Rocketman (2019)

“this year’s Bohemian Rhapsody”. No, let me nip that in the bud right now; this is not Bohemian Rhapsody. In terms of tone, structure, and style, this is completely different from Bohemian Rhapsody. They’re similar in the fact that they’re both biographies of musicians, but by that logic, Fawlty Towers is the same as Psycho. In terms of how it treats the subject, this is more like Get On Up than Bohemian Rhapsody. Whilst Bohemian Rhapsody builds the subject up, telling the audience about their greatness, this film almost delights in exposing their flaws. It’s brutally honest about the problems he has gone through and is so harsh towards them that if it wasn’t made with Elton Johns approval it would feel like a character assassination.

I felt that Bohemian Rhapsody’s biggest flaw is that it felt too restrained by the confines of the rating, it’s hard to tell that story under a 12 rating. Rocketman is a 15, and to be honest, it needs to be; if they toned down the drugs and sex this would be less of a story. The good thing though is that it never feels gratuitous, you don’t feel like they’re swearing for the sake of swearing, or showing sex solely for the purposes of titillation (although it did make me realise how rarely we see male gay sex in film).

I like how they told this story, it was almost a jukebox musical, the characters would randomly burst into Elton John songs in a way that could have been annoying. For me it really worked for two reasons:

  1. The story is being told via flashback, it’s Elton telling the story to people, so of course, he would express his history through songs he knows.
  2. It’s an Elton John movie. It has to be fantastical, it has to be out there, it has to be more extravagant than a movie.

That last point is very important. Bohemian Rhapsody was a good film, but it wasn’t a Queen film, there was nothing about the way they told that story that was Queen-like, it was a good film, but it was also quite standard in terms of the way the story was told (although the editing was ATROCIOUS for some of it, cutting way too quickly in conversations). The way they tell this story is very Elton John, it breaks the bounds of normality and does something unique and fantastic. And yes, it is fantastic in the way it looks. The set-pieces are unique and brilliant, it turns out Dexter Fletcher is REALLY good. The only film I’ve seen of his before was Eddie The Eagle and that was a different beast entirely. He did a part of the Queen movie (what was that called again?) but I can’t really tell which moments. He really should get plaudits for this, this had a budget of £40million yet looks larger. I genuinely believe if you gave him a Bond film he would knock it out the park (I mean, I still wouldn’t watch it, because ewww Bond). It’s not just Fletcher who deserves praise (but, and I cannot say this enough, he REALLY does), Taron Egerton does too. He gives a career-best performance here, him and Fletcher really seem to bring out the best in each other. It’s weird, he doesn’t look like Elton John at all at any time in this film, yet he plays him perfectly. It’s a bit like Michael Sheen in The Damned United (which you should all watch by the way), he doesn’t look like Brian Clough at all, but he behaves like him and captures the person’s essence so well that you cannot hope for someone to play them better. Actually, the best example would probably be Harry Enfield when he was on Spitting Image. He sounded nothing like the people he was doing impressions of, but he captured their personalities so well that it worked. It’s the same here, Egerton really captures Elton Johns personality in his performance (and his vocals are really impressive too).

So in summary: go see this film. Godzilla may be out now too, but this is true spectacle cinema.

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2018 In Film Part 4: The Good

The penultimate round-up blog. In here I’m putting, get this, films, which, are, good. I know, shocking, right? I bet you never guessed that from the title. My definition of good but not great for purposes of these is this: would I consider buying if they were on sale?

Ant-Man And The Wasp

I did like this film, loved it in fact. But I don’t think it stands out on its own enough to really be called great. Rudd was fantastic, and it seems as though Marvel might have finally started to solve its villain problem. The action set pieces are insane, they do have obvious product placement but it’s product placement that doesn’t really detract from the film as it’s so well done.

Original review here

+The inventive set pieces. That ending.

