SOON AFTER WE BECAME FRIENDS IN 1stor 2ndgrade, we became best friends. I lived on the northwest corner of a square, city block and he lived on the southeast one; we would use the alley to go to each other’s house. He had an uncle who was some type of farmer; so, every summer he would always bring over a grocery bag of his uncle’s fruit to our house each weekend. We would go through the bag picking out the ripest fruit to eat right away before putting the bag in the refrigerator. All through elementary school we remained the best of friends. During that time, we were there for each other during a parent’s health scare, the surprise birth of his baby sister and the rise of bullying as we advanced in school. By the time we graduated and started high school we were sure nothing would change between us. With the school population tripling between elementary and high school, besides going from a small school to a block long building, we assumed we would still see each other through the school’s hallways. As it turned out that was not the case and as time went on, we started drifting apart. Our circle of friends was expanding and diversifying on top of it. I WENT OUT OF STATE FOR college and that was the last time I saw my friend; we lost touch with each other. Fast forward now 20 years, where I am living down in the city in my own place. There was a store in my neighborhood that I had read about in the newspaper; they carried “funky” retro stuff. I decided to check it out one Saturday and walked down to it. The newspapers were right because the store was cool looking with a variety of items from different eras. As I was gazing down into one of the glass display cases a staff worker came up to me, to see if I needed any help. When I lifted my head up to reply I was stunned. The man standing across the case from me was my best friend from elementary school. He recognized me immediately as we both started laughing. He asked what I was doing there; I asked him the same thing. It turned out he was the owner. While we were talking, I noticed something odd; he was talking with a British accent. Listening to the scope of his business dealings, he was heavily involved in the entertainment business. He went by one name, deciding his last name sounded suddenly “to ethnic.” I found all of this bizarre, to say the least. AFTER THAT STORE VISIT, WE STAYED in touch sporadically. I felt like I was talking to a different person whenever I would see him. He had turned himself into this persona with the one name to make an impression with the Hollywood people he was dealing with now. His business expanded so much he had to acquire multiple warehouses to store his burgeoning inventory. He became the “go to person” whenever Hollywood studios needed specific styled props and costumes. His lifestyle became fast paced and crazy to match the people he was now hobnobbing with, from coast to coast. I had bumped into him at a play one day and knew immediately he was high on drugs. His speech was slurred, his eyes were halfway shut, and he kept swaying from side to side. That was the last time I saw him until I read his obituary in the paper. DESPITE BEING UNINSURABLE AND BROKE LEGENDARY performer Judy Garland, played by Renee Zellweger (Chicago, My One and Only), flew to London in 1968 for several sold-out concerts. This biographical drama also starred Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Tempest) as Rosalyn Wilder, Finn Wittrock (Unbroken, American Horror Story-TV) as Mickey Deans, Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist, Hercules) as Sidney Luft and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter franchise, Quartet) as Bernard Delft. Whether the story was accurate in this film did not matter to me because ultimately it was all about Renee’s performance. Not once did I think it was Renee acting; she was utterly convincing in the role. Doing her own singing, I had to give her credit because I knew it was not going to be easy; however, she did an incredible job. Her mannerisms, her posture, her gestures; all of them were Judy. As for the story, many viewers already know it; so, let me just say, it is sad. However, don’t let that stop you from seeing this film because I believe you will be hearing Renee’s name this upcoming awards season.
