Tag Archives: Baz Luhrmann

Film Review: Elvis (2022)

Nothing extraordinary to explain what Elvis is about. It is a bio-drama about the life of the king of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley.

Elvis is the fictional narration of Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis and Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker. Baz Luhrmann returned to the director chair after nine years to direct easily one of the most difficult projects to execute for a film project when it comes to a biopic.

Why do I call the project difficult? Because I opine that such iconic figures from any walk of life who had a lot of events in their lives need broad detailing and that is possible only in a limited series or a television drama divided into seasons. Due to very limited screen time, no film can come up with a story that has too much to tell in one go. And this is the exact reason why Elvis for me fails to impress me as some quality bio-drama.


MINUSES

Let me highlight a few points that disturb the edge.

1. A Road Runner Screenplay

From the start, this film is about competing in a 100m sprint race. Result? No development of any particular chronicle due to lack of breathing. The screenplay suffocates between Elvis’ childhood and fame.

2. Performances, Performances, and Performances

One after the other, Elvis performs and performs. Baz Luhrmann gives less concern to some sensitive contents that needed more intense dramatizing. Elvis’ relationship with his mother alone takes more than half a film as her character was that important. But due to limited time, Baz restricted most of the important things and focused on Elvis-Colonel chemistry. His army life, passion for karate, and two other relations with Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden are fully ignored.

3. Perplexed Aesthetics

Elvis is a confused script where the derivation and enthusiasm of the audience override. First, the film begins with the Colonel being the narrator and clearing the air to the fourth wall of why is he not to be blamed for Elvis’ demise. But in the second half, Colonel is visibly at fault with no audible commentary to reason any further. Second, Elvis is dramatized in a way that he was innocent of Colonel’s deception. So the motive of narration and the principle method of addressing the whole film in a particular way fails again.

4. Historical Inaccuracies

Too much liberty has been taken from the historical account. Neither Colonel met Elvis in the carnival nor convinced him at some mirror maze. The colonel was not even in the show where the female spectators couldn’t hold themselves watching him perform for the first time. The meeting at the Hollywood sign never happened. His famous number ‘That’s All Right’ is not depicted accurately. Elvis deceives the audience by trying to frame the screenplay as the true story of the legend.


PLUSES

Elvis doesn’t entirely suffer from lies and the points I have raised above. There are plusses that deserve to be mentioned and praised.

At the start, the young Elvis goes to the gospel church and reinvents himself. The entire sequence establishes his case where his passion for different music genres and the dance moves came from.

Then the first live performance was directed really well. Even if the sequence was not inspired by any true incident, that shot was necessary liberty to describe the first shockwaves of listening and watching to Elvis. Colonel’s description of Elvis from that scene as ‘A Taste of Forbidden Fruit’ is the most perfect one-liner I can listen to about a music legend used in the film.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker will eat the sympathetic Elvis loyalists as the cruelty he imposed on his troubling life is painful to cause heartbreak, especially when Elvis collapses and Colonel orders to make him ready for the show. Tom Hanks displays a performance that successfully sparks hatred and annoyance. It was necessary and the legendary actor nails that.

And the biggest delight and the most positive angle of the film is Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis. Thank God Harry Styles was not finalized. I cannot imagine any actor giving his utmost effort to physically present Elvis out from the role on par or better than Austin Butler. This is an Oscar-worthy performance. This guy actually sang those tracks in the film, no singer playbacked him. The dance moves and some of Elvis’ memorable performances are so magnificently and accurately portrayed. The emotional fluctuations and breakdowns are so well acted throughout the film. Had Baz committed a mistake in choosing his Elvis, the film would have met the disaster. A huge burden of the film and Elvis’ legacy are well carried.


ELVIS
Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Hugh Stewart
Caption: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CLOSING REMARKS

Elvis rejects being an authentic biographer and chooses to captivate and entertain the young audience about how Elvis and his music defined the era. Elvis focused on what took the king to become easily the greatest music entertainer until the arrival of Michael Jackson. The film is depicted from the colonel’s angle and it would have been so meaningful if the film was depicted from Elvis’ angle.

