Friday, April 12, 2019

Yes, We Will Rock You, Rock You If Rock Speaks To You-Freddy Mercury And Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)-A Film Review

Yes, We Will Rock You, Rock You If Rock Speaks To You-Freddy Mercury And Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Lester Lannon

Bohemian Rhapsody,  Rami Malik, 2018

The late legendary music critic for International Music Review Rhody Brant was fond of saying that the vast majority of people who like music, are influenced by music, grew up with a certain type of music will stick with that through their lifetimes. Rhody Brant himself a product of those three- name Boston Brahmins mainly did reviews of classical music. Occasionally though he would venture into another genre. Although he personally loathed rock and roll in all its iterations Brant did have some useful things to say about the effect it had on working-class kids like me who grew up in the classic age of rock and roll say the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. That is the music I grew up with and although I added blues, some folk and a few other off-shoots even some fifty years later I can agree with Brant that I have stuck pretty close to the music I grew up with.  

All of this to say that the music of the rock group Queen and its leader the masterful artist who went under the name Freddy Mercury in the film under review 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody did not “speak” to me. Following Brant’s idea that makes some sense because the group Queen is a product of the 1970s heavy metal version of rock. That is not to say that a song like We Will Rock You, a favorite of the sports crowd, didn’t speak to me at some level but the beauty of this film for me is the story line about the fate of individual rockers and the effective shelf life of rock and roll bands (actually any musical configuration). Because I was not a devotee I never knew the story behind Mercury and the band’s successes and failures.

Interesting one take on the vicissitudes of the music business was done in 2018 by the fourth iteration of A Star Is Born which followed the rise of one star and the decline of another. Bohemian Rhapsody looks at those same factors another way. Takes an upward striving “Pakie” (Parsi) immigrant from the streets of London combines him with essentially a garage band and within a fairly short time makes that combination into a vanguard 1970s rock group Queen. The lads fed off each other-for a while. But like in many other such situations egos or some such got in the way and Freddie and his bandmates went their separate not particularly successful ways.

That covers the music industry part but this story-line has more than the usual gaffs between egos as it deals with Mercury’s sexual identity, his understanding that he liked men, was gay. I am not sure how much coming out of the closet helped or hindered Mercury’s creative skills but it is hard to see that someone who merged deeply into the gay lifestyle  and some of the outer edge sexual experiences would not be effected by what was happening in those times. Times when gay men were essentially being given death sentences (as was Freddie) as the AIDS epidemic took its dastardly tool. Some people, those who came of age in the 1970s may like this movie for the music as for me this latter storyline and the great acting in the role of Mercury by Rami Malik.                    

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