Minari

This beautiful little family story is full of humor, warmth, and hardship, that stumbles in the end for me.

The film follows the Yi family, Korean immigrants who after working for years finally buy their own land Arkansas in the 1980’s. The way this Korean family struggles with the locals, money, and their own dreams makes up the plot of the film, but the story is all about family.

We follow this family through the eyes of David Yi played by Alan Kim. He’s the youngest child of Jacob and Monica played by Steven Yuen and Han Ye-ri. Jacob wants to become a farmer and work the land. Monica wishes the had stayed in California. When the stress becomes too much they bring Monica’s mother to live with them. This is the wily, foul mouthed, spitfire grandma Soon-ja, played by Youn Yuh-jung.

This is a movie that is full of feeling for me. I felt the disappointment of Monica as they see their crappy house for the first time. (It doesn’t even have front steps to get in.) I feel Jacob’s frustration as he tries to raise crops with dwindling water reserves. I feel David’s confusion about his grandmother who doesn’t act like any grandmother he’s ever seen. This movie is an empathy machine. I feel for them and understand them even though for the most part they are speaking a language I don’t understand.

The film is full of little moments that really charmed me. I don’t want to give any of them away because they were so full of warmth and surprise I’d hate to spoil them for anyone. I laughed and smiled in warm recognition throughout the movie, and I think you will too.

The biggest downside for me is the ending. This is one of those movies that ends without a definitive conclusion. This is often done to make the audience think about the story beyond the theater. Too often it feels like the filmmakers forget to come up with an ending, and just said “forget it, let the audience figure it out for us.” This ending feels disappointing to me because it left too much unresolved and too many serious thematic moments were left hanging. I just wanted more from the ending. I think a stronger finish that tied up more of the themes would have landed better for me. As it is, I don’t feel cheated or disappointed by the conclusion.

I definitely recommend this movie. It’s a lovely slice of life that puts things into a different perspective. We get to walk around in this family’s shoes for a couple of hours, and I think that’s really worth while.

This was definitely my cup of tea. You can rent it online or check it out in theaters. A-

The Father

I really dislike this poster, but it’s pretty much the only one.

This deeply affecting film features powerful performances and nimble, skillful direction that create an empathetic portrait of memory loss.

Roger Ebert once said, “movies are like machines that generate empathy.” That could not be more true of this film. It puts us in the shoes of an aging man, played by Anthony Hopkins, suffering from a memory loss disease. It’s never outright given a name like Alzheimer’s but the parallels are clear. The film shows us exactly what it feels like to live with something like this and helps us feel for the man and his daughter who does her best to care for him and understand him.

The film opens with a scene between the man (Anthony) and his daughter Anne, played wonderfully by Olivia Colman. Anthony doesn’t want to leave his apartment. Anne informs him that she’s met a man and is moving to Paris. The next day it seems Anthony finds a strange man in his apartment who informs him that he is Anne’s husband and that this is his flat. Anne walks in and she is played by Olivia Williams. We feel just as bewildered as Anthony does. What is real? Who do we trust? What is going on?

I found myself so immersed in Anthony’s experience. I really empathized and felt every frustration and confusion that he did throughout his journey. Hopkins never overplays his hand. He gets to go through some emotional highs and lows, but it feels like a performance. It feels like a genuine reaction to the world around him. I found myself believing that Anthony Hopkins had Alzheimer’s and was just existing on screen. It really was stunning.

He’s not alone though. The incredible Olivia Colman plays his daughter as a woman struggling with her resentment for her father and he love for him. Her inner tug of war is beautifully communicated here as she explains and reed plains herself, as she helps him with his clothes and food, and as she listens to him ramble about his favorite daughter who never comes to visit him anymore. She is stunning here providing a much needed anchor. She keeps the audience grounded in the real.

The directing in the movie really struck me. It’s subtle and full of nuance. I wasn’t bowled over by flashy shots and artsy angles. It sort of crept over me slowly as I realized the little changes in angle, the subtle shifts in perspective, and the use of steady long takes broken by sudden edits. I loved the use of production design the show how the world could slip out of Anthony’s grasp. His apartment and his daughters apartment are so much the same, yet the little differences make them completely new locations. The film is written and directed by Florian Zeller adapted from his own play.

The subject matter might turn people off. I don’t want anyone to think that this is a depressing slog through mental illness. Neither is it a gimmicky film using memory loss as a storytelling device for fun antics. It is an emotional journey that gives us a new perspective and shows us the small moments of hope and joy to be found in life.

