Category Archives: Film

bohemian_rhapsody_bryan_singer_production_stops

Bohemian Rhapsody – Review

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

There’s a moment approximately two thirds into Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer’s long-gestating biopic of rock legend Freddie Mercury, when its tawdry by-the-numbers biopic act slips, revealing the dormant hatchet job beneath. Mercury’s (Rami Malek) bandmates confront their unruly figurehead about his recent spate of drug-fuelled abandon, and Brian May (played uncannily by Gwilym Lee) accuses his friend of destroying their “family”.

This particular F word encompasses the central dishonesty of this efficiently constructed but morally dubious film. “Family” here extends beyond the band, to Mercury’s parents and his ex-wife, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). They’re posed as the wholesome, loving opposite to those with whom the lead singer allegedly chose to surround himself on his journey of self-discovery: Freddie’s complex relationship with his sexuality and subsequent carousing are framed as the direct cause of Queen’s fracture.

By Brian May’s own admission (“In a way, all of us were out of control..it screwed us up.”), the blame did not lie purely on Mercury’s shoulders, yet the lead guitarists’ producer credit – and that of drummer Roger Taylor – speaks volumes. Simple queer erasure – something many fans feared from initial marketing – would almost have been preferable to this portrayal of Mercury as an upstart; a self-centred child whose various lovers and friends are depicted as a uniformly leather-clad, opportunistic bunch who urge him to pursue a solo career in the hopes they might reap some reward.

Malek’s performance is as passionate and honest as one can be when adhering to such a compromised script. He achieves the endlessly spry, whiplash physicality of Mercury’s live performances perfectly, but there’s some eye-watering wig work and his prosthetic overbite is one spittle fleck shy of caricature. Plus, the scenes of album recordings and stage shows utilise real recordings of the band, and Freddie’s vocals lie atop the footage of Malek’s noiseless crooning like oil on water.

Though not exactly taking a backstage in terms of screen time (whatever the film’s moral assessment of Mercury, he is certifiably the lead), Malek is poorly served in the recreation of epochal studio moments (all, incidentally, playing out like a chronological karaoke playlist). True, he brazenly blathers at a disparaging manager (Mike Myers) about the operatic inspiration for the titular track, but his main role in the band’s recording time is to hear May, Taylor and John Deacon come up with all the legendary riffs and beats. Bohemian Rhapsody’s Freddie Mercury is far too busy drinking, getting ‘high’ (limited by a 12a/PG-13 certificate, the film alludes to drugs with vague shots of powder on tabletops) or otherwise acting out to contribute anything.

As if this weren’t enough to conjure a version of the artist that he himself would likely detest, Mercury’s struggle with AIDS is also reworked to fit a rise-fall-redemption narrative. His diagnosis with the disease in April 1987 is retconned to take place just before the band’s sensational performance at Live Aid in July 1985, in order to bookend the film.

These twenty minutes of pure aural wildfire are recreated with stunning accuracy, but the joy of experiencing those classic anthems in all their glory is insufficient recompense for character assassination. All the seat-rocking surround sound and copy-pasted CG crowds money can buy will never match the emotion of the original footage, Singer’s paper-thin replication leaving this critic wishing, painfully, for the greatest rock band in history to simply stop playing.

Powered by WPeMatico

DdurV1BVwAA9QKj

“The Greatest Snowman” or: How I Learned To Love Confused Customers

“Two for the…uh…that one with…” the middle-aged gentleman stood across the till from me turned desperately to his partner, who returned his blank look. I waited. The silence stretched. The queue fidgeted.


“Oh, bloody hell, what’s it called again?” he gesticulated to no-one in particular, before clapping a hand to his forehead. Sighing internally, I scanned my screen for the list of possible titles.


