Bohemian Rhapsody represents a weird point for Bryan Singer and Queen. No, I’m not talking about the fact that Singer has been allegedly diddling minors since making Apt Pupil. I’m referring to the fact that Singer has slipped enough that he’s doing musical biopics. Hell, forget that. Singer is getting fired from musical biopics and replaced by the Eddie the Eagle director. Much like the best of 1970s Rock, Singer’s creative and personal life is starting to look a Behind the Music special. So, how does this all dovetail?
Rock and/or Roll biopics are the definition of formulaic. Everyone knows the key points and the fans know the fine details. While I was working how to approach the film, our esteemed Los Angeles correspondent was dispatched to cover the film’s debut in ScreenX. Flynn’s views on the movie differ slightly from mine, but the gist remains the same. Who cares about watching a moderately affordable crew cover a band whose musical licensing must have been into the 7 figure range?
The curse of the biographical picture is the burden of a known reality. We know that Freddie Mercury is dead and has become a lionized Saint in the LGBT community. Should we expect an audience to care about the nuts and bolts of making A Night at the Opera? What about the thrills of fighting it out with EMI over releasing an album? Hell no. People like the might and majesty of recreating the Live Aid set. While that is easily the film’s showstopper, the audience can watch the real thing on a YouTube loop.
The rock biopic hits all of the right emotions, but ultimately plays as a simulation of a simulation. Yes, we have a Let’s Play culture but only for short spurts of time. Ultimately, these kinds of films get attention because people like seeing the familiar. They also freak out when the familiar is challenged or what they read into the familiar isn’t given equal time. Months ago, the socially upright threw a fit because someone started a false rumor that the movie wouldn’t interest Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality. Then, they started harping on Singer’s Guild mandated return to the final edit of the film.
Why oh why can’t the real world run by the rules that my woke feelings put upon it?!? It’s a messy business and one that only puts a smudge on the shiny veneer of this film. Surprisingly, it looks like the film is going to take the top of the Box Office, while leaving a mixed audience in its wake. Given that we are days away from a massive Vanity Fair article about Bryan Singer dropping, I can only see the luster of Bohemian Rhapsody getting dinged even harder.
But, does it matter? The answer is No. Singer might be a man of questionable repute, but Singer is a craftsman working on a project bigger than him. Think about this. You have a favorite restaurant and you order the same dish every couple of weeks. You have been doing this for years. Do you know the name of the people that cook your food? If you’re lucky, you might get a first name of one person. But, you aren’t aware of the process that brings that meal to your plate.
You eat it up, make pithy comments and either return or not return. Going online to wax poetic about how you can taste the social malfeasance means nothing if that sour spot is nowhere present in that product you can’t stop lapping up. What am I saying is don’t confuse the artist with the art. It is super easy to do now more than ever. After all, the best chicken cook I know used to shoot heroin before cooking. Now that she’s clean, it just doesn’t taste right.