Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

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

Film Review: Joker (2019)


“You don’t listen, do you? I don’t think you ever really hear me. You just ask the same questions every week. How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts. But you don’t listen. I said, for my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.”


You know it is extremely difficult to write a review of Joker and sum up the presentation of Joker’s character. It cannot be explained in a few sentences or paras. It depends on how you judge the film and how better you can translate your opinion into words. I will try.

See, Joker, the archnemesis of Batman is reimagined out of the comic books and all those 80 years of the remarkable writings. You don’t have to follow or compare it with the comic pages. The understanding is that how one director understands human psychology and observes Joker as a human. Full marks to Warner Bros. for picking a very interesting name who I never imagined to direct about Joker – Todd Phillips. Amongst all the directors, alive or dead, if I am asked about the most fitting director who can do justice with Joker, it has to be Stanley Kubrick.

Many Gothamites will realize that most of Batman’s villains are mental and they all have their issues which we don’t follow because who wants to know about the villains. They are bad people, right? We only care about h.e.r.o.e.s. because they are good people and they are always right, they are angels, they are Godly people to serve humans. Bad people are evil, right?

But the provoking part is why villains choose this path? Why villains feel glad to make people suffer? Why Joker is so evil? He is one villain who has put Batman to the most difficult tests to the most extreme lengths than anyone in Gotham.


“I think I felt better when I was locked up in the hospital.″


Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian, a bullied, a society-reject, majorly ignored, mocked and an isolated Gothamite who suffers PBA and is bound to take care of the only person who is cordially associated with him – his ailing old mother.

Like I described before, this film is completely out of comic book pages about Gotham and the related characters. For me, Fleck is an assumption about his becoming Joker. Todd Phillips focuses on how the human loses his/her sanity in difficult circumstances and unfortunately makes him/her evil to society? How does he or she become a menace or a reckoning? Anyone of us can become Arthur Fleck in the given circumstances but only a few of them, unfortunately, turn to the wrong side of humanity and become a ‘problem’ for the society who were ‘victim’ in the past.


“I Hope My Death Makes More Cents Than My Life.”


Joaquin Phoenix‘s entire body language in the film needs to enter the case studies and lectures in the medical and educational institutions. How is someone so talented to describe the emotional fluctuations and reflex/nerve behaviors. Look at him when he tries to avoid those episodes of laughs on the bus, at the office, and in the stand-up comedy show. Observe his almost nervous breakdown when the boss warns him, or when he paces his feet to shoot the last culprit outside the station.

And then the iconic moment of Joker’s stair dance at West 167th Street at The Bronx was, I believe, much-needed breathing in Fleck’s terrible life. It aired freedom from all the sufferings. That is why that scene was so important. That scene has made that site a regular visiting spot.


“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.”


So who played a better Joker? Ledger or Phoenix? I think it is a tie and on a different note, the roles cannot be compared. Both versions of Joker were interestingly not comic-based. One was created from Nolan’s imagination, the other from Todd’s. Fleck’s one is Joker’s sorry past reaching to the initial phase of his crime career as Joker, Ledger’s is the existing Joker at his crime peak. So both roles are excellent in different BATverses.

I still believe there was room for improvement in the plot writing especially in the final 30 minutes. But I think the story has met its ultimate ending and there is no need to bring the sequel.

Joker is an outstanding standalone film. I will count Joker amongst the best films which were fully centralized on the major character like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, Tom Hanks in Cast AwayAdrien Brody in The Pianist, and a few more.

Not aware of the outstanding male performances of this year but if Phoenix again misses the Oscar,

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

Ratings: 8.8/10

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies (2015)

BRIDGE-OF-SPIES-QUAD-UK

Bridge Of Spies is one of the most terrific historical drama I have seen in last few years. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, the movie is somehow based on James B.Donovan’s book “Strangers on a Bridge“. James B.Donovan was an American insurance lawyer, who after his experience of Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (also mentioned in the movie) was asked by US Govt to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

Now who was Rudolf Abel? Shortly speaking, Abel was born in UK to Russian émigré parents, which means born to the couples living in political exile. He served Soviet military and fought against Nazis in WWII. After the war, he lived as spy in US where years later he was caught by FBI. The director began his part in the movie from here and I think that was a good decision.

The movie has two phases blended splendidly. One is Donovan/Abel phase and the other is Powers/Pryor phase. The other phase is story of two Americans. Francis Gary Powers was American pilot whose CIA spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960 and Frederic Pryor, a graduate student, was caught by East German police without any charge a year later, who was studying there since 1959.

Spielberg offers sharp visual historic presentation of the famous exchange occurred in Glienicke Bridge. The famous exchange scene has been shot at very same historic site. The dare and gallantry of James B.Donovan is well explained, his wit saved Abel’s hugely expected hanging sentence into a 30-year imprisonment which turned into nationwide massive shock.

Bridge-of-Spies-Mark-Rylance

When it comes to tell history, the most important aspect to the viewers and readers is ‘deep intensity’. Spielberg successfully sketches deep realistic intensity hitting your head hard, specially at two different scenes. One is the court scene when the judge declares Abel’s punishment to 30 years instead of hanging, next 5 minutes are the peak of boiling points. The other scene is Donovan witnessing Berlin Wall shooting, facial expressions of Tom Hanks who plays Donovan here are priceless.

Bridge of Spies is committed with 90% historical accuracy with slight alterations i.e., all critical points under the incidents happened and presented in the movie are true. Spielberg’s frequent collaborator John Williams did join to compose movie’s score but left for Thomas Newman due to health issues but Newman justified his musical presence and didn’t make us miss John’s score. Production and costume designs were super-excellent, one simply cannot expect an error in these two departments as Speilberg has been veteran of many many historic movies.

Pace is slow but adaptable. Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel is a showstopper who deservingly won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a decent history digging movie from a very important time-zone of the 20th century.

Ratings: 8.8/10

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