INSTEAD OF REHASHING MY STORY ABOUT the school teacher who told me I would amount to nothing if I decided to become a writer, let me tell you about a friend’s son. When the boy was little, he loved playing with all kinds of building block type toys. He could sit and play by himself for hours with these toys. As he got older the simple building blocks were replaced with more complicated toys; toys that gave him more options in the way he could connect pieces together. He would build these elaborate structures. Some were recognizable as being a castle or a bridge; but others were more freeform and creative. During the latter part of elementary school and beginning of high school, the father began hoping his son would join the family business. Though the son had never shown an inclination to be involved in the business, the father persisted in steering his son into following in his father’s footsteps. This created a wedge between the father and son. From the first set of building blocks the son had received when he was young, all he wanted to do was to build things. He was inclined to go into the field of architecture or construction. The father could not understand why his son wanted to venture into such work when a successful career was right there waiting for him at the family business. WHAT THE FATHER DID NOT UNDERSTAND was the fact that his son had zero passion for the type of work his father did. And I believe that is the key when it comes to deciding what a person wants to do in life. Without passion a person becomes more like a robot, lifeless and unemotional. They just go through the motions at their job, but really do not care about it. I have worked with several individuals who had mentally checked out from the job. They were at the company simply to collect a paycheck; they had no concern for the health of the company as long as it did not affect their paycheck. Those individuals lacked passion in my opinion. As I watched my friend and his son play this tug of war game about coming into the family business, I knew the son would never abide by his father’s wishes. The reason being, I saw how passionate the son was when it came to building things. Those early building blocks when he was a baby planted the seed that let his passion flourish through the years. A similar situation can be found in this musical, comedic drama. NOT FEELING CONNECTED TO HIS SURROUNDINGS British teenager Javed, played by Viveik Kalra (Beecham House-TV, Next of Kin-TV Mini-Series), found someone who understood how he felt; it was the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. Inspired by a true story, this film festival winner also starred Kulvinder Ghir (Bend it Like Beckham, Still Open All Hours-TV) as Malik, Meera Ganatra (Three Dots and a Dash, PREmature-TV Mini-Series) as Noor, Raron Phagura (Doctor Who-TV, Him-TV Mini-Series) as Roops and Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones-TV, The Commuter) as Matt. Set in the 1980s, the story was familiar to me, having seen it done in other films. The movie started out slow, but I soon was drawn into this picture due to the charms of the cast. There was a sweetness to the script that felt right to me. I also appreciated the underlying story involving the dynamics of Javed’s family within the surrounding area. And of course, there was Springsteen’s music. Though I am familiar with Bruce’s music, I do not own any of his albums. However, I was surprised how well his songs worked within the story. The combination made for an enjoyable viewing experience. To take a familiar story and tweak it enough to make it feel fresh takes true passion. I could totally relate.
IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME to realize dreams are not written in stone. They are more like clouds; they do not necessarily have definitive edges and they are never static. Part of living my life is having dreams hanging ahead of me. Think of it like a carrot hanging in front of a horse. I am always trying to make my way towards my dreams. Having lived in rental apartments for most of my life, my dream of home ownership was a large one that had a hold on me. Working two jobs for extra income was tolerable, because I knew there would be more money to devote to building a hefty down payment for a house. It took me some years to reach this dream, but I finally did it. Another dream of mine was to have a brand-new car. The only cars I had to drive were used ones. One of my earliest cars cost $500; it had over 90,000 miles and a houndstooth interior. So, after driving many hand me down autos, I was able to buy a new car. Seven weeks later while parked in front of the post office, a man backed into my car while trying to get out of his parking spot in front of mine. My front bumper was dented and my thrill of having reached my new car dream evaporated in front of me. FROM MY SUCCESSES AND FAILURES IN achieving my dreams, I never judge someone else’s dreams. I may feel the person will have a tough challenge to get to their dreams, but I would not discourage them from trying at least. An acquaintance of mine contacted me about fitness. They wanted to change careers from finance to fitness. Partially based on their comments to my questions, I felt they were not completely aware of the work needed to become successful and earn a decent living. All of their questions I answered to the best of my ability without any judgement. I, also, did not gloss over anything; expressing the work it took to meet club members’ and clients’ needs. When I reached my dream of being a fitness instructor, I had no idea of the amount of preparation and planning it took to conduct a safe, fun class. The training and studying were nearly overwhelming for me. Learning about all the safety protocols alone was a monumental task. However, from a kid who flunked PE class twice to becoming a fitness instructor; I never let the naysayers discourage me and that is why I was rooting for the main character in this musical drama. THOUGH SHE HAD A GOOD VOICE, the idea of Rose-Lynn, played by Jessie Buckley (Beast, The Tempest), moving from her home in Glasgow to Nashville to become a country singer sounded crazy to most; but, that wasn’t going to stop Rose-Lynn from fighting for her dream. With Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise, Mama Mia!) as Marion, Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, Martian Child) as Susannah, Jamie Sives (Let Him Talk to the Greek, Valhalla Rising) as Sam and Craig Parkinson (Four Lions, Control) as Alan; this film festival winner took me by surprise. Not spending much time listening to country music, I was moved by the songs and vocals, which were provided by Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves. The acting from Jessie and Julie came across with depth and emotion; I was brought into their world. I will say there were periods of time where I had a tough time understanding the dialog when the Scottish brogue got thick. Yet, it did not distract me enough to lose my connection with the story. There have been previous films about a nobody becoming a somebody; however, there was a freshness to this picture that made me smile and tap my toes to the beat.
