Tag Archives: Biopic

I Am Michael

Yes or No_

Two James Franco movies in a row? What the hell is going on in the world? Well, I guess it serves me right for messing up Jillian’s first choice and only being able to find a non-subtitled copy, rendering it useless. This was Plan B.

I must admit I was attracted to the story and to Zachary Quinto‘s involvement – and this has been on my list for a little while, so I wasn’t that upset. Welcome to another post in April’s Based on a True Story category.

One man. Two lives.

I Am Michael (2015)

Based on the fascinating true-life story of Michael Glatze, a gay activist who becomes a Christian pastor after identifying as a heterosexual.

Starring: James Franco • Zachary Quinto • Emma Roberts

*Minor spoilers*

Michael (Franco) is in a happy, long term relationship with Bennett (Quinto). The pair live and work in San Francisco where Michael is a gay rights activist and editor of XY Magazine. Life is tough but good as the socially conscious pair explore the LGBT+ scene, sexual liberation and the challenges of being gay in the early noughties. They also get a dog together which is probably the most important milestone in this entire film, right?

You can do way better, Zach

All is well until Michael has a health scare, believing he is afflicted with the same heart condition that claimed his father’s life when he was just 13 (Michael, not his dad). His mother passed away six years later, when he was 19. Despite the doctors insistence that it is just a panic attack (later it is revealed that he has Celiac’s disease), it sends ripples of panic through Michael and he starts to question everything.

Unfortch, most of that is how his homosexuality can possibly live alongside his newfound religious beliefs – which it turns out, it can’t. So Michael explores several different faiths, including Mormonism and Buddhism, all the while renouncing cock, his friends and the gay lifestyle. This is a stinger for Bennett and their mutual friends who don’t understand Michael’s need to pursue his “true self”. And nobody can blame them for that.

Michael’s Frosted Tips Anonymous group was brutal at times

When Michael travels to Wyoming to attend a Christian bible camp, he meets Rebekah (Emma Roberts), a nice Christian girl also trying to figure out life (I hear you, gurl) – and they fall in love. Which is handy as Michael’s just about to become the pastor of his own church. How will Rebekah take the news of Michael’s fruity past?

Well, this film is fine but it’s pretty lack lustre if I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with the performances but it’s very introspective and boring at times. I mean, the story is astonishing – and even though I am against it in so many ways – it is a true account of one man’s journey so I have to accept that.

I do have sympathy for anyone struggling with finding themselves and if Michael lived the life he truly wanted to then you can’t really argue with that. I just find it awful in one of the final scenes when he speaks to Bennett and refers to his former choices as ‘abnormal’.

Some of the secondary characters are pretty good, I have a lot of time for third wheel Tyler (Charlie Carver) who’s just adorable. But this is quite forgettable and it didn’t command my full attention either – so I haven’t hit you with a lot of detail because I was pottering around for a lot of it.

“I’m a hetero, CIS white guy now so you will listen to my bullshit…”

James Franco for the record irritates me so fucking much. He’s just so skeezy and I hope he doesn’t pop up in too many of our future films. Maybe we should ban him.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does wifey thing of our Plan B movie? Would she advocate for it like a boss or renounce it soon as look at it? Find out here, obvs where Jill gives a way more detailed take on the whole situation.

The Dirt

April is now officially Biopics (or Based on a True Story) month, which I admit I only suggested so I could shoehorn in this movie this weekend. It’s been getting mixed reviews all over the shop so Lord knows what to expect. If nothing else at least it will be debauchery central up in here.

The Dirt (2019)

The story of how Mötley Crüe came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.

Starring: Douglas Booth • Iwan Rheon • Daniel Webber • Machine Gun Kelly

*Minor spoilers*

When a movie more or less begins with a female ejaculation scene (not portrayed nearly enough outside porn), you know you’re in for a ride. Whether it’s a good one or not is for you to decide for yourself though.

This is the rags-to-riches tale of how Mötley Crüe came to be pretty much the most rock n’ roll band ever to have lived (after S Club, obviously).

