December 10th, 2018

In a recent conversation I had, I was told that women’s relationships are far more complex than those of men.  Having seen the new film The Favourite about UK’s Queen Anne in the early 18th century, and her entourage I can believe this.  The movie explores principally three female characters and their interactions.  All three performances have been nominated for Golden Globes.   Two supporting roles for Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, and one for Actress for the excellent Olivia Colman.  Colman is the new Queen Elizabeth in The Crown for Season 3, she has also done plenty of TV and some smaller parts (The Lobster and Iron Lady).  Here she plays Queen Anne who was as pictured an unpredictable and unstable leader.  Her most trusted consort (Weisz) is the wife of a general, but manipulates and directs the sails of the Queen through her physical and emotional connection to her.   Weisz enjoys a place of privilege and is the real power behind the Queen.   Along comes Weisz’s cousin (Stone) who was disgraced when her husband was caught doing bad things and her station has been relegated to commoner.   She has other ambitions for herself as she reconnects with her cousin and sees the position of power that she wields.    The rest unfolds beautifully as the drama and the intrigue builds between the two ladies of court and they struggle and battle to keep their positions of power.   All the while the Queen relishes all this newfound attention while she physically deteriorates.   Colman is excellent in this regard.  The film really shows and explores the dangers of having a rogue element at the top of a country directing where things will go.   The real power lies unsteadily in the hands of various people with their own agendas.   It further shows how corrupt and poor behaviour of the trusted servants can be rewarded as the leader can be swayed on a regular basis.   The parallels to today’s political climate are not lost on the audience.  This film was really good, and it has been nominated for Best Film as well.   It has funny moments, it has disturbing moments and there are three fine performances.

One further comment about the moviegoing experience.  I will state that I prefer the theatre experience to that of seeing films on my own at home.  Despite having a really good quality TV and sound system, the audience can add to the enjoyment as there can be collective laughs and shared enjoyment.   Here the film was disrupted by a buffoon who sat in the row beside me, and managed to bring in a 6-pack of beer all the while laughing outrageously loud at times when things just weren’t that funny.   It detracted from the film and robbed me of the quiet at times that was welcome.   I do not understand those who somehow believe they are still in their living rooms and feel as though the theatre is an extension of it.    Do what you want, and act as you will in the comfort of your own home, but when you are in a crowded theatre, then tone it down and be more appropriate and sympathetic to those around you.   This was similar to the Crazy Rich Asians experience I had.   Ugh!!  “It’s really snowing outside!”
A comment too about the Golden Globes, for the nominations were made this past week.  I was pleased by some nominations, surprised by others and disturbed by the snubs.   My biggest issue was the snub of Widows and more importantly the lack of a nomination for Viola Davis.   My post earlier this month explained my love for this performance and I am genuinely surprised how she was not nominated.   This is a fine film, and I don’t understand the snub across the board.   The other snub was for A Quiet Place, which also was a really good film and was a box office success story.   No performances acknowledged.   The only nomination for (blink) Best Original Score.   Weird.   On the other side I am not sure of the love for Bohemian Rhapsody.   Rami Malek was the reason to see this film, but it doesn’t go beyond that for me.   Others have disagreed with my interpretation, and that is what movie and art is for.  So I am surprised.   Clearly Vice with Christian Bale in his Musical or Comedic performance should be seen, and apparently so too should be Mary Poppins Returns.   We will see about that, even though I am a big Emily Blunt fan.   She should have been nominated for A Quiet Place, so maybe two nominations, but can two different Mary Poppins win awards?   Julie Andrews won the Oscar for Mary Poppins.   Green Book is on my list of films to see as it won People’s Choice Award at TIFF already.    For me the classifications of films are surprising, as in A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody could easily be called Musicals, and The Favourite and The Vice should be considered Dramas.   I am genuinely pleased for Lady Gaga, I am not impacted by Bradley Cooper and surprised at snub for Sam Elliott.  So let the debating begin!!
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November 13th, 2018

Last week I managed to get out to the theatre to catch Bohemian Rhapsody.  This film has had some polarizing reviews, and I can see why.   For me, this movie should have had more of an edge to it.  Much like I think ANY David Bowie future film should try to capture the entire man, and his intricacies and eccentricities.   Much can be claimed here.   In some ways I feel like I watched Theory of Everything where it was based, in part, on the recollections of Stephen Hawking’s ex-wife.   Well of course she’s going to made out to be better than it likely really was!  Perspective is everything, and this is no different.

We start the film of Freddie Mercury, when he was nobody, Farrokh Bulsara of Parsi decent, working unloading baggage at the airport.  He likes clubs and hanging out and meets upon a band who lost their singer who felt he had better options elsewhere.   In comes Farrokh, and provides an impromptu audition and manages to impress the singerless group.   We meet Freddy’s family (Mother, Father and sister) where there is nothing but some questioning of where the young man can ever end up.   It’s more cliche really than anything else.   How many times do we see a supportive family (especially a father for a young man looking to play music?).   But nevermind.

For me, I wondered about the treatment of Freddy’s personal life, and how he chose to be.  He was married early on and then later lived as a gay man.   I didn’t expect, and don’t believe the Freddy Mercury would live the life shown in the film with the lights from separate rooms with his wife, with him by himself.   Maybe I am jaded and conditioned to think that all rock stars are constantly in a party state with an entourage and party goers.   Maybe he lived more solitary life.  Maybe it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.   I don’t believe it.   I think Mercury was a larger than life personality who did everything to extreme and excess!!   He would be the centre of attention and have and take all that he wanted.   This is briefly depicted but not convincingly nor enough.

I wish we had seen more creativity and the inspiration for these songs.   It’s the real genius at work, with songs that will last forever.   The creative process is fascinating, and understanding the influences and how they chose to make their sounds and put them together would be an amazing story unto itself.  It isn’t there much.   There is a silly Mike Myers cameo that added nothing for me.    In the end, I felt that this was not a story or the true Freddy but a story that others wanted to tell on his behalf; a toned down PG rated version.   Who gains from this?  Perhaps the surviving members of the band.  His Wife.   Not sure.   If there was ever a rock star life that deserved an R rating, it was Freddy Mercury.    David Bowie too!   Let’s hope that any David Bowie project looks better, and respects the artist fully – unlike what I anticipate that Rocketman (preview at this film) will be for Elton John which comes out next year.  No thanks.

I also watched last week, Red Sparrow.   Oh Jennifer Lawrence what is it about these projects that you are selection for yourself?    Another turkey with this one.   A young Russian ballerina cut down by an injury and sold out by her Uncle to this ultra-nasty group of spies/chaos inducers/special forces, who use their bodies to get what they need.   The story is messy and convoluted.  The agent/double agent mystery doesn’t unfold well, and the ending is contrived.   I cannot recommend, and wish that JLaw, would find something more substantial and better for her talents (Passenger, Mother! and others are beneath her).