ROCKETMAN (2019)

A film by Dexter Fletcher

Cast:  Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden 

Rocketman recounts the extraordinary life of Elton John, from his early successes to his international consecration. The film traces the metamorphosis of Reginald Dwight, a timid prodigy pianist, into a global superstar. He is now known as Elton John.His inspirational story – based on the most beautiful songs of the star – makes us live the incredible success of a child from a small provincial town that has become an icon of the pop world culture.

Doors are thrown open. Light fills the hallway. A man in costumes appears with platform shoes. He walks a bit and opens an other set of doors, he pauses and says at the rehab group that he has just interrupted. “My name is Elton Hercules John and I’m an alcoholic.” He is also a cocaine addict, sex addict, a shopping addict. And may the flashback begins.

The problem with this Biography it is formulaic and it is getting on my nerves. Instead of doing it this way to tell the relationship with his manager in more details and the relationship with his best friend how he wrote the songs and john put the music to it that would been the better film. But no let’s go with the formulaic film. Do not get wrong Taron Egerton has done a great job acting in this film but why not let a real gay man playing the part they are some gay actors out there that could play the part. The film is entertaining and it is like a musical but that is all it does for me. One of those days someone will get it right.

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LETO (2018)

A film by  Kirill Serebrennikov

Cast:  Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk 

English title : Summer

Leningrad. A summer in the early 80’s. Upstream of Perestroika, Lou Reed’s and David Bowie’s records are smuggled, and the rock scene emerges. Mike and his beautiful wife Natacha meet the young Viktor Tsoï. Surrounded by a new generation of musicians, they will change the course of rock’n’roll in the Soviet Union.

The story with no surprise takes off from the success story of this group of rock and roll that is going to rock the soviet union in the 80’s. When the film opens the group’s career is already well established, the audience seems to love them but there is something out of place here in the audience where everyone is sitting on a chair and watch carefully by the watchful eye of representatives of the State. No rocking, no dancing, not even taping their feet. And yes it is a black and white film.  These ambitious guys who wants to be rock stars are influenced by the western rock and roll records that gets into the country somehow that includes  David Bowie, T-Rex, the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground, the Talking Heads, Ziggy Pop, and more. Leto is based on the early career of Russian rock-n-Roller Viktor Tsoi. The film is full of music with some kind of funky eding from time to time. There is a love triangle, some great tunes to dance, the struggling of the band  etc….It is all there in this perfect film.   Somehow the director was one of the few who was banned from Cannes this year. He is under house arrest accused of corruption. A must see. 

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018)

Bohemian Rhapsody

A film by Bryan Singer

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee 

Bohemian Rhapsody recounts the extraordinary fate of the Queen group and their iconic singer Freddie Mercury, who challenged stereotypes, broke conventions and revolutionized music. From the dazzling success of Freddie Mercury to his excesses, risking the near-implosion of the group, to his triumphant return on stage at the Live Aid concert, while he was struck by the disease, discover the exceptional life of a man who continues to inspire outsiders, dreamers and all who love music.

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Here it is I remember when we will rock you and we are the champion came out on the radio back then I was in high school in Michigan. Here is the impact of Queen back then, we were eating lunch at the cafeteria and they put on the radio and Queen came on with we will rock you and we are the champion right after it. When we will rock you all the student started banging their feet and clapping then singing to the tune. That is the impact that Queen had back then and still today. Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek)  was born Farrokh Bulsara, that I didn’t know. Here comes this genius who revolutionize music and even interacted with his fans on stage. Here is a genius who was tortured because he struggle with his own sexuality. Also his muse Mary who he had a great relationship with knew how he was and when Freddie died he left her his estate. The star here is Rami Malek who embody the essence of freddie, shines which  brings me to the casting were the actors has terrific chemistry. The problem that I have the film does not seem to know what to do with homosexual desire also his music and song are so connected to his sexuality and the film does not show that at all either. I wish they also they shown the writing process of the songs a little more in details. However the credited director, Bryan Singer was replaced by Dexter Fletcher late in the production (That’s got to hurt).  The live aid concert in 1985, yes I remember that too and what a performance it was. I saw it on TV.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

COLD WAR (2018)

Cold War

A film by Pawel Pawlikowski

Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc

During the Cold War, between Stalinist Poland and Bohemian Paris in the 1950s, a freedom-loving musician and a passionate young singer live an impossible love in an impossible time.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War begins with close-ups of folk musicians loudly playing for the camera and you are going what the hell is going on but wait it is part of the film. The film tells the tale of a tragic romance between a musician and a singer, spanning fifteen years in  post-war Europe.  Wictor (Tomasz Kot) in the middle Polish winter in 1949, as he and fellow music expert Irena (Agata Kulesza) travel around the frozen landscape of Poland in a truck, recording folk music wherever they find it. Thanks to Kaczmarek (Borys Szyc), a school is set up to bring  young talent and create an ensemble to celebrate Polish musical culture and tradition. Competition is fierce but a blonde with stand out named Zula (Joanna Kulig).  She is ambitious and caught the eye of wictor which soon after the romantic relationship is going to take place. The film is shot in black and white. And may the fractured romance across Europe begins.