3 ½ stars
THINGS STARTED CHANGING AROUND THE 4th and 5th grades. Prior to those times the girls and boys usually played together during recess and after school. I remember when we all came back to school after having the summer off, to start the 4th grade. Something was different I soon noticed. Where we used to do things as a group, there now were smaller groups that had broken off. The girls were not as interested in some of the activities they used to participate in with the boys. They also seemed smarter to me because they usually were the ones to get the highest scores on our tests. I can still picture this one boy during our study time who instead was fiddling with the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of him. She was annoyed and asked the teacher to make him stop. During this time, I found myself in a dilemma. With the girls forming different interests and moving into smaller groups from the boys, I had to split my time between the two. I would hang out with the boys for a while, until they started getting too aggressive in their games or sports; then, I would move over to my friends in the girls’ clique. It became a challenging time for me. DURING MY SCHOOL YEARS I HAD A few real close friends. As we grew up we still maintained a closeness even when we started branching out into different interests. I was spending more time with one friend whose interests closely matched up to mine. Through several years we were there to support each other during the rough patches. I wound up going out of state for college and it was during these years things started to change for me. We stayed in close touch but where we used to get the same reaction to a situation, now there was a difference. It was not until I returned home where I came upon a reason for what I felt was a disconnect. The reactions they were displaying were identical to the way they reacted when we were in elementary school and high school. They were complaining about the same things that took place years ago. I tried explaining if the same reactions were producing the same unsatisfactory results, then maybe it was time to change the reactions. I could see by their expression this fell on deaf ears. Sadly, it was the fork in our road where we grew in different directions. I was reminded of this while watching the two childhood friends in this romantic comedy. IT HAD BEEN YEARS SINCE CHILDHOOD friends Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, played by Ali Wong (The Hero, American Housewife-TV) and Randall Park (Aquaman, Ant-Man and the Wasp), had seen each other. Could looking at the past bring them forward into the present? With James Saito (Pearl Harbor, While We’re Young) as Harry, Michelle Buteau (Isn’t it Romantic, Sell By) as Veronica and Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, 47 Ronin) as Keanu Reeves; this rom-com was an easy watch. The script offered a mixture of family dynamics/traditions with modern thoughts and current topics. I did not experience any laugh out moments; for me, the story simply kept me engaged as the characters went through their paces. However, I did find myself getting amused by several of Marcus’ lines. The connection between him and Sasha came across as real thanks to the acting from Ali and Randall. Also, there was nothing in the movie that surprised me per se, except that I found Keanu’s performance wild. It was just pleasant to sit back and let the story play out in this picture. I would not consider this picture memorable; however, I appreciated the fact it got me thinking about some of my childhood friends.
