Movie review: Bohemian Rhapsody

In Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek is as good as advertised as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic lead singer of the band Queen.

Bohemian RhapsodyOnce again, I played hooky from work to see a movie, this time Bohemian Rhapsody. I keep forgetting that just before the Academy Awards, the Regal Theater in Colonie Center brings back some of the Oscar-nominated films.

The good news: Rami Malek is as good as advertised as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic lead singer of the band Queen. He may I’ve read that when Malek had the false teeth in, it helped him in developing the character. Those who care about such things note: “After wins at the SAGs, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes, [he] has run away with the [awards] season,” and will likely win an Oscar.

Also, the makeup and casting people have created a cast that looks very much like the other members of the group: Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello as John Deacon, although they all appear more annoyed than angry during the band’s arguments, many of which, I’ve read, didn’t actually happen.

The real Mary Austin, Freddie’s sometimes girlfriend, played by Lucy Boynton, seemed satisfied by the portrayal of her relationship with Mercury.

I liked the stunt casting of an almost unrecognizable Mike Myers; the Wayne’s World movie (1992) helped a six-minute song to chart again.

Of course, the eclectic music of Queen is on display. The last scene of Live Aid in 1985 was fun. I saw a couple people in the theater crying at the end. All in all, it might have been a serviceable biopic with a (relatively) happy ending.

The BIG problem is that the movie is emotionally dishonest. It is well known that films based on the lives of real people take liberties with minor characters, dialogue, even chronology.

But the brief movie revelation is that Freddie had AIDS BEFORE the climatic Wembley concert in 1985, when he wasn’t diagnosed until 1987. As this article and others note, the movie then necessarily glosses over the societal response to the disease.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a mostly feel-good movie – did I mention it has the music of Queen? – and one can certainly enjoy it, particularly if you know nothing of the era. But don’t take it too seriously as a real depiction of Freddie Mercury’s life.

Undoubtedly, this is why it’s the worst-rated film of the Best Picture nominees among critics (61% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), yet is a crowd-pleaser (88% positive).

My Oscar picks don’t include Roma

In the Best Documentary Feature category, I expectedwanted Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (re: Fred Rogers) and Three Identical Strangers

Roma_theatrical_posterWhen Roma came to the Spectrum Theatre, I said to my wife, “We need to see that film.” The weekend we were finally available, it had just left.

Yes, I suppose I could see it online, but I know I won’t. Currently, I have movies I’ve recorded weeks ago. I can’t find the block of time to watch them as they were meant to be viewed, i.e., in one sitting, without interruptions.

Roma was actually the second film in that category this year. In the summer, we both wanted to see First Reformed; alas, it didn’t happen. Links to my reviews, but only the first appearance on the list.

I saw it – *.

Best Picture

*Black Panther – my second pick
*BlacKkKlansman – my first pick, my wife’s second pick
*#Bohemian Rhapsody – at this moment, still playing here – finally saw
*The Favourite – NOT my favorite
*Green Book – my wife’s first pick; some critics want to make the contest a redo of When the Oscars Chose Driving Miss Daisy Over Do the Right Thing; meh
Roma
*A Star Is Born – the problem with this movie is that it was done thrice before
*Vice – a very divisive film

Best Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
*Olivia Colman, The Favourite
*Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
*Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? – my pick

Best Actor – I would have bet money on Ethan Hawke in First Reformed getting nominated

*Christian Bale, Vice – he was REALLY good Dick Cheney
*Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
*#Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody – I suspect if I see this, this will win out
*Viggo Mortensen, Green Book – never felt like a starring role

Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón, Roma – will win
*Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
*Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman – my clear favorite
*Adam McKay, Vice
*#Pawl Pawlikowski, Cold War – hasn’t played yet in Albany

Best Supporting Actress

*Amy Adams, Vice – she was very good
Marina de Tavira, Roma
*Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk – a tossup between her and Adams
*Emma Stone, The Favourite
*Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Supporting Actor

