Bohemian Rhapsody

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I think a deep dive into the character of Freddie Mercury and his bandmates in Queen could be an interesting topic for a film, but whatever good will the movie had is wasted on a completely uninspired approach that, despite a great central performance, deteriorates under the weight of its own anachronisms and an overall disinterest in actual history. Originally directed by Bryan Singer who was fired in the middle of shooting and quickly replaced by Dexter Fletcher who finished the film, it’s hard to know who to blame for this mess, but the end result is a weak outing that checks every formulaic biopic box and falters with every forced conversation that you know never happened in real life.

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Beautiful Boy

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Like most addiction stories on film, Beautiful Boy follows a particular formula, tracking the cycle of drug abuse from recovery through relapse and back again. Based on the memoirs of father-son Nic and David Sheff, and realized by co-writer Luke Davies and co-writer/director Felix von Groeningen, the film is unflinching in showcasing the effects of abuse on both the abuser the family that cares for him. Filled with quiet, honest performances, the film is affecting and uncomfortable, but also a bit too exhausting, feeling a bit like emotional porn (a big-screen, more focused “This is Us”).

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Bad Times at the El Royale

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There are worse things than Drew Goddard (co-writer and director of The Cabin in the Woods, writer of The Martian and Cloverfield) doing his best Quentin Tarantino impression, but “Bad Times at the El Royale” is an earnest effort that is exceedingly long and a bit too ambitious. It’s still an entertaining film, and worthy effort, even if it would’ve been a greater movie with a few edits and someone trying to reign the director in a bit.

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First Man

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As he took one giant leap for mankind and into the history books as a legend, Neil Armstrong was still an elusive, uncomfortable and reluctant hero. First Man, from writer Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) and director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) attempts to delve into the man behind the mission as it documents NASA’s first journey to the moon and back. Where most movies set in space highlight the vast expanse, First Man tracks more personal, with an almost claustrophobic and certainly uncomfortable view from the tight quarters in the space vessel. This cramped approach doesn’t lessen the impact, the overall sense of wonder, of space travel, if anything it makes the fantastical feel all the more real.

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Venom

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Sony desperately wants a Marvel-ous franchise (or series of franchises, really) of its own. Despite failing the Spider-Man franchise the prior three times at bat before the MCU stepped in to help guide last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, they have another push with Venom, a not-quite spin-off from the Spidey mothership that is depressing in its inability to be interesting in any way. It tries to crib from the Marvel formula but only really succeeds in copying two of the MCU’s weakest elements-a too-long origin story and a final conflict where the good guy has to fight the evil version of himself.

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A Star is Born

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I don’t think it’s any great tragedy, but despite the three prior iterations, writer-actor-director-performer Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” is my first venture into this particular story. It didn’t quite matter, everything on screen played out exactly as I would have expected as if I had seen one of the others. That doesn’t mean Born is a particularly bad movie. It’s not. It’s certainly engaging, the music is mostly amazing, except when it’s almost supposed to be bad, and the performances are quite nice. There’s just not a lot of weight to the story despite how hard Cooper tries in every aspect of the film.

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South Africa part one – Safari

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After tooling around in the desert for a couple weeks (which, incidentally, too long) I popped over to South Africa, Kruger National Park (adjacent) by way of Ethiopia, Johannesburg and Nelspruit. I’ve sweating my dick off in the UAE, it was nice to get to place a bit cooler. Added bonus – all the friggin’ animals. Seriously, there’s a leopard over there about twenty feet. Right there, a herd of elephant thirty five Stampy’s deep. Lion’s just across the water. Crocs entirely too close. It was next-level awesome.

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United Arab Emirates

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Ignoring the blog is easy to do when you’ve been popping around a few different continents. Spent a lot of September/October across the pond, and a couple other ponds, in the UAE and South Africa, as well as London, which isn’t that exciting. I’ve got a bunch of movie reviews coming, but here is a collection of pics from the first leg of the trip.

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A Simple Favor

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Anchored by two awesomely good performances, A Simple Favor by director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) shows that his foray into a bit darker territory is certainly worthy. While the movie goes off the rails at the end, it’s a fun, twisty, snarky tale until then. And though the film is not without mistakes, it does a lot to improve upon the source material, a book that was a bit too preposterous without the wit and charm of the film.

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The Happytime Murders

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An interesting concept-a dark comedy in a world where puppets (more accurately, Muppets, or Sesame Street-esque creatures, thanks to director Brian Henson, yes, son of) live alongside humans-is wasted in the not-nearly-as-funny-as-it-should-be Happytime Murders. The film seems to think that a Muppet saying “fuck” is enough to generate laughs, which it isn’t after the first two or three times. Melissa McCarthy does her able best as a cop working with her former puppet partner investigating a series of murders to the actors who once worked on a 90s TV show, but she can’t escape a script lacking in, amongst other things, effort.

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