works well, especially when the older Darin (Spacey) shares the screen with himself as a young boy (William Ullrich). If you remember the great Bob Fosse film, "All that Jazz," you get the picture.

Having contracted rheumatic fever as a child, Darin was not expected to live past the age of 15. With this in mind, his mother (Blethyn) instills in him a great love for life. He discovers music and is soon doing his act before friends and family. His hard work leads to a record deal and a television appearance. Despite his obvious success, Darin is not satisfied. While talking with his manager (Goodman) he asks a passerby if he knows who he is. He doesn't. "When the delivery man knows who I am, then I'm a star," he tells him. Of course, after an appearance on "American Bandstand," everyone knows who he is.

His recording success soon draws the attention of Hollywood, and soon he is off to Italy to make a film with Rock Hudson and Sandra Dee (Bosworth). He immediately falls in love with Dee, much to the chagrin of her mother, who wishes she would concentrate on Hudson. By the end of filming, he and Dee are married and become, for some time, the "it" couple of the time. Meanwhile, Darin continues to conquer the entertainment world. He wins Grammy's and even scores an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Captain Newman, M.D." Even his ultimate youthful desire, to play the famed Copacabana Club in New York is fulfilled. Of course, when you hit the top, the only way to go is down.

Seventeen years in development, with everyone from Tom Cruise to Leo DiCaprio attached to star, it took Kevin Spacey to bring the life of Darin to the big screen. Not only does he play Darin, Spacey also directed and co-wrote the film. He immerses himself in the character so much that it's hard to tell where Spacey stops and Darin begins. So successful is Spacey in his performance that he is currently touring the country doing a Bobby Darin tribute show! Spacey is not afraid to show us Darin warts and all. Yes, he was a perfectionist. When one of his musicians complain about the constant rehearsals he's told "there are only four people here that can't be fired - you ain't one of them!" But Darin was also very aware of the world around him. He refused to play the Copa unless they allowed black comedian George Kirby to open for him. He was a staunch supporter of Robert Kennedy and was very much opposed to the war in Vietnam. That he died at the young age of 37 can only make us wonder what could have been.

As a director, Spacey stages his story in song and dance, as if to say that life is one production number after another. He draws fine performances from his cast, especially Bosworth as Dee. As Darin's success builds, she finds him frequently away from home. There is also a slight hint of jealousy, best noticed when she takes delight at pointing out that Darin's toupee' is "just a little crooked," which she does frequently. Goodman and Hoskins do first rate work and Blethyn is the loving mother everyone would want to have. Young Ullrich almost steals the film as the young Bobby, both youthful innocence and voice of reason.

A film that celebrates a great talent taken away too soon, "Beyond the Sea" is sure to set your toes tapping.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Beyond the Sea"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Beyond The Sea" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.