-Can’t shake the feeling that it’s DLC to the main game of Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War

I know, I know. Look, this film was great, I’ll admit that. But I can’t but it in the amazeballs blog for two reasons:

  1. The ending. Until Endgame comes out, this will remain here. We know the ending won’t last, we KNOW that. We know the characters will come back, we just don’t know how. If they fuck up how they comeback, it will taint the ending of this one HORRIFICALLY. Think about when Sherlock faked his death at the end of one season, and there was a great mystery about how he did it, a mystery which they failed to explain in the next episode. The lack of resolution really tainted what was before that, a great episode. And it’s possible it could be the same here.
  2. I rewatched it on a plane and found myself skipping the Captain America parts, they just didn’t hold my attention at all.

So yeah, that’s that. Original reviews here and here

+Peter Parker’s death was emotional AF, even though you do know it’s going to be negated.

-Some of the side villains didn’t get enough time.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Okay I can feel the hate for this one. This is being nominated for more awards than I count (so at least 3) and is about one of the greatest singers of all time. It’s also REALLY well made and the performances are superb. So why is it in this blog and not the final one? Because as much as I try, I just cannot get over them lying about the timing of his diagnosis. They changed it for dramatic purposes and it just feels weird to me. They lied about the death of their friend for a movie. It taints the whole thing for me.

Original review here

+The live aid scene.

-Not entirely sure it will work on a small screen.

Creed II

Treads the same water as the first movie. But does so so skilfully that you don’t really care. If you didn’t like the first one, this won’t change your mind, but if you did like the first one, you definitely won’t dislike this. Michael J. Jordan continues to prove his performance in the first one wasn’t a one off, and shows genuine oscar-winning potential here.

Original review here

+Contains more emotion than you think it would, particularly in regards to the villains.

-The fight scenes aren’t as good as in the previous one, nowhere near.

Darkest Hour

This film wanted to be emotional, but it didn’t really work for me. I think part of that is for similar reasons to the Bohemian Rhapsody one. I knew some of it was bullshit, and that distracted me from the story they were trying to tell. I mean, it is very well made, and you can’t fault the acting. It just left me feeling nothing. Like I completely forgot I saw it until I checked the list. If the acting wasn’t as good as it was, and if it didn’t look as good as it did, this would have been in yesterday’s blog. It just made it into this one. Just.

Original review here

+Superbly acted.

-Kind of hollow.

Game Night

Nowhere near the greatest film. But I really really enjoyed it. In a just world enough people would have loved this to warrant a sequel. I mean, I hope it doesn’t as that could ruin it, but still. Actually had REALLY tight plotting as well, I’ve seen it twice and still can’t remember all the twists and turns it took. And it did it in a non-annoying way, you weren’t sitting there thinking “FFS, stop M.Nighting”. You were laughing and going along for the ride.

Original review here

+The way it was shot made some of the houses look like game pieces during establishing shots. If they did normal shots nobody would have criticised them, but the fact they went the extra mile is something I really dig.

-Little too lightweight.

Gringo

Not many of you would have seen this. And that’s a real shame as it’s a proper hidden gem of the year. Full of great performances and plotting that Red Sparrow SHOULD have had. If you pulled one thread in this plot all of it would fall apart. The characters are really well defined, and it looks great too. It just didn’t leave too lasting an impression. Like, it was great whilst I was watching it, but I could immediately discount it once I’d finished it. Rest assured though, this is probably the closest film in this blog to the “amazeballs” blog, it was just on the cusp of greatness.

Original review here

+The plotting. Seriously, it was that good.

-Missing that something that would make it great.

Hereditary

I still don’t think I’m fully over this film, it fucked me up slightly in the best possible way. It’s really weird, and it doesn’t allow you to sit back at any point, you’re always an active viewer (mainly because you have to be to work out what the fuck is going on). Superbly acted (Toni Collette now officially has to change her name to “Toni Fucking Collette” based on this film). Although I’m not sure whether pointing out how creepy one of the child actors looks counts as a compliment or bullying.

Original review here

+The way they killed off somebody who you assumed would be a main character.

-Doesn’t explain itself very well.

