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Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Boynton’

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY”  My rating: B

134 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Remi Malek is a most unconventional star.  His biggest break to date has been as the lead of cable’s “Mr. Robot,” where he plays an emotionally-challenged computer genius, a role that perfectly meshes his acting chops with his unusual physiognomy.

He’s a weird-looking dude.

Nevertheless, in Bryan Singer’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” Malek becomes a bona fide movie star, sinking so completely into the role of flamboyant Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury that he immediately joins the frontrunners for the year’s best actor Oscar, turning a rather humdrum musical biopic into something scintillating.

Ramen is charismatic, sexy, funny and ultimately heartbreaking as Mercury, whose baroque (or is it rococo?) sensibilities made Queen one of the most unlikely rock bands of the 1970s and ’80s.

Like the new “A Star is Born,” another film that cannily mines the backstage world of pop/rock, “…Rhapsody” follows a predictable arc, being the story of a rock star’s rise to fame and descent into ego, arrogance and, eventually, death (Mercury died of AIDS in 1991).

But that familiar  — almost cliched — tale provides a solid platform for Malek’s performance —  in addition to offering a musical soundtrack that’ll have you humming days and weeks later.

Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan’s screenplay begins with Farrokh Bulsara (Malek) hustling baggage at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Wherever he goes, the shy Farrokh is a fish out of water.  His fellow workers dismiss him as a “Paki” (Pakistani); his Farsi parents, who fled religious persecution in their native Zanzibar, don’t know what to make of his dramatically long hair and disco fashion sense.

Moreover, the kid has an amazing set of choppers…reportedly Farrokh had four extra incisors (Malek wears a lip-stretching set of fake teeth).

Early on Farrokh takes up with a struggling rock band —  guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), baby-faced drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) — and amazes with his songwriting, theatrical presence and balls-to-the-walls vocals (reportedly a combination of Malek’s voice and that of Mercury impersonator Marc Matel).

Oh, yeah. He also changes his name to Freddy Mercury, a break with his heritage that alienates his traditionalist parents.

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Nicholas Hoult as author J.D. Salinger

“REBEL IN THE RYE” My rating: B- 

106 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“Rebel in the Rye,” the new biopic about reclusive author J.D. Salinger, isn’t bad.

Nor is it particularly inspired.

As an overview of Salinger’s early life, his years of frustration and his emergence as a major American voice with Catcher in the Rye, it lays out the facts competently. Director Danny Strong, making his feature debut after a stint with TV’s “Empire,” puts on a decent show with a limited budget.

And former Brit child actor (“About a Boy”) Nicholas Hoult demonstrates  acting chops that could carry him into more leading man roles.

Strong’s screenplay begins with the PTSD-suffering author in a mental institution in the late 1940s, then flashes back a decade to his college years.

At Columbia Jerry Salinger falls under the influence of writing professor Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey), who sees terrific potential in his student despite the kid’s self-indulgence and an unwillingness to take suggestions from anyone. At the same time  Jerry launches a romance with Oona O’Neill (Zoey Deutch), estranged daughter of acclaimed playwright Eugene O’Neill (and future wife of Charlie Chaplin).

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Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (center) and Sing Street

“SING STREET” My rating: B

106 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Being a teenager sucks.  Good thing there’s rock ‘n’ roll to see you through.

“Sing Street,” the latest from Irish auteur John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”), nails the nexus of adolescence and pop music better than any movie since “The Commitments.”

This story of Dublin teens throwing together their own band — and of the beautiful but troubled girl who inspires it all — is goofy, tuneful and romantic.

And in its leading man, 16-year old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo (no, that’s not a typo), “Sing Street” may have the year’s most appealing newcomer.

The time is 1985 and Ireland is in the crapper.  There’s widespread unemployment and any young person hoping for a decent future is planning a move to England.

The economic realities are inescapable for young Conor (Walsh-Peelo). His fiercely bickering parents (“Orphan Black’s” Maria Doyle Kennedy and “Game of Thrones'” Aidan Gillen) are out of work. They’ve had to yank Conor from his upscale high school and transferred him to the much cheaper Synge Street School, a hotbed of juvenile delinquency run by sadistic clerics.

There’s but one bright spot in all this.  Each morning a gorgeous young woman sits on her stoop opposite the school, boredly puffing on a fag as the wind lifts her teased hair.

Her name is Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and she says she’s an aspiring model. Conor is immediately smitten.  Raphina seems impossibly sophisticated, sexually experienced, and wholly unattainable (in fact, she’s only 16, a year older than our protagonist). But Conor finds the courage to approach her and brazenly suggest that she appear in the music video his band is making.

Only problem is that he doesn’t have a band.

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