We begin with the metaphorical birth of Nicky Sixx (played as an adult by pretty boy Douglas Booth) – born into the world as Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. Barely a teenager, sick of his mother and done with an endless parade of deadbeat step-dads, he frames her for assault and takes off on his own, stopping in only to officially change his name forever and burn Frank’s ID.

Sofa-hopping and just about getting by with his current band Sister, one night he meets a fan in the form of drummer Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly). The pair soon form a new band (and friendship) – and recruit surly lead-guitarist Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and lead-singer Vince Neil (played superbly by Daniel Webber).

Beetlejuice’s new look was pretty well received

Tommy Lee – in contrast to Nicky – comes from a harmonious home, supported in his creative endeavours by happily married parents. This leads him on a quest to recreate their whirlwind magic for himself, which explains the multiple marriages in his history (no shade).

Mick meanwhile, is hiding a secret health condition which is slowing him down big time, while Vince is the charismatic front-man with the world (and all its babes) at his feet. As the band sign to a label and begin to take the world seriously by storm, their trouble really begins – and I can’t imagine being able to resist half the temptations afforded to them myself.

This scene is pants

In short drugs, booze and broads are the order of the day but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?!

You can kind of imagine most of it but key moments include the 1984 vehicular manslaughter of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle (Max Milner) at the hands of a drunk driving Vince (and subsequent super lenient jail time), touring with Ozzy Osbourne (Tony Cavalero) and the near-death of Nicky Sixx by heroine overdose.

Tommy loses the love of his life Heather Locklear (Rebekah Graf) because he can’t keep his T-bone in the pantry – and Mick finally has hip surgery. There’s rehab, there are arguments and relapse – and there’s a life-altering event in Vince’s life that is even more prolific than the car accident.

The question is, after everything they’ve been through can our rockers pull it together and see it through to the end – or will they burn out like the brightest star?

That shit is bandanas

The Dirt is entertaining, I’ll give it that. I liked the brief time we spent with Ozzy who I think was cast really well. I know for a fact I was here for those infamous rock n’ roll shenanigans and watching him licking up his own piss and snorting ants was fucking disgusting but also the kind of wildness I expected.

However, while there are loads of sex and drug scenes, it didn’t go quite as far as I wanted. I *think* in some ways it’s because of the casting of the band. While Machine Gun Kelly is a pretty solid Tommy Lee, he makes the character seem almost wholesome. And Nicky is positively baby faced. I don’t buy them as seedy adults, I’m sorry.

I hardly know anything about the band apart from Tommy & Pammy’s sex tape – and the fact my horrible ex really fucking liked them – so maybe I’m wrong about that. There’s a chance they’re perfectly cast and I just don’t know it but honestly, I don’t think so.

Women do not get a good deal in this movie. They play either mothers or whores (sometimes both simultaneously) and that says a lot about the mindset of the group at the time. I suppose, even though I don’t like this one bit, it’s to be expected.

Always time for a cheeky Nando’s, even when you’re uber famous

I would have liked to know more about the crash if I’m honest and seen more evidence that it played on Vince Neil’s mind at all. From this portrayal it isn’t clear. However, I think he was played beautifully and I felt a lot when bad things happen to his family (even though wife and daughter are incredibly 2D).

I HATE the breaking of the fourth wall though, it’s so overused these days. The interruption every now and again to correct a so-called storyline fact is supposed to be cute but it’s just grating. So yeah, I had fun but that’s about it. It’s quite average really and that’s a shame considering the collection of true characters in the band.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my rock star think of this one? Is she ready to follow it around the globe in a halter neck or would she rather drop it from the label? Find out here, fuckers.

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family (2019)

A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

Starring: Florence Pugh • Dwayne Johnson • Lena Headey • Vince Vaughn • Nick Frost

*Minor spoilers*

I love an underdog movie and the true story of Paige the WWE diva is a really satisfying watch. Sure, there aren’t many surprises and the narrative is pretty formulaic – but there’s a comfort in that.

If I’m honest I didn’t expect to love it as much and I think that’s mostly down to the casting. Saraya Knight AKA Britani Knight AKA Paige is played by the lovely Florence Pugh – an actress who first blew me away in Lady Macbeth.

Hands up if you love Florence Pugh!

