The Hours and Times
Directed by Christopher Münch. Starring David Angus, Ian Hart, Stephanie Pack. (1991)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 7, 1992
Imagine... In April of 1963, a few months before full-scale Beatlemania seized the world, John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein went together to Barcelona for a four-day holiday. Fact. During that holiday, the working-class, street tough Lennon and the upper-class, Jewish, homosexual Epstein shared a dance of mutual curiosity, attraction and avoidance. Speculation. This hour-long, black-and-white featurette (the recipient of numerous awards and accolades on the festival circuit) is drenched in a soon-to-happen feeling, a mood appropriate to both the historical facts of the pre-Beatles hysteria and the ambiguous relationship between the two men. The hours and times; that which they shared, that which engulfed them. This movie is certainly no scholarly bio-pic or lurid star exposé. Neither is it a documentary, nor essay, nor cinema verité. Honestly, The Hours and Times is a thing unto itself, original enough to be beyond comparison. We know, from the very beginning, that this is no adoring star-fuck biography: in the opening scene Lennon (Hart ) literally appears only half in the frame. It's Epstein (Angus) who's more the focus here, his world of privilege and yearning. What happened or didn't happen between Epstein and Lennon isn't ever the point. What's under scrutiny here is their acknowledged mutual fascination, the attraction that complicated their hours and times, the complications of the times in which they lived that filtered their desires and possibilities. Did they or didn't they is merely conjecture. Could they or couldn't they is more precisely the question. Nuance is the language spoken in this movie. Its credibility is assisted by the strength of the actors. Hart believably captures Lennon's accent, gestures, wit and star power. We can also see aspects of the same street-smart piece of rough trade that must have appealed to Epstein. In addition to the acting, director Münch makes numerous strategic choices that complement the movie's focus. With an 8-day shooting schedule, a tiny budget and a bare minimum of sets, this short feature creates a claustrophobic, yet pregnant-with-possibility feel. We know the future, though these characters do not. Thus, it's sobering when the movie shows Epstein and Lennon making a pact that no matter what courses their lives might take, they would meet again in Barcelona ten years hence. That would be in 1973. By then Epstein would be dead and the Beatles would have ceased as a group. These are indeed their hours and times. These two are as much creatures of their hours and times as their progenitors.