Monday, June 3, 2019


JannyLou took me to the movies this morning; I must remember to reimburse her for the ticket.  Her usual movie partners are gone for the summer, so, on the theory that bad guys don't get up before noon, I agreed to go to a 10:35am show.

So did a lot of other people with grey hair.  We had reserved seats, leather-like plush recliners with plenty of leg room between each row.... even when lying nearly flat.  I know this because I had a grand time with the design during the 30 minutes of commercials and trailers and rambling nonsense from a young woman neither of us recognized.

JannyLou tells me that this is the usual state of affairs in movie theaters these days.  I may have to expand my horizons beyond The Loft.

I saw Elton John in a fairly intimate setting in San Francisco in the early 1990's.  It was a benefit for his AIDS foundation, and he spoke eloquently about the fact that he was still alive, while most of his compatriots were not.  Rocketman is the backstory to that .

That therapy led to 28 years of sobriety is well known.  That any therapist managed to get a handle on his morass of contributing factors is stunning.  As JannyLou and I, two social workers, commented on leaving - He had everything.

His father... his mother.... his sexuality.... the lost little boy (played by Kit Connor, a name to remember) is never far from the surface.  Taron Egerton's Elton John is connected, viscerally, to every character in the film.  We see them through his eyes, just as we see him looking at himself.  If he's exorcising demons by confronting them, the Executive Producer, Elton Hercules John himself, has done a masterful job.

Which would be fine if this were a drama about addiction.

But it's a rock and roll story, too, and a super glam one at that.  The costumes are fabulous, and there are a gazillion of them.  Playing mega arenas or a piano in the corner, the musicianship shines through.  So do the drugs and the sex and the reckless abandon.  The words tell the story, the music brings the emotion

And those words, those Bernie Taupin words. The relationship between the lyricist and the composer is the fulcrum around which the story revolves.  Even when he's not in the scene, his words are. If there's an Oscar for Best Scene I nominate Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell at the end of Mama Cass's party; the whole theater exhaled at the end.

This is a movie that really doesn't know what it is, and maybe that's the point.  Just as I settled into the music and the outfits and the lights, the losses and anguish and self-destruction brought me slamming back to earth.  That Elton John is alive to create this movie is as marvelous as his on-stage persona - highly improbable, more than over the top, and well worth exploring.

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