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Did You See the Movie?! Yes, But Real Life is Better!

Published July 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SAM_2908Me, in front of Queen tour bus a few years ago

I loved the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But ever since it came out, I hesitate to wear my Queen t-shirt. Before the movie, if I wore a Queen t-shirt, true fans would speak to me about the band I loved so much since I was 12. And I’d have a conversation I’d truly enjoy; especially if fellow Queen fan was a little older than me and saw an earlier version of Queen. Or better yet, when they did the double bill with Mott the Hoople! I’m all ears to hear about that!

These days, when I wear a Queen shirt, it’s no longer about the rock band Queen, but the Hollywood movie about Queen, played by actors.

A typical conversation will go like this:

“You like Queen?”

“Yes, I saw them perform many times! Even with Freddie Mercury!”

“Did you see the movie?”

What’s wrong with that conversation? I share with you that I saw Queen perform with Freddie Mercury and you ask me if I saw the movie? I’m sorry for being a music snob, but this is just not right. A similar conversation happened regarding Elton John a few weeks ago. The song “Rocket Man” came on the radio in a store and a woman in passing said, “I love it!”

I said, “I saw him perform in concert twice. Once in Central Park, 1980; and in the ’90s at Madison Square Garden.”

I should have seen it coming…

“DID YOU SEE THE MOVIE?!”

I quickly walked away to avoid further conversation. YES, YES, YES, I SAW THE MOVIE! I thought to myself. It was a great movie! But why, all of a sudden, is a movie about an artist, played by an actor, more interesting than an live concert with that very artist performing?!  

Years ago I was working at a magazine. The vice president was an older gentleman, who happened to see Elvis Presley perform, as a warm-up act to Hank Snow! My mind was blown. I wanted details, details, details! And more details! Can you imagine seeing Elvis Presley as a warm up act?

Now imagine if I was to ask, “Did you see ‘Elvis and Me’?” What a conversation killer, right? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve seen many good movies about the lives of musicians, singers, and even criminals. But can I inspire you? Don’t stop at the movie. Instead, explore.

After I saw the movie “Man on the Moon,” I purchased anything I could get my grubby hands on about Andy Kaufman. I didn’t go around talking about the movie for months. I wanted MORE. Much more than a movie could offer. I read books written by people who knew him. I watched all the old “Taxi” shows that he was featured in. I watched Andy Kaufman in action on various television shows.

All this stuff took time to accumulate because back then it wasn’t as easy as it is today with all the internet access. Back then the internet was just taking off. Which brings me to being a young Queen fan and searching for months in the mid-1970s just to find their album Queen II in a record store. There was no Amazon back then.

But that was part of the fun! Digging for stuff about the real thing was cool. And uncovering real truths is cool. Like finding out that the REAL Mr. Arnstein wasn’t quite the charmer he was in “Funny Girl.” Like finding out the real Bonnie Parker wasn’t nearly as hot as Faye Dunaway. Like finding out the real Andy Kaufman was even more crazy than he was portrayed as in “Man on the Moon.” Like finding out the Doors concerts were much more mild than portrayed in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie. In fact, I was told by a person who went to a Doors concert that they were boring.

See, this is why you can’t rely on a movie alone. Movies are often Hollywood-ized. They take snippets of a life and put them into a 2.5 hour film. It’s entertaining, but it’s not the complete picture.

When I read on a Queen Facebook page that a fan saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” over 50 times since it came out last November, I cringed. Why not spend that time exploring the real work of Queen? They have a grand library of studio albums from 1973 to the time of Freddie Mercury’s death. Plus several live albums, videos, and books. My favorite is “Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton. I loved the book so much that I reached out to Jim Hutton, via his publishing company. This was back in the 1990s, before everyone had email. I forgot I wrote the letter and about three weeks later I received a handwritten letter from Jim Hutton himself! The letter was actually a homemade card, featuring his new kitten in a Christmas tree, since he didn’t get to keep any of Freddie’s cats after Freddie passed away.

The takeaway here is, movies are all fine and good. Yes, we all love movies. Even me.

But, don’t stop there. You can start by getting out of the theaters and going to a live show. It’s fun and exciting. Explore more of a band; not just the greatest hits. Take movies with a grain of salt. See it once or twice. If you have to see it again, wait at least a year. In the meantime you can learn more from reading books, watching interviews on You Tube, and purchasing full albums or CDs, not just the songs you like. You might just surprise yourself and say, “Real life is better!”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Freddie Mercury, Bullied as a Young Boy

Published July 3, 2019 by Maryanne

Freddie Mercury as a BoyFarrokh Bulsara (photo found via Google Search)

The other night, my husband and I once again went to see our favorite Queen tribute band, Almost Queen (http://www.almostqueen.com/). Note that they have been around long before the successful Bohemian Rhapsody film. That said, if you’re a true Queen fan who loves the deep tracks, as well as the hits, be sure to check them out, as you will definitely hear some rare gems.