Insidious 3?”
“No.”
Three Billboards?”
“No.”
Darkest Hour?”
“No.”
All the Money in the World?
“Yes! The J. Paul Getty one! All the World’s Money! Knew it was something like that.”
When you start working at a multiplex, there’s a lot you prepare yourself for: an unshakeable popcorn smell, complaints about how you need to “take out a mortgage” to afford a cinema trip, and, of course, the usual mental strain that comes with a largely thankless retail job. But one unforeseen difficulty in getting patrons from queueing to viewing is their inability to remember what multimillion-dollar filmmaking exercise they’re donating to in the first place.


For the cinemagoers, they rest comfortably in their assumption that we can translate their request for “That one with Joanna Lumley” into “One for Finding Your Feet?”. For those of us on the other side of the counter it’s occasionally frustrating, but never dull.


The categories for incorrect titles are as manifold as the misnomers themselves, but after a few months, the repeat offenders become obvious: mispronunciation, misinformation and abbreviation.


Mispronunciations from those who count English as a second language are fair play, but from native speakers it’s amusing, if a little worrying. See, for instance, the Christian Bale western, Hostiles, spoken aloud by one Cambridge University student as “Hoss-teal-ezz”. Or, how about that new movie about space wizards, Star Wars Episode VIII, with the roman numerals pronounced as “Veeeee”.


Misinformation depends entirely on one’s exposure to the advertising campaign of the film in question. Despite posters plastered across the sides of buses, adverts playing on television, heavy Oscar buzz and a basis in Blitz-era nostalgia, one late-January release inexplicably proved enormously difficult for British citizens to recall. Thus follows a complete list of wrong labels I received for Joe Wright’s World War 2 drama, Darkest Hour:


The Darkest Hour
Our Darkest Hour
Darkest Night
Heart of Darkness
The Darkness
Hour of Darkness
The Hours
Last Hours
Finest Hour
Their Finest
Churchill
Winston Churchill
The Longest Day


Most forwent any attempt at the correct three syllables and simply asked for “The Winston Churchill one”.


Other marketing mishaps include “Last Call Pitches” (the tagline for Pitch Perfect 3, which enjoyed a larger space on the poster than the actual title) and “Wallace and Gromit” in place of Aardman’s Early Man, a film which sold itself mainly on homegrown affection for the Bristol-based studios original duo.


Abbreviation is where the definite/indefinite articles or any other words deemed extraneous go to die. The former is easily forgivable (also working in reverse, adding “The” to titles that never had one e.g. The King of Thieves). The latter is the most entertaining of all categories, usually reserved for films with unreasonably long names, needless subtitles, chapter numbers and so on. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri proved especially popular in this respect. Besides one patron who spoke in a hugely immersive southern drawl, not a single customer bothered to go the whole hog. “Ebbing” was the first to go, followed by “Outside Missouri” (once replaced with exasperation as “Three Billboards in whatever”). By the time its run in UK cinemas was coming to a close, this once prized Best Picture nominee had been reduced to “Billboards”. A personal favourite would be the supremely confident woman who requested a ticket for “Three Billiards”.


But by far the most notable entry here would be (deep breath) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Customers – understandably – had so much trouble getting through all eight words of this twee British confection that many resorted to “The Guernsey Film”, “The Potato one”, or, brilliantly, “The one with the stupid title”.


All this anecdotal evidence might lead one to consider wrong titles a source of irritation for those of us attempting to whittle down a sizeable Friday night queue. With sparse exceptions (such as a customer who repeatedly and angrily denied that he meant to say The Last Jedi when he asked for “The Last IMAX”), the very opposite is true.


Working in hospitality is repetitive, often exhausting and largely unrewarding, so those manning the concessions stand take our small pleasures where we can. Sometimes it’s worth spending seven hours behind a cash register, dashing about to refill endless popcorn bags, just for that one faintly amusing anecdote about the patron who changed the delicate, intriguing A Simple Favour into the more brusque “Do me a favour”.


So next time you arrive at the box office, desperately trying to recall the name of the film you’re about to pay £10.95 to see, don’t fret. No Googling the cast list, no scanning the foyer for a poster, no turning to your date/friend/mother for help; just give it a shot. Whether you leave out the episode number of the latest Star Wars film, mispronounce a foreign title or accidentally fuse the smash hit P.T. Barnum musical with a Michael Fassbender thriller, we’ll help you find your way.



