Tag Archives: drama

Bohemian Rhapsody: An Exciting Film but Inaccurate Queen Tribute (79%)

Bohemian Rhapsody will have you stomping your feet and singing in theatres, but it may also leave you irritated if you’re a devoted Queen fan. The movie follows the formation of the band with a focus on Freddie Mercury, capturing their experimentation with music and successes on tour. The film focuses closely on Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) as he struggles with his sexuality.

Looking at Bohemian Rhapsody strictly as a film, it was an exciting movie worth seeing on the big screen. The beginning of the film and band formation felt rushed; the movie quickly moved from concert to concert, which was entertaining but had me worried there wouldn’t be much of a storyline. In the first 20-30 minutes of the film, I began to wonder if this movie was just an excuse to have a cast dress up as the band and recreate their biggest moments. Fortunately, this feeling subsided as the movie progressed and the writing became more comedic and emotional.

The film had a strong cast that helped build up these comedic and emotional scenes. Rami Malek made the concert scenes feel real and energetic, while also making Mercury’s loneliness evident and overwhelming. Malek also manages to make record deals seem hilarious, but the humour in these scenes should also be attributed to Mike Meyers. That’s right—Mike Myers has a cameo. He plays the EMI executive Ray Foster. Though Myers’ screen time is brief, it was memorable.

The main criticism I’ve been gathering about this film is that there are major inaccuracies that were simply added as a means of making the movie dramatic. I must admit, I love Queen’s music but I didn’t know much about Freddie Mercury or any of the band members. Without much knowledge of the band, I genuinely enjoyed the story. Refusing to standby blissfully ignorant, I searched online for the main causes of frustration. This article highlights the two main concerns: the timing of Mercury’s HIV diagnosis, and portraying Mercury as a villain for quitting to make a solo album. Perhaps this is just a good reminder that even “true stories” in Hollywood are often, well, not the most truthful. I still recommend seeing this movie in theatres, but don’t walk away thinking the events portrayed are factual.

The most accurate fact highlighted in this movie was probably Freddie Mercury’s love of cats…

*If you’re interested in Bohemian Rhapsody, you may also enjoy A Star Is Born.

Beautiful Boy: A Compelling Real Story of Heartbreak and Addiction (73%)

Beautiful Boy captures the exhausting, cyclical nature of addiction and relapse. This movie is based on the real memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, which follows Nic (Timothée Chalamet) as he struggles with his addiction to crystal meth. The film shows the relationship between the father and son through flashbacks, emphasizing the strength of their relationship and how it begins to crumble as the stressful, reoccurring heartbreak from addict behaviour becomes seemingly unstoppable.

Addiction is a sensitive subject to capture on screen, but the actors and director handled the subject with taste. Steve Carell demonstrated the breadth of his acting range, moving away from his typical roles in comedies to play Nic’s relentlessly loving father. Carell was also joined by his former costar from The Office, Amy Ryan, who plays the part of his ex-wife. Without a doubt, Chalamet deserves a round of applause (or perhaps an actual award) for his performance as Nic. It’s difficult to portray an addict, but Chalamet did an amazing job without ever feeling like he was overacting. Many actors have expressed the difficulty of portraying real people, but every actor, especially Chalamet, managed to do so in a convincing yet sensitive manner.

In regards to cinematography, there are many slow scenes that focus on specific characters, emphasizing their personal emotions. These scenes capture the internal struggles people face in different artistic ways: making conversations around them inaudible as they try to smile and laugh along with others, adding music that resembles a train increasing in speed, showing people lying alone on washroom floors.

Beautiful Boy received a high motion picture rating (rated R in the United States), but the film would be an excellent watch for mature teenagers as a means of starting discussions around drug addiction and the effect on friends and family. It could be used as an educational tool because it is based on a real story and isn’t overly graphic.

Beautiful Boy is an emotional and personal story handling a heavy topic, but the most beautiful aspect of this movie is the undercurrent of hope throughout adversity.

 

The End of the F***ing World Isn’t That Exciting

I recently finished watching the Netflix original series “The End of the F***ing World”, and while I didn’t dislike it, I am not super impressed. I had heard from many people that this show was amazing, and despite my apprehensions, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it only has eight twenty-minute episodes, so at least I wasn’t committing myself to a multi-season show.