Hotel Artemis

Enjoyed this film a lot. The performances were great and the set design was superb. Actually the whole world-building of this film was spectacular. This film could legit kick off an extended universe. There are so many untold stories told within this film, and I love it. The downside is it doesn’t really excel in a lot of places, almost content to just skate by with mediocrity.

Original review here

+Jodie Foster. She is magnificent.

-Satire could hit harder

Ideal Home

A great film about relationships and parenting. It just veers into 90’s sitcom with the portrayal of homosexual characters. Coogan and Rudd do have surprisingly good chemistry though and I would love to see them do more things together. Considering the plaudits Coogan is getting for Stan And Ollie it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up in a Marvel film, I mean, every other actor is.

Original review here

+Incredibly sweet at times.

-Little bit too predictable in terms of plotting occasionally.

Isle Of Dogs

Probably one of the bleakest animated films you’ll see this year. Don’t really think it’s suitable for kids, but it is very charming and worth a watch. The kind of film you’ll watch, buy it, be proud to have in your collection, but never watch. I loved it when I first saw it, but since the my opinion on it has cooled, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s because whilst it is incredibly cosy, when you’ve escaped the cocoon of the movie, it leaves no impact on you.

Original review here

+Stop motion animation will always get a pass from me.

-Wes Anderson’s style is not for everybody.

Journeyman

Paddy Considine is a national treasure. he makes the darkest most brilliant films. Not dark in a “everybody dies in the face” way, but in a “relentless horror about the human condition and humanity” way, like a social horror movie where the only death is hope. This is a great character exploration, as such it’s not for everybody who is into big blockbuster movies. But it does have an audience, and those people will love it.

Original review here

+Considine OWNS his character with every inch of his body.

-The directing of the fight scenes could be a bit more impactful.

Ready Player One

This film did something not many films manage to do, it won over my cynicism. That’s not easy to do because I’m a cynical bastard. Yet this was so warm and magical that I loved it, I really did love it. So why is it in this one and not the next one? It has a few glaring flaws, the plot is not important, the leads are only “okay”, and the world-building isn’t as good as it could be. Definitely worth a watch though, this isn’t just a movie, this is cinema.

Original review here

+Full of references and shout outs that you’ll love.

-Better world building really would have improved it. And if you think about certain moments too long the whole film falls apart.

Tag

This film is a hell of a lot of fun. And you won’t regret seeing it. But it won’t become one of your favourite movies. Oddly enough, usually I criticise films like this for lacking emotion, this has the opposite problem; it should be more fun. This would have been great as an ensemble comedy, by focusing the real life game down to just a select few it takes away the chaos and the fun.

Original review here

+Incredibly fun and Jeremy Renner is great in it.

-Should be bigger.

 

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I came out of this film loving it. Desperate to see it again, in a great mood. I then thought about it for a few seconds and its flaws became readily apparent. For one thing; it’s incredibly safe and un-Queen like. It’s essentially like reading a Wikipedia page of the band. The script is actually quite…….meh. It takes HUGE liberties with the truth. Some of them are forgivable, some are a bit weird and pointless, and some change your entire view of the film. Let’s start with the weird and pointless: there are moments where they play songs they hadn’t written yet. This is a bit weird as this film was heavily overseen by the band, so you’d think they would have known when certain songs were recorded. Then there’s one which is a pretty big deal and soured me on the film when I heard about it. Warning, this contains spoilers.

The film builds up to a big climax of Queen playing Live Aid. A while before the show, Freddy Mercury is diagnosed with AIDS, which is shown as being one of the reasons he did a lot of what he did in the lead up to the show. This is bullshit, he wasn’t diagnosed until years after the show, they changed it to make it more dramatic and tie into a better narrative. That would be a bad mistake from a normal biography, but this film was looked over and advised (heavily) by the surviving members of the band. People will get their opinions about this band from this film, this is how people will learn about this band. And they decided to tell a pretty big lie about it. They lied about their friends’ death for dramatic purposes. Think about that for a second. That’s pretty messed up.