This article was inspired by the writer’s current working experiences in a British cinema, as well as this Letterboxd list: https://letterboxd.com/shawn_stubbs/list/wrong-movie-titles/
Please share your experiences on Twitter, using the hashtag #WrongTitle

Powered by WPeMatico

You Were Never Really Here – A grisly, rage-fuelled journey that haunts well beyond its final frames

There is a visceral nature to You Were Never Really Here that makes it incredibly difficult to watch at times. Director Lynne Ramsay doesn’t hold back with the gruesome detail, pushing every tense moment to the limit and leaving us wincing in our seats as we watch these horrific acts unfold. It is a decision that makes […]

Powered by WPeMatico

You Were Never Really Here – A grisly, rage-fuelled journey that haunts well beyond its final frames

There is a visceral nature to You Were Never Really Here that makes it incredibly difficult to watch at times. Director Lynne Ramsay doesn’t hold back with the gruesome detail, pushing every tense moment to the limit and leaving us wincing in our seats as we watch these horrific acts unfold. It is a decision that makes … Continue reading “You Were Never Really Here – A grisly, rage-fuelled journey that haunts well beyond its final frames”

Powered by WPeMatico

Journeyman – A life on the ropes in Paddy Considine’s hard-hitting drama

After the bleak world of Tyrannosaur (2011), Paddy Considine’s latest directorial feature seems a million miles away in comparison. Indeed, when Journeyman begins it is surprisingly light in tone, the smiling faces of Matty Burton (Considine) and his family almost at odds with what we’re expecting from the writer-director. Yet what starts as a simple story about a boxer […]

Powered by WPeMatico

Journeyman – A life on the ropes in Paddy Considine’s hard-hitting drama

After the bleak world of Tyrannosaur (2011), Paddy Considine’s latest directorial feature seems a million miles away in comparison. Indeed, when Journeyman begins it is surprisingly light in tone, the smiling faces of Matty Burton (Considine) and his family almost at odds with what we’re expecting from the writer-director. Yet what starts as a simple story about a boxer … Continue reading “Journeyman – A life on the ropes in Paddy Considine’s hard-hitting drama”

Powered by WPeMatico

The Florida Project – A child’s view of the world makes for a vibrant, magical tale

Opening on a pastel pink backdrop and to the thumping strains of ‘Celebrate’ by Kool & The Gang, The Florida Project immediately sets a joyful tone for what’s to follow. It is an introduction that perfectly reflects the long fun-filled days Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends have ahead of them, the kids happily running around the […]

Powered by WPeMatico

The Florida Project – A child’s view of the world makes for a vibrant, magical tale

Opening on a pastel pink backdrop and to the thumping strains of ‘Celebrate’ by Kool & The Gang, The Florida Project immediately sets a joyful tone for what’s to follow. It is an introduction that perfectly reflects the long fun-filled days Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends have ahead of them, the kids happily running around the … Continue reading “The Florida Project – A child’s view of the world makes for a vibrant, magical tale”

Powered by WPeMatico

square-eyed-geek’s Top Ten Best Films of 2017

Every year it gets harder and harder to pick just ten films to name as part of the square-eyed-geek best releases of the year. And 2017 certainly was an excellent time for cinema, from big blockbusters, to smaller independent films, to straight-to-streaming releases. As previous square-eyed-geek top tens, the ones that make it into this […]

Powered by WPeMatico

square-eyed-geek’s Top Ten Best Films of 2017

Every year it gets harder and harder to pick just ten films to name as part of the square-eyed-geek best releases of the year. And 2017 certainly was an excellent time for cinema, from big blockbusters, to smaller independent films, to straight-to-streaming releases. As previous square-eyed-geek top tens, the ones that make it into this … Continue reading square-eyed-geek’s Top Ten Best Films of 2017

Powered by WPeMatico