Baz Luhrmann gets caught in a biopic trap in Elvis Review

Baz Luhrmann gets caught in a biopic trap in Elvis Review ...

The young, colorful Elvis who transformed pop music with aquiver of his voice and a wiggle of his hips. The movie star Elvis, who cranked out one musical after another and nearly lost his audience for good. The sequined jumpsuit Elvis, thrusting and karate kicking his way across the stageof the International Hotel in Las Vegas. And finally, the hungry, exhausted Elvis who seemingly worked (and drugged) himself to death.

The best thing you can say about Baz Luhrmanns Elvisis is that it includes every one of those Elvises, and all of them are portrayed with amazing fidelity and energy by Austin Butler. Butler has been a working Hollywood actor for more than 15 years, and Butler firmly establishes himself up to the task of embodyingthe King of Rock & Roll. This is another matter. For all of Luhrmannsglittery visual panache, Elvis plays like a very conventional and extremely overstuffed

Col. Tom Parker, Elvis'' long-time manager, plays him in the film by Tom Hanks. While Hanks shows little physical resonance to the real Parker (and he looks ridiculous beneath an enormous pile of prosthetic makeup) he has made a slew of films about this period in American history andthe music industry.Elvisis is right in his wheelhouse.

After a collapse in 1997, Hanks Parker retires from his funeral. As morphine enters his arm, Parker reappears back to the beginnings of his relationship with his most famous client. As the story progresses,Parker repeatedly pleads hisinnocence in anyrole in the greatstars'' premature death.

Hanks could have chosen him to play Col. Parker as a James Bond villain, complete with a barely recognizable foreign accent, corpulent face, garish clothes and cane, and even a shady headquarters high above the Las Vegas strip. As he disobeys Elvis, he must save his colleagues from taking possession of a passport and fears that he would leave the country. (Parker, the real nameAndreas Cornelis van Kuijk, is a freebie,

The performance from Hanks is a rare bad one, but the emphasis on Parker and his approach adds nothing to the movies portrait of Elvis Presley. For all his screen time and narration, Parker will not see them on display here, but they never come up once more than you do in this 159-minute film.

Elvis himself performs better if not because Butler is so adept at guiding Presley''s electric charisma on stage. Even when Luhrmann returns to perform, Butler can certainly be a very good livingas Vegas impersonator.

Even if Elvis and Parker speak, there are surprisingly few scenes in which Elvis and Parker talk, and even less allow us to see how much he is being capable of performing in the near future. (One brief scene whereElvis brushes his teeth and has a conversation with his wife Priscillalikean aberrationthe movie may have used a lot more.)

Elvis focuses so heavily on certain smallchunks of Elvis life that long lines are rendered off in seemingly rushed montages. In the first quarter of minutes, Elvis gets served with a draft notice, travels overseas to join the Army, and his mother dies of a broken heart, supposedly because she was so scared about his military service. But the film also contains a single scene of Elvis in uniform, where he encourages the 14-year-old Priscilla (played by Olivia DeJ

Elvis stutters on the decayingHollywood sign while contemplating his fading career. I used to dream of being a great actor like Jimmy Dean! He went from dreaming of film stardom to becoming the highest-paid actor in the film industry in about 45 seconds of screen time.

Despite his desire to luxuriate in images of over-the-top opulence, Luhrmann appreciates Elvis'' music and fashion sense, and he credits him and his irrepressible dance moves with awakening Americas latent sexuality in the middle of the 20th century. Another long chunk of the film reveals Presley''s resilience and importance even as he enlivens his style, swagger, and performances.

Instead of chart Elvis'' gradual evolution from proto-rocker to a Vegas crooner, it dives into a few moments, typically concerts that allow Butler to flex his talents and skip over any of the scenes that might affect Elvis'' musical development or hisdecline into drugs. Every Elvis appears, but how they connect to one another is mostly left to the audience imagination.

Additional Thoughts

-I''m not arguing about any historical accuracy from a film, but there are a slew of scenes inElvis that are often, especially distressing. For example: While Elvis abandons the showsplanned, family-friendly endingin favor of a new protest song written for the special, Kennedy died just weeks before, not the night before Presley died.

-In true BazLuhrmann style, even his writing credit on Elvisis gaudy: Hes once credited for the film story (with Jeremy Doner) andtwice for the films script (with Sam Bromwelland with Craig Pearce).


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