When Anne helps Anthony with his sweater and he thanks her for everything is a tiny moment that explodes on the screen here. Anthony feeling overwhelmingly lost and receiving a comforting embrace is such a powerful moment of hope and light in what could be a dark tunnel really elevates the movie.

I was carried by this film and its story telling. I would watch this again anytime to study the nuances of the acting and directing or to simply experience the emotional impact the film has.

The film was just nominated for a slew of Oscars. It’s well worth checking out. I definitely recommend it. It’s my cup of tea for sure. A

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday

This movie is all over the map, but it is anchored by some stunning cinematic flourishes and a truly phenomenal performance by Andra Day.

In the 1940’s, the singer Billie Holiday endures drug addiction, abusive men, and a targeted campaign against her by the U.S. government. Andra Day plays Billie Holiday as a defiant woman with a raw vulnerability that lies just under the surface.

Lee Daniels has directed a movie that hops skips and jumps around in a decade of Billie Holiday’s life. Stylistically, the movie is all over the map. Almost every scene in the film is shot and edited in a different style. Some scenes are presented in black and white, some in color. Some scenes look like period accurate newsreels, some are shot in a very modern shaky cam style. This keeps the film visually engaging and often thrilling, but it does feels a distracting. It definitely pulled me out of the story.

The film is also told from a strange shifting point of view. Some scenes are from Billie’s perspective. Some are from her bands point of view, and others are from the point of view of the government agents trying to take Billie down. This shifting perspective makes the movie very hard to follow at times especially at the start. There are traditional character introductions, so each new person remains a bit of a stranger until their relationship is established. Once the introductions are made and the relationships are firmly established, the movie really starts to cook. The stylistic choices really shine through and the movie becomes something special. The trouble is how long it takes to get there. It’s a difficult way to begin a movie and a little more stylistic calm at the start would have helped me follow the plot and get into the story.

When I think back at the film all of those issues fade away in comparison to Andra Day’s performance as Billie Holiday. She is truly incredible. She won the Golden Globe for best actress, and she definitely deserved it. This performance is emotionally raw. She runs the gamut from wildly ferocious to mean and broken. This is Day’s first acting role. She is originally a singer, and she puts her voice to work her to beautiful effect. She gives stunning renditions of Holiday’s classic songs. Her voice has a smooth stunning quality that slowly becomes more and more raspy and hard throughout her arduous journey. Every inch of this performance is stunning.

My favorite section of the film is truly transcendent. After witnessing something traumatic, Billie walks into a room, a character appears to try to console her, she takes some comfort but ultimate breaks away. She moves into a different room and sees her friends. She takes some comfort from them, but quickly breaks away and enters a room where a man is preparing heroin for her to take. It is a stunning bit of surreal expressionism. The movie breaks free from the objective reality of the film in order to give us a visual representation of her internal world and her emotional experience. It feels like one continuous take, and it beautifully utilizes this dreamlike single take effect to give us a glimpse into her inner life. I love it. It’s worth watching the movie just for this scene.

All in all, this is a flawed yet worthwhile film. Day’s performance and a few of these expressionistic directorial flourishes elevate this film above its flaws for me. I can recommend it but with the caveat that it is a little scattered in its style and storytelling. You can find this movie streaming on Hulu.

It is my cup of tea. B+

Pieces of a Woman

If you’re looking for a harrowing emotional experience look no further than this Netflix drama.

The film stars Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as a couple dealing with a deeply traumatic incident that shakes them and their family to their core.

Im being somewhat cagey in my description because I experienced this film without knowing anything. I had it was good and saw the Golden Globes it was nominated for, so I put it on. I was totally taken by this movie. It’s a gripping story told in a unique way.

Vanessa Kirby is really astounding here. The emotional places she’s goes with this character are so authentic it never feels like a performance. She inhabits this woman’s pain, her grief, and her hope.

The centerpiece of the film is its opening sequence. It’s a twenty minute single take style shot. It’s designed to look like one unbroken take. As it began I thought about how often this trick is used and how the one take is a trend like shaky cam was years ago that must be on its way out. But this one was different. This one told a story. This one encapsulated the entirety of the characters experience and absolutely broke my heart. By the end I was extended one takes can stick around forever as long as they are done this well.

