The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 22-28

The Beatles in Richard Lester’s A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964). Courtesy Film Forum. Playing Sunday, March 26.

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Directed by Richard Lester
Seeing John, Paul, George and Ringo joking around with reporters, running away from screaming fans, and hitting on women in A Hard Day’s Night, one may be startled by the contrast between their laddish personalities and the sweetness and sensitivity they exuded in their music. Such is the fascinating irony of Lester’s classic rock musical. It’s the same irony that would drive another cinematic classic about a musician made 20 years after A Hard Day’s Night: Amadeus, which presented a musical genius who had the soul of a poet as a composer but the outward personality of an adolescent. There are no equivalent Salieri-like jealous observers in A Hard Day’s Night, though—unless you count the Beatles’ manager (John Junkin), expressing perpetual exasperation at their anarchic antics. Lester clearly aligns with that anarchy, reflecting it in the film’s still-enlivening sense of “anything goes” stylistic play: the whizz-bang editing, the roving camerawork, the use of fast motion. It’s the Beatles themselves, however, that remain the main draw of A Hard Day’s Night. Whatever you think of their off-stage antics in the film, there’s no doubt about the sheer innocent joy they radiate, whether as musicians or as actors. Kenji Fujishima (March 26, 11am, 1:10pm, 5:10pm, 9:20pm at Film Forum’s “Brit New Wave,” with Lester’s 1959 short The Running Jumping & Standing Still, and double-featured with Lester’s 1965 feature The Knack… and How to Get It)

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