Men Who Love Men Deserve Better Than ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The Freddie Mercury biopic has been cooking up since 2010. Originally meant to be a Sacha Baron Cohen and David Fincher collaboration, the biopic’s direction had shifted into the hands of the remaining members of Queen. This led to Baron Cohen leaving the project due to artistic disagreements, envisioning a much more adult version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Eventually, Anthony McCarten’s screenplay was green-lit with Bryan Singer (ugh) attached to direct. Soon they found Mercury in Rami Malek, as well as some reforms after Singer was fired from the project, some backlash for the lack of inclusion of the AIDs crisis, and accusations of “de-queering” Mercury’s depiction the film (more ugh)! It’s almost impressive that a project with such an infamously-controversial development stage could amount to a film this dull.

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Rami Malek’s performance is valiant, the filmmaking is not.

But here we are. Bohemian Rhapsody, despite a mixed critical reception, hit the #1 spot of the box office, making an estimated $50 million dollar earning. Somehow, this has only sparked more controversy as a quite irritating critics-versus-audiences conversation has formed once again. I think we have bigger things to worry about, considering the director credit has gone to an accused pedophile (he is currently being campaigned for by Fox for best director as part of the upcoming awards season). Simply put, this film already gave me a headache before I even got the chance to see it. Dubbed the “unseasoned chicken” of cinema by our editor-in-chief, Dilara, and writer, Iana, Bohemian Rhapsody is not only the blandest on-screen version of Mercury’s extravagant life possible, but it also does a major disservice to the gay and bi men who have looked up to the idol since the 80s. While the “de-queering” criticism may be slightly hyperbolic as Mercury’s sexuality is a large thread within the film, it is not handled with the amount of care to be worthy of high praise.

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Review: Darkest Hour: The Problem with Biopics

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Lily James stars as Elizabeth Layton and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen this movie before at some point.

You know what movie I’m talking about: that true underdog story of a man or woman, who was very disliked in the beginning, breaking through their social barriers to make real change, whether that change be in politics, film, music, etc. This film I’m describing is your standard biopic.

The term bio-pic is short for biographical picture, so this sub-genre of film mostly focuses on true life stories of real and influential people, and most of them subscribe to the formula mentioned above. The most popular, and effective biopics use this formula, but make variations to it. The best examples of this would be films like The Aviator, Goodfellas, Walk the Line, Lawrence of Arabia, Ray, and more recently, The Disaster Artist. There are even films like this that break the mold that I mentioned previously like Love & Mercy, Malcolm X, Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, Frida, Secret Honor, The Social Network, Raging Bull, I’m Not There, and Steve Jobs, which use non-linear structures or examine short periods of time in the persons life instead of trying to cover every one of their accomplishments in a two hour time frame.

landscape_movies-walk-the-line-joaquin-phoenix.jpgHowever, the films that have actually perfected this formula are few and far between. The majority of biopics are incredibly stale, bland, and lazy ways of big studios trying to win an Oscar. These films range from being flat out bad (Jobs, Gacy, I Saw The Light, Hidden Figures, J. Edgar, American Made, Amelia, Gold, Jersey Boys, American Sniper) to being painfully average like The Founder, Lincoln, Bleed for This, and most recently, Darkest Hour.

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