Baz Luhrmann caught in a biological trap

There were many Elvis Presley. The gorgeous young Elvis who changed pop music with a dance of his voice and wiggling his hips. Movie star Elvis, who gave one music after another and almost lost his audience forever. Embroidered Elvis jumpsuit, karate and lunge makes its way across the stage of the International Hotel in Las Vegas. And finally, a bloated and exhausted Elvis who seems to have labored (and drugged) himself to death.

The best you can say about Baz Luhrmann Elvis Does it contain every single one of these Elvises, all played with remarkable fidelity and energy by Austin Butler. A working Hollywood actor for over 15 years, Butler is proving himself powerfully Elvis As a magnetic screen of the highest order. In his prime, Elvis was one of the greatest live performers in history, and Butler established himself on the mission to personify the king of rock and roll. Whether the movie is worth it – or Elvis himself – is another matter. For all Luhrmann’s sparkling visual skill, Elvis It plays like a very traditional and very crowded biography about a disrespectful genius who has been exploited by the people around him.

The main character doing the exploit in this case is Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ longtime manager, played in the movie by Tom Hanks. Although Hanks bears little physical resemblance to the real Parker (and looks silly under a massive pile of synthetic makeup), his interest in the material makes sense. As an actor and filmmaker, Hanks made a large number of films about this period in American history And the music industry. Elvis Right in his cockpit.

Parker Hanks tells Elvis From his deathbed, after a breakup in 1997. As morphine falls ominously into his wrinkled arm, Parker returns to the early days of his relationship with his most famous client. As the story progressed, Parker repeatedly defended his innocence for any role in the early death of the great star at the age of 42.

There are many ways Hanks could have approached this role. The path he chose was to play Colonel Parker as a James Bond villain, complete with a grotesque but stubborn foreign accent, a plump face, glowing clothes and a wand, and even a headquarters high above the Las Vegas Strip. All he’s lacking is a cat petting him as he furiously plots to stop Elvis from hiring a better manager or finally making the international tour he’s been spending years trying to get off the ground. (Parker, real name Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, was an illegal immigrant from the Netherlands. Elvis He strongly suggests that he prevented Presley from venturing abroad due to his lack of a passport and his fear that if he left the country he would be deported.)

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Warner Bros.

It’s a rare poor performance from Hanks, but the bigger problem is that the focus on Parker and his perspective adds nothing to the film’s image of Elvis Presley. Throughout his on-screen and narrative time, Parker has remained a simplistic character: greed, manipulative, and more. If Parker had interests beyond plucking every possible cent off Elvis Presley, or any kind of private life or family, you wouldn’t see it on display here; They did not come even once. You’ll learn more about this guy skimming his Wikipedia page on your way off the stage than you do in this 159-minute movie.

Elvis himself is better off, if only because Butler is so persuasive at every step along his journey. He’s extraordinarily good at channeling Presley’s electric charisma on stage, and Elvis It will never be better than when Luhrmann sits down and lets Butler perform. His recreation at the ’68 Comeback Special and Elvis’ debut in Las Vegas is exciting. If Butler’s acting career fizzles out, he could definitely make a good living as the best Elvis impersonator in Vegas.

But Lohrmann only seems to understand – or at least only care – about Elvis an icon, not Elvis the person. There are a few scenes where Elvis and Parker have just spoken out, and fewer of them give us a window into Elvis’ mental state when he’s not performing, thinking about performing, or worrying about whether he’ll be able to perform in the future. (One brief scene where Elvis brushes his teeth and talks to his wife Priscilla like an aberration the movie could use a lot.)

Elvis It focuses so intensely on certain small parts of Elvis’ life that long periods end up glistening in absurdly accelerated montages. The steps are not in order. Within about four minutes, Elvis receives a draft notice, is heading abroad to join the army, and his mother has died of a broken heart, presumably too afraid of his military service. But the movie contains only one scene of Elvis in military fatigues, in which he woos 14-year-old Priscilla (played by 24-year-old Olivia Dejung) by telling her of his life’s dream of becoming a movie star.

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Warner Bros.

One scene then, Elvis sits atop a rotting Hollywood sign, contemplating the metaphorical ruins of his fading career. “I was dreaming of being a great actor like Jimmy Dean!” Elvis complains. He went from his dream of movie stardom to becoming the highest-paid actor in the film industry to what he was in about 45 seconds of screen time.

The whole movie is like that. A lover of images of ultra-luxury, Luhrmann clearly adores Elvis’ music and sense of fashion, and credits him with his indomitable dance for awakening latent sexuality in mid-20th century America. Another long segment of the film chronicles Presley’s reaction to the threat of arrest if he couldn’t stop him from pushing his pelvis up on stage. (Spoiler alert: Elvis can’t stop him from pushing his pelvis up on stage.) Luhrmann perfectly conveys Presley’s influence and importance even as he celebrates his style, glamour, and songs.

But rather than a graph of Elvis’ gradual transformation from primal rocker into a Vegas singer, he delves into a few moments—usually allowing Butler to try his talents—and skips any scenes that might explore Elvis’ musical evolution or decline. in drugs. All Elvis appear, but how they relate to each other is left mostly to the imagination of the audience.

Additional ideas:

– I’m not claiming complete historical accuracy from the movie, but there are plenty of moments in it Elvis Which is clearly a distracting fake. For example: In Elvis, photographed by Robert F. Kennedy is in the midst of filming the popular 1968 Comeback Special, where production is paused while Elvis abandons the series’ planned, family-friendly ending in favor of a new protest song written by Elvis himself. Song “If I Could Dream” I was Written by Private, but not by Elvis. Additionally, Kennedy died weeks earlier, not the night before Presley released the epilogue.

– Baz Luhrmann’s true way, up to his writing score Elvis Flashy: He was once credited with the film’s storyline (with Jeremy Donner) and twice Screenplay for the movie (with Sam Brumwell And the With Craig Pierce).

evaluation: 5/10

Actors who were shocked by their roles

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