Tag Archives: movie review

Ready Freddie

I caught the new Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” over the weekend, and I thought it was fantastic. I was deeply moved and in tears through most of the two-hour-plus running time. Rami Malek was so, so good, and I hope he wins the Oscar for this. The movie focuses on the history of the band, their creative process, touring, dealing with record company executives, and Freddie’s private life. The culmination is the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985, where they brought their “stadium rock” show to Wembley in London.

Freddie MercuryIn the opening credits Brian May (he’s the guitar player with the big hair) and Roger Taylor (the drummer) are listed as producers, so we can assume this is the their official version of how they want the story to be told. According to the movie, the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” was all Freddie. But “We Will Rock You” was Brian May’s idea, and “Another One Bites the Dust” came from bass player John Deacon.

Also according to the movie, Freddie proposed marriage to his female companion, Mary, and gave her a ring, but as he began to record and tour with Queen he became distant from her. He developed relationships with men, both fleeting and longer lasting. At one point he confides to her, “I think I am bisexual” and she says, “No, Freddie, you’re gay.” Even back in the 1970s, everyone knew Freddie Mercury was gay. But it was a different era then. This was before Ellen. Before RuPaul. Before Gus Kenworthy. Celebrities just did not come out. At Live Aid, Freddie wore a white tank top, skintight jeans, sneakers, a studded black leather armband and a thick mustache. You could not get any gayer than that, if you ask me!

For those who do not remember, Queen’s 22-minute set during Live Aid was phenomenal. It’s really easy to find the complete performance on YouTube. According to this article in the New York Times, the band had rehearsed extensively for the show and, unbeknownst to all at the time, they had someone on the soundboard turn up the volume a few notches for their performance. The crowd went wild. The movie ends at this high point.

The band had never been more popular. A year later they toured with a new album and returned to Wembley for another huge show, followed by a live album. In subsequent years they continued to record new albums, but by the time they released “Innuendo” Freddie’s health had deteriorated and touring was out of the question. Just before Freddie died in 1991, he issued a statement disclosing to the world that he had AIDS. I am still in mourning over his death all those years ago.

Of all the entertainers who died of AIDS and there were many, it is Freddie’s way-too-early departure that stings the most.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

Fred Michmershuizen

It’s hard to believe this film came out in 1968, which is a year before the first moon landing and nine years before Star Wars. I had the great pleasure of seeing the special 50th anniversary screening yesterday with Alan Treiber in the original 70mm, down at Village East, in Auditorium 1. We got there 45 minutes early and the place was already starting to fill up with (mostly) nerds like ourselves. What an experience.

Before it started the projectionist appeared and made an announcement, that it would start with music, then the film would start, followed by an intermission, then more music and the conclusion of the film. This is the way audiences would have experienced it.

Again I cannot get over what seeing this when it first came out would have been like in a world before space travel had become a reality, before cellphones and iPads, before cable TV. I had never seen this before in a movie theater, and I am so glad I did. Thank you Alan!