Short Reviews

Howard County Times GO! Arts Movie Guide Page 68

Opening – Beyond The Sea (PG-13) Although Kevin Spacey is too old to play the late pop singer Bobby Darin, who died at age 37, he gives a convincing performance that impressively includes Spacey doing his own singing. As his own director, Spacey indulges in his share of biopic cliches; however, his enthusiasm for his subject makes this picture work. Grade: B Opens Dec. 29. ~

FT.com Cinema By Nigel Andrews

Beyond The Sea *** NEW

The vanity project to end them all. Kevin Spacey is star, director, producer and co-writer of this Bobby Darin biopic – and he sings all the songs. The actor is 20 years too old to play the mid- century pop sensation, but never mind. He gives the role everything he has, which is a lot. Cool-cat deportment; spry dancing skill; lickety-split timing of dialogue and songs; and a voice that catches some – even most – of that hip, hormonal swing that made Darin a bobbysoxers’ idol.

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The Daily Telegraph Beyond the Sea 12A cert, 118 min

Kevin Spacey’s biopic of finger-clicking crooner Bobby Darin is plain embarrassing when it isn’t deeply strange. Hoofing about in a ton of age-defying make-up, director/star Spacey hasn’t much idea what to do with the camera except let himself hog it. Darin’s hits are blasted out at ear-splitting volume, giving the supporting cast little option but to overact above the din. “Bobby Darin is still swingin’,” claim the credits – it’s the movie that dies.

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The Guardian

Beyond the Sea Cert 12A by Peter Bradshaw  Friday November 26, 2004  Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea Kevin Spacey has a couple of things he wants to get off his chest. The first is he’s a really big fan of 60s lounge singing star Bobby Darin. The second is he’s a useful hoofer and singer. Both facts are substantially aired in this excruciating vanity project: a maudlin, over-reverential Darin biopic. Spacey serves as star, producer and director, giving himself and everyone else licence to overact and over-emote to beat the (deafening) band. Wearing what appears to be Robert De Niro’s discarded nose from Raging Bull, Darin is first seen cruising up to the stage, apparently about to launch into song and surrounded by his tuxed hangers-on, Chairman of the Second-Division Board. It turns out that this is the opening scene in an autobiographical picture he’s making, and from here on in he exchanges knowing dialogue with the kid hired to play himself as a sickly youth. Yikes. Spacey’s Darin, strutting his ring-a-ding stuff to the supper crowd, has something of Nick Apollo Forte in Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose, but without the gentleness and lightness of touch. Everything is sugary, humourless and lifeless. Spacey adores dramatising the big moments with song-and-dance production numbers, which are tightly put together, but dramatically and musically inert. The movie gets one big laugh when Greta Scacchi, playing the formidable mother of Darin’s fiancee Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth) wonders if Sandra mightn’t be better off marrying that nice Rock Hudson. A slightly obtuse gag, perhaps, given what we are permitted to see of Darin’s velveteen dinner-jackets, toupees and looming identity crisis. A labour of love for Spacey, obviously; for the rest of us it’s just labour.

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Rolling Stone 3 stars

The buzz from smartass central is that Kevin Spacey, 45, will fall on his Oscar-winning butt as Bobby Darin, the brash, finger-snapping “Mack the Knife” singer whose heart condition killed him in 1973 at age thirty-seven. Spacey can now step up for the last laugh. A plot device that has Darin looking back on his life as a Bronx street kid, star of records, nightclubs and films, and husband to troubled teen idol Sandra Dee (a sweetly affecting Kate Bosworth), allows Spacey to do the the role without a digital makeover. As director, Spacey can’t stop the movie from groaning under the weight of biopic cliches. But the actor forges a bond with his subject that rights all wrongs. Doing his own singing (an uncanny imitation), Spacey is a marvel. He turns acting into riveting reincarnation and redoubles our appreciation of Darin, an underrated performer who used music to cheat death. Beyond the Sea, a tribute to both their talents, is one from the heart.

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Early hint of the year’s Oscar-bound hits Jay Stone  The Ottawa Citizen  Monday, September 20, 2004

<snip> And while it may not get Academy Award consideration, there were few films more entertaining than Kevin Spacey’s Beyond The Sea, in which he portrays Bobby Darin. Spacey is clearly too old for the role, but you forget that as you sit back and watch him belt out those old hits: Spacey, it turns out, is an accomplished song-and-dance man. Look out, old MacHeath is back. <snip>

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Movies, Videos and DVDs

Films, DVDs and videos for September 20, 2004 by Larry Anklewicz

2004 Toronto International Film Festival: The Curtain Falls

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival has been one of the most successful festivals I’ve ever attended. I’ve seen over 30 films, and while that may seem like a lot, it really isn’t. Unfortunately, other things came up during the Festival that limited the time I had available for viewing movies, but it was still a very satisfying and profitable event for me. I just hope to do even better next year.