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Here is a woman Zula A singer on fire with a beautiful voice. Sassy, immature, she pretend to be a peasant woman to join a group of folk singers. She meets Wictor that she is going to fall in love hard for despite some her life’s choice that are going to be different from his. It is an offbeat romance where the two are going to struggle and it looks like they are addicted to each other despite that her choices are not the greatest one. Pawlikowski’s Cold War is dedicated to his parents, on whose love affair it is loosely based. And yes it is a masterpiece. Here the polish cinema is making its mark in this world. It is growing and expanding at the speed of light.

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THE LOST CITY OF Z (2017)

lost city of Z

A film by James Gray

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller

The true story of Percival Harrison Fawcett, one of the greatest explorers of the twentieth century. Percy Fawcett is a recognized British colonel and a loving husband. In 1906, when he was about to become a father, the Royal Geographical Society of England proposed to him to leave to Amazonia in order to map the borders between Brazil and Bolivia. Right a way , the man has a passion for exploration and discovers traces of what he thinks is a very old lost city. Back in England, Fawcett constantly thinks of this mysterious civilization, torn between his love for his family and his thirst for exploration and glory …

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Here is a stroke a genius where James Gray reappropriates a genre fallen into disuse to offer us the masterful portrait of an explorer carried by his thirst for adventure.Here Gray choose to do an interpretation of the novel La cité perdue de Z écrit par David Grann. It is no secret that  Gray makes the viewer follow the adventure of the military man names Fawcett that disappeared somehow into the jungle never to return to England. James Gray’s latest feature film is a beautiful  scenario built around Percy Fawcett’s (Charlie Hunnam’s) back and forth between his home and the heart of the Amazon jungle. Here Gray shot this film à la classic mode the only thing to do to me otherwise the film will fall into the water. Fawcett is not crazy to go to the amazon forest but to reclaim his tile of his name he decided to go which trigger his thirst for adventure and exploration as well as glory. Charlie Hunnam here does a superb job to incarnate his character.It is interesting to see that Fawcett also has other obligations, well he is a  husband and father which his wife makes the sacrifices here  and is beautifully interpreted by actress Sienna Miller. You see  he returns to his home, after several years of travel so it takes a toll on his wife. He has a hard time with the children. The cinematography here is near perfect. I can’t wait until his next picture.

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ROCK’N ROLL (2017)

rock-n-roll

A film by Guillaume Canet 

Cast: Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard, Philippe Lefebvre, Gilles Lellouche, Yvan Attal,  Kev Adams,  Maxim Nucci,  Johnny Hallyday.

Guillaume Canet, a 42-year-old actor, is questioning the day when, where on a set of shooting, a young collaborator tells him that he is no longer an object of desire for the women of the younger generation …and bang!!!

Since I am in France I have read an interview with Canet who said he came up with the film poking t himself and his life as an actor when he was being interview a while back the interviewer said to him you are not very Rock’N Roll are you. Meaning he his at his place well manner, and well dressed that is how he is in real life. He said to her no not really. Now he wanted to make fun of his life and of the industry where they told him the image of a star is that don’t smoke, stay in shape, no grey hair on your head, wriggles are a no-no etc… Basically forbidding to age. So he decided to write this film with his friends. And this film is pure joy.

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He doesn’t hold back on his actor’s ego, cinema’s obsession with youth and even takes a crack  shot at the trashy way actors are treated by casting directors like they were in a ferry   tale. Everybody plays themselves here not exception. You will find that Marion Cotillard with a Canadian accent Québécois she is preparing for the role of Dolan’s film even plays on her image of a tornado of awards. The uneasiness of loosing at the ceasar, messing up a kid birthday party, cocaine-paralytic bust on YouTube, being difficult on the set etc…Basically he is have a middle age crisis. It is also its ability to implement this on both sides of the camera. Here Canet is back with this comedy that rocks but with all due respect to the viewers I have to say this the film towards the end is a little too much. Still it is so good. Have fun.

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THE VIOLIN TEACHER (2016)

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A film by Sérgio Machado

Cast: Lázaro Ramos, Kaique de Jesus, Elzio Vieira

Devoured by stage fright, he fails the audition and reluctantly agrees to teach music to teenagers of Heliopolis, the largest favela in the city (Brazil). Yet in this hostile world, where dealers and gangs reign are supreme, Laertes will forge a strong links between his students and even discover their talent that will change their life forever.

An other based on a true story here is a man who is consumed by stage fright and can’t on with his life. He finds add jobs here and there until he reluctantly take a job teaching in the ghetto. Little did he know that they will need each other in order to survive and over come their fears. Yes the script is  predictable, you even know where the story is going ,but it is still interesting to see how the film maker Sérgio Machado has told the story and even film it. Laertes is passionate, he lives for his music. With his  ability to be always attentive to others, through his sense of humor, he manages to pass on his passion. As for teenagers who form the orchestra, most are non-professional actors. Their well-tempered endearing personality make them  authentic comedians. The director does not shy away from the problems in the favelas. Or even the good people who are pissed at the police. Here is a well tied story that works but is predictable and you will have still a good time.

the violin teacher

the violin teacher