Because of things like this, the film fails to be a good way for people to learn about the band. Once you learn what they got wrong you doubt everything. The trust is broken. Did anything happen in the film like it said it did? Was there ever actually a band called Queen? Is Bohemian Rhapsody actually a song? Who knows? (spoilers, it is). Also, the film seems to tie his sexuality into his drug use/”moral decay”, as though the two are inexorably linked, which is a bit weird.

So, what did it do well? Well, it’s a film about Queen, so obviously the music is superb (even if it does miss out a lot of their best stuff). The performances are also really good. Portraying Freddie Mercury can’t be the easiest role, there’s SO much you have to get down, not just the way he looks, but also the way he moves, the unexplainable charismatic stage presence. You need someone who looks like they can own a stadium full of people in the palm of their hand. Rami Malek does it. Some of the lip-synching is a bit off (and now is a better time than any to mention the ropey CGI at the live aid gig), but other than that he just GETS it. The supporting actors do it too, to the point where the most common sentence I’ve heard about this film is “are you sure that’s not Brian May?” in response to Gwilym Lee’s performance. And there are times when the storytelling is great. The montage of them making Bohemian Rhapsody, in particular, is a real highlight: engaging, interesting, funny, expertly done. It’s just a shame the rest of the film couldn’t match it.

I know I’ve said a lot of negative things about this, but I did truly enjoy it. I don’t need to buy it on DVD or anything, but I am tempted to see it at the cinema again. This is definitely a cinema film, watching it on a tiny screen on a plane it wouldn’t have the same effect, the electrifying Live Aid finale (and trust me, it is electrifying) would become muted by the lack of it being on a big screen. This film could have an incredibly long life at the cinema in the future, if they don’t do yearly sing-along screenings for charity I’ll be amazed.

Why We Love…..A Night At The Opera

I’ll freely admit, despite being a massive Queen fan, this is the only actual Queen album I own. The rest are live albums or greatest hits. I think they have a weird issue when it comes to their songs in that they’ve got so many well known ones. As such when you buy a greatest hits from them it’s got so many songs on it that you kind of forget that they have others because, well, there’s three albums of songs here and you know every one, it’s not like a lot of greatest hits albums where there’s a few you don’t know or don’t like. There’s very few bands/singers who are like that, the only ones that come to mind are Elvis, The Beatles, and possibly Bob Dylan. This album though is the best example of this though as it kicks off with the best unknown Queen song; Death On Two Legs. Anybody who has spoken to me about Queen albums knows how much I love this song and I DESPERATELY want My Chemical Romance to cover this song to bring it to a wider audience. It’s bombastic, it’s musically brilliant, and the lyrics are unbelievably harsh, people tend to think of Queen as a band you can show to everybody, forgetting how damn sexual this band could be at times, and that they sing lyrics (as they do in this) like:

“Do you feel like suicide? I think you should”

This songs lyrics were so harsh that the person it was about (their early manager Norman Sheffield), sued the band for defamation. He won and received an out of court settlement, with the downside of confirming that this song is actually about him. People love other songs, but to me this is Mercury’s finest hour as a songwriter.

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Although this is DEFINITELY his best work as a singer

It’s not just him though, whilst John Deacon only writes one song this album, it’s one hell of a song. You’re My Best Friend is a very sweet and lovely song, despite sounding nothing like a lot of Queen songs, it still sounds like a Queen song somehow. It’s not many bands who can go from bombastic rock through to a slow melodic acoustic number on the same album, and have it not sound like “ok this is our obligatory acoustic song”. Special mention should also go to ’39, a science fiction song that deals with time dilation and Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which for some reason is not that popular a subject among most songwriters, can’t imagine Rihanna doing a song about Fermat’s Last Theorem, although I think Ke$ha could pull it off.

So yeah, this album has such a wide variety of songs that it’s almost like a compilation album, and that is why to me whilst it’s not quite perfection, it’s pretty darn close. Oh, it also features a song called Bohemian Rhapsody which I’d recommend listening to, I can imagine it becoming really popular.