Anyway, before the show, I thought about how I’ve heard the stories of Freddie Mercury being bullied as a young boy because of his overbite. He was called a donkey by school bullies.

But did that stop him from becoming Freddie Mercury? Absolutely not.

If you’re having a hard time and being bullied, perhaps you have that special something that you can bring to the table by being YOUnique!

Check out my new video, where I speak about Almost Queen, Freddie Mercury, and how being bullied didn’t stop him from becoming a household name! (And if you like it, give me a thumbs up).

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“Let Me Down Hard” Premieres at Garden State Film Festival 2016

Published April 3, 2016 by Maryanne

Let Me Down Hard“Let Me Down Hard”

Last night my husband and I attended the premiere of “Let Me Down Hard” at the Garden State Film Festival” in Atlantic City in support of Keith Roth, who played the lead of Jack Ainsley.

Keith Roth is a musician who has played with many artists including Ramones, NY Dolls, and Generation X, to name a few and also known for his radio show, “The Electric Ballroom” on WRAT 95.9-FM (http://wrat.com/keith-roth/) which is where I first met Keith when I co-hosted his show, twice, to promote my books. Roth is a deejay on Sirius too (“Hair Nation” and “Ozzy’s Boneyard”).

And unlike his role of Jack Ainsley, Keith is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.

Anyway, I LOVED this movie!

“Let Me Down Hard” was filmed in Asbury Park over the course of six years. Those from the area will definitely recognize Asbury Park and the bars in the area, Stone Pony, Wonder Bar and the Brighton Bar (in Long Branch).

“Let Me Down Hard” is the fictitious story of Jack Ainsley who had a hit record way back when, but then got overshadowed when the grunge scene emerged around 1991. Jack spent the next 15 years trying to make a comeback, and even returns to his family in suburban New Jersey. Jack hopes to make another hit, but fails miserably as he begs, borrows, and steals in order to survive, while still living in a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll fantasy land.

Jack’s much more responsible sister Carrie (Stephanie Silk) is making ends meet as a single mom who is taking care of her young daughter and aging mother who seems to have Alzheimer’s Disease and continues to get progressively worse.

Like all drug addicts, Jack is oblivious to how much he is hurting his family as he’s caught up in a whirlwind of lies and money issues and promising Carrie he’ll change — and that he’ll be back on top again. Problem is, Jack seems to believe his own lies and has enablers — friends who still believed in him and called him a “rock star” unknowing just how down and out he was, as Jack was still behaving as if he was on top — spending hundreds of dollars buying everyone rounds in bars.

Meanwhile, Carrie struggles as to whether she should give her brother second, third, fourth, etc. chances; after all, he is family, as she notes to her young daughter — or should she go with tough love?

All the actors were phenomenal and extremely convincing. The sound track is off-the-hook, featuring Keith Roth’s band Frankenstein 3000 and other New Jersey artists.

New Jersey rock photographer Mark Weiss (http://www.markweiss.com/gallery.html) had a cameo in the movie and was also in attendance at the premiere.

For more information on “Let Me Down Hard” as well as credits visit: http://www.letmedownhard.com/

SAM_9847Maryanne Mistretta and Keith Roth

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of the music fiction book “Love Cats” which takes place in the 1980s. “Love Cats” is available in Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1681020513

Her first book is “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Amazon in paperback only: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

What I loved about “Wild at Heart”

Published March 24, 2015 by Maryanne

Wild-at-Heart“Wild at Heart” starring Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage

Although it’s officially spring and days are longer, it’s still cold here in New Jersey which means many a night spent in, snuggling with the hubby and kitty, watching movies.

I was thrilled to find “Wild at Heart” (1990) on On Demand.

It was my favorite movie when it came out in 1990 and I saw it in the theater at least four times and had the soundtrack.

It was a bizarre movie, but it spoke to me when I was in my mid-20s and here is why:

* A certain song on the soundtrack. The haunting “Wicked Game” by Chris Issak sends chills up your spine. A perfect song for the adventures of Sailor and Lula.