Ellen Burstyn has a fantastic part as Vanessa Kirby’s mother. she’s a controlling woman who is beginning to forget things. She’s slowly losing control and watching Burstyn navigate this character is truly fascinating to watch. She’s incredibly authentic in the small moments like finding her cell phone in the salad bowl, but she’s also fierce when she pulls it together to challenge her daughters choices in a stunning speech. She’s excellent here.

The movie has a kind of fragmented structure. It keeps jumping forward in time. It created a real disconnect for me. I struggled to get back in touch with where the characters were. I think this was the intention. It made me feel the way this fragmented family must feel. They are struggling to keep up with each other and recreate the bonds that they shared. This might be too much for some people. They might just feel a disconnect and shut the movie off. I’d advise against that. The movie comes together really well.

For me the squeaky wheel is Shia LaBeouf. He seems to be striving so hard for authenticity whereas the rest of the cast simply is authentic. His performance is effortful. He’s trying hard to give the impression of not trying at all. It’s hard to describe, but watching him opposite Burstyn and Kirby he looks like he’s trying way too hard.

The more is a gut punch. It deals with loss, grief, and despair. It’s not a fun Sunday afternoon movie. It’s not a date night or a dinner and a movie kind of experience. It is however a really good movie that’s worth watching if you have the heart for it.

I’d definitely recommend it. It’s for sure my cup of tea. A-

Nomadland

A woman living out of her van travels the country in search of inner peace in this lovely collection of moments anchored by Frances McDormand’s performance.

The film opens with two titles explaining that there was a factory town in Empire Nevada. The factory shut down in 2011, and within six months the town was empty and their post code was discontinued.

The film follows Frances McDormand as Fern. She travels all over the country, living out of her van, and taking any work she can find. Along the way she encounters challenges and makes friends and comes to terms with the life she used to have.

This movie is difficult to describe because there is no plot. It’s really just a collection of vignettes. Brief moments that add up to a whole experience. It is made up of incredibly short scenes. One scene involves Fern working a job cleaning a bathroom. A guy enters. She says it’s closed. He ignores her and uses the urinal next to her. She rolls her eyes and walks out. That’s the whole scene. On its own it’s nothing, and honestly a lot of the movie is forgettable to me because of that. While not much on their own these tiny little moments do add up to an experience that is felt more than anything.

Frances McDormand does good work, but she’s up against real people. she’s striving for authenticity where the rest of the inhabitants of the movie are authentic people. It often feels like an actress has stepped into a documentary about nomads.

There is only one truly dramatic moment. It comes at the 55 minute mark. I know because I had a strong emotional reaction. My heart stopped, and my stomach sank. It came out of nowhere which is why I checked the time. The funny thing about it is that in any other movie it wouldn’t have been anything. But because of the way this movie works it really hit me.

The movie feels as if it was assembled from deleted bits of a different movie. Like they shot a and edited more traditional film, then took all the bits they cut out of that film, and put them together to make this one. I kept saying to myself “there should be more to that scene” and “they cut away too soon.” Especially toward the end where the film is building to its conclusion and ultimate thematic point. I wish it had given us more.

This movie is a quiet collection of tiny moments that add up to a picture of a lifestyle. If that sounds like your cup of tea then please give it a watch on Hulu or in theaters. If it’s not what you’re into then it’s going to be a challenging viewing experience.

For me this type of movie isn’t my cup of tea. They’re usually too artsy and self important. This one worked better for me than most. I give credit to the director Chloe Zhao for weaving it together. That said it’s only like have a cup of tea for me. B

It’s just been nominated for a slew of Golden Globes. You’ll be hearing about this one all through awards season.

Judas and the Black Messiah

Part thriller, part biopic, and part historical tragedy this enthralling film features two unforgettable performances and incredible story telling that has a lot to say about the world then and now.

I think it helps to have a little history before stepping into the movie especially if your only experience with the Black Panthers is that one scene in Forrest Gump. Fred Hampton was a charismatic young leader in the Chicago chapter of the BlackPanther party. Their primary function was to provide meals for children, and support for families in the black community. Hampton’s outspoken views landed him the crosshairs of Hoover and the FBI.

The movie tells Hampton’s story from the point of view of Bill O’Neal a small time car thief who gets picked up by the cops and is threatened with serious jail time unless he joins the Black Panthers and becomes an informant for the FBI.