As Saraya – or Ray to her family – tackles minor success and then the absolute brutality of what fame and fortune really requires from her, Pugh takes her through every emotion. Elation, guilt, despair – determination. She is an absolute joy to watch.

Ray’s family are a dream too – in the form of Mum Julia (Lena Headey) and Dad Ricky (Nick Frost) – and brother Zak (Jack Lowden), her wrestling partner-in-crime. The unit live and breathe the sport and run their own, barely surviving wrestling gym. Both Ray and Zak teach the community kids and generally keep them out of trouble and off the streets.

The kids and all the side characters peppered around the gym are really fun, as are the appearances of Hugh (director Stephen Merchant) and Daphne (Julia Davis) – straight-laced parents of Zak’s baby mama. The dinner party scene really made me chuckle a lot.

Adopt me, please.

When the siblings finally get the opportunity of a lifetime to audition in front of WWE trainer (Vince Vaughn), it has massive consequences for the family and Ray – and more so for the relationship between brother and sister. In both good and bad ways.

Ray travels to Florida to try out with the big boys and girls – and the standard could not be more different. Can she embrace who she really is and find her own place in this world?

There are some really interesting themes explored here – not least the devastation of being left behind felt by Zak. As his sister lives out their shared dream, he has to come to terms with focusing on a new one and it takes him a while.

In happier times…

Ray has to decide how much she really wants to be part of the WWE’s main roster and – who knew – the girl also has a lot of growing up to do. Well, she is only EIGHTEEN.

She (now going by Paige) struggles with the other girls, making lofty assumptions about them because they’re mostly models and dancers. Her illusion that they deserve their places in try-outs less than she does her no favours. Can she claw it back with these women and make a couple of much-needed friends along the way?

“Think we’re gonna need some Girl Power in this joint ASAP…”

Well, thankfully there’s a shift in both perspective and fortune for Paige – and I loved it. As soon as the girls start working together, it gets better for all of them. They’re even there are the end when Paige inevitably overcomes all her self-doubt, her guilt and her demons to absolutely smash it.

FWMF is funny, sweet, touching and very good. I’m a fan of the feel-good and now I want to know everything there is to know about the real Paige.

I definitely recommend catching this while it’s still in the theater.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

Things aren’t going great for Lee Israel. Once a lauded writer, her last book – a biography of Estée Lauder – has been a commercial and critical flop. Her agent is avoiding her calls, she’s behind on her rent and she’s just been let go from her job.

Struggling to stay afloat and keep her sick cat from death’s door, Lee sells a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to a local bookseller. Coincidentally, while researching her pet project, another biography this time on Fanny Brice, she finds a letter from Brice to an unknown recipient. Lee sells this to the same bookseller, a lovely woman called Anna (Dolly Wells).

Something Anna says gets Lee to thinking, if the letter contained better content it would no doubt be worth more. An idea is born and Lee begins to forge letters from some of the most prolific deceased writers of all time – Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker – embellishing little details to make them seem more realistic and interesting.

This soon becomes quite the booming business and Lee’s damn good at it. Unfortunately, after one of her Noël Coward letters is sent to a collector who once knew him, it draws suspicion for its openness about his sexuality. Coward was not one to talk so freely about his gayness. In an attempt to keep a low profile and still bring in the coin, Lee calls in a favour from her new friend, drug dealer Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) who agrees to sell the letters for her.

But how long can the pair keep it up when the world of literary collectibles (and the FBI) are on high alert?

I adored this. McCarthy is wonderful as Lee, a woman with immense talent and a drink problem. I find her situation unbearably sad and as things unravel – and she revisits old wounds AND turns away from new opportunities, it hurts to watch. One particular scene made me cry like a baby and it wasn’t dramatic at all, just supremely relatable.

The friendship between Jack and Lee is also lovely if incredibly tempestuous. Jack’s flamboyance contrasts well with Lee’s reluctance to add any sort of colour or frippery to her life. She’s a no-nonsense broad with a mission and has little time for other people, while he’s determined to rinse every ounce of joy out of life before it’s too late – and damn the consequences.

