REVIEW: “BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” (2018) 20th Century Fox

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‘Is this the real life?’ ‘Is this just fantasy?’ This is a big question to answer but I do know there is ‘no escape from reality!!’ – And I also know it’s taken me almost two weeks to write about this – even though I feel like I’ve been non-stop talking about it to others online and everywhere of how much I loved it. Even though it’s been a bit, I wanted to wait to release date here in the US to put the review out there. It’s clear at this point many do not, and each person definitely gets their own opinion. Haters are gonna hate and nitpick to find something wrong with anything. And because of the much publicized problems in the making of this movie, I think many are walking into it with the mindset of wanting to dissect it and hate it. But as Freddy would say – on with the show and here, for better or worse, is my two cents view/review!

Freddie Mercury is undeniably a legendary rock god of song. With his 4-octave voice and operatic performances, the artist made Queen, one of the most prodigious rock bands in the history of music. Not to mention Brian May’s riffs. The cinema world has been slow to to recognize this fact, and for me, remiss to tell the remarkable story of the oft blend of music they produced. A story of the band..and the person.. as a more beautiful or tragic tale of Mercury’s life has really never been told except in documentary style. Finally, we get Bohemian Rhapsody– where Rami Malek has the heavy task of playing this legendary and somewhat controversial singer.

There are those who view this a simply frustratingly superficial biopic of the rock-band Queen, one that glosses over the more complex and decadent aspects of lead singer Freddie Mercury’s life. Then there are others who embrace what the makers clearly intended it to be – a warm-hearted crowd-pleaser that revels in the band as a creative force, with emphasis on its charismatic frontman. I’m in the latter portion of this group. I went to a media screening almost two weeks ago and – while acknowledging some of its detractors’ points – I had an undeniably great time along with a whole theatre of people who laughed, cried, got chills and were ROCKED to the soles of our feet.

Plot-wise the film is standard, charting Queen’s stellar ascent, while providing a degree of insight into the lead singer’s turbulent live, both personal and with his band. It kicks off around the time the young Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury who is living with his immigrant Parsi family in Middlesex at the time, meets lead guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and in the most cheeky of ways, invites himself into their band ‘Smile’. The evolution of Smile into “Queen” and Farrokh into magnetic stage performer Freddie is charted ever so swiftly in the first part of the film, as is the vocalist’s relationship with girlfriend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) – the woman who would end up being his closest lifelong friend. But there are tensions too. Mercury’s conflict regarding his sexuality throws his personal life into turmoil, while excess and ego put him at odds with his bandmates and record company.

But make no mistake as to what the film is. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a big, brash entertainment that hits all the highlights of Queen’s career – from the creation of the movie’s title song to the band’s triumphant Live Aid performance in 1985. With Dexter Fletcher having replaced Bryan Singer as director partway through the shoot, it still manages to be a slick and seamless piece of film making, at its most thrilling during the dynamic on-stage sequences. There’s an easy and often funny sense of camaraderie between the Queen members, although the others are really only sketched – May for all his iconic guitar sound is the calm voice of reason, Taylor gets the womanizer label and bassist John Deacon the quiet endearing one. Meanwhile the band’s lawyer Jim ‘Miami’ Beach (Tom Hollander) a sort of ‘5th member’ adds some scene-stealing deadpan humour that breaks up the some of the more tense moments giving you a chance to have a laugh also.

I’ve always believed the true essence of success of any band and/or great artist isn’t always the multi platinum albums or the record deals or the fame, but it’s quite possibly that moment when a crowd of a hundred thousand people sing back your song in unison which must be totally euphoric and empowering feeling to have. Watching that, as I did during the Live Aid concert gave me chills and fill with glowing warmth to the point that I will never see it the same view again.

But this show belongs without argument to Rami Malek as Mercury. Malek physically and vocally transforms himself into the singer. When he struts about the stage wielding his mike-stand and hyping up the crowd, it feels less an impersonation and more a channeling of the actual Freddie – intoxicating and joyous like the real deal. He convinces as the character elsewhere too. His wrangles with his band-mates nicely convey the clash between middle-class student rockers and this flamboyant working-class immigrant. And the scenes with Mary are heartfelt and at times painfully sad. If the script only hints at Mercury’s isolation and at his fear once HIV becomes a part of his life, Malek’s performance does much to convey the rest. All the supporting cast do so well. Gwilym Lee as Brian May, made me feel at times while watching that he was May – that is how astoundingly much he looked the part. Mazello and Hardy as Deacon & Taylor – were simply icing on the cake of how much they came across as this legendary band.

