Bohemian Rhapsody

Right off the bat, I will say I was not looking forward to Bohemian Rhapsody. The song is fine. And I love Queen! I have very fond memories growing up, watching Wayne’s World and hearing Queen’s greatest hits. My family owned two VHS tapes collecting their music videos. I saw them all the time. I really enjoyed I Want To Break Free because the men were dressed like ladies with facial hair, but the instrumental part freaked me out.

Hey. I was a kid.

But why don’t I care about this film? Because production woes made me indifferent. I was in love with the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury, it was perfect, and he could sing!

Production woes! Cohen left! Creative differences! The band wanted a feel good movie about the band and PG-13, the actor wanted the real story, the R rated stuff, the Oscar winning Mercury stuff. And eventually we now got this movie. Let’s not forget that the director, Bryan Singer, probable diddler of young male talent in Hollywood, was kicked off the project when it was almost done, and they had to finish it without him.

Even the well edited trailer did nothing to me. I got to hear so many Queen songs in under 3 minutes. With Mercury singing. Is this whole thing going to be a film with Queen songs just spliced on top? Fuck. On my films, even my biopics, I want the actors do the singing, at least in a studio. I don’t need to see Remi Malek doing an air band performance for a few hours.

Mercury
And aerobics!

In the 1970’s, times were changing. Disco wasn’t yet in a full swing, but people still liked music, and still had dreams. Like a young Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), who later would change his name to Freddie Mercury. He didn’t want a normal job at an airport, he wanted to sing in a band. And he just so happened on a band who just lost their main singer. That is where he met Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). A guitarist and a drummer. They didn’t want him, due to his teeth and look, but his talent did not lie. They eventually found a bassist in John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and the rest was history!

Oh, and some more things happened. Not an instant success, but honestly, it didn’t seem to take long either.

They were a band who worked together and competed together. To get songs on albums, to try new things, to go into places they had not gone before. Especially true for Mercury, who found himself eventually with men, despite being married with his long term love, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and with kids.

There were a lot of influences on their music and on their lives. Roadies, managers, other lovers, groupies, fans, and what not. And of course, eventually the story ends in tragedy, but not before one of the best live concerts televised around the world.

Starring Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, and Aaron McCusker.

Band
They definitely look cooler in this picture. Too cool. Ice cold.

Behold, for I am disappoint.

People will praise this movie for several reasons, and these are things you should be leary about. The number one aspect being nostalgia. Hey, they like Queen, so a movie with Queen songs is alright. Just having music that you expect to hear inside of it is not a reason for something to be automatically good. Queen music is expected.

Malek’s performance is praised because he gets to prance about on stage like no fucks are given, with some big facial expressions. But you know what he didn’t do? Sing. I think maybe once, or twice in this movie he actually had to sing, and when he did it was all very little. Basically all of it is just actually Mercury singing and again, if I wanted to hear Freddie Mercury sing, I have YouTube and CDs for that. Is it weird to have a double standard when it comes to performances? I want my actors if they are playing singers to actually sing, but of course I wouldn’t care if an actor is actually playing piano, guitar, or drums, although it can surely help make things authentic.

Honestly, one of my favorite aspects of the film ended up being the other members of Queen. I just loved that these members looked so much like their counterparts, who I recognize from seeing their music videos over and over again. They all also had their own personalities and traits, consistently through the film. I guess it is easy to get them right when the real figures are alive and backing the film. They weren’t outstanding acting performances or taking away from Mercury, but they felt like real people and that was a good change.

The way they chose to portray actual events in the film is really what bugged me. Honestly, it took way too long to have Mercury come out as gay in the film. They had hints about it, like stupid teases. Sure, being gay at that time was way more frowned upon, but as modern viewers, there is no need to keep such an obvious and important focal point hidden. And honestly, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, I was wondering if they would even say the word AIDS in the movie. I almost thought they wouldn’t mention it at all (they did). But they did it first through a weird news cast that Mercury happened to see. And the scene where he went to the hospital and was tested was just so…odd looking. It ended with a fan singing at him, and felt way too much like an awkward TV PSA about…drugs or anything really. It didn’t feel impactful, it felt awkward.

