Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Fox Searchlight
I consider myself a writer. I may only be a writer of a modest movie blog, but the essence remains the same. No matter the outlet or the subject, the struggle, as they say, is still real. I still force deadlines upon myself, have standards I set for myself and often find myself staring at a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen, begging inspiration to hit. And when it does, and I have filled said screen with hundreds of words, I still find myself sometimes going back and reading what I wrote and been so appalled by the verbal flop sweat that has spewed out that I challenge the speed of the backspace button to the computer equivalent of the 5-second rule: if I can delete it fast enough, I can pretend I was never capable of producing such drivel. Such is the lonely and self-critical existence of the writer: no matter how famous, prolific or widely read, the torture remains.

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The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Lisbeth Salander is like James Bond. As a fictional character, she gets represented in multiple films, by multiple actors, and in multiple different stories. We’re not talking a constant reboot of the same story, like Spider Man, instead, hers are different stories each time, which continue to build a history, no matter who plays her, who writes her or who directs her. In the new movie The Girl in the Spider’s Web, it is Claire Foy (of The Crown fame) who climbs into the skin of the character made famous in late novelist Stieg Larsson’s Millenium book series, the most famous being The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Previously played by Noomi Rapace in the Swedish-language trilogy and Rooney Mara in the David Fincher-directed American version, Lisbeth Salander is a meaty, complex and exciting character and I would imagine many actresses would relish the opportunity. But Salander isn’t an easy character to play, and each actress has achieved varying levels of success. For Rapace, her performance as Salander in the three Swedish movies based on Larsson’s original three Salander books skyrocketed her to fame in Sweden, which she has since translated to a significant Hollywood career, with starring roles in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant and an upcoming biopic of Maria Callas. When David Fincher was casting for his version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011, he chose relative unknown American actress Rooney Mara to play Salander. Mara was nominated for Best Actress for the role and has gone onto have a significant career, including another Best Actress nomination for Carol in 2015. History has proven that playing Lisbeth Salander can truly kick-start a career. So, what about the actress who dons the tattoos and piercings in the newest Salander story? Well, for Claire Foy, I believe the choice was made not to create a career trajectory for herself, but, rather, to change it.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

20th Century Fox
It was definitely not easy to bring legendary Queen front man Freddie Mercury’s story to the screen. It has been many years in the making, having gone through several stars, directors and studios before landing at 20th Century Fox with Rami Malek as Mercury, and Bryan Singer directing. But, even then, it wasn’t free from obstacles, as Singer was fired with six weeks left in the shoot, replaced by Dexter Fletcher (even though Singer gets final credit). In addition to the personnel shifts, there was controversy about the content of the movie: how much would the movie address Mercury’s sexuality and/or how he died (of AIDS)? Rumors were rampant around early pre-production of this movie that the hands-on involvement by two Queen band members, Brian May and Roger Taylor, as well as Queen’s manager, Jim Beach (all of whom are characters in the movie and have producing credits), might have created a sanitizing effect on the script, both to reduce any negative portrayal of themselves and to perhaps portray Mercury as more of a tragic figure than he might have actually been. In the end, there may have been no way to create a movie that would have been free from controversy, simply due to the fact that it tells the story of one of the most iconic and legendary performers in rock and roll history. Sometimes, for movies like this, the producers need to make a choice: make a movie for the critics or make one for the fans. For Bohemian Rhapsody, their choice is clear.

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