RATINGS: 5.5/10

Movies of 2013 – My Opinion, My Picks

Popcorn-Slate1

While I was hanging on Facebook and trying to put my effort on jumping towards the conclusions of the year 2013 and pickings from different aspects of film making, up comes the idea from my subconscious mind that why don’t I blog my choices? Sounds a great idea!!!

It is good to see that readers from many parts of the world get connect with the WordPress and by chance read my blogs. Academy Awards function will take place on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I was terribly waiting for most of English-language movies of 2013 to watch in good print. Downloaded the movies I needed to watch (mostly Academy Awards nominated) at minimum 720p. I have watched them in last couple of months and I sincerely am thankful to my readers and friends on Facebook recommending me the movies of last year. 

So here is my pick from 2013 English-language movies whether nominated in Academy or not:

Best Production Design: 

The Great Gatsby

We know what Baz Luhrmann is capable of. He is well-know for making stylish and very fashionable movies like Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Here he does the same as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby always demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby. Baz left me no option to look elsewhere.

Best Production Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Production Design – The Great Gatsby

 

Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby

So I forgot to propel you that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby not only demanded a ravishing look into the lifestyles of the Buchanan’s and parties of the Gatsby, but the novel also raises the significance of the dresses, the uniforms, the wardrobes to be used as per fashion and hugely fitting into a high-society urbanized life to convince and portray how the novel grows the writings on you. Catherine Martin was the lady hugely responsible for Moulin Rouge’s success as she went on to win 2 Academy Awards for Art Direction and Costume Designing for that movie. And once again she is just beyond the class in costume designing for The Great Gatsby. Bravo!

Best Costume Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Costume Design – The Great Gatsby

 

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity

Although I didn’t like this space movie but few elements were inviting. One of them was the sound blowing in your ears. The volume at space the movie spoke produce hysteria. By listening Sandra Bullock in her misery and trying to connect with the team, you are rubbing your ears as if you are trying to connect with them. Plays a vital role and that is where Gravity convince me.

Best Sound Mixing - Gravity
Best Sound Mixing – Gravity

 

Best Sound Editing: Rush

Vrrrrrroooooooooooooommmm, gear shifting, breaks, pressing accelerator hard. An epic F1 race between two great racers need that sound. Viewers need to feel the beat. Sound engineering has been a lusty ear therapy and it grows more in your eardrums with the intensity of battle on track between the two.

Best Sound Editing - Rush
Best Sound Editing – Rush

 

Best Music, Original Score: About Time

When it comes to writing music score for the movie, then it is supposed to be musical enough to make the screenplay and scenes of the movie catchy. That is the quality the musicians like Vangelis, Gabriel Yared, Hans Zimmer and Gustavo Santaolalla have, their scores flow and grow in the movie. Chariots of Fire, The English Patient, Dark Knight trilogy and Babel are such great examples.

About Time is a British movie directed by Richard Curtis, and with a disciplined film-making as the screenplay appealed, music score needed a heavy influence. Nick Laird-Clowes satisfies my ears from act 1 scene 1, when narration and intro begins. I must mention that Gravity and Rush are the other two which impressed me in this department but About Time is my pick.

About-Time-2013-movie-Poster-1280x960
Best Music, Original Score – About Time

 

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: The Wolf of Wall Street

If Ron Howard’s Rush was ever adapted from a memoir, I would have straightly picked it for this category. So Jordan Belfort’s book with the same title is my pick which Martin Scorsese successfully adapts and does justice. Most of the events happening in the movie is true. You can figure out yourself in http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/12/31/wolf_of_wall_street_true_story_jordan_belfort_and_other_real_people_in_dicaprio.html

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - The Wolf of Wall Street "even this scene is true"
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The Wolf of Wall Street “even this scene is true”

 

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Nebraska

But when it comes to original screenplay, then I find strong competition between Ron Howard’s “Rush”, Spike Jonze’s “Her” and Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”. Rush is sports drama film based on true events while Her is sci-fi romantic comedy film not close to reality. But Nebraska is a pure leather from alligator. Making the movie in black-and-white presents a poetic theme + an amazing father-son chemistry produces a gem. Screenwriter Bob Nelson did a timeless and terrific story writing and this was his debut in movie as screenplay writer.

