This week’s cover photo alludes to Bohemian Rhapsody‘s surprising Golden Globe Awards win for Best Picture – Drama. The voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thought the Queen biopic was better than Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born and If Beale Street Could Talk. (I haven’t seen Beale Street yet, but hope to take care of that this weekend, now that it’s opened in Asheville.)
Obviously, this is all subjective and awards don’t matter that much, but come on. Bohemian Rhapsody was fun and a testament to the greatness of Queen’s music. But the narrative was a mess and the script played with the facts more than necessary. Yes, the re-enactment of Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance was tremendous, even more so when you compare it to the real-life footage.
— Bohemian Rhapsody reminds us Queen was great, ignores too much about Freddie Mercury —
This isn’t even a concession to popular tastes. If so, wouldn’t Black Panther have won that award? Maybe the voters just got caught up in the music and Freddie Mercury’s story (regardless of how the movie portrayed it). Or we just chalk this up to being the Golden Globes and winners don’t linger in the memory as they do with the Academy Awards.
But if the award got you to listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Will Rock You” or “Radio Ga Ga” over the past week, that’s not a bad thing.
“Overzealous recycling” could be a good name for a newsletter if we ever take thing that way. That could pop in people’s inboxes, yes? Still aiming to get this out on Thursdays, or at least early Sunday mornings.
Since seeing Bohemian Rhapsody last week (my review here), I’ve been obsessively consuming all things Queen. I listen to their songs while working or driving. I’ve spent hours on YouTube, watching almost all of their music videos — some of which are legitimately terrible (surely a product of the time) — and lots of documentary footage.
One of their good videos was for “Radio Ga Ga,” made when Queen apparently steered into their sci-fi fandom after doing the Flash Gordon soundtrack. Finding some behind-the-scenes footage from the video’s production was a happy discovery.
To feed that hunger, I put together a list of my favorite Queen songs. It was supposed to be a top 10 list, and I thought I’d have trouble getting to 10. But my nostalgia trip reminded me of how big a Queen fan I’ve been since childhood and the list boiled over to 16. It probably could’ve been 20.
Reading For You
** Bohemian Rhapsody was released in theaters last weekend, but it took eight years for the Queen biopic to be made. That includes, as many likely know, Sacha Baron Cohen wanting to play Freddie Mercury but clashing with Brian May and Roger Taylor over the story. [Vulture]
** In my review of Bohemian Rhapsody, I said the mouthpiece Rami Malek had to wear for playing Freddie Mercury was distracting, especially early in the film. But maybe that was an accurate portrayal of Mercury trying to hide his teeth when younger. Here’s a fun interview with the man who made those teeth, Chris Lyons. [New York Times]
If you’re a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, you will very likely enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is a celebration of the band and its music. You’ll be reminded of just how much you loved songs like “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Radio Ga Ga,” along with deeper cuts such as “Love of My Life.”
Whether or not the film is a fitting tribute to Mercury will depend on your view. Director Bryan Singer (who was fired from the production yet is still credited) and writer Anthony McCarten take a safe approach to the singer’s personal life, largely settling for allusions to Mercury’s homosexuality, drug use and partying. Much like Mercury did publicly, the movie keeps that away from the audience.
However, Bohemian Rhapsody does a fine job of portraying Freddie Mercury, the rock star. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) has all of the legendary frontman’s stage moves and swagger down. Mercury commanded the stage, punching, gyrating, and thrusting with the beats from bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The rest of Queen effectively faded into the background because the eye was always drawn to Mercury’s energy and charisma.
Not even tornadoes and power outages can keep the Amusement Park Podcast down! This week, Chris is watching Hallmark Christmas movies, Detective Joe West is sitting down a lot, Ian reviews Bohemian Rhapsody and pause buttons influence young minds.
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