The theme for this month – Rockin’ Out of the Closets

Theatrical Release

Rocketman (2019)

Directed by Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill (2011), Eddie the Eagle)
Cinematography by George Richmond (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Golden Circle)
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh and Tom Bennett.

“Blasts off to the stratosphere, powered by the propulsive music and Egerton’s astonishing performance.

“That’s Egerton singing Elton’s song, with skill and verve, owning the tune, owning the picture. For a final touch, the wildly applauding audience levitates as well.

“Not the way it happened, of course. Like much about Rocketman, director Fletcher (who also took over directing duties on Bohemian Rhapsody) and screenwriter Lee Hall have taken great artistic liberties with the facts of Elton’s life. They turn Rocketman into a boldly imagined phantasmagoria that captures his spirit and illuminates his triumphs and travails.” Soren Andersen, Seattle Times

“He indulges in rock star excess, striking up an affair with John Reid (Madden). He develops a drinking and drug problem, and it’s exacerbated because he feels his homosexuality dooms him to a life of loneliness. His friend and lyricist Bernie Taupin (Bell) prefers women, while John’s mother (Howard) essentially calls him a deviant. The framing device for the film is John at the world’s most patient Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He tells his life story while wearing an exaggerated devil costume, and his defiant attitude soon gives way toward self-reflection.

“To the film’s credit, it seems self-aware about its biopic tropes.” Alan Zilberman, Pretty Young Things

“Rocketman is, miraculously, that enrapturing because it knows what makes a rock star so celebrated: for how the music makes us feel. Lighter, freer, more alive. Rocketman doesn’t just show us the ecstatic headlines of the reviews that John earned for his Troubadour show (though it does do that too). That actual airiness between feet and floor is the very jubilation of music, the manifestation of the mystery of the fame of pop performers.

“But there’s more good stuff going on here. This is an absolutely electrifying movie in how it deconstructs the typical rags-to-riches, sex-drugs-and-rock’n’-roll story: it starts with the downfall and uses the comeback path as its map for exploring how it all came to be. Recovery and redemption mirror rise and fall. The film opens with its damaged hero — a stunningly good Egerton (Robin Hood, but best known till now for the Kingsman action spy comedies) — stalking into rehab in full ‘Elton John’ regalia: a jumpsuit in tangerine sparkle-flames, devil horns, feathered wings, ‘electric boots.'” MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

“I don’t much care for the Elton John biopic Rocketman, directed by Fletcher, in much the same way that I didn’t admire Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury/Queen movie also helmed by Fletcher after he replaced Bryan Singer. Starring the overly strenuous Egerton, Rocketman is a campy, overblown, self-glorifying fantasia about John’s breakthrough years that dubiously draws a direct correspondence between the songs he composed and the scandalous, extravagant life he’s lived. Watching it, you just know it’s going to end with Egerton’s Elton singing ‘I’m Still Standing.'” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Archival films

Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Written and directed by Todd Haynes (Carol, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story)
Cinematography by Maryse Alberti (Crumb, When We Were Kings)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christian Bale, Janet McTeer, Toni Collette, Eddie Izzard and Emily Woof.

“Velvet is an entertaining and stylish celebration of the rock music scene by Todd Haynes (Safe/Poison), that has the right musical feel but offers little else that I found interesting. This fictionalized story is a thin disguise for David Bowie’s bio, and it is a rip-off of the Citizen Kane way of telling a fictionalized biography. Haynes, also, throws a bit of the Oscar Wilde cause célèbre into the picture. He is the patron saint for all such ‘rock dandies.'” Dennis Schwartz

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel (Drive, The Usual Suspects)
Starring: Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Lucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen and Allen Leech.

“But that feeling never returned, and Bohemian Rhapsody quickly won me over. There is enormous empathy for Mercury here, and the film never has to mute his complexity to earn that. But even more so, though, it’s the power of Queen’s music that filled me up: the rousing good cheer of it, its sheer rock ’n’ roll joy. There’s a scene midfilm in which Mercury is describing to a record-company executive his vision of the album that will become their A Night at the Opera, and he cheekily invokes “the unbridled joy of musical theater.” That’s what Bohemian Rhapsody is.” MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

Rocketman is at The Grand Cinema.
Velvet Goldmine will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, June 7 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
Bohemian Rhapsody will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, June 14 in the CSL.

The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, June 19 in the CSL.

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