Markus Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

Twenty minutes in you might get the feeling that at its peak “Vivarium” is about to be something akin to a decent episode of “The Twilight Zone”. And by the twenty-first minute you’ll realize that you were right. It’s simply a decent episode of “The Twilight Zone”.

Synopsis: A young couple (Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg) looking to buy their first home, find themselves being guided through a new housing development by an oddly mannered real estate agent. Inside this community all the houses look identical, the grass, dirt and clouds don’t seem to be real, there’s nobody else living in any of the other homes and (oh yeah) this young couple can’t seem to find their way out, no matter how hard they try. And then there’s the appearance of a child in a cardboard box. And from there, things just get weird.

Sure, this could have been a short film, but with a runtime of a little over ninety minutes, director Lorcan Finnegan really keeps the entertainment value high; first, by using an underlying level of dark humor and second, by presenting his nightmarish dreamlike take on the Lynchian suburb. Actually, much like “Eraserhead” (David Lynch’s surrealist nightmare concerning his anxiety over the birth of his child) “Vivarium” seems like Finnegan’s and screenwriter Garrett Shanley’s anxiety driven fever dream concerning buying a home in the suburbs and starting a family.

Final Thought: The ending. The ending may leave some feeling hollow, especially for those expecting a grand “tie up all the loose ends” finale. But for those who enjoy a sci-fi/horror which asks you to suspend belief, sit back and watch a quick little social experiment, this may be your jam. “Vivarium’ is an interesting concept to say the least, with a final ten minutes that acts as the satisfyingly nihilistic cherry on top.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody
Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury)

Markus Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Possibly the worst thing I could say about a musician biopic is that if you are not a hardcore fan of the music and/or band, then there is no reason to watch this movie. And while “Bohemian Rhapsody” narrowly staves off this insult, it should be noted that that this is a movie where the character of Freddie Mercury is given only slightly more screen-time and lines than the other members of Queen. But if you’re a huge fan of the music, then who cares? If you’re a huge fan of the music, this film gives you exactly what you want, and nothing more.

Synopsis: “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the story of the band Queen, from their rise and culminating with their iconic 1985 Live Aid performance.

Directed (for the most part) by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) amidst his rather long fall from grace, with a script written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour) it is the story focus, the overall tameness and the actual formulaic writing which lets this film down. I mean, how many times can a “head of studio” proclaim how Queen isn’t going to make it or that in a few years nobody will know who Queen is? And don’t get me started on the lazy foreshadowing; *cough cough*.  As for the visuals, the stage performances (which there are many) are shot very well.  Even the drawn out finale, during which the audience must sit though the entire 20 minute Live Aid set after sitting though an almost 2 hour film, is handled as well as it could’ve been, almost reminding me of an X-Men battle sequence; this is meant to be a compliment.

It should be noted that Rami Malek, who plays front-man Freddie Mercury, gives a commanding performance, stealing the show (as he should). He stands alone as the only thing spectacular about “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Final Thought: The biggest issue I had with this movie was throughout the film, the band is shown time and again taking issue with all members of the band not being represented equally. I suspect this was and still is the same in real life, since the characters of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon get nearly as much face time as Freddie Mercury. If you don’t know who these people are, then like me, you also don’t care about the other members of Queen. And therein lies the problem. Nobody cares about the other members of Queen outside of Mercury! So why is everyone getting nearly equal story time in this movie? That was the biggest flaw for me. And I have to suspect this was the biggest flaw for Sacha Baron Cohen when he left this project in 2013. You wouldn’t make a biopic about the Beatles and give Ringo and George equal story/screen time as Paul and John, would you? Oh, and don’t forget about Pete Best! Let’s not kid ourselves. Freddie is the star. We buy tickets to see Freddie. Before coming into my screening I had asked myself, “Why is a movie about Freddie Mercury not rated R?” And the answer is now perfectly clear; because “Bohemian Rhapsody” is about Queen and not Mercury.

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