Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review (with spoilers!)

I’ve been in a bit of a reading lull since NaNoWriMo started. But I haven’t been in a movie lull. I have AMC’s A-List subscription service, which lets you see three movies/week for $20/month. When I see a movie I like, I don’t feel so guilty seeing it multiple times. I’m paying $20 per month regardless so I might as well get the most out of it.

I didn’t think I would see many movies this month because of NaNoWriMo, but Bohemian Rhapsody came out on 11/2 and I’ve already seen it three times.

If you follow me on Twitter, I’m so sorry that I never shut up about this movie. I’m obsessed with it. But after seeing it a third time last night, I’m not sure that I actually like the movie. I feel very torn about Bohemian Rhapsody.

Obviously the acting and casting is fantastic. Rami Malek owns the role of Freddie Mercury, and watching him talk about Freddie in interviews (this one in particular I just love) makes me love his performance even more. He was so into the role and I think Freddie would have been proud of his portrayal.

Initially, I was so shocked when he was cast as Freddie because the only thing I’d seen him in was Mr. Robot and I had no idea how he could go from that role to being Freddie Mercury. But he was absolutely fantastic.

Gwilym Lee looks and sounds exactly like Brian May. It’s uncanny. I think he might have been my favorite. I loved the moments where he looks at Freddie on stage with such admiration. It was lovely.

Joe Mazzello also looks a lot like John Deacon. Ben Hardy doesn’t really look or seem like Roger Taylor, but I still liked him in the movie regardless.

The four of them also had such great chemistry. I sometimes forgot that I was watching a movie — that’s how convincing the performances were.

The musical performances were also great. Again, mostly because of Rami’s stage presence. The way he moves on stage was so Freddie. The recreation of Queen’s Live Aid performance blew me away. I think that scene alone is why I’ve been to see the movie so many times.

There was a lot of controversy leading up to the film because of concern that Freddie’s sexuality and AIDS diagnosis would be glossed over. I don’t think that was the case at all. His sexuality plays an important role throughout. They moved up the AIDS diagnosis a few years, but that didn’t really bother me. It seems like either they move the timeline up or not give it the time needed (since the film ends with Live Aid). I’m glad they ended the film on a positive note — one of Freddie’s greatest moments on stage — while still addressing his illness.

And at the same time, they didn’t harp on it too much, which I think is how Freddie would have wanted it. He didn’t inform the public that he had AIDS until the day before he died. He didn’t want to be a poster boy for AIDS. He wanted people to focus on him and his music, not feel sorry for him. And I think the film strikes a nice balance with that and honors him well.

But the negatives:

The music chronology issues don’t bother me, probably because I’m a younger fan and grew up listening to their music digitally and didn’t really pay attention to which songs are on which albums, for the most part. Everything by Queen has always just been available to me so I have no idea which things came first.

But the inconsistencies between what’s in the movie and what actually happened, particularly the whole drama of Freddie going solo and breaking up the band, really bothered me. Roger and Brian also did solo projects, and did them before Freddie in fact. They all did things on their own, but it was on the side and the band never broke up because of it. I think I read that they agreed on a planned break to focus on solo stuff, but they never broke up, and definitely not for years like the movie implies.

Adding in things that didn’t happen (and leaving out information like Roger and Brian having already done solo projects by that point) just for the sake of making it more dramatic really annoyed me. I don’t doubt that there was tension in the band at times — in fact, I think the band was on the verge of breaking up leading up to Live Aid because they weren’t able to get on the charts anymore and the band wasn’t really going anywhere any more. But the movie seems to blow everything out of proportion and blame all of the band’s problems on Freddie.

I get that it’s a movie and they need to create tension, but I think there are so many other ways they could have introduced tension into the story without making something up that was so completely wrong.

There’s another scene with a party thrown by Freddie that makes it seem like Freddie was the only member of the band who was doing drugs and drinking and living the rock and roll lifestyle, while the other members of the band are all saints. In reality, they were probably all just as bad as Freddie in that respect, but they come across as being the good ones with families to go home to.

I feel like the movie overall doesn’t paint Freddie in a very good light, which just feels a bit dirty since he’s the only one who could not have had a say in the film (both Roger Taylor and Brian May were involved with the movie).

I think the reason I’m having so many negative thoughts after my third viewing and not after the first two is that I had watched the Days of Our Lives documentary about the band the night before, so the inaccuracies really stuck out.

I wonder if some of the deleted scenes make these scenes less jarring. It just feels like there’s something missing.