* The sex scenes and dialogue. This chemistry between Dern and Cage was electrifying! I later learned they were once an item, which makes total sense. They both looked their best ever in this film. This was before the world was over-saturated with fake breasts and shaved chests/heads. These were truly beautiful people. Dern with her messy, long curly blonde hair, naturally thin body, overdone red lips and perky breasts; and Cage with his messy, bad boy look and a bit-much chest hair — that is what made these people real, they were REAL!

For days afterwards I was repeating Sailor and Lula lines like, “Sailor, you look like my Daddy and you have a nose like him” and “Baby, that’s rockin’ good news!” And calling everyone: “Peanut.”

In my late 20s, early 30s, I did a lot of spoken word art in various clubs and coffee houses in both NYC and New Jersey. Inspired by “Wild at Heart” I wrote a poem called “My Daddy” and even quoted from “Wild at Heart,” followed by the line, “I stole that one from ‘Wild at Heart.'” It was my most requested poem by audience members and sometimes audience members would recite the words along with me.

* Special appearances by some of my favorites at that time: Crispin Glover, Willem DaFoe, Sherilyn Fenn and Isabella Rosellini. Can’t beat the roles they played.

* Elvis. When people don’t understand the coolness of Elvis, they just don’t get it.

Watching again, last night, for the first time since the 1990s, I noticed a slight comparison to Richard Kern’s “Fingered” in the attitude of the characters. Though I’m no film critic or expert, I can just predict the friends I have who read my blog will be sending me emails telling me, “Yeah, you’re right.”

Kern never reached the commercial success Lynch did, but I can’t help but wonder if he had inspired Lynch at one point or if it’s purely coincidental.

After watching “Wild at Heart” again, I was reminded how much the Lula character reminded me of my younger self: the leather jacket, the red lipstick, the messy hair, the sexy clothes, the over the top personality, and even the candy necklace. I wore them all the time on my wrists, long before Courtney Love did.

The movie represented freedom to me. At the time, I didn’t even think of the danger element. I also didn’t even realize, at the time, how much sex was in that movie. I was more about the two good looking characters, madly in love, that dressed a lot like I did. Still single, I felt like if these crazy characters found each other, there was someone out there for me too.

I remember a club friend telling me I reminded him of Lula — and that was the highest compliment to me, at the time.

SAM_5249My version of “Lula”

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Published June 22, 2014 by Maryanne

frankie_valli_f

Last night my husband and I saw the movie “Jersey Boys” which was really great! And of course, being a Jersey Girl, I loved all the New Jersey references.

And, super cool, that one of the actors in the movie, early on, I interviewed a few years ago! If you’re a Sopranos fan, you’ll know who I’m talking about, check it out: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/a-sauce-to-die-for/

My husband and I got to see Frankie Valli perform a few years ago in Newark.

Here’s some of my favorite songs over the years:

 

CBGB (Could Be Good But…) Movie

Published October 17, 2013 by Maryanne

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMe and Emily from All the Pretty Horses at CBGBs in 2004

When I heard they were making a movie about CBGBs I was excited. I missed the 1970s heyday, as I was too young, but did catch another generation of bands there in later days (from the 1980s to 2000s) — one of them being Jayne County who is on the soundtrack for the movie.

I’m not a musician, but one night I had the pleasure of being on the CBGB stage. It was for a battle of the bands. I was a journalist and suggested that Father Divine, from Montclair, enter the contest as I recently reviewed their CD for Aquarian Arts Weekly and also did a write-up in Montclair Times. They were great — and they won the contest.

I was seated at a table of celebrity judges: John Holmstrom, founder of Punk Magazine, plus-size model Mia Tyler and musician/producer, Genya Raven. When the emcee was too drunk to continue his job, it was Genya who suggested I emcee! It was a thrill to be on the famous CBGB stage.

So, that’s my little CBGB story. I’m no one famous. I wasn’t at CBGBs during it’s heyday. And even when I was old enough to go to night clubs and see bands legitimately, I was more of a Max’s Kansas (again, tail end, not heyday), Peppermint Lounge and Ritz kinda gal.

STILL — I’m all jazzed for the movie because A. the soundtrack and B. my very good friend John Holmstrom has a major role in the film, he’s played by Josh Zuckerman.

When my husband told me the movie was playing in South Orange, I was so happy! We set up a “date night” mid-week (last night) and decided to go after voting. I washed my hair and was all set for DATE NIGHT! And CBGBs!

Everything was running smooth as silk. We voted quickly, got to the theatre (which was in a lovely artsy area near Seton Hall University) and parked with no problem. It was a gorgeous night in October.