The production’s pursuit of a ‘friendly rating’ admittedly also means that much of Freddie’s crazy lifestyle is only alluded to, and that’s fine. And while the film does convey the tragedy of his illness and early passing, it does forego much of his most probable in-depth AIDS battle in favour of a victorious concert ending. But I get it, it’s not a film about that or that he broke my heart by not informing us till two days before his passing. Bohemian Rhapsody never pretends to be anything more than a celebration of the man and the band – a music-heavy reminder of what a potent and quite ingenious combination they were, whatever the personal conflicts of their lead singer. I have a few wonderful stories of my own of Freddie & Queen and this brought everyone of those fantastic memories back for me.

And while I am aware that this wasn’t the ‘digging deep’ movie that some might have wanted – and honestly if you want every moment in there, this film would be 5 hours long, but instead it swept right along pacing each moment with something you needed to know.. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it gave me chills and most of all – it made me miss Fred and it damn well rocked me.

Grade: A-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, October 22, 2018 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
BOEHMIAN RHAPSODY IS NOW PLAYING WORLDWIDE – SEE THIS MOVIE

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GOLDEN GLOBES: TV PICKS

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Once again you can just cue into me singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the yyeeeaarrr…”
In case you haven’t guessed already.. it’s Awards season otherwise known as ‘My Happy Time’ ~ and the first big event is the Golden Globes this Sunday. It’s where the best of both the Film & TV worlds collide in one night. With so many categories, I’m breaking it up into two separate posts and of course, who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because they don’t always necessarily coincide with each other!!

TELEVISION

Best TV Series, Drama

The Crown
What a show this was. I couldn’t stop watching. The acting, the story – both all engrossing

Game of Thrones
This show took itself to a whole new level this year, and I loved every second of it even if Jon Snow coming back from the dead made me giggle for a sec.

Stranger ThingsMY PICK
Fantastic storyline of something so far-fetched, yet so made you think! I loved it. The fact the acting by kids was so strong here really made it all the better.

This Is Us
Is this show cute..yes..maybe a little to cutsey & sappy for me, but I will say it’s quite well written.

WestworldWINNER
There were times when I completely understood this show and others where I literally had no idea what the bejesus was going on. But you couldn’t help yourself to keep watching with the nagging feeling of “what if?” I think this one might steal the award just because of that.

Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical

AtlantaWINNER
While I haven’t watched all the episodes of this show yet, the ones I have seen I just love. I can’t stop laughing.

Blackish
I loved this show at the beginning, now I will say I just don’t watch it all that much anymore..Sorta went the Modern Family route for me.

Mozart in the JungleMY PICK
I LOVE this show. It’s so completely different and well done about a subject I really didn’t know much about, yet made me interested in and yes, laugh.

Transparent
See Transparent has never done ‘it’ for me. I know there are those that just love it. I was done after season 1, I just really didn’t like too many of the characters enough to go to the next season.

Veep
Kinda the same as above for this one. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus humour, but this one never grabbed me enough to keep watching.

Best TV Miniseries or Movie

American Crime
This season of American Crime was mind-boggling. The best written and acted so far. I couldn’t get enough of each cliff-hanging episode.

The Dresser
While this featured a great cast I would have loved to see, I don’t have Starz channel as I cancelled cable, so was never able to see it.

The Night Manager
I still am not getting the appeal of this one. It wasn’t done plausably or even well. Sometimes I was just in awe of how ridiculous it really got.

The Night OfMY PICK
Another mind-blowing HBO min-series that just took what could have been just another murder storyline and gave it more twists than you could keep your jaw from dropping instead. Acting was top-notch to boot.

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime StoryWINNER
I mean what can you say about this fantastic mini-series that hasn’t already been said. So many things you’d either forgotten or never knew about, told & acted by a unbelievable parade of good writing and acting. Blew me away.
By far my hardest category to decide on.

Best Actor, Drama
Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
Just love Rami and this show. Rami helped keep it fresh for it’s second season.

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
While I loved this character on ‘Breaking Bad’, I couldn’t even get through the whole first season and to those that love it, kudos.

Matthew Rhys, The Americans
While the show has always been a hit or miss for me, as in I could skip a few eps., come back and still know exactly what was going on, I feel the same about it’s lead, Matthew Rhys.

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Love Liev and the first 2 seasons his character was so something different. Now it’s just rambling as is the acting somewhat.

Billy Bob Thornton, GoliathMY PICK/WINNER
Never have been Billy Bob’s biggest fan, but damn this role was cater-made for him. He is excellent as was the show.

Best Actress, Drama

Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
I’ve only ever been able to watch 2 eps. of this show considering it’s on a very pricey pay channel here, so I can’t really give a fair assessment of her acting.

Claire Foy, The CrownSLEEPER WIN
Oh Claire.. you are fantastic in this show. Simply sublime as the Queen herself might say. It’s so well written, cinematically beautiful and well acted. And you know us American’s love a good upper-class British show. Don’t anyone be surprised if she walks off with this award.

Keri Russell, The Americans
I mean who doesn’t like Keri Russell really now.. and I do, but she won’t be my pick or the HFP’s pick I’m guessing either.