Another issue is the weird pacing. The beginning is so rushed, and I get that there was a lot of stuff to fit into a 2.5 hour movie, but the scenes in the beginning are so rushed.

Also I noticed two inconsistencies with the movie itself that are kind of annoying:

  • The first is the timeline of the Rio concert/Freddie ending his relationship with Mary and the creation of “We Will Rock You.” So that Rio concert, in the context of the movie, was probably mid-70s, and “We Will Rock You” is written after the time jump to 1980. But then in that scene where he’s introducing the idea of “We Will Rock You” to the band, Brian says something along the lines of “Remember at our last concert when the audience was singing our song back to us?” He’s obviously referring to “Love of My Life” at the Rio show, but that concert was over five years ago according to the movie.
  • The other thing is how the scene before they go on stage is different in the beginning and end of the movie. In the beginning, Freddie is alone and the camera is following behind him to the stage. But then in the actual Live Aid scene, the band is right behind him. It makes no sense. Why film this scene twice and do it differently each time?

So yeah, I’m still a bit torn about this movie. On the one hand, it’s super fun to watch for the most part. Seeing Live Aid in a theater was incredible. The last 30 minutes of the movie were great. I loved everything after the scene with the band getting back together. That love between them is what I wanted from this movie. But now I feel a bit guilty throwing praise at the movie because of the things I mentioned.

I think if I had to pick between loving and hating this movie, I’d say that I love it. It has some problems, but overall I have a good time when watching it, and Rami Malek’s performance is electrifying. I don’t think I would have dragged myself to the theater on three separate occasions if it was complete crap.

I hope that this movie gets a new generation of fans interested in Queen’s music and their story. I was always a fan of their music, but I didn’t really know much about the band before. After the movie, I did so much research to sort out what was true and what wasn’t, and I got really into their story.

 

Why we need more New Adult books

When I originally thought of the premise for the novel I’m currently working on for NaNoWriMo, the age of one my main characters wasn’t even really a choice. I knew it had to be someone just entering the workforce and dealing with the changes and sometimes letdowns that go with that period.

And even though my other main character is a teenager so it technically qualifies as YA, it got me thinking about why we don’t see more New Adult (NA) books.

I’ve seen countless posts on Twitter from first-time authors that are wanting to write NA, who are hesitant to do so because they worry about that affecting the likelihood of being published.

To me, the lack of NA books being published doesn’t even make sense. A lot of the experiences that are dealt with in NA stories are similar to those in YA fiction, as well as adult fiction. The transition from college to adulthood is very similar to the transition from high school to college, but in addition, adults can relate to those first few years of exploring life as an adult.

In my opinion, that period is such a formative part of growing up. For me, even more so than my teenage years. And it’s such a scary time period, too. For many, it’s the first time that people are truly responsible for their own life. 

Sure, most people have part-time jobs throughout high school and college, but as you enter the workforce it’s truly a different experience. For many, there’s a feeling of anxiety constantly over you because of the fact that if something were to happen to your job, you might be screwed, financially. Lots of people live paycheck to paycheck in the first few years of working, and not having any saving to fall back on can be terrifying.

At least as a teenager and college student, most may have parents or other relatives to fall back on. Once you’re out on your own, it feels like the stakes are so much higher.

Not to mention the countless expectations placed on you after you are done with school. If you’re not immediately successful in your career, some may view you as a failure. If you still live with your parents in your twenties, you may be seen as a failure, even if you’re successful in every other aspect of your life. No matter what you do, there’s always that one thing you don’t do, and that’s the thing that people will latch on to.

To me, that period feels like a time in your life where you’re trying your best, and your best is never good enough. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who truly pulls everything off and is happy right of the bat. I’ve yet to see someone gain that level of success, yet the media (and by media I mean those publications that think it’s edgy to write the same think piece about why millennials are lazy over and over again) and popular culture makes you out to be lazy if you’re not living up to these artificial standards of success.

All of this culminates into a very troubling time for many. And there aren’t a lot of characters to relate to in this transition.

At least when I was an angsty teen in high school, I had a whole library of relatable characters to help me through any tough times. I didn’t have that in my early twenties. 

One of the arguments that I see from the publishing community is that it’s harder to market to the NA age group than it is to market a book to teenagers or adults. But it seems to me that NA fiction can be marketed to a wider audience because it overlaps with those two big groups. A lot of adults I know shy away from YA lit because they find it too childish (which I totally disagree with, but that’s a whole other post), but I think a lot of those readers are my age and would probably pick up a NA book with experiences closer to their age range.

