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Reference Library: Hours And Times

FILM REVIEW - 'The Hours and Times'
(Hollywood Reporter - July 29, 1992)

By Duane Byrge

This film was originally reviewed Jan. 22 at the Sundance Film Festival. It opens Wednesday July 29 at the Nuart Theatre.

Beatles manager Brian Epstein had a fancy for John Lennon. According to all sources, it never went beyond a platonic stage with Lennon keeping his smitten manager at an awkward distance.

In "The Hours and Times,'' a fictionalization of an actual trip Epstein and the "smart'' Beatle took alone together to Barcelona in April 1963 filmmaker Christopher Munch posits that their complex friendship was not merely a meeting of the minds.

Those who want to believe that John Lennon had a homosexual weekend encounter with his manager will relish this film, while others are likely to be agitated by Munch's unsubstantiated interpretation of their relationship.

This undeniably perceptive glimpse into the psyche of one of the most enigmatic and influential artists of the last 50 years may, at best, spin out with token art-house runs.

Its most natural venue would seem to be in the concert section of video rental shops.

While Munch's audacity in espousing this fictional re-creation is of questionable integrity, the film does, however, convey the complex emotional reality of Epstein and Lennon's strong and curious relationship.

For those studio executives too wet behind the ears to recall Beatle history, this Spring '63 sojourn took place at a critical transition point for the Beatles. Phenomenally popular in England, the group was still half a year away from their U.S. debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show,'' but both Epstein and Lennon foresaw the cataclysmic explosion that was to occur that fall when they hit the United States.

In essence, this spring '63 getaway weekend was the calm before the storm, a time when the intellectually irreverent Lennon and the older, more sophisticated Epstein could cultivate their keen friendship without having "the boys'' (Paul, George and Ringo) around.

More restless than usual because he realizes what a solo weekend away with "Eppie'' will imply, Lennon (Ian Hart) keeps Epstein (David Angus) at a steadfast distance.

His caustic wit, his bludgeon banter and his hyperactive lucidity are characteristic Lennon defenses, and in this scenario they are wielded with desperate intensity.

A psychological bully with piercingly potent charm, Lennon rarely found an even match: reporters, other Beatles, women, his wife Cynthia -- all could be dispatched with his caustic tongue. Only Epstein was his match. The older, more worldly and polished manager was the one person the rough-around-the-edges John would defer to. If nothing else, this film touchingly conveys the affection that Lennon had for Epstein and, with it, the fear that he felt from him.

While filmmaker Munch admits that the film's sexual thesis is conjecture only,

"The Hours and Times'' captures the tempests in John Lennon's early Beatles life. During this four-day getaway, he would clearly have to get into himself, something the mercurial young Beatle had always managed to avoid with his glib talent.

Unquestionably, it was a hard day's holiday.

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