This is an exciting time to be in Toronto. The theatres are full and there is a buzz in the air. As an accredited member of the press, I had access to all the press conferences and all of the other events designed to get the word out about the individual films being screened at the Festival. There are also parties galore. Every night a different studio seems to be hosting an event of some kind.

I tend to ignore most of these peripheral events. I’m mainly interested in the films and I see no reason to attend most media events. The stars that show up may be glamorous, but their appearances are mainly intended to sell their films and there are really few opportunities for any one on one in-depth interviews.

To me, the films are the main story and as it is, I don’t have enough time to see as many films as I would like. So that’s the area upon which I try to focus my energy.

Last week’s column described a number of films I had seen and that I found interesting. Since then I have seen several more films that everyone should watch out for. These include:

<snip> Beyond The Sea is another film biography, this time about singing sensation Bobby Darin. This project was conceived and directed by Kevin Spacey and stars Spacey in the lead role, although he is somewhat old for the part. Despite this, Spacey gives a tremendous performance and does all of his own singing and dancing. While I don’t think that this film will do the kind of box office sales that Ray will do, it is an interesting and rewarding film to watch, especially if you actually remember Bobby Darin and liked his music.  <snip>

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Dark Horizons – September 13, 2004

Toronto Film Festival: Day Two by Paul Fischer

DH’s Californian junket man is braving the wet and cold Canadian weather to report in on new flicks from Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons:

Day 2 of Toronto was straight into Kevin Spacey’s dazzling and visually imaginative Beyond the Sea, Spacey’s lively and imaginative take on the life of Bobby Darrin. A 50s crooner who married Sandra Dee, Spacey incorporates fantasy musical sequences and heartfelt poignancy to piece together a compelling and well drawn biography, which is consistently and energetically entertaining. Spacey inhabits Darren with magnificent precision, and the always beguiling Kate Bosworth gives a stunning performance as Dee, delivering a layered beautiful performance. Spacey directs with vivid, colorful strokes and sings, dances and acts his way to another Oscar nomination. Beyond the Sea is captivating and exhilarating, a true work of art.

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Roger Ebert Chicago Sun – Times September 13, 2004

<snip>

Kevin Spacey absolutely can sing. He could quit the day job. In his new film “Beyond the Sea” he plays Bobby Darin, a singer he has said he was born to portray. He does look a lot like him. The movie has many songs in it, and Spacey sings them himself, and he sings them damned well. It takes nerve to put yourself on the line like that, but he knew what he was doing. The movie, which premiered at a Toronto gala on Saturday night, follows a fairly familiar biopic formula: rags to riches, romance that grows stale, early death looming on the horizon. Kate Bosworth plays Sandra Dee, Darin’s wife. They love each other but they are an odd fit and ill-suited, and at one point he unkindly complains, “Warren Beatty is there with Leslie Caron who was nominated for an Oscar, and I’m there with Gidget.” In a fresh touch, they both throw clothes into suitcases and move out of the house simultaneously. The movie has some problems, including a strange structure involving Darin as a child commenting on his own adult life, but it also has real qualities, including musical numbers that really deliver.

<snip>

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I was privileged enough to see the world premiere of Kevin Spacey’s film BEYOND THE SEA. Not only was Kevin Spacey there, but also Sandra Dee and Bob Hoskins. The film was full of wonderful music and dance numbers, and after a while one begins to actually think that Kevin is Bobby Darin. Though the story it has to tell ends tragically, the movie ends on an upbeat note. The theme of the movie is not simply the life of Bobby Darin, which, as we know, is kind of a downer at the end, but his awesome power and talent and his love of show business. Adding to the upbeat mood of the film are the many touches of humor in it. Everyone will have his or her own opinion about the song choices made. Some of my own favorites were not included, but I do not want to divulge what these are for fear of spoiling people’s enjoyment. What was the audience’s reaction? Throughout the film they were largely silent, but at the end there was a rousing ovation — one person, female, called out in a high voice “Congratulations, Mr. Spacey!” Afterwords, in the restroom, I overheard some gentlemen in suits conversing, and it was evident that they knew Mr. Spacey personally, or at least had some business dealings with him. One of them commented that the final film looked much changed from the version that he apparently had seen. I supposed that Mr. Spacey had held test-screenings before the premiere, which is often done. I also overheard that the film will likely be released in mid-to late October. This is a very fine film, and Bobby Darin could not have asked for a better tribute. Not only his singing, but also his songwriting, his comedy, his impressions, his dancing, and his acting skills are indicated or demonstrated. In fact, although the movie focuses on Bobby’s singing, the sequence dealing with his acting and his Oscar nomination includes a scene in which some of the acting for which he was nominated is being filmed. I suspect they used the actual soundtrack of Bobby’s acting for this scene, but even if they didn’t, the acting is shown to be so superb that even audience members who knew nothing about Bobby Darin will come away with the impression that he must have been a great actor — which, of course, we know that he was. All in all, this film assures that Bobby Darin is going to get even more of the respect that he deserves; his reputation will rise a notch. I predict his legend will grow even more, and that this will not be the last film on the subject. ~ R