Not to mention, I think for many, having a character who is just stepping out into the world to relate to can be an incredibly positive influence in an especially difficult period in their life.

A bit of a personal story: When I graduated college, I felt completely lost. I majored in something I knew I wasn’t interested in pursuing anymore, and I knew that for a big chunk of my senior year of college. I jumped into the workforce as an administrative assistant and was constantly comparing myself to my friends who were getting high-paying internships and doing really cool things in their chosen field. And here I was, just doing someone else’s busy work while I tried to work through what I wanted to do with my life. Looking back, I had it pretty great, but at the time I felt like a bit of a failure as I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

I moved out of my mom’s house pretty much immediately after I graduated and moved over an hour away from all of my friends and family. There were days when I felt so lonely and just wished things could be the way they were for so much of my life.

It’s also a weird time because when you go from high school to college, there’s a good chance you lose touch with your high school friends and make new friends. But after college, if you lose touch with your college friends, it can be super hard to make friends as an adult. A lot of friend groups get split up all over the country after college, and even though technology can help with staying in touch, it doesn’t always work out and people drift apart.

All of these things led to a period of depression, and I can say pretty certainly that if I had books with relatable characters going through the same stuff as me, I would have had a much easier time.

My experience may not be the same as everyone’s. Maybe you know what you want out of life and somehow get it and keep all of your friends, and everything is great forever. But I’m willing to bet that at least part of my experience is similar to what others go through in that transition period.

And yes, I know that not everyone attends college. I recognize that my view on this may come from privilege. The fact that I was able to attend college makes me feel this way, but I think that transition still exists, whether its high school to adulthood or college to adulthood. Regardless of the path, I would like to see more of these characters out there, experiencing this part of life.

I don’t think that this transition from young adult to adult is even exclusive to those who took the same path I did and had the same struggles. Anyone who is going out on their own for the first time is going to experience these emotions, and I think we’d all be a lot better off if we had a fictional character to make that journey with.

 

The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: YA
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Format: Kindle
Length: 348 pages
Description from Goodreads:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

When I read Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything, I completely fell in love with her writing style. I immediately picked up her next book, hoping to love it just as much.

I was not disappointed.

I loved both of the characters in this book. They were both so unique, but also had some shared experiences in terms of strained family relationships and expectations put on them. While I’m not typically a fan of the “fall in love in one day” trope, I thought it was well done in this story.

And the fact that the two main characters in the book are an immigrant and first-generation American made it all the more emotional, given all of the bad things that are going on in my country right now in regards to immigrants. I wish every racist old person would read this book (and the countless other amazing diverse books out there right now).

I loved that this book takes place over the course of one day. It felt very in the moment and realistic to me.

I also loved that there were short point of view chapters from minor side characters every so often. It added so many dimensions to an otherwise kind of bland character, and serves as a reminder that no matter what you see of a person on the outside, you don’t know what’s going on in their mind or what struggles they may be facing in their life.

This book focuses heavily on the idea that so many little things have to line up perfectly in order for a particular event to happen. There were so many minute little changes from the character’s normal routines that had to happen in order for them to meet. There’s also the question of whether fate exists or if everything that happens is just a coincidence, and some coincidences end up being major ones and others not so much.

I’m very against pressuring authors to write more books (like entitled fans bully GRRM or Pat Rothfuss to write the next books in their series faster), but Nicola Yoon, PLEASE, I NEED MORE CONTENT FROM YOU.

NaNoWriMo 2018 is here!

Today’s the day, folks!

It’s the start of NaNoWriMo. For those that aren’t familiar, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s an event that challenges writers to write a 50,000 within the month of November.

This is my first time doing it in about 10 years. I tried it back in high school, but mostly as an excuse to sleep over at school with the rest of the creative writing kids. I wasn’t even in that class, and I did NaNoWriMo specifically so I could beg the teacher to join that night. Nerd alert.

I don’t think I ever actually finished that story, and it didn’t really have a plot or character development. I basically just had a concept and wrote about it and it was probably terrible.

But now I know all about story structures and how to create believable characters and how to pace a story and all that good stuff.

I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed being that this is the first story I will have written since then and my premise is kind of complicated and is a mix of sci-fi (future stuff, parallel universes) and fantasy (magic). I’ve been kind of driving myself crazy just trying to plot this thing out.

I would share more details on the story I’m writing, but it’s changed majorly about four times already, and I’m still thinking of things to change before I start writing this evening.

