Rocketman is a 2019 biographical musical film based on the life of British musician Elton John. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, it stars Taron Egerton as Elton John, with Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Sheila Eileen. The film follows John in his early days in England as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music through his musical partnership with Taupin. The film is titled after John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man”. It grossed $195 million worldwide against its $40 million budget and received largely positive reviews from critics, with general praise for Egerton’s performance, the costume design and musical numbers. The film was the first by a major film studio to include a gay male sex scene.

The movie tells us the story initially through Elton, dressed in a flamboyant devil’s outfit, retelling his life story in an alcoholics anonymous meeting. Born Reginald Dwight, he grows up in 1950s Britain, raised by his unaffectionate mother, Sheila, and more loving grandmother Ivy. Reginald is interested in music and hopes to perform for his father, Stanley, who takes no interest in his son nor his talent. Reginald begins piano lessons, making his way into the¬†Royal Academy of Music. Stanley abandons his family after Sheila has an affair. Reginald develops an interest in rock music and begins performing in local pubs. As an adult, Reginald joins the band¬†Bluesology, which is hired to play backup for touring American soul bands,¬†The Isley Brothers¬†and¬†Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles. Isley Brothers lead singer,¬†Ronald Isley,¬†recommends that Reginald should write songs and put his old life behind him if he wants to become a famous artist. This inspires Reginald to change his name to Elton John.

Elton begins writing music and tries finding success with¬†Dick James’ record label¬†DJM Records¬†under the management of¬†Ray Williams. Williams introduces Elton to lyricist¬†Bernie Taupin; they form a friendship and move into a flat together to work on their songs. When Elton admits he is¬†homosexual, he ends his romantic relationship with their landlady, and he and Bernie are evicted. Elton and Bernie move in with Elton’s grandmother, his mother, and her¬†significant other, where they continue writing and create “Your Song.” James sets up a performance for them at the¬†Troubadour¬†in¬†Los Angeles. Elton is nervous before his Troubadour debut, but the audience eagerly embraces his performance. Elton is overjoyed by his success but feels abandoned when Bernie leaves him at a party to spend time with a woman. He is approached by¬†John Reid, a music manager. They sleep together and reunite later.

Reid’s influence over Elton is the one that drives the latter to binge drinking and drugs. Reid is abusive and manipulative, while ELton launches a downward spiral into a life of debauchery even as his career rises to new heights. Elton develops a flamboyant, over-the-top stage persona and becomes one of the most successful artists of the 1970s. Reid’s manipulation increases into outright abuse after becoming Elton’s manager. Reid insists Elton to come out to his parents as gay, so Elton reconnects with his father, who has a new family but still displays no interest in Elton. Distraught, Elton calls his mother and tells her that he is gay. She informs him that she already knew, but tells Elton that he will be forever unloved. Struggling with parental issues as well as Reid’s increasing physical and emotional abuse, Elton becomes addicted to¬†alcohol,¬†cocaine,¬†cannabis,¬†shopping, and¬†sex¬†to escape his pain and loneliness, but his mood swings and short temper alienate his friends.

Elton catches Reid cheating on him with another man and breaks off their relationship. During a party, he binges on drugs and alcohol and¬†attempts suicide¬†by jumping into his pool. He is rushed to the hospital, then thrust on stage at¬†Dodger Stadium¬†to perform. Elton descends further into a life of drugs, alcohol, and loneliness. He has a short-lived marriage with a close female friend, Renate, but his homosexuality dooms this relationship. He falls out with his mother and Bernie. Elton’s dependence on prescription pills and alcohol result in a¬†heart attack. Realizing that his life is out of control, Elton seeks help. He enters rehabilitation and realises that he no longer needs support from his parents or Reid. Elton rekindles his friendship with Bernie, who brings him new lyrics. Elton is worried that he cannot perform or compose without alcohol or drugs but writes “I’m Still Standing” and returns to a successful career.

The pre-credits notes lets us know that Elton has been sober for over twenty-eight years, but “still has issues with shopping.” He remains good friends with Bernie and is married to¬†David Furnish, with whom he has two children, and is finally loved properly. Elton was in the midst of his farewell tour and this movie is a homage to his amazing career. It’s a fun movie and gives us a lot of details about his tragically sad family life, his abusive relationship with a man who controlled him and finally his happiness in attaining a loving relationship and a family later on in life. Elton John fans will thoroughly enjoy this film and Eggerton has done a fantastic job. 8 outta 10!

Arsenal Players : Pay Cut

It has now been more than one month without any Premier League action. The coronavirus pandemic has put a temporary halt to proceedings, with the Premier League and all other professional football leagues in England currently suspended indefinitely. Arsenal and the rest of the Premier League clubs are waiting for news on what will happen next, with nine games left to play for most teams, and ten league fixtures still remaining for the Gunners. But while there may be no action on the pitch, there is still plenty going on off of it.

The subject of players’ wages has been in the news in recent days. With professional football in England currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Premier League players’ wages have been discussed by politicians, fans and pundits alike. And it has been reported that Arsenal have told their players that they will not have to take a pay cut for losses suffered by the club during the coronavirus crisis, should they qualify for the Champions League this season. But understands that members of the Gunners’ first team squad are deeply unhappy at what has been put forward by the club. It is understood that the first team squad would prefer any deferral, not cut, to go direct to fellow staff, with talks believed to be ongoing and no agreement reached at this stage.

It is understood that all casual workers such as stewards and other matchday staff who are directly employed by Arsenal have been and will still be paid for all games that were scheduled to go ahead. However it emerged that sub-contracted casual workers at the Emirates Stadium, London Stadium and Wembley, who are employed by Delaware North, have received no pay since the shutdown of the Premier League last month.