“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a perfect film and a lovingly rendered bio-pic. The alternating use of close-ups and panoramic views seem to distil the essence of the man/boy and performer, Freddie Mercury. Don’t miss this paen to the band “Queen”.

From his cats to his arm waving stage prance, we get to know the young graphic designer as he writes song lyrics and sings his heart out. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, like any twenty-something, he seeks freedom to be who he is. This means a gentle, parental rebellion, and later an admission of his bi-sexuality.

Actor Rami Malek deserves an Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury. Passion for music and connection pulses through every frame. “ Can Anybody Find Me Someone To Love”, “We Are The Champions”, and of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” enthrall. “Love Of My Life” as tender as you will see it done.

Malek is supported by a superb cast. The band: guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy),and bassist John Deacon ( Joe Mazzello) are developed just enough for you to care about them. Their frustration is understandable; their anger palpable, and their love for Mercury raises this film to a true legacy piece, even as one band member reverts to Shakespearean insults like “ You treacherous piss flap”. I, also, appreciated the “angry lizard look” costume comment.

Lucy Boynton, as Mercury’s forever girlfriend, develops a Mary Austin one can believe in. The scene at the dinner table with her deaf father is memorable. On the other end of the spectrum, the same goes for the villainous Paul, played by Allan Leech. Paul is known as the snake who tried to break up the “Queen” family. His attempted isolation of our star has Freddie blaming himself and calling Paul a fruitfly that feasts on rotten.

Mercury’s mixed genres and refusal to revert to a formulaic core shows both his genius and the joy of creating. His world tours are flashed on the screen: Rio, Osaka, Perth etc…When Mary is left alone and asking what Freddie wants from her, we sigh at his answer: “Almost Everything.”

Writers Anthony McCarten and Peter Monyan have done a good job distilling twenty some formative years into a musical bio-pic. I loved the close-up of the Rolls-Royce hood ornament, the mic, and rings and studs. Directors Brian Singer and Dexter Fletcher show Mercury’s flaws, but focus on his revolutionary soul~ a real plus. John Ottman is an editor who knows how to pace both action and emotion.

The depth of character displayed was more than I was looking for. Mercury’s aside to Mary, “Being human is a state that requires anesthesia” was enough explanation. Jim Hutton, Mercury’s lover, seems like the embodiment of Freddie’s father’s mantra of “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”. His “Come and find me when you decide to like yourself” rocked for our rock star. Dead from AIDs at forty-five, Queen’s “Carry on, Carry on” will have tears rolling down your face. “ Bohemian Rhapsody” ranks in my top five films for 2018.

“Sing Street”

“Sing Street” is the title of a sweet,  Irish film and the title of a learn-as- you-go band that gives creative play to a few of Dublin ‘s youth. With a rather slow start, we are introduced to Conor ( Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) , a 14 -year- old, and his  nurturing brother , Brendan , who is six years older and smart beyond his years. He understands their parents’ history and current circumstance.

Mom is having an affair with her boss, contemplating divorce and dreaming of a Spanish holiday. Dad has not worked in a year and is depressed, angry and inattentive. Brendan sees that Conor is not getting the support he needs, and he steps up- later to hysterical and romantic results, as Conor and  Raphina  cross the English Channel in a cruise ship’s wake.

Brendan explains his own lack of momentum to Conor. “Our parents married at nineteen because they were Catholic and wanted to have sex. ”

Brendan, too, believes he has “extracted himself  from the wreckage”. ” I macheted the path…you ( Conor) moved in my jet stream.”  His own powerful anger is channeled into helping Conor with the older girl Conor has become infatuated with~ Raphina, played wonderfully by Lucy Boynton.

The relationship between big bro and struggling  sib is my favorite part. In fact, the final epigram ” For Brothers Everywhere” reaffirms the importance of this relationship in the film. Jack Reynor is superb in showing  the self-understanding  that young adults obtain and then go on to analyze every other member of the family.

Brendan parents Conor, as only a revered, older brother can. It is sweet and humorous to hear Conor re-mouth Brendan’s every word. At one point when Conor relates, ” my brother says”, the orphaned Raphina smiles, “You talk about him a lot.  You must really love him.”As for Conor’s challenged and struggling parents, Raphina offers up, “parents~ it’s a strange kind of love.” What teen would not concur ?!  When Brendan yells, ” Once, I was a fucking jet engine” , I was moved. I wanted to yell back, ” But you still can be, you are twenty -years -old.”

“Sing Street” is a “Sesame Street” for fourteen-year-olds, or for any boy who can remember being shocked into love by a female image. Dreams, bullying,  and forming a pack , and first love, and rebellion are the segment headings. I loved the strength of Conor as he tells the one bully who orders him to pull down his trousers and dance that he is not doing that. Later, Conor tells the same bully that “you only have the power to stop things, not to create”. While the Christain Brothers show their medieval heritage, the Jesuits are lauded for their academic push.

John Carney of ” Once” fame directs this, his third film. The actors are good ; the sound not as clear as it could have been. The cockney accent of one of the band members was close to impossible to translate. I know I was not the only member of the audience to miss a few lines.

The cinematography is truly second rate~ often grayed and hazy for no purpose. The dream sequences ironically were not cued. The  whole film’s filter seems wrong and amateurish. The images – oh-hum, except for the slow motion walk of the band as they stride out one by one.

The writing, in contrast,  was grand. Conor’s phrases ” cherry -ice -cream -smile ” and ” dangerous eyes” and “the riddle of a model” are  age appropriate. “The day I started crawling I was on my way to find you ” very sweet. ” I don’t believe in destiny. All beliefs begin to cave in.” are  lines of teen angst. I loved the line where the only  band boy who could play every and any instrument and was often seen holding one of his pet rabbits simply answered Conor’s ” What are you doing?” with ” just rabbit stuff”.

The music of the ’80’s does not resonate with me, but it did with the audience. Duran, Duran and Iggy Pop are mostly just names I recall. The theme that music matters and is a powerful force in unleashing emotion is a major theme.

Lucy  Boynton is wonderful as the girl who ” lifts me ( Conor) up”. She renames him ” Cosmo” and is moved to tears by his adulation. She teaches him that love is ” Happy/ Sad “. As Conor’s muse, she has bruises of her own which the Kirwin Home For Girls has not protected her from. And, as for Conor, (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) you will not forget his exhilaration  as he captains his own boat. See and celebrate youth.