SAM_2642CBGB movie at 7:30

SAM_2634We’re here! Going to see CBGB’s movie — yeah!

We went inside and it was just us — and another couple. The entire theatre was EMPTY.

My husband made a joke that we were at a private showing. I took advantage running up and down the aisles, jumping in front of the screen and taking photos.

Then the movie started. It looked amazing. Excellent cinematography. Then I saw my friend John Holmstrom’s name and I screamed, “YAY!”

Then …. it dawned on us …. there was NO SOUND!

My husband and the other woman in the audience went to complain to management. The answer they got was, “We’re working on it.”

Nothing happened. They just couldn’t get the sound working.

Now, my husband is very tech savvy, and the other guy in the audience worked as a cameraman for CBS. Both offered to try to get the sound going, but the management wouldn’t have it. “We can’t just let people go back there.”

Since it was a DVD, not film, the woman had a genius idea. She wanted to BORROW the DVD, leave her license there, and then have Dennis and I over their house for wine and a movie! How sweet is that? I was in shock of the kindness of strangers. But the management said, “No.”

The other couple said they were dying to see the movie because they were big CBGB goers back in the day. And the guy had a cousin who was in The Shirts. They seemed so cool and it would have been so much fun to hang out with potential new friends. But it wasn’t happening …

So, this was the only night it was playing in our area. Otherwise we’d have to drive to NYC, which is out of the question due to being actively busy both socially and business, so there are major time constraints.  (We could do it on a Sunday, but hey, it’s October, my favorite month of the year and I don’t want to be cooped up in a movie theatre in the afternoon).

We got a refund and tickets for a future movie. I’m totally bummed because “CBGB” is the only movie out I wanted to see. I’m not a movie person. The last movie I saw was “Frankenweenie” — a year ago!

“That really looked like it was going to be a good movie,” my husband Dennis said as we walked out.

So, I guess we will wait until the DVD comes out. Which means it will probably be a great movie because everything I ever had to wait for in my life was well worth waiting for!

UPDATED SIDE NOTE: I just realized Village Voice used the same headline I did in an earlier article about the movie! This was strictly coincidence.

Carrie on!

Published April 17, 2013 by Maryanne

CarrieSissy Spacek, the original “Carrie” (1976)

In 1974, at age 11, I was told to hide my book by a fellow student because I could get in trouble for having it in school. The controversial book was “Carrie” by Stephen King, a horror novel about a shy, awkward high school student abused by both her Christian fundamentalist mother and school bullies. (Ironically, the girl who was nice enough to tell me to hide the book turned out to be an insecure bully herself).

When the movie came out in 1976, I loved it! I must have watched it several times since then, of course cheering on Carrie who got her revenge via telekinetic powers. Go Carrie!

In 1999 “Carrie 2: The Rage” was released. It was the sequel to “Carrie” with some guest appearances from original cast members. It was made modern with a sex scandal. Emily Bergl plays the main character Rachel and does a great job, as does the rest of the cast. It had some “read between the lines” messages that you could pick up on, which I always love.

Carrie 2Emily Bergl, “Carrie 2: The Rage” (1999)

Last night I saw “Carrie” was on On Demand and decided to watch it with my husband, mistakenly assuming it was “The Rage” but it was yet another “Carrie” — from 2002! It was spectacular. Angela Bettis played “Carrie” and she was phenomenal. I will definitely watch for her in other things. This plot stayed true to the original but was a bit more graphic. I loved how they gave Carrie a little more spunk too, where even in her innocence she wasn’t afraid to mouth off to the bullies. It was great how she told the Sue Snell character, “Everyone thinks they’re better than me. It’s okay, they can. But they’re not right.” And that strut on Bettis killed me! She was a riot, possibly putting her in first place as my favorite Carrie. How did I miss this one all these years?

Emily - CarrieAngela Bettis “Carrie (2002)”

Now, Googling today, I find there will be yet another “Carrie” starring Chloë Grace Moretz; and Julianne Moore playing Carrie’s mom (I can’t picture Julianne Moore for this role, she is just too sexy, but she’s a great actress so I’m sure it will work). I know Chloe’s work from the new “Dark Shadows.” She’s a good actress but from the trailer I’m thinking maybe she’s not weird enough. But the fact that she is pretty makes sense because bullies usually pick on girls they are jealous of. And modern day technology of cell phone photos in the locker room makes the bullying even more intense.

carrie 2013Chloë Grace Moretz, “Carrie (2013)”

The role for the 2013 Carrie  was originally offered to Lindsay Lohan, who I adore and feel would make a great Carrie too, but unless she goes on a raw food diet and stops drinking, she may look too old to play a high school girl.

