Music a big theme this November
A STAR IS BORN & BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

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Photo by Warner Bros.

This November has offered up two superb music-related movies – the remake of A STAR IS BORN starring BRADLEY COOPER for which this is also his directorial debut and the fabulous LADY GAGA who joins the ranks of Jennifer Lopez, Cher and Barbra Streisand proving she can act as well as sing, and perhaps even surpassing them. The other treat was the Freddie Mercury biopic BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY starring RAMI MALEK, whose release was eagerly awaited by all Queen fans.

First up – A STAR IS BORN.
A remake of a well-told tale, this is not the first remake, nor is it even the second or third, but the fourth. The first 1954 version starred Judy Garland and James Mason, the second in 1976 featured Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and in 2013, the tale was retold again in AASHIQUI 2 with Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kappor.

BRADLEY COOPER and LADY GAGA are retelling a well-known tale, making the creative challenge all the greater, and the comparisons with previous already very good incarnations unyielding. But not only did this version live up to its predecessors, I think it succeeded in surpassing them.

I was a huge huge fan of Barbra Streisand, and adored the version she made with country star Kris Kristofferson – both actors there were as famous for their singing careers as their acting ones. In Bradley Cooper’s version, they were banking on one of today’s biggest music stars – Lady Gaga – to pull it off, but it was going to be a gamble, as a talent for singing does not always naturally extend to acting, as witnessed with Madonna’s many attempts to become a movie star.

Lady Gaga here proves she has talent way beyond her powerful voice and her propensity to shock. In this movie, gone is the theatrical Gaga with heavy eyeliner and severe bobcut hairstyle, and instead she is a stripped bare, make-up free version of herself – somewhat almost unrecognisable at first – and the more you watch, the more you love her. She has talent in the spadefuls and her onscreen chemistry with the equally talented Bradley Cooper is evident from the start.

And Lady Gaga is not the only good thing about this movie. Just as Gaga is proving she can act, Bradley Cooper is proving he can sing, and be a rockstar. He is utterly believable as superstar rocker Jackson Maine, and swooningly attractive – he should wear his hair in this style ALL the time. His singing voice is so good I actually even preferred some of his stuff to Lady Gaga’s in the movie.

Some trivia – Bradley Cooper came on board this project as a directorial challenge, and at first did not consider himself a contender at all to play the male lead – in fact he wanted JACK WHITE, an established musician who also has acting experience, to play Jackson Maine. The producers rejected this idea, and thank goodness, as the movie worked so well not just because Lady Gaga could act, but because she had a first rate leading man to play off.

All the original songs in the movie are superb, but it succeeds as a movie because it is a love story and it is the characters you come away loving, not just the songs. Of the many shows I’ve trekked to to watch this past year, this is definitely a standout one, and deserving of Oscar honours.

Wood Tiger Bradley Cooper and Fire Tiger Lady Gaga achieve plenty of onscreen chemistry in the recent remake of A Star Is Born. What can be more sizzling that 1 Tiger are two Tigers! In the year of the Dog, the astrological ally of the Tiger, these two are backed by energies that are friendly and auspicious. Come Oscar season in February 2019, they enter the Year of the Boar, the secret friend of their shared astrological sign of Tiger. A sign of things to come?

 

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY WORKS. JUST.

Photo by Photo Credit: Nick Delaney

The other movie to watch this year-end is the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic.

Here the songs were bound to work – Queen was the greatest rock band there ever was! Whether or not the movie worked, you could close your eyes and just enjoy the good music. But picking the right actor to take on one of the most charismatic personalities of our lifetime was the biggest challenge. RAMI MALEK to his credit gives it a real go, but falls far short of doing Freddie Mercury justice.

The show has garnered a number of great reviews and the world seems to be raving at how accurately Rami Malek does the Mercury strut and how closely he managed to channel Freddie in the final LIVE AID scene – a performance that has gone down in history as one of the best live rock performances of ALL time.

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While the Freddie Mercury life story is an interesting tale, Bohemian Rhapsody does not tell it at all with strict accuracy. The movie begins with a young Freddie working luggage at Heathrow being teased for being a “Paki” boy. Then he is mocked for his trademark buck teeth – a detail the movie plays up a bit too much, with Rami Malek sticking out his front teeth all movie long, something I think caused him to speak with almost a lisp. If you watch any Freddie interview and listen to his speaking voice, the real Frddie does NOT speak with a lisp.

Perhaps all this is done for dramatic effect, but as a Freddie Mercury fan, this did not sit well.

The movie also plays up the alcoholic, drug-fuelled lifestyle that Freddie Mercury falls into, which translates into Malek acting out an almost spaced-out Freddie – but again, this does not do the real Freddie justice. Not one time has Freddie Mercury come across spaced out or high in his own interviews – he was dramatic, theatrical, charismatic, funny and showy – all the marks of a true performer – but he was never “spacey”.

After his death, Freddie Mercury’s bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor took it upon themselves to give interviews to stand up for their bandmate, to dispel the rumours that Freddie was an irresponsible alcohol and drug user with a promiscuous sex life. They strongly refuted that fact, and said that on the contrary, he was always extremely responsible, hardworking and highly dedicated to his music and his work, and he cared deeply for the people who were close to him.

Bohemian Rhapsody is highly watchable, but you’ll leave the movie adamant that was not the Freddie we all loved and cherished, and it will take you to your iPhone to download all of Queen’s greatest hits to put back into your playlist, and to YouTube to watch videos of the real Freddie – and then you will agree that the Freddie in the movie came nowhere close to the real thing.

Rami Malek channels Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, but despite the accurate costumes, hairstyling, makeup and carefully choreographed body language, falls short.

 

MUSIC IS ENERGY
What has all this to do with feng shui? Well, in fact, music has the biggest thing of all to do with feng shui. Music makes you feel; it changes the ambience and energies of any living space when you play it.

Good music makes you feel something. If you play happy music, it lifts your spirits. If you play sad music, it makes you melancholy. If you play angry music, it riles you, and gives you the courage to act on your convictions. All kinds of music affect us – but the music that can really make a positive change in your life is music that inspires you.

In these two movies, there is a abundance of music that will touch something deep within you – and while it will make you feel a whole range of emotions – the point is it will make you feel, and it will make you come alive.