The show centers on two teenagers in England. One, James, believes he is a psychopath, as evidenced in flashbacks and a voice-over monologue showing how he feels no emotions and loves killing animals. He wants to try something new and kill an actual person, which is where Alyssa comes in. She is a rebel who shows few emotions other than anger and indifference, which is somewhat understandable given that her stepfather treats her terribly. She develops a sudden fascination with James and begins dating him, though he secretly plots to kill her. After an unpleasant interaction with her stepfather, she decides to run away, so she and James steal his dad’s car and take off.

The premise itself is interesting, but I felt something was lacking. I found the first couple episodes boring, partly because they were too short to develop the characters and story and partly because I didn’t like or care about James or Alyssa. This was a major letdown for me, given that I had heard such amazing things about the show. Nevertheless, I stuck with it, and it did get better over time. A second set of major characters came into the story a few episodes in, and I found the new characters and their storyline far more interesting than the main characters and their storyline, which I think is a big flaw. However, even the main characters slowly started to grow on me, and I found myself somewhat vested in what happened to them. I liked James better than I liked Alyssa; despite him being a budding psychopath, I found him much more likable and relatable. By the end of the season, I did like and care about Alyssa to an extent, but not as much as any of the other main characters.

The story itself was mildly entertaining. It was a good break from homework that allowed me to turn my brain off, but I didn’t see it as much more than that. The show fluctuates between being a comedy and a drama, which makes the tone somewhat inconsistent. Overall, I was not very impressed with the storyline, although it did become more interesting several episodes in, which is what made me continue watching the show.

The tumultuous first season ended on a cliffhanger, which is one of the main reasons why I will probably watch the second season when it comes out. The ending also brought about many interesting possibilities and directions in which the show could go, and I am interested to see what will happen and where the writers will take these characters. I am optimistic about the second season, as I expect it to be an improvement on the first in both storyline and characterization, which I am eagerly anticipating.

Overall, The End of the F***ing World is an alright show. It’s definitely not the best show out right now, and I do think it’s overrated, but it is entertaining and the second season seems promising. For that reason, I would rate it around 6.5/10 and tentatively recommend it to viewers if they can get past the first few episodes.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV): 80%

The Netflix original series A Series of Unfortunate Events artistically captures the bleak yet hilarious world that was first created by Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket) in his novels. Even though the story focuses on the lives of three orphan children whose parents died in a fire, the casting, art direction, and writing make this show entertaining and appropriate for all ages.

The entire cast makes this show exciting and comedic, but Patrick Warburton and Neil Patrick Harris deserve additional praise. Warburton plays the narrator, Lemony Snicket, and faithfully captures the same charismatic style Daniel Handler executed throughout his novels. He constantly begs the audience to look away from the horror presented in the story, and he also offers definitions of words and phrases in his narration (exactly as the narrator does in the novels). Having Warburton walk through the various settings and engage directly with the camera further makes the narration engaging and compelling. Rather than having Snicket speak through voice-over, Warburton’s physical presence pushes his narration towards breaking the fourth wall.

In addition to Warburton’s character and performance, Neil Patrick Harris plays Count Olaf perfectly. His character is goofy yet disturbing (perhaps it’s just the unibrow that’s off-putting). Harris emphasizes Olaf’s wit and silliness working alongside Esmé Squalor (Lucy Punch), Olaf’s trendy lover.

The sets, props, and costumes also contribute to the joys of watching this series. They make use of colour to better set the tone, using lots of greys to make scenes feel gloomy. The extravagance of some settings, such as Aunt Josephine’s house and Esmé’s “fashionable” penthouse, make the show more aesthetically pleasing and captivating. The props even bring to life some of the most unrealistic elements of Handler’s story — such as the self-sustaining hot air mobile home.

The costumes are also extravagant, and they add further comedy to the story as Olaf and his crew dress up time and time again to successfully conceal their identities. Olaf has some of the most absurd outfits . . . but I’ll let them be a surprise!

What makes this show a true piece of art is the writing. I like to attribute the wit and story to Handler, but adapting those novels into only a couple of episodes each is a difficult task that deserves praise. The episodes have a fluid, forward momentum; there are no filler episodes that leave you begging for them to get to the point. The story captures the style of Handler in a short picture of time.

If you enjoyed the book series, you have no excuse. Watch the first two seasons of this Netflix series as soon as possible!

 

*This article was originally written for SFU’s student newspaper, The Peak.