Sunday, November 18, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody and Suspiria

Bohemian Rhapsody
I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it a million times; “Freddy Mercury is the GREATEST front man that ever lived!”
My mom wrote in one of my baby books that my favorite song was “Another one Bites the Dust”, so we are going back past my first memories to the womb and back a little further. Queen has been a staple sound in my life, digging deeper than I believe anyone even realizes. I read some Scholastic Biographies of the band, so I know that the Brian May gets that unique guitar sound by using a metal pick. I know that Freddie was an immigrant. I knew that their drummer was going to be a dentist before Queen found the success it reached, and I knew that each member of the band brought a distinct and different sound to their experience. Whether it be a hard rock classic, a disco beat, or an epic blend of rock and opera, the band has been paving the roads since their initial success and beyond the death of Mercury himself.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a dramatic retelling of the bands rise to fame and Mercury’s tumultuous life. In order to get the spirit and soul of the story right, the movie plays with a few time jumps and dramatic moments so that they can fit the bands experiences into a dramatic structure. In other words- While not an entirely “fictionalized” account, this movie doesn’t come close to telling the complete story. Some events are played up, other moments played way down, and still other moments totally shuffled out of time itself. (We Will Rock You was written in ’77, I believe.)
But, like the focus of the story itself, Rhapsody doesn’t let the truth get in the way of being an entertaining celebration of life, love, and music. And Rami Malek brings Freddie to life once more, recreating the moments that were so incredibly important to the band itself. Their struggle to get the titular song played on the radio, their experimentations with sound, and their critical performance at LIVE-AID, which is the penultimate performance and one of the most legendary rock performances of all time.
I’ve never been much of a “reviewer” so much as a writer who speaks from his heart about the things he loves- and there was a smile on my face through most of the film. Tears in my eyes obscured some of the details, a quick jump to the restroom saw me miss out on a moment somewhere, but all in all the film hit all the right notes (Pun intended.).
8 out of 10
Dario Argento’s original film is, frankly, one of my favorite films in the Italian Horror sub-genre. It’s brutal, bloody, deliberately paced, exquisitely designed with a stunning color palate, and has an amazing score by Goblin. So I’ve been very eager to see the remake, released this past week in our local art-house theater. I was there early on a Saturday afternoon with Remo D himself, though I did miss the first five or ten minutes due to events outside of my control.
Dakota Johnson stars as Susie, a new dancer entering a West Berlin Dance Studio amidst the crisis of the 1977 plane hijacking of dissident terrorists. She is unaware that the Studio is run by a coven of witches, but it is soon apparent that things are horribly amiss. Where the film works is when it chooses to focus on the actual horror story- A witches coven caught between two paths. Tilda Swinton stars (most notably) as Mme. Blanc, a witch who is seeking to replace the mysterious Mother Markos as leader of the coven. All of which serves to execute a subtle examination of power, corruption, and guilt.
All of which is dragged out with a taffy stretching exercise that examines the shame of an aging psychologist. He becomes embroiled with the Coven when his patient(Chloe Grace Moretz) goes missing and he tried to impress the dangers of the coven on another dancer (Mia Goth). And if we had only played with a few moments, that would be well enough. But we spend far too much time traveling back and forth between East and West Berlin, listening to the hostage crisis play over television and radio, watching the doctor lament his long lost wife to Nazi occupation, and what basically felt like an entirely separate film that continually interrupted the flow of the primary narrative.
From an artistic perspective, the director very likely achieved their vision of what they wanted the film to be. With several stunning moments, I want to like the film far more than I actually did.
7 out of 10.

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