My Favorite Film of 2019: “Rocketman”

Fantastic year for Elton John, not only with the superlative "Rocketman" but his brutally honest autobiography "Me".
Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures

I don’t go out to the movies much anymore. As you get older, the hassle of being around the general public outweighs the joys of seeing new movies. Also, films just aren’t that interesting right now. The real action is happening on TV and with streaming. The talented types are moving there because they’re allowed the freedom to take chances and do what they do best, and it’s resulting in a new revolution in quality product. And this is only the beginning with streaming, which is in the midst of exploding, so we should see even more great stuff coming down the pike, although there is a limit to how many good ideas there are out there, of course. And there’s always the danger that the powers that be will figure out a way to stifle creativity once again.

Anyhoo, of the movies I did manage to drag myself to see, “Rocketman” was the big event for me. Of course I’m an Elton John fan and have always been, even loving his albums during his lean years (1981’s “The Fox” is my all-time favorite and one of his most forgotten), so I was the prime audience for this. Of course I had liked “Bohemian Rhapsody” but I was hoping for something a bit more historically accurate. This was not only more accurate, it was brutally honest, taking us soaring with Elton’s highest highs and dragging us into the gutter during his lowest lows. And the music sequences were so masterfully done, far beyond what they did with “Rhapsody”. Well, the approach was different, making the numbers into fantasy sequences within Elton’s head instead of being performance-based, so they had the license to fly into fantasy. They used the songs more like in a musical, out of order chronically sometimes in order to tell the story; as an example, they used a latter-day hit “I Want Love” early on to express the longings of young Elton and his family members.

Taron Egerton was of course perfect casting, keeping everything grounded in reality despite the emotional see-sawing and equally operatic costumes. He also captured Elton’s body language so well, especially in the “I’m Still Standing” number, link below. Great support from Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother, along with all the brilliant crew.

I’m hoping it’ll win every Oscar it’s eligible for. And hopefully it’ll lead to more excellent musical bios. They’ve announced Boy George already, but there are so many others they could do (in no particular order): George Michael, Fleetwood Mac, The Monkees, the Beatles, Donner Summer, Spice Girls, Blondie, The Carpenters, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Kylie Minogue, The Supremes, Depeche Mode, Crosby Still Nash & Young, among so many.

Well, let’s hope that any they attempt are done with as much thought, skill and care as “Rocketman”. Here’s the number from the film “I’m Still Standing”.

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