*Mahershala Ali, Green Book – practically a leading role
*Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
*Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born – too small a part
*Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? – my favorite role
*Sam Rockwell, Vice

Best Original Screenplay – I was hoping for a nod for Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade or Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You

*The Favourite
First Reformed
*Green Book – my choice
Roma
*Vice

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – a Netflix film that I’ve never seen advertised in a theater around here
*BlacKkKlansman – since it won’t win Best Picture, this would be a nice consolation prize
*Can You Ever Forgive Me?
*If Beale Street Could Talk
*A Star Is Born

Best Original Song

*“All the Stars,” Black Panther
*“I’ll Fight,” RBG
*“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns – this DID make me a tad weepy, maybe perhaps
*“Shallow,” A Star Is Born – give Gaga SOMETHING
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

ballad of buster scruggs
A Netflix film that never played theatrically in Albany, NY

Best Original Score

*Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson evokes Africa, my #1 pick
*BlacKkKlansman – Terence Blanchard’s eclectic-sounds, my #1A pick
*If Beale Street Could Talk
*Isle of Dogs
*Mary Poppins Returns

Best Film Editing

*BlacKkKlansman -yes
*#Bohemian Rhapsody
*The Favourite
*Green Book
*Vice

Best Foreign Language Film

Capernaum (Lebanon)
*#Cold War (Poland) – opened this weekend in Albany
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
*#Shoplifters (Japan) – saw it this past weekend; worthwhile

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2
*Isle of Dogs – very quirky; liked it a lot, and it’s not a sequel
Mirai
*Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – at this writing, still playing

Best Documentary Feature – I wanted Won’t You Be My Neighbor? re: Fred Rogers and Three Identical Strangers

Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
*RBG – this was VERY good

Best Cinematography

*#Cold War
*The Favourite – actually, the movie was technically good
Never Look Away
Roma
*A Star Is Born

Best Production Design

*Black Panther – this WOWED me
*The Favourite
First Man
*Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

Best Visual Effects – saw none

Avengers: Infinity War/Christopher Robin/First Man/Ready Player One/Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Costume Design

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
*Black Panther -yes
*The Favourite – would be worthy
*Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Best Makeup and Hair Styling

Border
Mary Queen of Scots
*Vice – this was very good makeup

Best Sound Mixing

*Black Panther – I never get the sound categories straight
*#Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
*A Star Is Born

Best Sound Editing

*Black Panther
*#Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma

Music Throwback Saturday: Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Because the wise men come, wise men go, angels high, shepherds low.
This is how God’s love shows.
It’s a wondrous story to me, to me.

bethlehemianSurely, you are familiar with the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. Well, apparently unrelated to what would have been Freddie Mercury’s 70th birthday year, my church’s youth leader directed a version of something called Bethlehemian Rhapsody, about the birth of Jesus earlier this month.

There are a few examples of these online, always involving puppets. But the version the church kids did was a live-action bit, with The Daughter playing Mary. The adult choir soloists also sang with the kids. They did a boffo job.

The lyrics start:

Is this the real birth?
Is it nativity?
Caught in a census
in the town of his ancestry.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.
He’s just a poor boy foretold by prophecy.
Because the wise men come, wise men go, angels high, shepherds low.
This is how God’s love shows.
It’s a wondrous story to me, to me.

This is not to be confused by a different Bethlehemian Rhapsody, involving David and Goliath, sung by the group ApologetiX, with the lyrics here.

Listen to Bethlehemian Rhapsody (primarily the Jesus version):
here or here or here
here (video and lyrics)
here – lyrics of Jesus version, plus video of both the Jesus and David & Goliath versions
the ApologetiX David and Goliath version

Compare with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen:
here and here, including those lyrics

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Music

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Bobby Jindal’s bizarre hidden camera announcement to his kids that he’s running for President.

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rainbow_white_house_avatar
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