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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Forgive Me My Trespasses

Considering what some critics have written and the mostly positive word-of-mouth I've heard, my view of several recent films prominently featuring music likely won't persuade many folks to join my bell curve minions. Will offering alternatives prevent a wide scale exodus? I live in hope.

OK, I'll concede the last twenty minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody - the part when Queen plays at Live Aid - are musically thrilling and dramatically moving. But, the preceding 3/4 of that film, especially the musical clich├ęs and melodramatic meetings with the stereotyped suits stifling Queen's VISION, are nearly as over-the-top as some of Queen's catalog. Though it's not a perfect film, try I Walk The Line instead. And I'm not even a big fan of country or Johnny Cash's music.

Rocket Man's good moments are more evenly distributed than Bohemian Rhapsody's. I'm pleased, really I am, Elton John got sober and found a life partner. But there are about five too many crying scenes in Rocket Man. Listen, I cry at commercials but Bette Davis didn't shed this many tears over her entire film career. Also, some of the song choices (Crocodile Rock? Really?) are just wrong. If unlike me, musical biopics are your thing, try Ray instead; not perfect but, far less weeping.

Echo in the Canyon? Deadly dull, philosophically sophomoric, songs re-done in keys that drain every ounce of energy they ever had - a mess. If you like musical documentaries, try instead The Wrecking Crew or Twenty Feet from Stardom or Still on the Run.

Which brings me to strike four. I am an un-reconstructed Beatles geek. The trailer for Yesterday - Danny Boyle's recently released film, starring a charismatic newcomer and fine singer named Himish Patel - hooked me with its central conceit, i.e. a worldwide blackout erases all traces of the Beatles music. Of the four films here, this one almost worked the best. But, although Backbeat is not as high concept as Yesterday, you can re-experience the magic and energy of the Beatles more authentically via that 1994 release. Nowhere Boy, also a low key film with the Beatles at its core, is just as good as Backbeat. 

What are a few of your favorite films that prominently feature music or musicians? I hope if you're one of the folks who really enjoyed one of the recent four that didn't work for me, you'll forgive me my trespasses.

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