rock and roll

The Film Playlist: Bohemian Rhapsody

Obviously a film title that is also a song title would have no trouble making The Film Playlist. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to write about a film for the playlist. The latest Freddie Mercury biopic released on November 2nd in the U.S.  happens to be too good not to include.

The film stars Rami Malek as the late great Freddie Mercury, frontman for the legendary British rock and roll band Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen from their founding until their performance at Live Aid in 1985. It also stars Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Joe Mazzello as John Deacon and Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin. The screenplay was written by Anthony McCarten and was directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher (Singer was fired half-way through production and was replaced by Fletcher, though Singer received full directing credit based on DGA guidelines. Fletcher is listed as an executive producer.)

The film begins with showing the formation of Queen and Freddie’s transformation into the group’s lead singer. It shows how much Freddie loved and was inspired by Mary Austin. It also shows how the band landed a record deal with EMI Records and makes reference to the many hit songs Queen is still famous for today. The film also touches on Freddie Mercury’s struggle with his family, his sexuality, and his battle with AIDS, the disease that ultimately lead to his death in 1991.

After researching the film, I learned that there were many historical inaccuracies depicted in the movie. I would start listing them, but there are more than enough that I would recommend reading this article after seeing the film. I’ve also heard about a few more beyond that article as well.

Regardless of the historical inaccuracy of the Bohemian Rhapsody, I thought it put Queen’s music first, which is what I loved about it. Any time a scene regarding Freddie’s life happened, it seemed like the next scene would circle back to music. There were scenes showing the band creating songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “Love of My Life”, and many others. There were also scenes showing the band playing many of their songs live including the final scenes of the film at their Live Aid performance, which had me singing along to “We Are the Champions”.

The funny thing about Bohemian Rhapsody is that I never planned on seeing the film. I didn’t even realize it was actually a movie until it was already in theaters. In the first few weeks after its release though I heard a lot about it from many people. I decided I should see it after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my little cousin building Spotify playlists that had tons of Queen songs on them. I’m glad I did because the film was incredible. Malek kills it as Freddie Mercury and it made me appreciate how many Queen songs I knew and how many of their songs are still hits today.

I knew after I saw Bohemian Rhapsody that I needed to write about it and promptly add it to The Film Playlist. It’s focus on music is special and makes the audience appreciate just how legendary Queen and Freddie Mercury are to rock and roll history.

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The Film Playlist: The Runaways

I’m sure most of you know who Joan Jett is. Even if you don’t, I’m sure you’ve heard the song “I Love Rock & Roll”. What you may or may not know is that “I Love Rock & Roll” is actually a cover song. The song is originally by the British rock band, The Arrows. What you also may or may not know is that before Joan Jett started Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (the band famous for the song “I Love Rock & Roll”), she was the rhythm guitarist in an all-girl rock band called The Runaways, and in 2010, a drama film about the band was released.

The Runaways stars Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as lead singer, Cherie Currie. It was written and directed by Floria Sigismondi and based off a book by Currie, herself. In the film, Joan Jett, a rebellious teenager, wants to become a rock star. Fortunately, one night at a local club she meets record producer, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), and mentions forming an all-girl rock band. Fowley has an interest in the project and introduces Joan to drummer, Sandy West. The meeting ignites the formation of The Runaways. They find Cherie Currie in a club one night while on a search for hot blondes to be a part of the group and invite her to tryout. Like Joan, the movie introduces Cherie as a teenager who also dreams of rock stardom, having lip synced a performance to David Bowie’s “Lady Grinning Soul” in a high school talent show. At the tryout, when the band criticizes Cherie’s audition song choice, Fowley and Joan write a spur of the moment song for Cherie to sing, “Cherry Bomb”. It solidify’s her spot in the band, and leads to a future filled with touring, parties, drugs, alcohol and rock & roll.

Since the movie is based off of Currie’s memoir, it focuses primarily on Currie’s story as part of The Runaways from 1975-1977 (the band was active from 1975-1979), her problem with drugs, and relationship with Joan. The movie also features the band’s most famous songs, “Cherry Bomb”, “Hollywood”, “Queens of Noise”, “California Paradise”, and “You Drive Me Wild”. The film received positive feedback from critics and fans but still under performed at the box office, only grossing around 4.7 million dollars.

When I heard about The Runaways, it was during the same era of the Twilight series phenomenon. Of course, Kristen Stewart was pretty big on the Hollywood scene at the time because of her lead role of Bella Swan in Twilight series. Dakota Fanning also starred in most of the films as Jane, a member of the most powerful vampire coven, the Volutri, so knowing both of the two actresses well hyped me up for The Runaways. When I finally saw the film, I loved it. I loved hearing the story behind the band and watching a film that showed the 70’s rock & roll scene. It was also pretty bad ass to see a group of girls performing like they did. Seeing the movie lead me to an interest in The Runaways. I downloaded their music and frequently sang “Cherry Bomb” with my friends when we hung out. It was such a hard, edgy song that most times we’d scream the words “cherry bomb” during the chorus.

The Runaways were typically a hard rock, punk rock, heavy metal style band. They released three studio albums under Mercury Records and one with Cherry Red Records. They went through several lineups during their short existence, but Joan and Cherie, along with Lita Ford and Sandy West were mainstays. Cherie left the band in 1977 after a blow up with Ford (Joan took over lead vocals), while the others were with the group until the band split in 1979 after some disagreements over music style. The movie depicts the blow-up between Cherie and Lita near the conclusion of the film.

The Runaways fits The Film Playlist well. It’s a great music film and like all the films on the playlist, is a must-see for any music fan. It’s an edgy drama that shows the story of this historic rock group. Since it does feature a real-life band, I figured a few song recommendations by The Runaways were in order too.

  1. Cherry Bomb
  2. You Drive Me Wild
  3. Rock & Roll
  4. Thunder
  5. California Paradise
  6. I Love Playin’ With Fire
  7. Queens of Noise
  8. I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are
  9. Hollywood
  10. School Days