On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 12, 2019

It's not what you say, it's how you say it. It is this common expression that the rather simple and safe interpretation of the story of Queen that Bohemian Rhapsody tells might have benefited from remembering. In a nutshell, Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher's biopic covers the early years of Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor's (Ben Hardy) band just before it recruits lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and becomes known as Queen up through their 1985 performance at Live Aid that is considered one of the greatest performances in rock history. This is all well and good and makes sense for the arc of the band during its peak time of popularity, but within this arc Anthony McCarten's (The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour) screenplay never digs deep enough for audiences to really catch a glimpse of what actually defined Queen as a group or what made them, as a unit, so willing and trusting in one another to the extent they'd each be willing to bet everything on the titular song being a hit despite the fact a senior A&R exec with more experience than all of the members of Queen combined doesn't believe it to be. Of course, this is where one would retaliate with the, "fortune favors the bold," phrase that is also used in the movie and I'm not saying the members of Queen were wrong or stupid for doing this-obviously they weren't-or that the A&R exec was right-obviously he wasn't-but what I am saying is that Bohemian Rhapsody, the film, never gives the audience reason to trust in the word of Mercury, May, Taylor, and bassist John Deacon (Joe Mazzello) over this more experienced character outside of the fact it presumes the audience knows the story and music of Queen well enough to just go with it. And that's exactly what Bohemian Rhapsody does the majority of the time: it simply asks the audience to "go with it" as it rotates through the band's greatest hits and gives the expected beats of their meteoric rise, the inner tensions and turmoil that come with fame and notoriety, the distance that naturally grows between Mercury and the rest of his band mates, and their eventual reconciliation that leads to a triumphant return. It's all here, but the real disappointment with the story of Queen in particular is that it has so many unique variables and perspectives that this predictable pattern of the music biopic could have been used purely as a template while the actual style and substance of what was being communicated could have been fulfilled in more creative and effective ways. Instead, Bohemian Rhapsody is unapologetically "fine" and will largely be remembered for finding an excuse to play so many great songs on theater quality sound systems. Full review here. C

Hart should have known the Herald would sing.

The Front Runner is about the birth of tabloid journalism infiltrating credible institutions, but what it’s commenting on is how the media often allows a single moment of someone’s life to encapsulate and define that person’s entire existence given the faceted perspective of how said incident is reported on. This is a fine truth to examine, especially through the lens of a 1987 scandal where the volume is comparably lower than the eleven today’s media cycle has been ratcheted up to, but the point director Jason Reitman (go watch TULLY now!) seeks to point out doesn’t always jive with the story he’s telling. The film makes it pretty clear Hugh Jackman’s (always reliable) Gary Hart was something of a womanizer on the reg and that the affair that outed him wasn’t the only instance of this behavior. Reitman seeks to both make an example of Hart while also garnering empathy for the man, but the idea that the scrutiny or even the manner in which the scrutiny came down upon Hart was unwarranted begins to wain as the bigger picture around the Senator becomes clearer. What the movie gets right is highlighting the ramifications of Hart’s actions on the women around him such as his wife, Lee (Vera Farmiga), his daughter Andrea (Kaitlyn Dever), as well as the woman involved in the affair, Donna (Sara Paxton)-whose line of dialogue, “I did all the things I was supposed to do so men wouldn’t look at me the way you are right now.”-perfectly encapsulates this theme. B-

Every year there is one end-of-year prestige film by a director who has done notable, but somewhat under-the-radar work previously that I have no idea about given I haven't seen any of that under-the-radar work and this year that director is Julian Schnabel.

"Now I just think about my relationship to eternity."

It's easy to appreciate what Schnabel was going for in At Eternity's Gate, his introspective portrait of Vincent van Gogh (Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe), but I just had a more enlightening and emotionally affecting discussion about mortality with my four-year-old. Observes, but adds little to the conversation. D

While I don't typically tend to go out of my way to see the latest Tyler Perry release I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least intrigued by Nobody's Fool from a movie-viewing perspective of being on the couch after a long week and even longer Friday. Perry's first R-rated comedy sees Tiffany Haddish as a woman who is released from prison and reunites with her sister (Tika Sumpter) only to discover that her sister is in an online relationship with a man who may not be what he seems.

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