2 ½ stars
THOUGH LOVE IS AN UNLIMITED SOURCE, it is up to the individual to use discretion in its implementation. For example, one can assume a person would love their spouse/partner differently from their love of baseball. I see love as a series of priorities. Let me take desserts; I love eating them, but I also love being able to fit into my clothes. So, I have to decide what I love more. Granted I will continue to love both, but I am slightly more passionate about having clothes that fit. That doesn’t negate my love of desserts; instead, it makes me think of them as special treats I get to indulge in only on the weekends. There is a married couple I know who love each other. However, the husband also loves playing video games. This has turned into a conflict for the two of them. He has chosen playing his games at home over invitations for the two of them to join friends and family members for dinner dates and social events. In the meantime, the wife has gone to some of these things alone; but, she really wishes her husband would join her at times. I seriously do not know what is going to happen to them if they do not come to a workable compromise…or get therapy. IN MY CASE, I HAVE ALWAYS loved movies. Whether at the theater, television, DVD or streaming; I have always found time to see a film. Since starting this movie review site much of my recreational focus has been making sure I get to the movie theater every week. There have been many times where I have declined an invitation because I was going to the movies. The feelings I have experienced from watching and reviewing films has been consistently joyous and pleasurable, even when the movies have been dull. As I settled into my movie routine, it became the recipient of my affections. I was and still am protective of it, love doing it and continue to schedule the rest of my week around the new movie releases. However, I have realized I gave up several opportunities in the past. Opportunities that might have changed the course of my life. The way I justify it is to remind myself there are no accidents, there is a reason for everything. So, these days I have chosen to allow my love to settle on the things that are important to me; giving each aspect of my life a proper seat at the table. That is the reason I was able to understand the main character’s focus in this musical, comedy fantasy. AFTER A NUMBING BICYCLE ACCIDENT MUSICIAN Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel (EastEnders-TV, Damned-TV), came to and discovered an iconic music band was gone from everyone’s memory. He was the only person who was able to perform their songs. The question was what to do with them. With Lily James (Baby Driver, Cinderella) as Ellie Appleton, Kate McKinnon (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Rough Night) as Debra Hammer, Meera Syal (Doctor Strange, Beautiful Thing) as Sheila Malik and Ellise Chappell (The Last Dragonslayer-TV movie, Poldark-TV) as Lucy; this film festival winner had a certain sweetness and charm that made watching it pleasant. I enjoyed the performances from Himesh and Lily; they came across in a fragile and real way. To me the first half of the film was stronger than the last. The reason being, I found several instances where I was not believing the script; I felt as if the writers were trying to manipulate the viewer and I was not buying it. As for the music soundtrack, I only wish they would have played more of the Beatles’ songs. I did not love this movie, but it was an easy view and enjoyable to hear.
2 ½ stars
SEEKING APPROVAL FROM THOSE YOU LOVE is one of the strongest motivators one has at their disposal. Feeling good about your accomplishment is fine; however, having that “seal of approval” from someone else forms a stronger bond that can last for years. I remember to this day how I felt the first time I had to construct a diorama for a school project. The assignment was to recreate a scene from a book we were reading for class. My choice was an outdoor scene of mountains surrounding a secluded lake that the characters from the book would periodically visit. I had used a combination of materials, including rolled up pieces of plastic wrap for the lake. With a large assortment of colored markers and paints. I colored the pieces of cardboard I had cut out from a packing box, creating a mountain range with snow caps. For trees I used pipe cleaners that I would twist together to form the foliage over brown and black painted toilet paper cores. As I said before, I used a variety of things for this project. Once completed I was proud of what I had done. Family members praised my work which was both wonderful and expected; but, I really was hoping my teacher would shower her praise over my creation. She was a fantastic artist which made me value her opinion more than other people; gratefully she did not disappoint me. WHY I WAS REMINDED OF THIS memory was due to this musical movie. I have seen Elton John in concert a couple of times; once during his earlier years and the other recently. From the variety of acts I have seen live in concert, Elton was not a typical rock star. Many of them played off a certain sex appeal they were portraying. Male guitarists made it look like they were making love to their guitars; female singers would move in seductive ways. Elton was different; instead of trying to use sex appeal he went the spectacle route. The more flamboyant and outrageous he was the more his fans would scream for him. This is only my opinion; but because I was dealing with a poor self-image, I assumed Elton was also. Only when I could “dress up” in my workout clothes or suit did I feel better about myself. Seeing Elton dressed up in so many costumes led me to believe he was feeling the same way. Behind the façade there was a boy who wanted to be loved; I understood. If you wish to see what was going on behind the scenes, then feel free to watch this dramatic film about a music icon. FROM AN EARLY AGE ELTON JOHN displayed a gift for playing the piano. However, he was looking for something more. With Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood) as Elton John, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden (Cinderella, The Take) as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise) as Sheila and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise) as Ivy; the cast was well chosen. Standing above all of them though was Taron; he was incredible in his role, including his own singing. The acting and story drew me into this picture. I could not believe what I was seeing behind the scenes of so many memorable moments in Elton’s career. Granted I do not know how much truth was shown in this film, but nonetheless I enjoyed watching this movie for the most part. The one thing that did not connect with me was the use of fantasy scenes. A couple would have been fine, but I felt these scenes drained the emotional impact away from the story. It was amazing to see how so many of Elton’s songs’ lyrics lent themselves to the scenes. I would have preferred spending more time in the moment instead of turning the emotion into a fantasy scene. Whether one is a fan or not; one would be hard pressed not to be impressed with what Elton has accomplished in his life.