Biopics often have moments where they have people who doubt their talent who later are shown regretting it and being angry. These scenes are ALWAYS bad, and seem petty and unnecessary. But they really went full out with it in this movie. First, they had Mike Myers as the character in question. They made him say a line about how teenagers would never be banging their head to Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously referring to the scene in Wayne’s World decades later. We get to see him angry in his office later in the movie, because why not. Also during the Bohemian Rhapsody scene, it decided to have news/review quotes fly through the screen about how it was a bad song and destined for nothing.

Like, was the entire point of this movie actually to just rub it in some critics faces that people ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody? Enough to name the Queen biopic after the song (which feels unoriginal and uninspired), just to prove that people like it.

The whole thing is incredibly average and standard as a biopic. This feels like a disservice to a band that was anything but average and standard. And because of that, I disliked it even more. This movie played it safe and boring. I, for one, will be ready for the better film in twenty years.

1 out of 4.

Buster’s Mal Heart

Buster’s Mal Heart is by far one of the most interesting seeming movies I have ever been excited to see thanks to the trailers. That’s right, trailers, I saw more than one.

The first one I saw, it was short, full of intriguing scenes and I had no fucking clue what it was about. The second one I saw, it was longer, a completely different tone from the first, newer scenes and I still had no fucking clue what it was about.

So that is great! Trailers that don’t spoil the film and only make me need to see it even harder.

And you know what is even better? The title! On it’s own, it too, is mysterious. It sort of reminds me of Fight Club, the “I am Jack’s Complete Lack of Surprise” additions and all. I am Buster’s Mal Heart.

BMH
I am Buster’s Dirty Beard.

Jonah (Rami Malek) is a man working an overnight shift at a hotel near a resort town. He has a wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) and a small baby girl, but he cannot see them a lot because of his shift schedule, making him extremely tired while they are awake. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Sometimes, sometimes though he is Buster. Buster is a man living in the mountains, who is known for staying in vacation homes while the owners are away, eating their food, using their showers, and giving not a fuck. The cops are looking out for him.

And even sometimes after that? Sometimes he is a dude on the boat, seemingly on a vast endless ocean.

Buster/Jonah is a lot of things, and often at the same time. But one thing for sure is that a mysterious man (DJ Qualls) keeps visiting him at night, wanting to pay with cash to stay in rooms, talking about a tech uprising, living life off of the grid, and how the government fucking sucks.

Life is hard for Jonah. Life is unique for Buster. And life is who knows what the fuck for the guy on that ocean.

Family
Holy shit, is he also sometimes Lurch from The Addams Family?

Buster’s Mal Heart is a mysterious whirlwind that seemingly goes back and forth through time about some guy who is clearly having a breakdown. A very long, life changing, breakdown.

Malek is so damn perfect in this role, and honestly, I know very little about him as an actor. He has had many forgettable roles in his past, but his recent claim to fame has been Mr. Robot. I only got a few episodes in to the series before I knew it was something that wasn’t for me, but that same detached from reality feeling is all over this movie, almost as if this role was specifically made for him.

Despite the shenanigans and the twists, I do think this film was was a bit ambitious with its overarching plot, where I will admit I ended up reading the Wikipedia plot description to see if it would help. It did. It also make me shrug, kind of mumble to myself “okay” and just accept it, although I didn’t really necessarily get the same reaction out of it. It would be one thing if I interpreted the film in a different direction and had something to debate about. But instead the issue is I didn’t interpret it in ANY direction and really just needed help figuring out what the heck it is I just watched.

Buster’s Mal Heart is an artsy film. It explores some weird shit. It has some great lead acting by Rami Malek. But at the end of the day, I could barely tell someone what it was about.

2 out of 4.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

It has been awhile since Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb came out, but I am finally now ready to talk about it. Why did I wait so long?

Well, I had never seen the first two movies, Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. I have owned the two Night at the Museum movies, which came out out in 2006 and 2009, since 2012. I just haven’t “found the time” to see them. Never in the right mood.

