Dec. 2nd, 2018

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Catching up on some movies I missed writing about.

Bohemian RhapsodyI know Bohemian Rhapsody had a few sticky reviews re not going deeply enough into Freddie Mercury's life and the real man, but a movie can only do so much, and this was worth seeing for the music alone. Also the performances were superb. Yes, OK, maybe Rami Malek's teeth were a little overdone re the overbite, but in all other ways he made a very believable Freddie. I'd like to do a special shout-out for Gwilym Lee who looked more like Brian May that Brian May himself. When is a biopic not a biopic? According to Freddie's partner, Jim Hutton, Freddie was diagnosed HIV positive in 1987, while the Live Aid concert took place in 1985. The movie would have us believe that Freddie already knew he was under a death sentence (as AIDS was then) when he walked out on stage to perform the iconic set that cemented Queen's position as a rock legend. Also the way Freddie met his partner, Jom, was certainly not as shown in the movie, so take the 'facts' with a pinch of salt. The music, however... Brilliant.

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Crimes of GrindlewaldThis is visually striking and the magical special effects are... well... magical, but as far as storytelling goes it's a bit of a hot mess, and when you actually examine it, it really doesn't move the story far forward from the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I'm not a great Eddie Redmayne fan, which doesn't help (though I admit he's an excellent actor) and they missed a few tricks with Johnny Depp as Grindlewald. I AM a Johnny Depp fan, but his Grindlewald makeup was so unappealing that you couldn't envisage the character being charismatic enough to gather a band of followers.

OK, so what happens? Magizoologist Newt Scamander, due to a misundertanding, now has a strained relationship with love interest Tina (established in the first movie). Grindlewald has escaped from the American Ministry of Magic. Credence Barebone (presumed dead) had reemerged in Paris. So when Dumbledore sends Newt on an undercover trip to Paris, all bets are off. We meet Nagini, a maledictus snake shape-changer, who will later become Voldemort's creature, and there's a guest appearance by Nicholas Flamel and some cute nifflers, but to be honest I'm already losing the thread of what happened when and to whom. Not a good sign.

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Robin HoodThis owes little allegiance to the  medieval ballads of Robin Hood from which retellers of the tales have taken inspiration for the last century. To be honest the trailer made it look like a cross between Walt Disney and Assassin's Creed, but against all odds I found that I actually enjoyed it. Of course the only way to approach something like this is to consider it as an alternate universe version. The only thing that maps on to more traditional versions of Robin Hood are the names. Forget anything approaching an attempt at historical accuracy. Nottingham never looked like that and the costumes were about as realistic as those in Knight's Tale (which is not necesserily a bad thing because it's still one of my favourite movies).

Once my brain had readjusted to the alternate universe, I went along with this for the ride. Against my expectations Taron Egerton made a respectable Robin (thought it would have been nice if he'd managed a Nottinghamshire accent instead of Essex-boy speak). Eve Hewson as Marion was, for once, not in need of rescuing from the lecherous Sherriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn dressed to look more like an elite Nazi from WW2) Jamie Foxx played John as a Moor recently relocated from the Crusades. At no time did I hear anyone call him 'little'.

Special mention to Tim Minchin as Tuck who was not only there for comic relief, but had a serious side as well.

It's definitely a rock and roll version of Robin Hood, but none the worse for all that. And the ending was set up for a possible sequel. I find I'm quite looking forward to it.

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The Other Miss BridgertonI was in the mood for something frivolous and this hit the spot.

It's a light and fluffy historical romance in which Poppy Bridgerton meets Andrew Rokesby. These two are members of families in Ms. Quinn's long series of books, each dealing with one family member finding true love in spite of all difficulties.

In this case the relationship doesn't start well when Andrew kidnaps Poppy and carries her off on a sea voyage to Portugal. There are Reasons (TM), of course, and it will be no surprise to tell you that it all turns out all right in the end… but there are a few twists while love grows.

Yes, OK, you tend to know what you're going to get with historical romance, but Ms. Quinn is adept at witty dialogue and she handles the passion well. My only slight quibble with this is the use of contemporary swearing. (I have no problem with cussing, but some of the turns of phrase were distinctly un-historical, which dragged me out of the story briefly.) Also, unusually for Ms. Quinn, there's an interesting chunk of story glossed over a bit too quickly at the end.

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