Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

Bohemian Rhapsody

trailer-bohemian-rhapsody-poster

Bohemian Rhapsody

It's received so-so reviews, a biopic imbued with a trashy, karaoke lack of quality. But I quite like Bohemian Rhapsody. The star turn by Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury is on the nose, projecting talent, swagger and vulnerability. His loneliness as his marriage ends is poignant, with the other band members settling down to family life. Malek's Freddie is a world-class talent who has it all, wandering the large empty rooms of his mansion-like abode; all dressed up with nowhere to go. For a film meant to suffer for its shallowness, I felt myself relating to this sensitive rendition of a loveless LGBT existence, and the 24-carat value of having supportive friends.

LGBT+ anxieties are just one of the things the film gets right. There is, of course, the music, it's hard to remember which are chosen but some of my favourites do appear: Hammer to Fall, I Want To Break Free, and Radio Gaga, as well as – of course – the eponymous Bohemian Rhapsody. I didn't know the problems Queen encountered with their record producer (played by Mike Myers), and their refusal to bow down to commercial pressure to ditch the song. A funny, flirtatious radio interview upon the song's release, between Freddie Mercury and the famously over-the-top radio DJ Kenny Everett, is one of the film's priceless jewels, and not without its weight as Freddie's wife watches the flirtation from the side, beginning to realize their relationship is not all that it seems. Other subtly engaging moments are the tensions between Freddie and his conservative, Zoroastrian parents, as Freddie begins to break free and forge his own, unique identity.

With gentle moments, great music and a likeable cast, Bohemian Rhapsody moves between the gears of an engaging, familiar arc, of a band emerging from nowhere, their talismanic singer then lured into solo stardom before realizing he needs them as much as they do him. This coherent narrative, however, is also what troubled me to a degree. The film portrays the band's Live Aid performance in 1985 as both a return from the wilderness and the final glorious moment of Freddie Mercury at his peak, having discovered he's dying from AIDS. Yet a cursory online look at their history reveals that Freddie didn't get the AIDS diagnosis until 1987, two years after Live Aid. I also don't remember Queen being a band in decline before then, with 1984 seeing the release of an album of some of their most famous, iconic work (Radio Gaga, I Want To Break Free, Hammer To Fall), and their subsequent work after Live Aid – in the form of the It's a Kind of Magic album – also being brilliant. The screenwriter and director, then, appear to have sacrificed some veracity for the sake of a coherent, tragic whole. This works in making Freddie Mercury's personal journey a more tightly-packed, cinema-friendly story, but doesn't really reflect the dynamics as they really happened within Queen. Further case in point: Freddie Mercury's sojourn into solo work is depicted in Bohemian Rhapsody as a betrayal to the other band members, but according to the band history online, the drummer Roger Taylor had already made a solo album himself well before any solo work by Freddie. Dramatic resentment by the band is just one of the fictions that helps to drive the simple, clear story, perhaps a bit too simply.

Historical inaccuracies aside, the film delivers memorable high notes, figuratively and literally, with a quirkily likeable band and their intensely private showman singer. In spite of the criticisms this biopic has received, it still glitters just enough with a kind of magic.

The Crimes of Grindelwald
Venom
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...
August 13, 2019

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
August 04, 2019

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles The blurring of human and machine reiterates here in a comedically surreal, startling performance by the performance poet Harry Josephine Giles. Drawing on visual and aural effects, Giles presents the disturbingly evocative middle-class arc of the life of an electronic, military drone. With Giles as both narrator and ...
August 03, 2019

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza Playing currently at the Traverse Theatre is Travis Alabanza's poignant and comic one-person show, a thought-provoking meditation created out of a jarring personal experience. Back in 2016, Alabanza, a non-binary person of colour, was abused in a London street, with a burger thrown at them by a stranger. The show's series...
August 03, 2019

While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...
June 02, 2019

Personal Reflections on Transgender: Intersectional/International

Personal reflections on the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International (28-29 May) ​​Note: these reflections do not represent anyone else who contributed to Transgender: Intersectional/International I got involved with Transgender: Intersectional/International in order to create an LGBT/queer space that accommodated discussions on racism,...
April 28, 2019

Gina's Moving Castle

Saturday afternoon 27.04.19 Enough with marking papers. Enough about conferences. Outside is a blue sky. There's a book shop nearby, my temple, its owners are trying to remove stickers of transphobic messages pasted on their door. Yesterday I met a guy who'd been set upon by a group of 17-year-olds. He still had the scars, and the trauma. They saw ...