LaKeith Stanfield plays O’Neal as a mass of contradictions and contradictory impulses. He’s pulled in different directions. He admires his FBI handler Mitchell played by Jesse Plemmons, but he also sees real value in the Panthers. Stanfield has been a fascinating actor for years. Here he harnesses all his idiosyncrasies to paint an incredible portrait of this man.

The performance that captured me completely was Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton. Holy crap he was amazing. He completely embodies Hampton. His charisma is undeniable, and I was completely entranced the entire time. You never catch him acting in this movie. He simply is Fred Hampton. He deserves all the superlatives. People describe performances are “arresting,” “powerful,” and “stellar” all the time. Kaluuya deserves them all. He’s awesome.

The movie is really incredible the more I think about it. It is intense and suspenseful. It is touching and beautiful. It offers incredible insight into a fascinating chapter in history.

Because the movie isn’t a straightforward biopic, it resists the pitfalls of most biopics. It never tries to canonize its subjects. Hampton and O’Neal are real people with real flaws. It doesn’t try to pretend the ugliness and contradictions didn’t exist in them. It also makes their lives about so much more than just their deaths. Historical biopics often depict their subjects deaths as the most important moments in their lives. By putting Hampton’s ideas and his beliefs at the forefront the movie does a service to his life and legacy.

Finally the movie is entertaining. It’s not a civics lesson or a lecture. It is exciting and challenging and thought provoking. Give this movie a shot. It’s well worth it. It’s streaming on HBO Max.

It’s was definitely my cup of tea. A+

Last note, the title threw me at first. It’s a reference to a J Edgar Hoover memo in which he stated that they had to prevent a “black messiah” from rising up in the black community to unite them.

The Lion King

A long overdue review for a movie that never should have happened. The Lion King is a modern and overlong retelling of a wonderful Disney film from the early 90’s that fails tremendously due to a misguided approach to the material, a tonal dissonance, and uninspired voice acting.

The story is more or less the same as the original film. It follows Simba, the son of Mufasa the King of the Pride Lands in Africa. Mufasa’s jealous brother Scar murders Mufasa and blames Simba. Simba goes on a journey to find himself and reclaim his birthright. This is an epic and emotion driven story about big heroes, dastardly villains, and sweeping scale. This movie approaches this story with photo realistic special effects. The social effects are stunning and truly the most convincing CGI landscapes even created. However realism does not serve a story about the Shakespearean intrigue within a royal family of lions.

The realism just sucks the energy and emotion out of every scene. There is no forward momentum built up when every animal is devoid of emotion. When Mufasa dies, Simba’s face is impassive. There is no emotion that registers. Lion’s do not have emotions therefore his face is a blank. When Simba and Nala fall in love they stare at each other with blank black eyes that convey nothing. The filmmakers avoid closeups throughout a lot of the movie. This creates a nature documentary style which is objective and distant at moments when the film should be subjective and engaging. This whole approach of slavish realism, is a massive mistake that kills any true impact or engagement the story could have.

The tone of the film is basically subdued ambivalence. This is a direct result of the nature documentary approach. The subdued tone would be all right if not for the fact that the film is at times a musical and also a broad comedy with fart jokes and bodily humor. In the movie, Simba runs away for years to live with a meerkat and warthog while Scar rules the Pride Lands with an iron fist. The original sticks with Simba entirely during this segment. The new movie cuts back and forth. This cross cutting creates a horrible jarring effect. The movie shows depictions of predators savagely taking down prey and then cuts to a warthog farting. The darkness and cruelty on display in scenes in which Scar abuses the female lions does not work with scenes in which Simba eats grubs and sings about going with the flow. By showing the devastation of Simba’s home it raises the stakes on Pride rock, but it also makes Simba’s refusal to return home and help feel all the more petty. It diminishes the character of Simba and creates too harsh a dissonance between the two segments.

The films cast has been hyped and praised, but they let the film down big time. None of the cast add anything special to their roles except for Seth Rogen as Pumba and Billy Eichner as Timon. These two give it their all and their line deliveries are perfect. They are very good. Everyone else feels subdued to the point of phoning it in. Chiwetel Ejiofer has gravity as Scar, but his emotions never raise above a 4. Beyonce isn’t any good here. Her delivery is stiff. The young Simba delivers a nice convincing turn, but his emotional voice is at odds with the emotionless face his character has. James Earl Jones’ voice is showing his age, but his inflection and delivery is still fantastic. However due to the film’s documentary approach it often feels as if Jones and the whole cast is narrating a Planet Earth special. Their voices don’t seem to be coming from their characters. They feel disconnected.

