Rocketman and Yesterday

Yesterday, my son and I saw the movie “Yesterday” about a young singer who is in an accident caused by a blackout leaving him injured, but also the only person on the planet who remembers The Beatles. The movie stars Himesh Patel as the singer and Lily James as his manager and largest fan among very few. Yet, it is abetted by the role Ed Sheeran plays as himself recognizing the genius songwriting and Kate McKinnon as both performers greedy manager.

Last month, my wife and I saw “Rocketman,” a biopic about Elton John and his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. While it differs from “Yesterday,” both feature the musical genius of the songwriters and performers. “Rocketman” stars Taron Egerton as John with Jamie Bell playing Taupin. “Rocketman” also stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Steven Mackintosh as John’s unsupportive parents, whose best adult support came from his Nan played by Gemma Jones

In both movies, the stars sing the songs. Egerton does a highly credible job of singing like Elton. Patel does not sing as well, but that is a key part of the story. He is an unsuccessful singer who starts singing great music, while Egerton is playing the singer. “Yesterday” is directed by Danny Boyle with the story and screenplay written by Richard Curtis and Jack Barth. “Rocketman” was directed by Dexter Fletcher with the story and screenplay written by Lee Hall.

Both movies are worth seeing. “Rocketman” reveals the musical genius of Elton John who could play songs after hearing them for the first time, even as a young boy. He was classically trained after his Nan helped him, but he could only go as he benefitted from a scholarship. Billy Joel, who toured with John later in their careers, noted John wrote backwards from most songwriters, writing the music to the words of Taupin.

“Yesterday” introduces the breadth of music by The Beatles to a younger audience featuring the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney with a few of George Harrison’s thrown in. The movie includes songs from early in The Beatles’ career as well as songs off The White Album. Please stay around for the credits as well, as you will fade out with a well-known song.

It is hard to pick which movie is better. Since, I am a huge Beatles’ fan, I would have to give the nod to the latter, although the critics liked “Rocketman” a little better. It should be noted, I also liked the movie of a few years ago “Across the Universe,” which had young actors singing The Beatles’ songs as part of the plot, not unlike “Mamma Mia,” which uses ABBA’s music. I think both movies are just shy of the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Queen which won some Academy Awards last year, but they are still highly entertaining.

Since my wife could not join us, I am likely to go see “Yesterday” again. I think it is worth another go. It should be noted Lily James also played in the sequel to “Mamma Mia” which came out last year. In “Yesterday,” her singing is relegated to playing a chorus in early recording sessions, but she adds greatly to the movie.

9 thoughts on “Rocketman and Yesterday

  1. Note to Readers: I did my best to avoid spoiler alerts in my post. I would encourage those who comment to do their best to do so, but would suggest those who have not seen the movies to avoid the comments, as it is hard to not mention favorite parts of the movies.

    • Thanks Hugh. You save a lot of money that way. Two tickets, popcorns and drinks is more expensive than two meals at a local sit down restaurant.

  2. Although I don’t care for musicals and the entire group I went to Rocketman with dislikes musicals, in this case, our ignorance was bliss. We had no idea what we were in for. But everyone enjoyed the film, even those who were too young to know much of anything about Elton John. Egerton’s performance was riveting.

    • Linda, great story. When my wife and I went to a real Elton John concert, we were amazed at three generations of families singing word for word in the audience. Glad you enjoyed it. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: Let me know some of your favorite Elton John and Beatles’ songs. I recognize fully there are too many to choose from and there are no right or wrong answers.

    Moving passed the more obvious chpices, a couple of Beatles’ favorites include Eleanor Rigby, A Day in the Life and Lady Madonna. A couple of Elton John’s include Tiny Dancer and Levon. What are some of yours?

  4. I haven’t seen either movie, but would like to (also, Bohemian Rhapsody). We tend to wait until Netflix releases them. Maybe this summer, we will try to beat the heat by going to an afternoon show or two. Thanks for your recommendations!

  5. Note to Readers: Ironically, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was on HBO last night. I do think it is the better of the three movies, as it shows the kindred spirit of the band, even though Freddie Mercury was Queen’s enigmatic star. I think it layers in Queen’s music, where you gey a nice sampling of many songs.

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