NEBRASKA
Best Writing (Original Screenplay) – Nebraska

 

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

She didn’t impress me in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ also directed by David O. Russell. But this movie is the real platform. JL is Rosalyn, wife of Irving played by Christian Bale. She is a mad lady who suddenly loses her temper. Mad in love with hubby will never file a divorce. Her role is shorter than the rest of all major characters in the movie but it is about influence and demand of her character developing in the script in the next half. Body language, facial variations, voice tone flexibility are just close to perfection. She richly deserves ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award on 2nd of March.

Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Lawrence
Best Supporting Actress – Jennifer Lawrence

 

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Although I am not a lot in Jared Leto movies but by chance I watched him in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club. This was one of the best roles played in 2013. Jared Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman, who suffers with HIV,  joins fellow HIV fellow Ron Woodroof played by Matthew McConaughey as his business partner who will bring more HIV patients to Ron to join the Dallas Buyers Club. The role of Rayon was fictional and didn’t exist in reality but there are two most important aspects in this role. First thing is body transformation, he lost 30 pounds (14 kg) for the role. Secondly, the role itself. You won’t find Jared Leto in the role, he/she played an incredible role.

Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto

 

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

How could I not pick Cate Blanchett for this category? This Woody Allen movie is not at all about his direction, it is first about her and perhaps has played her finest performance of career so far.  Jasmine is an elite Manhattan socialite who is married to 9 years elder wealthy business magnate Hal played by Alec Baldwin. Things go against her and lose a huge fortune. She is mentally broken and financial status is badly wrecked.

It is almost impossible to read or measure her mental capacity when it comes to play a character in tantrum. She beautifully manage her character when she is normal, when she is about to burst out, when she is talking to herself or when she gets angry. So many times, viewers including me won’t understand her timing, we simply are not able to analyze the whole temperament. I will be surprised if she didn’t bag ‪AcademyAward for ‎BestActress on 2nd of March‬.

Best Actress - Cate Blanchett
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett

 

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Well to be honest it was a very hard decision. I was stuck between him, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years A Slave”, Bruce Dern for “Nebraska” and Robert Redford for “All is Lost”. Besides Robert Redford, all are nominated for ‘Best Actor’ this Academy Award, so whoever wins between the three are deserving for me. I made my mind and picked McConaughey above them.

He is Ron Woodroof, who suffers HIV and the doctor has marked his death in maximum 30 days (but actually dies in 6 years). Like Jared Leto, he has transformed his body by losing 47 pounds (21 kg) for the role. Secondly, the aggression, the accent, the body language will take you to some other heights. In short, McConaughey has produced one gem of a performance which perhaps will remain highlight of his career.

Film-Toronto Preview
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey

 

Best Director: Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Need no introduction, but he produce a gem in almost every movie he directs. This time it is The Wolf of Wall Street. It is Jordan Belfort’s memoir which he adapted. It is 180-minute movie with 569 eff-words, the length you don’t expect to see in English movies but the quality is it will not bore you. The Belfort story will slowly slowly grow on you, things will be presented in such a way that you will ignite in their environment. Money, drug, sex are Scorsese’s favorite elements and will satisfy and propel you. With a critical subject, Scorsese has directed far better than other directors in my view.

Best Director - Martin Scorsese
Best Director – Martin Scorsese

 

Best Picture: Nebraska

And now my final say. Apparently the most understood movies, which I believe were the finest products of the year 2013 were Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her and Rush. I am very surprised Ron Howard’s “Rush” is nominated nowhere in Academy Awards categories. Anyhow, out of these 5 pictures, my pick is Nebraska. It is a story entirely different from the other four.

Nebraska is a case study of father-son chemistry on a simple plot. The old man is alone and he foolishly thinks he really won a million-dollar lottery. No one at his home trusts him but he is stubborn. His young son finally makes his mind to take him to Nebraska where he is supposed to collect his prize. It is a tale of a lifetime, a moment for old man to cherish once. The black and white concept of the movie produce a poetic nature.  Every scene is like a hidden message. Truly the best picture of 2013…

Best Picture - Nebraska
Best Picture – Nebraska