Bohemian Rhapsody– Directed by Bryan Singer; Starring Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury; 2hrs and 14 mins
If you like the music of Queen, you will enjoy this movie. The film recreates the sound and energy of the rock band wonderfully in the live performance and studio scenes. For me, this was the highlight of the experience. The plot starts in the groups early days during the early 70’s and ends with their live aid performance in 1985. At the beginning of the film I was lured into the false sense that Mercury’s personal life woud be white-washed as the flamboyant singer lays in bed with his fiancé Mary Austin, and confesses his love for her. This is not the case however, starting with a scene at a truckstop. Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality is as much a part of the story as it should be. This allows a bitter-sweet anti-love story between Mercury and Austin (Malek and Boynton) to unfold.
Rami Malek is convincing. His mannerisms and accent are nearly spot on. There are no complaints to be made about the acting throughout the entire cast. We even get a cameo from Mike Myers, as he portrays record producer Ray Foster; the man who rejected the band’s #1 hit for being ‘6 bloody minutes long’.
There is one major complaint to be made about the film, and it is that it resembled most every other rock and roll biopic in many ways. Band wants to get famous, band gets famous, band parties, lead singer gets manipulated by opportunistic agent, band breaks up, band gets back together, somebody dies… It is hard to blame the movie too much for this, as that is what really happened after all.
Kudos to the writers and director for pulling no punches when examining the circumstances of Mercury’s death from HIV.
I’ll give this movie a 8.2 out of 10
Slender Man– Directed by Sylvain White; Starring Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, and Jaz Sinclair; 1h 33min
This movie was a disappointment. I got the sense that they were trying to sit on the fence between exploiting the real life murders involving the slender man lore, and ignoring it completely. The Slender Man is shown in the movie for all of sixty seconds, if that. The plot is underwhelming. A group of teenage girls summon the interdimensional boogeyman, he kidnaps one of them, and her friends are upset about it. The movie makes a big mistake in following the girls that got left behind as they go to school and argue amongst each other, and not the girl who got taken.
White, King, Telles, and Sinclair were not necessarily bad actors, but they also couldn’t make up for the awful writing, nor did any of them get close to doing that at any point. It was not scary, funny, or dramatic. Just boring.
Where some horror movies can make up for bad writing and direction or pedestrian acting by being ‘so bad it’s good’ and delivering campiness or gore, even a damn jump-scare or two, Slender Man does not even deliver in that department. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve seen in years.
I’ll give this movie a 1.1 out of 10
Detroit– Directed by Kathryn Bigelow; Starring John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Will Poulter, Michael Jibrin, Jacob Latimore, Joseph David-Jones, Ephraim Sykes, Malcolm David Kelley, Kaitlyn Dever, Hannah Murray, and John Krasinski; 2hrs 23mins
This has to be the most underrated movie of 2017. Bigelow makes you feel like you are standing there is 1967 Detroit, with incredibly authentic cinematography tactics. The film is gritty and unapologetic.
The plot kicks off with police officers raiding a peaceful get-together of African Americans, some of which had just gotten home from fighting in the Vietnam war. From there the streets of Detroit devolve into a chaotic struggle for justice and retribution as an all-out race riot breaks out. Will Poulter is plays a most-realistic villain in his portrayal of officer Krauss, a racist cop who in his first scene shoots a black teenager armed with nothing but a bag of looted groceries in the back. I wanted to punch Poulter in his face several times throughout the picture.
At the center of everything is the Algiers Motel. The police raid a section of the building housing seven black men and two white women after a ‘sniper incident’ involving a toy gun. John Boyega plays Melvin Dismukes, a private security guard who finds himself on the side of law enforcement as they beat, humiliate, and flat out torment fellow black men in front of him. It is difficult at times to know how to feel about this character, feeling everything from sympathy to disgust about his actions throughout the standoff.
The movie does drag on a little bit. After the standoff there is a powerful courtroom confrontation between a scumbag police lawyer (John Krasinski) and survivor of the incident, a musician named Larry (Algee Smith). This would have been a good way to end the film, it is made clear that fascism wins on this day and Larry stands up in the courtroom and tells off his attackers, thus receiving a thunderous applause by civil rights activists in the gallows. The movie runs for another 15-20 mins after this, long after the movie climaxes.
I give this movie an 8.4 out of 10