by Eleanor Ringel Carter
In Baz Luhrmann’s films, everything happens anywhere and at the same time. Think “Moulin Rouge” or his take on “The Great Gatsby.”
For some, his work is full of madness and ego. For others (like me), it’s too much, crazy and empty-headed.
Now we have “Elvis,” a biography of Elvis that will give Luhrmann fans what they’ve longed for, and Elvis fans who are close to everything that makes a king king Blasphemy blasphemy.
Now, I’m the Beatles baby, through and through. Even so, it’s impossible not to acknowledge the exciting talent and unique charisma that define Elvis. Alas, Luhrmann’s biofilm is more of an Elvis impersonator — bloated and jeweled, barely scratching the surface of one of the most original entertainers of all time.
The picture is narrated from the perspective of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by a prosthetic overburdened Tom Hanks. Parker, who turns out to be a mysterious European with a Carney background, is the demon in Elvis’ passion, a greedy vampire who takes advantage of the singer, and eventually he runs out of him. As most of us know, Elvis died of an apparent overdose at the age of 42.
But as far as I know, this “Elvis” is not of interest to anyone who knows the king. It’s like it’s made for people who can’t tell you where they are when they hear Elvis died.
Because when Elvis died on August 16, 1977, most of them were not born.
Chronologically, the film is fairly straightforward, beginning with Elvis’ childhood in the Jim Crow South, where a tent party revival, vintage car jukeboxes and pervasive racism coexist.
Skip a few years and step into the adult Elvis (Austin Butler) at center stage, doing what he’s done – voice, hips, jet-black hair, white boys covered in so-called racial music. Sex is above all else; our satanic Colonel Parker glanced at the panting teenage girls in the audience, and he saw the future—his future, as much as Elvis’s. There is something here – someone – he can sell, sell, sell.
he made it. We watched Elvis ascend to the top of the charts (and, seemingly, the world). He became a lightning rod for racial anxiety. He is picked and meets his future wife, Priscilla (Olivia de Jung). She is only 14 years old, which is easy to overlook.
Freed from the military, Elvis went to Hollywood and seemed to make the same movie over and over again (you told me the difference between “Clambake” and “Tickle Me”). The Beatles happened. Elvis needed a comeback, and got a concert in 1968, which was supposed to be a cheesy Christmas special, but hinted that despite everything from the colonel’s gambling problems to the star’s own poisoning addiction) was mismanaged, and Elvis still miraculously retained power.
Eventually, we came to the International Hotel in Las Vegas, where we signed Elvis to a five-year contract, entertained the faithful, put him in “Thus Speaks Zarathustra,” with an occasional order The heartbreaking gospel song reaches his former glory. The film’s final scene is an astonishing injection of reality – a documentary clip of Elvis himself, a magnificent wreck, but still offers fans everything he has.
Butler was recommended to Luhrmann by Denzel Washington, and he deserves the credit he has received. He doesn’t look like Elvis. He’s more of a John Travolta in “Grease.” And he doesn’t sing on his own; his vocals are mixed with Elvis’s soundtrack. But aside from his directing, he also had access to the wild magic that made Elvis a legend.
Still, he couldn’t get into Elvis’ heart, and he wasn’t helped by Luhrmann or the script. In this movie, Elvis does not leave the building. That’s because he didn’t really get in from the beginning.
“Elvis” is still in theaters and is also available on video-on-demand.