Monday the 5th of September was Freddie Mercury day. The day he would have turned 65, had he lived. This makes me feel a little old, but that’s not the point. The day’s Google doodle (pointed out to me with furious glee by one of my coworkers) led me to YouTube and numerous videos of Queen performing live. As I often do, I’d forgotten just how good they were. I spent much of the day fighting the urge to pump my fist and throw shapes at my desk1. Since I had so much fun with this, I’m going to pepper this post with some of the videos I found the most fun. Anything under the videos and written in italics is a comment on the video itself, and not strictly related to the rest of this post.
If you have to start somewhere, you might as well start here. File under: moments which made history.
As I was walking to the cinema yesterday to see Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, I found myself thinking back to the Queen videos, but also to the post I previously wrote about how much I hated the last two Transformers films, and how much I adored Fast 5. I started wondering if a person’s taste in music might be reflected in their taste in film. I have fairly eclectic fast in music. I like a bit of Dido, a bit of Bjork. I love me some Avenged Sevenfold and some In Flames. I’m as likely to throw on a bit of Massive Attack as I am a bit of Linkin Park. Today I might be listening to At The Drive-In, where as on my walk yesterday my choice of backdrop was Spiritual Beggars. Like my mother before me, I’m also a bit of a Queen fan.
Obviously I have to include this one. Queen at their operatic best.
When challenged to name my favourite films, I’ve been picking the same five for quite some time (in no particular order):
- Fight Club;
- American Beauty;
- Donnie Darko;
- The Matrix.
I might also offer up three others I really love:
- Out of Sight;
- Pitch Black;
Perhaps I might also add the first Pirates of the Caribbean film (or maybe Zoolander) to that list. Be that as it may, I’d say the list is reasonably eclectic. Not entirely evident in this list is my love of a really good action movie. Bad Boys. The Transporter. Rambo (2008). Fast 5. Demolition Man. Army of Darkness. Welcome to the Jungle. The Long Kiss Goodnight. Die Hard. I’m not going to try and match items from my musical taste to each of the films I’ve named here, because I don’t think the analogy is that exact, but I think Queen serves as an excellent peer to these action films.
I love this intro. That is how you work a crowd.
Freddie Mercury did not so much walk around the stage as stay perfectly still at the centre of everyone’s vision while the stage moved around him. He worked the crowd like a master while knocking every single note right out of the stadium. It wasn’t just about him, though. The band behind him was as tight as a gnat’s arse. Everything clicked together like the internals of a cuckoo clock. Queen songs were not generally high art, but they flowed brilliantly and they just took hold of you.
This is how a good action film should be. I want the characters to chew the scenery and have it feel right. I want the characters to be fleshed out enough to feel worthwhile. They don’t have to be Lester Burnham or Jack Foley, but I do need to give a shit about what happens to them. The plot should feel, if not possible, then plausible. If something doesn’t quite make sense then it should be okay because I’m having too much fun to care. I want to laugh joyously at the outrageousness of it. I want to feel like pumping my fist along with the protagonists’ success and then leave the cinema with a huge smile on my face. I’ll listen to some Emilíana Torrini soon, there’ll be time enough for that later. Right now, we are the champions, baby!
A beautiful, melancholic and very appropriate song. Seems like a good place to stop.
For the record: conversation with my coworkers has revealed to me that had I done so, I could simply have told them I was listening to a bit of Queen and this otherwise odd behaviour would have become at least marginally understandable. ↩
Yes, the first one. It has a wonderful lightness of touch and flow, which, though it doesn’t excuse the film’s complete lack of a third act, does make it very dear to me. ↩