In a year where the inferior “Bohemian Rhapsody” promises to storm awards shows in 2019, “Heavy Trip” is a movie that’s far more deserving of audience attention. Like most of the best music oriented drama comedies, it’s an engaging, and very funny tale of a band with grand aspirations and have to literally fight to break out of their small home town in hopes of making it in the larger world they want to be a part of. “Heavy Trip” is centered on a group of aspiring death metal musicians from Finland, and you’d think a movie with a focus on that music genre would be more niche than anything, but Jukka Vidgren, and Juuso Laatio’s drama comedy is basically for everyone and anyone who has had a dream at one time or another.
You can almost look at “Hearts Beat Loud” as something of an urban “Once,” in where music is something of the soul behind a very human story of two lost individuals in a somewhat turbulent world. This time around we meet father and daughter Sam and Frank, both of whom never really healed from a horrendous loss that they experienced many years before the narrative starts. In one instance, Frank literally sits at the scene of his wife’s death, which is still a memorial standing in the middle of a busy street, and tries to figure out where to go next.
“Bad Reputation” is less the life of Joan Jett, and more a publicity movie for Joan Jett fans. If you want to come to this documentary looking to learn about Joan Jett, warts and all, and how she turned music on its ass, then you’re going to walk away from this disappointed. If you want to celebrate everything about Joan Jett, and ignore all the nasty stuff, you’ll love “Bad Reputation” which very clearly has Joan Jett looming over it and calling the shots. “Bad Reputation” isn’t a disaster like “Bohemian Rhapsody” when all is said and done.
Chubby Checker managed to get a lot of mileage out of his dance hit “Twist.” Not only did he get three movies, but he presents variations of the dance with a variety of the songs where he beckons us to twist. There’s “Don’t Knock the Twist,” “Slow Twistin’,” “Salome Twist,” “Bucket Twist,” “La Paloma Twist,” and “I Love to Twist”! “Don’t Knock the Twist” is a sequel to the 1961 movie headlined by Chubby Checker. Though he’s the headliner he’s not the star per se, but he does show up every so often to present another performer or twist for us.
In the long arena of musicals, “Rock Rock Rock!” is easily one of the most lackluster of them all. It’s pacing is weird, the acting leaves so much to be desired, and there’s a lot of filler, but if you’re willing to invest time in to it for the kitschy performances from folks like Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, and Connie Francis, you might just enjoy the inherent camp value. You also might get a giggle at a movie with probably the least effective “conflict” ever put to film.
By the time Fred Sears’ “Rock around the Clock” arrived, the Bill Haley and the Comets song “Rock around the Clock” was already a massive hit thanks to “Blackboard Jungle.” It’d been accepted already as the quintessential youth anthem about rocking out and partying to rock and roll until the broad daylight. Banking on the beloved anthem was a stroke of genius, with a film that puts Bill Haley and the Comets front and center and zeroes in on the appeal of rock and roll. Well—the Caucasian version of rock and roll, anyway.
There really is no one on Earth that can top the combined forces of Dario Argento and Goblin’s excellent “Suspiria,” so Luca Guadagnino doesn’t even try. Instead, this new version of “Suspiria” is less a remake and more of a new tale in the same universe, or a spiritual sequel if you really want to get technical. Luca Guadagnino definitely approaches his spin on “Suspiria” with about as much ambition and enthusiasm he can muster up and what results is a wonky, surreal, bizarre, and yet overstuffed six act horror film that never quite knows when to call it quits. That said, “Suspiria” will most definitely acquire a fan base and I assume years from now fans will debate on whether this or Argento’s original is the superior film.
The best thing I can say about “Bohemian Rhapsody” is that it aims to become a surefire Oscar contender, and the only aspect deserving of an Oscar is Rami Malek (bad fake teeth and wigs be damned). If you have to absolutely see “Bohemian Rhapsody” see it for Rami Malek, whose portrayal of Freddie Mercury is heartfelt, sublime, and much too fantastic for a movie that’s pretty much a sanitized version of the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury. When you have a biopic of the group that’s been authorized by the surviving members and is PG-13, there’s only so much flexibility allowed, and Malek thankfully rises to the occasion. And then there’s the rest of the movie.