A few things helped put me in that mood. One, Robin Williams died, very sad, I really needed to see more of his movies. Two, the kids were about to go home for the summer and we had a long Memorial day weekend where I didn’t have anything to show them. So it was easy to watch one, then the next a few days apart, and finally, FINALLY, the third and last movie.

Fair warning, I thought the first movie was kind of terrible, and the second one had its moments, but was overall okay.

Lancelot
But those movies lacked a dreamy knight in shining armor.

Years later, that museum is still popular! Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is opening up more cheating night things. This time, constellations. Well, shit goes badly and he gets fired. Why? The magical tablet is acting all fucky. People are freaking out, getting meaner. Who knows what is going on?? Well, apparently the parents (Ben Kingsley, Anjali Jay) of Ahkmenrah do! Yes, but they are in a museum in London.

So the gang gets together, tablet in hand, to go to a new museum at night and find out how to fix the tablet. Pretty simple plot actually. His son, Nick (Skyler Gisondo), played by a new guy, is also going to come. For reasons. You know, get him back on track and shit.

Oh hey, and we also have Rebel Wilson playing the London night guard. And Dan Stevens, yes, that Dan Stevens, as Lancelot. Sure, he is a fictional character, apparently in a museum, but go with it, assholes.

And there are all the returning characters of course. We still have Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), and even Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais). Hell, we also have the old geezers back played by Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, and Mickey Rooney (who also is dead now).

Bus
Just a bunch of eccentric Americans and killers hanging out, riding a bus.

The overall problem with this franchise are the inconsistencies. And the inconsistencies are all shrouded behind a mysterious Egyptian tablet and magic, so that any of them can just be written off. But no, it is incredibly annoying.

For instance, why do some things come alive and others not? Statue and wax people? Fine. But in this movie there is a display of Pompeii, and it even explodes and has its own lava and everything. What? The things are supposed to be alive people or animals or creatures. They are just making things up as they go.

The tablet was losing its power and so people were slowly reverting back to their original forms. Apparently people who get transformed for the first time didn’t turn back slowly because it was their first night. They are apparently just making up rules on the fly because why not. In this movie, they say people act a lot weirder right when they transform and get used to the change eventually. This wasn’t true at all in the second movie, as we saw tons of people come alive and go straight into character and being fine with it.

A more structured, less clusterfuck, is all I ask.

Now this one has some interesting jokes and I laughed a few times. Despite the fact that the main new character was a fictional person who makes no sense to be a museum exhibit, Lancelot was killer. Rebel Wilson also did a good job. But the issue with the tablet was lame, as was the “threat” behind it all. It all seemed poorly done, where conflict continued to be created for the stupidest reasons.

2 out of 4.

Need For Speed

Need For Speed as a movie? Originally, I thought the idea was terrible. After all, most video games turned into movies are terrible. Although, with something as vague as a racing game with non-important plots, the only thing they really need to keep consistent is the race aspect.

Then they added Aaron Paul to the project. America’s sweetheart after his stint on Breaking Bad, ready to make his mark on the movie world. Now with his voice narrating the trailer, channeling his apparent inner Batman, this becomes a movie about more than racing. It becomes a movie about revenge.

Crew
And of course a rag tag group of friends overcoming the odds.

Tobey Marshall (Paul) is a small New York city mechanic and amateur racer. There was a falling out between him and Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who was able to leave the town and become a professional racer, even driving in the Indy 500. What happened? Well, it wasn’t ever really said, but it must have involved Anita (Dakota Johnson).

Needless to say, everyone is on edge when he comes to town. But he just wants them to fix up a very fancy car for him, offering them a quarter of the selling price. After fixing it up, they get into an argument, and agree to race for the entire profit of the car. Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) joins them too and they use very fancy European future cars! Well, Dino starts losing near the end, clips Pete, and Pete begins one of the longest craziest crashes I have ever seen. Seriously, the crash is more ridiculous than anything on The Blues Brothers.