Too bad “Carrie” wasn’t remade in the 1980s as well. Winona Ryder would make the ultimate “Carrie.” (And I can just see Johnny Depp as Tommy Ross — sigh!)

So, this new “Carrie” is due out later this year — October, perfect for the Halloween season. And it looks scary!

I am so psyched!

Carrie on!

Carrie 2013 movie trailer

The Other F Word

Published January 13, 2013 by Maryanne

The other F WordStill from “The Other F Word”

As I said a few days ago, winter is the best time for discovering great movies.

This morning I watched “The Other F Word” which was a spectacular documentary about punk rock dads and their families. (So the other F word was “Fatherhood.”)

I’m a big fan of punk rock, but this movie was aimed at the generation after mine. While I loved The Clash, Sex Pistols, Chelsea, the Dickies, etc., this movie was geared at the next generation: Pennywise, Blink 182 and NOFX (but had some old school bands I loved like Black Flag — in the very beginning pre-Henry Rollins, which I preferred — and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers).

The movie was unbelievably touching and in a way heart-breaking. These bad ass punks totally turned to mush when they spoke about their families and hating being on the road because they missed them and missed out on so much of their children’s lives.

But what really got me all choked up was how many of these musicians came from broken homes and their hurts and struggles because of it.

While I’m not a dad or a punk musician (well, I was as a teen), I still related to the movie so much because it has a lot to say about growing as a person. I’ve confided to some of my good friends that I think a lot of my other friends didn’t keep in touch with me because they expected me to be a punk rock chick for the rest of my life and not change, grow or get married. (Which is sad, on their part). Moving on is a beautiful, euphoric thing. Those who get it, know it!

You can definitely grow as a person and still have punk rock in your heart. True punk rock means standing up for yourself not just as a teenager, but as an adult and what you should be doing as an adult: being responsible for the best interest of those you love.

I have the highest respect for those who left their bands to be with their families, even taking on working class jobs instead of being a musician and not looking back.  These punk rock dads were trying to give their kids the support that they lacked from their own dads while growing up, which is so inspiring. You go Dad!

This world definitely needs more punk rock dads!

Some Like it Dark

Published January 8, 2013 by Maryanne

Buffalo 66Christina Ricci and Vincent Gallo, “Buffalo 66”

Winter is a perfect time for snuggling up and watching movies. The past two days I checked in with On Demand and watched two of my favorite movies from 1998, “Buffalo 66” and “High Art.”

I highly recommend both, and they are very deep and dark.

“Buffalo 66” is about an ex con who kidnaps a pretty young tap dancer to impress his parents who never cared for him or believed in him. It’s a dark film, but offers dark humor as well. Gallo’s character is a real piece of work and I found myself laughing at him often, especially knowing that he wrote the lines and Ricci has more than once referred to him as the “most handsome man in the world.” This was the first movie I saw with Ricci as an adult and she’s been one of my favorite actresses ever since.

“High Art” starring Ally Sheedy is about a young girl who has a bright future after being made editorial assistant at an art magazine but life changes for her when she falls in love with an artist (Sheedy) who lives in her apartment complex and is very much into the heroin lifestyle. Sheedy was once a famous photographer and now lives off her trust fund and is supported by her mom. The storyline is intense and complex.

What I’ve always loved about indie movies (and foreign films) versus Hollywood is that the endings are unpredictable. This is similar with much older Hollywood films too.

I love a movie that you can get lost in, that gives you the same “can’t put down” effect as a book and I feel that way about both of these movies. I’d give them both a five-star rating and it was great watching them again after 15 years! (“High Art” I think I watched on HBO or Sundance channel back in the day, but I went to the movies in NYC, alone, to see “Buffalo 66.”)

Frankenweenie was a Tear Jerker!

Published October 15, 2012 by Maryanne

 

Frankenweenie was a tear jerker!

I am not saying it wasn’t a super duper fantastic movie — just be prepared to cry, especially if you:

A. Ever had a dog

B. Love animals

I just want to snuggle Sparky! Squee!!!!!!!

I remember seeing the original back in the 1980s and loving it.  But this remake is better. Tim Burton totally outdid himself  just in time for my favorite season of the year, Halloween.

It’s touching, clever, funny and thought-provoking.

Winona Ryder had a major voice role in this and sings too. (I always loved her unique voice!)

And I always love “stop animation.”

ENJOY, but don’t forget your tissues!