This film is bad. There are some highlights and some fun moments. It is nice to hear Jones again. The stampede sequence is very good. The Hyena’s are genuinely scary and intimidating. The computer effects on display are lightyears ahead of anything else. And the story itself is so good it is impossible to hate the film entirely. However the movie as a whole is not good. It is poorly conceived and misguided. It is not exactly my cup of tea. – C+

BlacKkKlansman

An unbelievable true story, some incredible filmmaking, and a sledgehammer of a political message combine to create one of the best films of the year.

The film follows the story of Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer on the Colorado Springs police force. He works undercover and one day responds to an ad placed by the local KKK in the newspaper. He phones in and continues talking to the head of the local KKK over the phone posing as a racist white man. Eventually he becomes a full fledged member in good standing. He sends in his partner, a white man, to play himself in person. Together they thwart cross burnings and foil violent demonstrations.

One of the most remarkable things about the movie is the way it blends and balances the inherent humor of the situation with the inherent horror of what it means. There was a black member who made a fool of the KKK. The irony of the situation is hilarious. There are scenes of high comedy as in the scene where Stallworth tries to teach his white partner how to speak more like him. Or the scene in which David Duke the grand wizard of the KKK explains to Stallworth why he Stallworth could never be black because of the inherent differences in white and black speech. It’s priceless. However at the same time they are dealing with deep hate and horrifying expressions of that hate. The way the film moves fluidly through those two extremes is masterful to watch.

It balances comedy and drama, social commentary and police procedural, a thriller and a love story. The fact that it never goes too far off the rails in any one direction is a tribute to the director Spike Lee’s ability to orchestrate a film. Too many movies these days try to blend satire and drama and they miss the mark. Vice, another film nominated for best picture, is a perfect example of a film that tries for this balance and totally misses the mark. Its satire is too broad. Its sincerity feels too cheap and unearned. This film makes that balancing act look easy.

The best sequence in the movie follows two scenes playing simultaneously. The KKK members sit down in a church basement to watch a screening of The Birth of a Nation. The film is about the formation of the KKK and the lynchings and murders that occurred after the Civil War. The film was released in 1916 and lead to a resurgence of the Klan. In this film the KKK members hoot and holler and celebrate the film and the horrors being depicted. This scene is cross cut with a gathering of a black student group as they listen to a man detail a real life lynching that occurred after the movie was released. Spike Lee uses the medium of film so beautifully here. He captures the contrast and delivers a message more powerfully than could ever have been delivered with words alone. This is a great sequence.

The film concludes with an incredibly hard hitting political message. It ties the entire story to recent events. It reminds the audience that although this story takes place in the past, it hasn’t passed. It remains horribly relevant today. The racism, the hatred, and the expression of that hatred is alive today. The message is a little too political for some, but the film is definitely worth seeing regardless.

This is a really good film and absolutely my cup of tea. Grade A

A Star is Born

Great performances, some really wonderful directorial flourishes and a great soundtrack elevate the film, but aren’t able to make it soar.

The story is a classic. A legendary star on the decline finds and elevates a young ingenue. Her star rises as his collapses. Their love holds them together through it all.

The film is very smart in the changes it makes to the well known story. Bradley Cooper plays the older star. His career is not on the decline. He is in a steady place. He’s a drug addict and alcoholic, but he’s functioning. She is not a young ingenue. She is older, wiser, world weary herself. She has her own internal life and perspective. He doesn’t make her over in his image and give her stardom. She is a star and he gives her a stage. It’s a nice update to the story.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga as the two leads are stunning together. The film does a wonderful job crafting and exploring a genuine relationship between these two. It is a relationship that carries the rest of the film. It is the reason this film is as good as it is. If that failed or faltered the movie would have been a waste, but it works throughout. She is natural and steady and brings honest feeling to every moment. He returns the same level of genuine feeling. No one ever rings a false note in the movie performance wise. To watch Gaga play a woman terrified of getting on stage and then making the leap and making the audience believe that she’s never performed before a crowd this size is a genuinely wonderful feat of acting. Cooper is able to show such hurt and truth in his eyes no matter what is happening or how sober his character is.