2 ¾ stars
EVERY TIME I SAW THEM I would always wonder why they wanted to be with each other. From what I saw, they were not nice to each other. Actually, I think it had more to do about respect; they did not have respect for each other. Whenever we were together in a social setting, they would inevitably get into an argument with each other. And they were nasty about it. It is one thing to argue in a rational and respectful way over an issue; but, they would call each other names and do something that is one of my pet peeves: bringing up something from the past that was never discussed at that time. You may have encountered this yourself when somebody would say, “Remember when you did such and such,” and you have no idea what they are talking about because they never brought it to your attention back then. I cannot tell you how much this annoys me. If I do something that unintentionally offends, upsets or bothers someone; I want them to tell me right then and let us talk about it. To bring it up months later, where I get blindsided, is something I find to be manipulative. IT IS POSSIBLE THESE TWO INDIVIDUALS love each other; they just don’t like each other. Or, another possibility is they are both co-dependent with one another. I was in a relationship with someone who was manipulative and passive aggressive; two traits that are not fun to deal with, I am here to tell you. Until you catch on to them, you might find yourself doing things you normally would not have considered prior to them. Gratefully, I eventually caught on and ended the relationship; it simply was not a healthy union. However, I have seen other people in similar situations who remain in non-healthy relationships. I am not one to judge, but I do wonder what pleasure they get from their partner that keeps them locked in such a union. There was a couple I knew years ago who on the surface were toxic. They would yell, argue and manipulate each other on a constant basis; however, there were times where they were affectionate with each other. It was so weird to me. How could you have this explosive battle with someone and in the next minute be flirtatious and cutesy? I still remember hearing one of them threaten that they were going to leave the marriage all the time. Maybe this is one of the downsides to love; it can cause havoc in one’s life. It certainly influenced the couple in this dramatic, musical romance. THERE WAS SUCH A STRONG PASSIONATE connection between Zulu and Wiktor, played by Joanna Kulig (The Innocents, The Crime-TV) and Tomasz Kot (Gods, Bikini Blue) and that was exactly the problem with their relationship. This film festival winning, and Oscar nominated movie from Poland was beautifully filmed. Shot in black and white, I felt doing it this way was more effective in presenting a precise no-frills story. Even the script did not have any excessive dialog, which ultimately kept the story going forward. Taking place during the 1950s in communist Poland, the settings and costumes were perfect for the settings. With Borys Szyc (The Mole, Symmetry) as Kaczmarek, Agata Kulesza (Ida, These Daughters of Mine) as Irena and Cedric Kahn (Up for Love, Miss and the Doctor) as Michel; I felt everyone was connected to the story, putting on a wonderful show of acting. Now there were times where I felt the story dragged; particularly when the scene presented a similar situation I felt I had seen previously. However, it was not enough to make me feel like I was having a love/hate relationship with this film. Polish and French were spoken with English subtitles.
IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS, THEY may seem insignificant on your life’s journey; but they can have a lasting impact that changes your course. Looking at my evolution for loving animals, there was one breed of dog I did not like. I remember what happened that day, recalling the exact streets I was bicycling on. On a side street, I was riding my bike in a relative’s neighborhood. Suddenly a dog bolted out of a yard; I heard the barking first before seeing where it was coming from. This dog was heading straight to me and from my first glance the dog did not look friendly. I pedaled that bicycle faster than I had ever before as I raced down the street towards the intersection. Because I was afraid of what the dog could do to me, I did not stop as I swerved into the cross street which was a main thoroughfare. A car nearly hit me as the driver laid on his horn while dodging around me. I did not stop pedaling for blocks until I no longer heard the dog barking. That one incident stayed with me for years; I stayed away from that particular dog breed. It was not until college before I became comfortable around that breed, due to some of the classes I was enrolled in. THERE ARE SO MANY EXAMPLES OF little occurrences having a profound effect on one’s self; just off the top of my head I can recall several. From the name calling I endured when I was a kid, I believe I have an extra sensitivity towards the underdog. A person I knew would never eat fried food because when they were a child they accidentally were splattered with hot cooking oil. There was a friend of a friend I knew who would not wear any clothing that had a turtleneck or simply tight collar; she had a choking episode when she was a child and that constricted feeling was something she never forgot. I am sure you have come across this when you hear about a celebrity’s childhood; where they experienced something that planted the seed to create, let us say, the musical artist or inventor that they had become. This is one of the reasons I am always saying, there are no accidents; there is a reason for everything.” Everything I just told you here came about from my viewing of this dramatic, musical, film festival nominated movie. SUFFERING A HORRIFIC TRAGEDY IN SCHOOL put Celeste on a different life path, with the help of her sister. Starring Natalie Portman (Annihilation, Black Swan) as Celeste, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as the Manager, Raffey Cassidy (Dark Shadows, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as young Celeste/Albertine, Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty, A Quiet Passion) as Josie the publicist and Christopher Abbot (It Comes at Night, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as the journalist; this picture started out with a powerful impact. Because of it I was expecting a different type of movie from what appeared on screen. Natalie gave an excellent performance, but it was not enough to hold my interest due to the confusing script. It seemed as if there were several story lines that could have easily taken charge; but none did, resulting in boredom for me. I did find the music interesting which helped me get through this picture. Honestly, I found this film overly self-indulgent. I could see some of the points the writers/director were trying to make but I did not find my viewing experience entertaining. Maybe somewhere down the road it will hit me that I have discovered or have been acting a certain way because I saw this film. For now, I could have waited a while before paying to see this picture.
1 ¾ stars
THERE ARE PEOPLE WE ENCOUNTER WHOSE footsteps leave an impression on our life’s path. These individuals strike us in various ways; by their energy, intellect, passion, athleticism and heart for example. The memory they leave after they are gone can be stored inside of us for years without ever being detected. Then suddenly that person reappears, possibly in a different capacity, and that memory pops into our consciousness. Our brain gets flooded with the images retained during the years; we completely understand now why they left an impression on us. This is something I have experienced through my life. I mentioned in an earlier review about a classmate of mine who wrote stories about his time in the war. Several years had passed after being in that class and there he was on the cover of a magazine for winning a prestigious literary award. There was a television interview of him and he pretty much looked the same with his large, piercing blue eyes with eyelids that looked heavy to blink. After that interview he showed up in multiple newspaper and magazine articles. I remember smiling to myself as I remembered our time in class, listening to his war stories and the toll they took on him. THERE IS ANOTHER PERSON I SAW who immediately made a big impression on me and his name was Freddie Mercury. I cannot remember the details on how I got to the concert where this relatively new group called Queen was playing. It was after their 1st or 2nd album I think. What I still remember besides the band members was how my ears were ringing due to the loudness of the sound. Right from the opening song, Freddie had everyone’s attention. All he had