Hopefully once I start writing and things are more solidified, I’ll be comfortable sharing a bit more.

What does this mean for the blog in November?

I have a few Top 5 Tuesday posts written up, but I don’t expect to read as many books this month as I usually do, which means I won’t be posting as many reviews this month.

I’ll also try to do weekly updates on my progress, fun Nano experiences, and more.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, let me know. I’d love to have some more Nano buddies!

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: YA
Publication Date: September 1st 2015
Format: Kindle
Length: 311 pages
Description from Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I adored Everything Everything. It was a perfect mix of humor, love, sadness, and pain. I felt so many different emotions during this book, and fell so in love with Nicola Yoon’s writing.

One of my favorite things about this book were the little illustrations between chapters. They were hilarious and added so much to the character of Maddy.

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I also just really loved Maddy’s voice. There were a few lines here and there that were a bit over-the-top cheesy to me, but overall I loved her.

I loved the romance between Maddy and Olly. They were so cute together, and I was rooting for a happy ending the whole time.

I loved that they started falling for each other over IM. Even though most of us aren’t confined to our house, I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling of falling for someone via text messages or IM. It reminded me so much of the AIM days and first loves.

Apart from the romance, this book is also full of strong female relationships. It would have no problem passing the Bechdel Test. I was particularly fond of the relationship between Maddy and Carla. Maddy and her mom have a great relationship too, but it’s Maddy and Carla that really got to me. She was the perfect combination of loving and tough. Throughout the book you could really feel the love that Carla had for Maddy and that all of her decisions were based on how happy she could make Maddy.

If you like funny and witty main characters, fun interludes between chapters, short chapters, and first loves, this is the book for you.

5 characters I wouldn’t bring into a haunted house

Spooky season is in full swing, so today I’m going to list five characters that I definitely wouldn’t bring into a haunted house.

  1. Lara Jean Covey from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Lara Jean, I love you, but I don’t think you could handle a haunted house. You would get so spooked and leave me to be the brave one, and I am definitely not capable of being the brave one.
  2. Butters from The Dresden Files. I don’t even really like Butters, and I know for sure he’d be even worse than Lara Jean in a haunted house. No thank you.
  3. Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter because he would totally lure me into situations by claiming he could handle whatever comes our way, and then leave me to fend for myself.
  4. Joffrey Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire because he would totally leave me to the ghosts and whatever other creatures are inside, just to watch me suffer.
  5. The Dursleys from Harry Potter because they would go on and on about how supernatural things aren’t real, and then get spooked once haunted things started happening.

This list was super hard! I found it so hard finding scaredy cats because I guess I read a lot of books with brave characters.

 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: YA Romance
Publication Date: April 15th 2014
Format: Kindle
Length: 355 pages
Description from Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

When the Netflix adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before came out, book Twitter freaked out. I had no idea what this book was or why it was so popular, but after hearing so many people rave about it, I watched the movie.

I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. I liked it, but didn’t think it was amazing. I placed a hold on the book, and got on with my life.

Two months later and I was finally able to get the book from the library, and now I totally understand what all the hype was about.

I loved pretty much everything about this book. The main character, Lara Jean, was so similar to myself when I was a teenager and I really related to her. I loved that she was a homebody and was okay with it. She didn’t constantly feel pressured to go out and do things. She’s happy just staying at home and knitting, which is basically my life now.

She’s kind of naive at times, but I think that’s just a testament to her growing up. She seems kind of sheltered and that’s kind of led to her not really being as mature as those her age. I loved that she was a bit immature at times because it felt so real to me.

I loved the dynamic between the three sisters, even though I kind of hated Margot. I freaking adore Kitty. What an awesome little kid. I wish I was half as awesome as her, and she’s only like 10. She was so cunning and smart and every word that came out of her mouth was golden. I loved her little comebacks and sarcastic remarks. And her secret plot to get a dog was fantastic.

I also really loved the relationship they had with their dad. It was so sweet to see this family that has gone through hard times pull together and go through the hardships they face together.

So let’s talk about Peter. When I first watched the movie, I totally did not get the obsession with him. But I totally get it now. I’m very onboard the Peter Kavinsky ship. Which makes me feel like a total creep because he’s a teenager.

And I felt so bad for Josh. Even though he was kind of a jerk at some points, I knew he still had a big heart, and I felt sorry for him.

I also really loved Lucas. He’s so sweet and funny and I wish we got to see more of him. Hopefully in the next two books in the series?

Overall, this was a fun and light read that definitely brightened my mood.