But there are always consequences, aren’t there? – and our pair are about to learn them. I can’t imagine anyone not having a good time with Jack and Lee but it’s a must for any fan of literature and masses of gumption. Loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I avoided this film for weeks. Not because I don’t love Freddie or the dad rock anthems of the band Queen but just because I wasn’t feeling it.

Although I love films that make me cry, I don’t like the ones that seem out to get me from the offset (The Theory of Everything for instance). If I feel like I’m being deliberately manipulated emotionally then consider me out. But this movie isn’t like that thankfully and I enjoyed every toe-tapping, arse-wiggling moment.

Rami Malek‘s central performance is honestly exceptional. While it took a moment to get into his rhythm (just me?), before long I believed him completely. The Live Aid performance particularly showcases just how hard he must have worked to nail the perfect Freddie.

Rhapsody follows Freddie as he meets his band mates for the first time, falls in love with Mary (Lucy Boynton), becomes the most famous front man in history and then some. While it touches upon the last years of his life, I was heartened by the fact that this is not the focus. He lead a fabulous life and that’s why we’re all here, am I right?

There have been criticisms about the movie though and I can see why. As Freddie comes to terms with his homosexuality, he enters a world of drugs and debauchery which could be viewed as a negative take on the gay scene. The relentless focus on our leading man is also awkward and takes away a lot of the rest of the band’s contribution to their history. Now I’m not the world’s leading Queen historian but it’s been suggested that some of the timeline is off and that the story is embellished in places for creative license. SHOCKER.

All these things are legitimate criticisms and I respect them, however I got what I wanted from Bohemian Rhapsody. While the rags to riches/pride before a fall narrative is nothing new, it works for me. I got a kick ass Freddie, some genuine laughs and one of the best soundtracks of the year – so colour me happy.

Rami for an Oscar nom this year or I walk.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? What are your thoughts?

Amy (Film) Review

Amy_Movie_PosterWhenever I know how a film is going to end, I always watch with hope in my heart. If I can just want it enough, surely I can singlehandedly change the outcome? Alas, my heroic parallel futures only ever occur in my head and the endings inevitably happen just as their creators intended, or in this case, just how they did in real life.

Amy (2015)

Director: Asif Kapadia
Stars: Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson

Amy is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Poignant, funny in places, sad, infuriating, joyful. Above all, it is pure heartbreak.

Constructed from video footage collected throughout Amy’s life, it lets us in on the life of one of the world’s greatest talents. Charting the rise and fall, we learn more about Amy’s aversion to fame, more about her destructive relationship with Blake; her lifelong battle with depression, her best friends and the people who surrounded, and loved her to her final day.

It’s really hard not to be mad though by the end. How could this have happened? Why didn’t her family stop her? How could she be gone when she’d finally cleaned up; finally begun to fight back? It’s not fair and that’s the kicker, isn’t it?

I’m not going to go into too much about the film because I hope you see it for yourselves but I will say that it’s beautifully presented, that Amy is treated respectfully throughout. Even in her lowest moments I feel she is portrayed as the vulnerable girl she was, not the punchline to some terrible joke.

It’s easy to click your teeth and want to throw your popcorn at the screen at certain points, particularly when Blake shows up. What I wouldn’t give to smack his face and blame him for everything, especially when he smugly declares on camera that he can do better than Amy, after everything they went through together. But the story isn’t that cut and dry, is it?amy-asifkapadia-photo2

Mitch too. When he tells Amy’s managers that she doesn’t need rehab, it just doesn’t seem like he’s all there. There’s something about him that has never sat right with me but that personal opinion, innit? I’ll never meet him.

It’s not all bad though. It was a real pleasure to spend my rainy Sunday afternoon back in Amy’s company. When Frank was released in 2003, it really struck a chord. Stronger Than Me has been my fighting anthem for over a decade and at different periods, it’s been Winehouse’s vocal that has spurred me on.

Highlights of this documentary are: all of it really. Amy is hilarious. When she succeeds on screen you’ll want to jump up and clap. When she’s performing, you’ll want to dance. When she’s finally gone, I dare you not to feel completely bereft for quite some time afterwards.

Please see it, she deserves to be remembered for so much more than those negative tabloid stories.