- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2007

TORONTO (AP)

What’s the best Beatles song?

The revolutionary tunes of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are back on the big screen with “Across the Universe,” a boy-meets-girl musical romance set amid the social turbulence of Vietnam and the 1960s.

In advance of its theatrical debut Friday, “Across the Universe” played at the Toronto International Film Festival, where stars were asked what Beatles’ song was their favorite.

Most hemmed and hawed, some said it was impossible to pick one, and a couple chose a certain post-Beatles Lennon composition.

A sampling of what they had to say:

Evan Rachel Wood, star of “Across the Universe”:

“It’s hard because it depends on where you are in your life and what day it is, because they really covered everything. So right now I would sing ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun.’ I got into that because of ‘Across the Universe.’ It’s my favorite number in the movie, how it’s this strange, dark song. I like their weird stuff, too, even when they did ‘Blue Jay Way’ and ‘Fool on the Hill.’ You listen to it, and it was so ahead of its time. You hear Radiohead nowadays and [there are] these strange similarities.”

Julie Taymor, director of “Across the Universe”:

“ ’Something (in the Way She Moves).’ I love ‘And I Love Her.’ … I like all of the different periods. Every period, there’s something so great about their work. In the early period, I think ‘All My Loving’ is incredible. But now I’m stuck on the way these kids [in the movie] sing it.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, subject of the documentary “Man From Plains”:

“My favorite is ‘Imagine.’ When I go to a strange country, Cuba and other places … ‘Imagine’ has become a national anthem. If you go to Havana, for instance, you’ll see a statue of John Lennon. … When we go to a folk performance or a symphony concert or to [hear] American music, they always play ‘Imagine.’ If you listen to the lyrics closely, you’ll see that it’s against religion, national boundaries, nationalism, jingoism, but the impact it has on people is profound.”

Jonathan Demme, director of “Man From Plains,” whose musical documentaries include “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and the Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense”:

“ ’In My Life,’ I guess. It explains love amongst people, how the passage of time impacts them. It’s gorgeous.”

Brad Pitt, star of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”:

“ ’Come Together,’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ I love the psychedelic phase, but that’s really tough for me to pick. ‘Come Together’ is [great]. I can’t tell you why. I’m not good that way. I just know it works for me.”

Michael Caine and Jude Law, stars of “Sleuth”:

Mr. Caine: “ ’Hey Jude.’ It’s got nothing to do with him (pointing to Mr. Law and giving a huge laugh). It’s philosophical. It’s a deep song.”

Mr. Law: “It wouldn’t be ‘Hey Jude.’ I’ve got so many memories of that song being played. Thank God, it’s a good song. It would be terrible to be named after an awful song. ‘Across the Universe,’ actually. I like that one. I’ve always enjoyed Lennon’s nonsense verse.”

Emily Mortimer, co-star of “Lars and the Real Girl”:

“ ’In My Life’ or ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ They just make me sort of cry. I’d like ‘In My Life’ played at my funeral and ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ is just the most romantic, heartbreaking, sad, beautiful song that I know.”

Michael Douglas, star of “King of California”:

“I love ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ as an album. And ‘Imagine’ probably would come to mind. It is the ideal that you always hope this is what the world could become. This is the hope and the dream and the wish. And certainly being part of the ‘60s, it was something that we imagined was going to happen. That was going to be the way the world could be.”

Kenneth Branagh, director of “Sleuth”:

“ ’For No One.’ It’s a lovely tune. It’s just that sad thing, ‘The day breaks, your mind aches, you find that all her words of kindness linger on when she no longer needs you.’ It’s a great, great popular tune that has that melancholic canopy over it.”

— Ryan Gosling, star of “Lars and the Real Girl”:

“My mother’s a huge Beatles freak, so I grew up on their music, and that’s all we listened to in the house. Favorite Beatles song? It’s not really Beatles, but I love some of George Harrison so much. This is a real test. This is where the rubber meets the road. OK, I’ll pick a record, then I’ll pick something from the record [hums to himself]. OK, I’m getting there. ‘Here, There and Everywhere.’ ”

And why?

“You can’t ask me that. It’s going to take me another five minutes to figure that one out.”

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