Winona Ryder, Stranger ThingsMY PICK
Winona, Winona, Winona – I feel sometimes as if we’ve grown up together. And is essence we have and you are soooo good in this show. I’m so glad you’re back.

Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld WINNER
Same as the show, good acting here because sometimes you just wondered what in bejesus is she?! or WHO is she should be more the question 🙂

Best Actor, Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Blackish
I’ve adored Anthony Anderson for as long as I can remember. He started off doing drama, and segwayed into comedy as easily as could be. Not my pick, but I am so glad he is nominated as it’s nice to finally have some fresh faces in this whole category.

Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
I love this show and I love Gael in it. But can he pull off another surprise win here?? I would love it but I doubt it.

Donald Glover, AtlantaMY PICK/WINNER
Another first time, fresh nominee that I love. I’m going with a first timer here on this one because of the sarcastic brilliance of this show and his character in it.

Nick Nolte, Graves
I’m going to be honest – I’ve never even heard of this show. Sorry Nick!

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
As Jeffrey has won so many times for playing this character, I’d just love to see someone new win it again.

Best Actress, Comedy

Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom surprised us all with her win last year. Is there a repeat in tow?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
I kinda feel like Julia is the Meryl of TV comedy. 🙂

Sarah Jessica Parker, Divorce
While this show isn’t bad nor is SJP in it, I don’t think it’s going to grab a win.

Issa Rae, Insecure
I’ve not watched this one so truly can’t give it a nay or yay..

Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
While I think Gina Rodriguez is just adorable and I loved this show the first season, it waned very quickly on me during the second. Not saying she’s not still good in it, just haven’t watched in awhile.

Tracee Ellis Ross, BlackishMY PICK/WINNER
Tracee would be my pick. While I might not be watching the show all the time anymore, she should have been nominated and won like 2 seasons ago already!

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown, The People vs. O.J. Simpson
This mini-series was just filled with fantastic acting and Sterling is part of that.

Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
While I really thought TNM was a poorly done series, there were two standouts in it that made it somewhat bearable, and one of them was Hugh Laurie.

John Lithgow, The CrownWINNER
It’s rare that they get an American to play a Brit nowadays, but Lithgow as Winston Churchill is a brilliant piece of casting.

Christian Slater, Mr. Robot
I won’t lie. I kinda shook my head in disbelief when Slater walked away with this last year. I mean he’s good, but he’s not that good.

John Travolta, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonMY PICK
So yeah, I know people think it’s strange, but I’ve adored John Travolta since I was a child. yes, I admit and he’s done some really awful movies, but here, you can’t deny he was truly amazing.

Best Supporting Actress

Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Remember I said there was two things that saved the Night Manager – Olivia Colman is part two of that.

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
She’s always pretty damn amazing in this show. You can’t help but love to hate her character, but yet she still tugs at your heartstrings as she is just so flawed. Remember your show is only as good as your best evil person and she is truly fantastic at it time and time again.

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Again, I find the show just a little to sappy, but I admire and respect the writing and the characters are all well done. It’s a tough call which person from the show to say I like more..Chrissy or Mandy.

Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Again, between the two nominated here from this, I might actually pick Mandy because her transition to this character is pretty damn good.

Thandie Newton, WestworldMY PICK/WINNER
Thandie’s character here was the one I was never confused by. She was simply put ‘badass’

Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie

Riz Ahmed, The Night OfMY PICK
This show also gave us some fantastic performances with the two nominees in this category just making this show a spectacular watch.

Bryan Cranston, All the Way
I didn’t watch this one.

Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Really.. on this one. For those who me, I love and ADORE Tom Hiddleston – but there in points in time where I just rolled my eyes at some of not only the show, but his acting here. Sorry Tom.

John Turturro, The Night Of
Turturro knocked it out the park on this one. There just isn’t much else to say, you can’t be mad if he wins this one.

Courtney B. Vance, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonWINNER
Again, this show was just so good! Even though you knew what was going to happen, it held you and kept you coming back. Courtney Vance was one of the main reasons why.

Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie

Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Always a strong actress, this seasons AC was so good and she went for it in this role.

Riley Keough, The Girlfriend Experience
Only the 3rd show on an expensive pay-per-view that I never have had or probably will.

Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. SimpsonMY PICK/WINNER
Again, mind-bending performance from this series. Sarah for me in the shoo-in to win this one.

Charlotte Rampling, London Spy
I watched this show so long ago, I forgot I’d even seen it. But I swear it was 2015 when I did see it so I’m not really quite sure why it’s under 2016 noms. Rampling always gets roles she excels at. This was no different.

Kerry Washington, Confirmation
I remember the story so we already knew what happened, but unlike the O.J. story, I didn’t get the feeling of still wanting to watch. Washington was good, but I don’t see her winning this one.