Dino doesn’t go back to the crash, though. Tobey goes to jail, wrongfully accused of manslaughter. Once he gets out, two years later, he has two days to drive to LA to get accepted into a secret big time car race. During that race, he will enact his revenge on Dino, while hopefully also proving his innocence. How? Good question.

He has his crew with him (Scott MescudiRami MalekRamon Rodriguez), and Julia (Imogen Poots), a British car enthusiast. Also starring Michael Keaton as the mysterious Monarch who runs the mysterious race and a car racing internet show.

Crashes!
Also, some shit gets fucked up.

Need For Speed clocks in at 130 minutes, which is over two hours for you anti-math people out there. It features arguably four races. You know, your standard intro race, your plot causing race, your race across the country, and your secret invite only race. The largest one is of course the cross country one, featuring drivers trying to stop Tobey from getting to California thanks to Dino putting out a hit on him. Kind of ridiculous to publicly do it, being an “innocent” man and all.

Despite the long run time, it didn’t feel like it dragged on. It felt good for the characters to actually have passion and drive for something other than just racing. That’s right. There is a plot that matters in this racing movie. It is what Fast & Furious 7 has the potential to be (but looks like the screen writers are messing that up too).

I would say Need For Speed is a step in the right direction for the racing movie genre. It wasn’t secretly disguised as a super hero movie with cars. It was about racing and revenge. That is all. The chemistry between the actors was pretty good, and honestly, a lot of the plot felt unpredictable. Except for the cool helicopter scene in the trailer. I wish they didn’t spoil that, that would have been epic if I didn’t know it was about to happen the entire time.

Yeah, I liked it overall. Definitely made me want to “floor it” as I left the theater. I even considered for the first time in my life to buy a non-Mario Kart racing game, which is presumably what EA is hoping for with this movie.

3 out of 4.

Short Term 12

Short Term 12 came out to theaters in August of 2013…if you were lucky, I guess. I kind of forgot that it existed, because it came no where close to my area. In fact, when it eventually came out on DVD, I didn’t rush to see it. Didn’t pass through my mind at all.

But a friend of mine requested I watch it, and as always, I try to honor these sacred review requests. They are probably more important to me godfather based responsibilities. So I watched it, and I immediately hated my friend because this film was good. And that meant I would end up writing a more serious review about how good and under appreciated the movie was, instead of a nice review ripping it apart. Sigh.

bIKE rIDE
Two people per bike? Shit, they must be poor.

Short Term 12 takes place at a foster home of sorts for at risk teens. Just a bunch of basically guidance counselors watching over them throughout the days. It isn’t meant to be a long term place for them, usually at most 12 months (boom title). One of the main counselors is Grace (Brie Larson), who came from her own troubled past and can easily relate with some of the kids. She is dating another long term counselor, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). The movie begins with a new counselor joining the team, Nate (Rami Malek) so they can go over all the things they do here. Anyone else? Yeah, there is also Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz), known for being the hard ass on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Anyways. Troubled kids. And Grace has her own problems, like pregnancy.

This week is a big one! Marcus (Lakeith Lee Stanfield) is about to turn 18 and thus go out into the real world! We also have Luis (Kevin Hernandez), his enemy. And Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), a new girl who came from an abusive home, but won’t admit it.

So. Can Grace really help these kids? Or is she too messed up to really help them at all? Or even worse, is she able to help the kids, but not able to being only a counselor?

fight fightifFIGHT
Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke. Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke. Dontmakeatimeofthemonthjoke.

Ooooh damn. Like I said in my intro, I was mad that this film was so good. Because I became instantly disappointed. Did the Academy care about this movie? No, of course not. Just like they ignored Rush, and The Place Beyond The Pines, and Pain & Gain. Hmm, some of those might not be in the same caliber.

But this was pretty fantastic in the realism realm. Characters had problems. No one was perfect. The problems weren’t easy to solve and maybe they weren’t solved by the end. Brie Larson was an amazing lead and made this film her bitch. It was exciting to see John Gallagher Jr. in something other than The Newsroom.

Give this film a watch if you want to see something that was totally off the radar as far as I can tell, and pretty dang good.

4 out of 4.