One of the best scenes in the entire film though involves Cooper and Sam Elliot. They play brothers. They have hurt and fought each other their whole lives, and Elliot is giving him a ride home. In the driveway Cooper tells him something heartbreaking. Elliot drives away. The camera is in the backseat and as Elliot turns in his seat to back out his face becomes visible. The heartbreak is palpable in his face. The build up to this moment is perfect. The timing is exact. The camera placement and shot is brilliant. It turns the audience into the an eavesdropper. It generates a genuine moment of feeling. It’ll break the heart of anyone who sees it.

The place where the film falters is in the depiction of fame. After an hour with these characters, the film jumps into montage territory. A huge chunk of the film becomes one big concert and tour montage. So much time is devoted to snippets of songs and what life is like on the road. It is okay, but it doesn’t add much to the relationships or advance the story in a truly effective way. The film just kind of happens for a long time until the story picks up again.

The other misstep in the film that hampers its greatness is the contrived way it leads to its final tragedy. The film adds a scheming manager character to push the plot to its conclusion. The film didn’t need this. The story has all the elements right there in place. It doesn’t need this additional element to make it happen.

This paragraph goes into more detail about the scheming manager subplot. It may spoil the movie for some. Skip to the next paragraph to avoid the spoiler… Anyway, the film ends with Cooper’s suicide. His character gets sober, but a scheming manager shows up and tells him he’s going to ruin Gaga’s career if he’s around. He then kills himself. This didn’t need to happen. The film has all the elements in place. His drug addiction, his alcoholism, his embarrassing behavior, the way he’s treated her and hindered her career, the things we’ve seen are compelling enough. The film didn’t need the deus ex machina to get the story to this point. It feels contrived and diminishes the effect of the actual moment and the true tragedy of the story.

That said, the film has some wonderful stuff. It is a really good film. It deserves to be seen and enjoyed. It is my cup of tea. Grade – B+

Bohemian Rhapsody

A fantastic lead performance, some nice visual flourishes, and a powerful story help overcome the cliches of the musical biopic genre.

The story of Freddie Mercury’s life and career is a fascinating one. It follows the usual ups and downs of any band, but the true heart is Mercury’s personal life and his own conflicts and afflictions.

As Mercury, Rami Malek is truly fantastic. He transforms completely. His movements. His voice, his appearance. There are moments when he is indistinguishable from the real Freddie Mercury despite looking nothing like him in real life. He truly becomes the legend during the musical numbers. He is electric. Watching him work a crowd is riveting. The way he makes eye contact, and performs a singing call and response with the crowd is just a thrill to see. It is fun watching Malek own this part. Off stage, he doesn’t crowd out his fellow actors. He feels all of a piece with his ensemble. Often an actor playing a big persona can treat the part into a one man show and crowd everyone else out. Malek doesn’t. He lets everyone share the screen and breath. He has a lovely and tender relationship with Mary played by Lucy Boynton. He has a wonderful relationship with a man named Jim Hutton. The film could have used more of this relationship, but the moments they share are hugely impactful.

This film has a few nice visual flourishes especially during the musical numbers. It is shot with a real point of view on its characters and situations. The smaller moments can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of touring and performing. The concert footage is excellent. The performances are exciting and invoke a feeling of what it was probably like to see Queen in concert. A lot has been said of the films climactic Live Aid concert and with good reason. It is a massive performance that hits the audience with how thrilling it must be to perform in front a crowd like that. What it must feel like to perform to a throng of humanity all shouting your lyrics back at you. It is genuinely heart stopping. Mercury’s life as depicted in the film reflects the time period in which he lived. It was a time of convention being flaunted, and excesses being enjoyed, and finally the world crashing down. Mercury and contracted AIDS. His life is as sad they come when viewed in broad strokes. A genius performer loses himself in excess and passes away too early of a terrible illness, and the film is sad. However it doesn’t bash the audience over the head with tragedy. It is uplifting and hopeful even as the terrible undercurrent pulses just below the surface.

The film has problems. Most are due to the limitations of the musical biopic genre. All movies of this type try to cram too much of the main characters life into its limited runtime. Mercury’s relationships with his family, his heritage, his friends, his lovers, his band, his management, and his record label are all touched on. It gets to be a little crowded and the central relationships can get a little lost. It also embraces some cliches in the studio where arguments are all resolved by a good bass riff or a good song idea. It also follows a very familiar formula. It’s the one everyone knows, struggle, rise to fame, getting lost in drugs and sex, rock bottom, the come back. It’s a formula because it works. This film just doesn’t offer a lot new to that formula.

It’s a good movie. A very good movie even. A letter grade – A-

It’s my cup of tea.