Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

The Beatles: Sgt Pepper and Beyond


The Beatles: Sgt Pepper and Beyond 01.06.17

Is The Beatles' 'Sgt Pepper' album the greatest ever made? Is it even the greatest album The Beatles ever made? Better than Rubber Soul or Revolver? Better than the flawlessly diverse Abbey Road? Perhaps let's just agree that Sgt Pepper is an album worth celebrating, fifty year after its release.

To some, in fact, a second Beatles documentary may seem unnecessary in the space of the year, following last year's successful 8 Days a Week directed by Ron Howard. Yet this remains one of the twentieth century's most important group of artists, and I was feeling a listless need to lose myself in something. As it turned out to my luck, the director of this latest Beatles offering, Alan G Parker, was present at the Cameo cinema screening to answer audience questions at the film's end.

What to say of the doc' itself? Unsanctioned by the people who own The Beatles' rights, TB:SPAB did not have interviews with the band's remaining members Paul or Ringo. It did, though, talk with the former drummer Pete Best, who had been famously denied fame and fortune when he was dropped by producer George Martin just as The Beatles were becoming famous. As such, this is much more a 'Pete Best' kind of documentary than a Ringo one, featuring talks with former roadies and associates who were airbrushed out of last year's more highly publicised doc.

Lower budget, then, but put together by a Beatles obsessive (Parker) who had the nous to chase up footage unseen since original broadcasts in the 1960s.

There are two particular highlights with this doc: the appearance of Best, who increasingly makes for a fascinating character as one of pop culture's 'never was' heroes – the not-quite Beatle – who it turns out finally received massive royalties in the late 1990s for his studio drumming in the 'Beatles: Anthology' (£5.3 million for drumming on seven songs). He has a heart-warming, family-related story, connecting him with John Lennon, which ties him to the Sgt Pepper album. The other, more haunting story involves the former Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who died mysteriously in the 1960s. In this documentary, you find out exactly what happened, from a one-time handsome associate.

A likeable documentary, then, that touches upon The Beatles' flirtation with transcendental spirituality and modern art. You don't learn much about the music – which has in fairness been covered by other documentaries involving the producer George Martin. The dichotomy of Lennon as the 'experimentalist' and McCartney as middle-of-the-road is convincingly challenged, and like last year's 8 Days a Week, it's also difficult to comprehend how these four young men managed to keep their humour and down-to-earth perspectives in the face of all the jarring idolization.

But is Sgt Pepper the greatest album ever made? One journalist and associate says the thing I've often thought: if only The Beatles had included Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane on the album, instead of releasing them separately as singles. Because the album has one or two weak tracks; had they been replaced by two of The Beatles' most iconic songs, I don't think there'd be much discussion about best ever album. A small tragedy for the album, but I think it's fair to say the album and the band did okay, regardless.

Get Out 04.06.17
The Red Turtle


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Thursday, 21 January 2021

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

December 22, 2020

Lacanian Icarus: when Gina flew too close to the sun?

On the recent experience of nearly being no-platformed There are two identities in one when it comes to being part of a disempowered minority. The first is for yourself: all your failings, your insecurities, your doubts, and connected to this, your curiosity and quirks. Let's be Lacanian analysts for a moment: what we're talking about is the transg...
November 17, 2020

If I were to detransition, this is what I would write

Warning: this is a speculative piece of writing, not an official announcement, although I have recently begun to imagine an 'ideological' detransition (from trans woman to GNC male). Here, I'm trying to articulate and reflect on my thoughts and feelings, and imagining myself from a different perspective. In this post, I'm Gina v...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
October 17, 2020

What if gender-critical feminism came to power?

This scenario is inspired by a dialogue I had yesterday evening with a gender-critical feminist just before I went to bed. Here is what I dreamed: In the summer of 2021, the Conservative minister Liz Truss introduces legislation, making women-only spaces legally accessible only to those born female. This U.K. law includes a provision for funding al...
October 13, 2020

Responses to my blog post (1)

A frustrating aspect of my website is that when people write in, there's no trace of an email address so no way of getting back to people, and also no way of publishing their messages. However, I received such a nice response to my article just now that I'd like to include it here. It's from some who for the sake of confidentiality (in case it's ne...
October 11, 2020

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism Note to the reader: This post is intended as a contribution to addressing the current tensions between transgender activism and gender-critical feminism. The way I see myself in relation to female i dentity, and the ideas I express here, are not a prescription for other trans women. The t...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...