to do was say either “stand up” or “clap like this…” once and the entire crowd would do as they were told. He had a magnetism that nearly forced you to keep your eyes riveted onto him. His body movements were dramatic and theatrical. Then there was his voice; he could always be heard no matter how loud the band played. John Deacon barely moved from his spot while Brian May’s guitar playing was featured from time to time throughout the performance. I remember the sounds he would make with his guitar were notes I could not recall hearing before. I knew right then that they were a unique band and Freddie was someone I had never seen before or would see again. You can imagine how curious I was to see this biographical, dramatic movie. CREATING A SOUND LIKE NONE OTHER before them, the four guys who made up the band Queen would leave a lasting impression on the musical scene; both for their skills and personal lives. With Rami Malek (Short Term 12, Mr. Robot-TV) as Freddie Mercury, Gwilym Lee (The Tourist, Midsomer Murders-TV) as Brian May, Ben Hardy (Only the Brave, X-Men: Apocalypse) as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network, The Cure) as John Deacon; this musical film focused mostly on the life story of Freddie. If you never had the chance to see Queen perform then you will enjoy this picture more than those of you who were fortunate enough to see them. I thought the script was too sanitized; offering only a taste of what the band members, I believe, went through in their time together. Rami did a decent job, but the fake teeth looked odd on him. The lip synching was okay, but I just felt the script and direction needed more punch because I found myself getting slightly bored. Again, I must state those who never saw Queen perform might enjoy this movie more, though we were only given a brief taste of their songs.
2 1/2 stars
I AM MORE OF A “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” type of guy. As long as the item is meeting my expectations/needs, then I am fine with it. If you recall in one of my recent reviews I said, “Just because something is new does not make it better.” This is true to me based on the multiple examples I have experienced while buying replacement items. When my refrigerator finally stopped working I had to buy a new one. The salesperson had all these reasons why the newer refrigerators were so much better than mine. I originally asked if mine was fixable which led the salesperson to go into their sales pitch for the newer models. Granted, the ones I looked at were nicer looking, brighter inside and had a variety of shelf configurations I could adjust depending on what I needed to store inside. After I came to the realization that the cost to fix my old fridge would be better spent on buying a new one, I chose one similar to what I had and had it delivered. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with my new refrigerator; but for some reason it does not seem I can fit as much food into it as my old one did. MY PHILOSOPHY CAN BE EASILY APPLIED to movie remakes. If you look back at the reviews I did of movies that were remakes, you will not find many that were favorable. Just last week the film Little Women I reviewed was an updated version; it was one of the worst remakes I had seen in a long time. For the life of me I could not understand how the studio looked at that remake and thought they made a good picture. It makes me wonder where are the writers who have an original idea for a story? Honestly, I do not fully understand what the reasoning is behind the decision to do a remake of an established movie. Remember, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken; why would a studio want to take a well-known, classic film and do a remake of it? If the bar is already set up high, what are the studio’s chances of having a success? Maybe it is an economic decision, where if the 1st movie was successful then the new one has a built-in fan base. I do not have the answers, but I must tell you everything I just said about remade movies does not apply to this romantic, musical drama. HAVING BEEN TOLD SHE WAS NEVER good enough Ally, played by Lady Gaga (Machete Kills, American Horror Story-TV), had no reason to believe famous music celebrity Jackson Maine’s, played by Bradley Cooper (American Sniper, Silver Linings Playbook) comments about her. There was only one way to show her. With Sam Elliott (The Hero, I’ll See You in my Dreams) as Bobby, Andrew Dice Clay (Blue Jasmine, Pretty in Pink) as Lorenzo and Anthony Ramos (Mobsters and Men, Patti Cakes) as Ramon; I was stunned with this being Bradley’s 1st stint as a writer and director. His direction was simple and pure which was a beautiful compliment to Lady Gaga’s expressive face. Acting was in top form from everyone, but I do have to say I forgot Bradley was playing Jackson Maine; he was that believable. Doing all the singing live was a brilliant decision because it added a vibrancy to the scenes that truly made them stand out. Now there were a few slow spots for me, but they were just a minor distraction that I did not mind much. This is the 4th time this story has been done in movie form and I believe this not only can stand on its own, but it shines the brightest.
3 ½ stars