A remake of a horror classic and a high-profile biopic are among the metro Phoenix movie openings for Friday, November 2. Openings were accurate at the time of publication and are subject to change. For showtimes and more film and television coverage, check out the Phoenix New Times film page.
Bohemian Rhapsody — As it skims the surface of Freddie Mercury and Queen's lives and careers, the swift yet lengthy Bohemian Rhapsody often verges on becoming something as thrilling as Queen itself — and then crashes back into the off-putting, the ill-considered or the ridiculous. Was it Bryan Singer, the project's original director, or Dexter Fletcher, the director who finished the film, who elected to frame Mercury's homosexuality not just as a truth of self the singer at first can't face, but as a grim temptation destined to doom him, like he's some rock 'n' roll Jedi trying to shake off the Dark Side? It's easy to assume that Singer, director of many X-Men movies, must have handled the early scene where 20-something Farrokh Bulsara (Mercury's birth name) convinces his reluctant future bandmates to take him on as a singer. The beats are the same as if he were some new mutant convincing Professor X he belonged on the team. But who takes the blame for the choice to save most of the full-scale reproductions of Queen concert performances until the final minutes? Or the dizzying, unintentionally hilarious leaps in time? In the years since 2007's Walk Hard, the best Hollywood comedy of the last two decades, lives-of-musicians biopics have gotten shrewder and bolder. Rami Malek is a marvel as the cocksure public Freddie. (He lip-syncs during the songs to the actual voice of Mercury.) And he shades the offstage man with doubt and determination. But despite strong performances and a thrilling concert finale, Bohemian Rhapsody leaps backward. It's one of those biopics where everything significant that happened to a famous person happens all at once, in the couple of seconds of any given year that we see dramatized. Rated PG-13. Alan Scherstuhl
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Suspiria (Critic's Pick) — I'm happy to report that I have no idea what's going on in Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria remake, and that's wonderful. The two Suspirias function more as companion pieces than as mirrored twins, sharing only a few key details: There is a ballet school that is run by witches, and people are dying. Other than that, the new version blazes its own path, which writer David Kajganich smartly intertwines with the politics of Cold War-era Germany. In this version, Dakota Johnson plays Susie Bannion, newly arrived at a Munich dance academy and pleads her way into getting an audition to join the company. She enters a spare, mirrored studio and whips her body around with such zealous purpose that it seems an act of sacrifice. She'll hurt herself for her art. Her performance rouses the attention of the school's master, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), who senses Susie's presence from another room. Meanwhile, an ominous, skinless figure lurks in the basement, a telltale heart whose blood gets pumping whenever Susie dances. The women of the company welcome Susie, with the exception of a couple who seem psychologically scarred by the recent disappearance of one of the star dancers, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz). Madame Blanc and her witchy cohorts insist Patricia left of her own accord, but dancer Olga (Elena Fokina) lets everyone know she doesn't buy it. Of course, Olga must be shut up or the school masters risk being exposed for whatever it is they're doing at this school that makes young women disappear. But the manner in which Olga is punished is breathtakingly sick and gorgeous. Like great dance, it becomes an expression of the soul. Rated R. April Wolfe
Other openings: a free-spirited woman (Tiffany Haddish) seeks help from her straitlaced sister, whose life isn't as perfect as it seems, in Nobody's Fool; the classic holiday ballet gets a new cinematic treatment in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms; zombies attack in ancient Korea in Rampant; and Susan Sarandon will do anything to bring home her kidnapped journalist son in Viper Club.