Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ode to Musician Bio-Pics

I'm excited, are you excited?
So the production of Bohemian Rhapsody is well under way with director Bryan Singer who debuted with The Usual Suspects back in the 90's and went on to make no more good movies, and of class action lawsuit for having sex with underaged boys at his Hollywood mansion fame. Just so you know, this production went through like 18 casting changes and I don't even know how many fall outs over creative differences. Apparently the gramps with amps, leftovers of Queen; Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor want to make it more about the band than a Fred bio-pic. Let's be real, people only liked or in my case loved Queen because of Fred Mercury. He was the creative glue that gifted us with truly one of the most amazing stage presences and one that seems impossible for imitation, some of the most innovative songs in the Rock 'n Roll cannon, and an unforgettable voice making him truly one of the greatest front men of any era. And without him, the others would have faded into obscurity before the 70's even started. Sasha Baron Cohen was in line to play him and I supported that. He has a great voice as he's proved in the terrible film Les Miserables, and it's an inspiring casting decision considering he's a comic actor but has a presence and eccentricity factor akin to Mercury himself. Then they cast Ben Whishaw, I mean...whatever. Eventually it all fell on Rami Malek's gorgeously flawless shoulders, and early release photos are indicative that he's got this down. What is kind of annoying, aside from having a confirmed rapist directing a film about one of my favorite icons of music, is that Freddie has been dead for 20 years, his long time lover and life partner Jim Hutton died in 2010, and Brian and Roger are the only ones who 'want to do Freddie justice' granted, they know him very well, they were like a family, a band is a marriage blah blah blah, but it still seems like this would be their baby and their interpretation of Fred's legacy rather than an objective homage to this god-like figure. Well, we'll see. In this spirit of this highly anticipated film here's a list of other very inspired casting decisions in music bio-pics

The film culminates in Queen's iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985.

Val Kilmer as Doors frontman Jim Morrison and everyone in the supporting cast of Across the Universe can fuck off.

Also goes without saying that Jamie Foxx and Ray Charles and Angela Bassett as Tina Turner are iconic and it their performances are basically seamless. So here are some lesser-known imitators. 
Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter because well yeah.
O'Shea Jackson Jr. as his own father Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton. That's quite the responsibility, in fact I kinda dig the whole cast of the film.

Gary Oldman's premiere performance as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy. I remember thinking; holy shit who is that. They found his fucking twin, also they make being a junkie look pretty glamorous. Also, lest we forget, this is the film premiere of one Courtney Love. (Strangely not as Nancy Spungen).
Most bio-pics about The Beatles really suck. This isn't that. In Nowhere Boy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays a very young John Lennon in his art school days, wanting to start a skiffle band and reuniting with his estranged mother only to have her die in a car accident a few months later. He meets Paul McCartney and the seeds of the Beatles are planted. It's really not about the band at all, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives a very mature performance while being only 17 during shooting and falling in love with his director Sam Taylor-Wood...they went on to get married despite the 33 year age difference, and she went on to direct Fifty Shades of was a simple time. 

The main cast of The Runaways. Yeah Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart did Twilight movies together, but let's just forget that happened for two seconds and focus on this tiny film where no doubt the main cast had to take major salary cuts in order to play one of the most important glitter rock/punk rock cross over all-girl bands in an era of cock rock. But i'm sure Dakota and Kristen could afford it with their Twilight money to play Cherie Currie and Joan Jett respectfully. They actually nailed it. Teenage chicks in corsets and electric the 70' was just so damn cool. I miss them.

professional alcoholic and pouty lip caddy John Rhys-Meyers was only 21 when he undertook the role of Bryan Slade; a Marc Bolan and David Bowie hybrid in Velvet Goldmine, hands down, one of my favorite films; one of my favorite sub-genre's of music; Glam rock. Directed by one of my favorite living filmmakers Todd Haynes, so really pretty fucking perfect. 
Ewan McGregor; same movie. Curt Wild was an amalgam of two of my favorite musicians; Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. And all the other favorites I mentioned prior, so you get it. 
Out of the 7 actors that played a version of Bob Dylan, Cate Blanchett definitely outshines all of them in I'm Not There (again, by Todd Haynes), not just because of the gender fluidity, but her speaking style, mannerisms, and attitude of Bob Dylan during his rock transition was absolutely something else. She should have won the Oscar that year. You know what? She should win every Oscar she's nominated for.
Oddly hot weirdo Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line was the role he was born to play. It was nuanced and really worked on, you could tell that it was almost an immersion and not an imitation.

Petit Frenchy Marion Cotillard won an Oscar for her performance of national treasure Edith Piaf. I kind of am severely in love with Edith Piaf, the first music I listened to was all of her recordings, so it's kind of an unhealthy obsession. I truly believe that no better music exists. A lot comes close but Piaf poured her heart into every song and the passion of her voice gets under your skin and grabs you by the spine. This metaphor is not making any sense. She is the greatest torch singer to ever torch sing, and the pain of her life is in every note she hits. Marion did her own singing, and she nailed the fuck out of this.

Ok trailers below: 

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