Cinema Saturday, 3/6/21 – Rock ‘n’ Roll edition

Stardust

Year: 2020
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rated: Unrated

Director: Gabriel Range

Writers: Christopher Bell, Gabriel Range

Stars: Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron, Jena Malone

Initial: “There’s a David Bowie biopic that I know very little about on Hulu…”

Production Notes: The movie was made without the support of Bowie’s estate and contains no songs written by David Bowie.

What Did I Think:
David Bowie is my favorite musical artist. Philosophically, I feel that every fan should appreciate fandom in their own way. I’m not offended by a pretty lack-luster biopic. But…

I think if you’re making a David Bowie movie and you can’t use any of his music, you probably shouldn’t be making a David Bowie movie. On a story-level, the writers are hog-tied. The plot is: David Bowie comes through a disastrous American “tour” and discovers that the key to his success might be stage personalities, like Ziggy Stardust. And it could kind of work if all through the movie we heard the music that influenced Bowie and maybe a couple of the covers that he was known to perform. We’re in the US where, in 1971, Bowie isn’t well known. The American audiences don’t “get it.” But if you can’t have Bowie take the stage at the climax of your movie, after his performance epiphany, to the opening riff of “Ziggy Stardust,” you don’t have much of a climax.

Johnny Flynn occasionally looks like Bowie, but he has the thankless job of embodying someone with orders of magnitude more charisma than he has.

What is the point of this movie? Cash-grab based on the success of Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman?


Rocketman

Year: 2019
Runtime: 2h 1m
Rated: R

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Writer: Lee Hall

Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

“Buy yourself some new clothes. Something flashy.”

Initial: Speaking of which.

Production Notes: It’s kind of nuts that Taron Egerton, who does all his own singing in this movie, didn’t get an Oscar nomination.

What Did I Think:
What do you do if you’re making a biopic of Elton John and you have the ability to use his music? You make freakin’ musical.

Most of the reviews I had heard/read when this film came out mentioned that it was often fanciful. And of course it is. It’s a musical. Not a film with a lot of music or, because it’s about a musician, musical performances. It’s. A. Musical. There are dance numbers. If plot points are occasionally on the nose and don’t conform to history, it’s because that’s how musicals are. I’m not a big fan of Elton John or of musicals, honesly, but I really enjoyed this movie. It was occasionally a little frantic, but overall fun.

6 thoughts on “Cinema Saturday, 3/6/21 – Rock ‘n’ Roll edition

  1. Elyse LeMieux

    I loved Elton John’s audiobook memoir, Me, narrated by Taron Egerton. Foreword and Afterword narrated by Elton John himself. I still haven’t seen Rocketman but now I will be able to go into it having a lot of knowledge of the man himself. And Taron Egerton is amazeballs and does not get enough credit for his acting and singing chops. And that knock-off Bowie movie looks terrible. lol.

    Reply
  2. Dale

    I saw Rocketman a while back and you’re right, it’s a musical, and I liked it for the most part, because of the music. The Bowie film sounds problematic.

    Reply
  3. Bryan G. Robinson

    I give you credit for even watching the Bowie biopic. I had, and have, zero interest in seeing it, especially since it has none of his music. I enjoyed Rocketman more than I thought I would, but I like “fanciful” musical movies, for example, Moulin Rouge. I even won my wife over to that movie, who at first was reluctant. Now it’s one of our favorites.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Cinema…Sunday! 7/25/21 | The Writerly Reader

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