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One of my favorite movies of the summer is Yesterday, a delightful fantasy/romcom from writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually, About Time, Notting Hill) and director and director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting).

The premise is very simple. Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a singer/songwriter who cannot seem to get any traction; the only person who seems to believe in him is his manager (played by Lily James), who also happens to be secretly in love with him, so maybe she’s a little biased. One night - for reasons completely unexplained - the entire globe suffers a brief blackout, and when the lights come back on, it is a world in which the Beatles never seem to have existed. Except that Jack remembers all their songs … and is able to use them to turn himself into a music sensation.

One of the things that I think Yesterday does very well is somehow allow us to rediscover the Beatles catalog all over again; while we know the songs, when we see other people supposedly hearing them for the first time, it is oddly energizing and thrilling. (It is also amazing how many great Beatles songs aren’t used, a reminder of why they were the greatest rock band ever.)

We also get a sense of the emotional roots of so many of their songs; Jack can say he wrote them and can perform them to great acclaim, but when he’s asked why he wrote “Eleanor Rigby,” for example, he doesn’t really have an answer. Authenticity matters, and we know that Jack is not being his authentic self. But there is something to be said for keeping the Beatles legacy alive, even if nobody knows who John, Paul, George and Ringo were.

I found Yesterday to be very funny and sharply observed; it helps that there are a couple of terrific supporting performances from Kate McKinnon (who makes everything she is in better) and Ed Sheeran (unexpectedly funny). It is a fair criticism to say that Yesterday has its share of Richard Curtis-style sentimentality, but I’m completely okay with that. Love Actually and About Time are two of my favorite movies, and so I’m all in.

I really liked Himesh Patel, who I’ve never heard of before, as Jack; there is a rueful self-knowledge in his performance, and he does the songs proud. And Lily James is, as always, delightful.

Go see Yesterday. It’ll make you feel good about the world, and for a few hours at least, your troubles may seem far away.

Another music-based film that’s gotten some justifiable attention this summer is Rocketman, the Elton John biopic. I liked it, certainly a lot more than , and appreciated the fact that the filmmakers (director Dexter Fletcher, writer Lee Hall, and the producers, including Elton John) didn’t seem to sugarcoat the singer-songwriter’s life and tribulations.

The cast is terrific. Taron Egerton is totally invested as John, and there are terrific supporting turns from people like Jamie Bell, Gemma Jones and Bryce Dallas Howard. And Richard Madden, who plays an exploitive and manipulative manager, is great - his ability to communicate casual cruelty, in my mind, makes him a p[rime candidate to be the next James Bond.

And the music … fantastic. Which you’d expect.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.

Back Monday.

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