Elvis (12A, 159 mins)
Verdict: A remarkable life, all stirred up
George Michael: Freedom Uncut (15, 87 minutes)
Verdict: vanity exercise
Which music biopic is your No. 1, the top of your own hit parade? Over the last 20 years there have been many who have told the life stories of Elton John, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie, among others.
So it was only a matter of time before Elvis Presley joined the party. After all, he’s the most dazzling superstar of them all, measured in rhinestones alone. Director Baz Luhrmann must have thought: it’s now or never. If he didn’t, someone else would.
Overall, I’m glad he is. If, like me, you preferred the playful Elton John biopic Rocketman (2019) to the more conventionally told tale of Freddie Mercury and Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), then you might appreciate Luhrmann’s flourishes. . . the tricky editing, the split screens, the slow motion, the animated sequences.
It’s not so much a journey as Luhrmann’s film Moulin Rouge! from 2001, but it is never less than stimulating to watch, spectacle as much as story. Elvis’ life, all shattered.
Former Disney Channel favorite Austin Butler takes on the lofty title role, with Tom Hanks as his overbearing manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
It’s rare for Hanks to play a character with virtually no virtue, so perhaps it helps that he’s prosthetics almost beyond recognition under a heavy suit, sports acres of jiggly cheeks, and an elongated nose like a corpulent version of the sinister child-catcher of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In short, Hanks really seems to have left the building.
Those who don’t know that Colonel Tom was actually born Andreas van Kuijk in the Netherlands will be confused by his strange accent, which only indirectly mentions Parker’s background and his illegal arrival in the US.
It’s rare for Hanks to play a character with virtually no virtue, so perhaps it helps that he’s prosthetics almost beyond recognition under a heavy suit and sports acres of jiggly cheeks and a long nose
But then he also acts as the film’s narrator, and why should he emphasize his own strangeness? Instead, he snidely tells us at the beginning that “there are a few that make me the villain of this story”. It’s completely false, he adds, that his relentless demands helped finish off his famous charge, who died in 1977 aged just 42. “I didn’t kill him,” he says. “I made Elvis Presley.”
Luhrmann isn’t exactly known for his cinematic brevity, so we draw our own conclusions in over two and a half hours. And in fairness, Parker comes across as a brilliant entrepreneur with a keen eye for the main opportunity.
But the message of the film really is that no one but Elvis made Elvis, as much as he wallows in the influences of black artists like Big Mama Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), Little Richard (Alton Mason), and BB King (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). . Though he looks more like young John Travolta than young Elvis Presley, Butler gives a true virtuoso performance that is far more than an imitation.
I first saw it at the Cannes Film Festival last month, where it received the seal of approval from Riley Keough, who also directed it and is Elvis’ granddaughter.
Classic film on TV
When it came out, nobody expected it to become an all-time classic. Nevertheless, Michael Curtiz’s Oscar-winning film is arguably the all-time classic.
Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, As Time Goes By. . . cinematic heaven.
Saturday, BBC2, 1.20pm
As she and the rest of us well know, there are a thousand nightclub Elvis who can replicate the famous lip curl. Reasonably, Butler doesn’t try and deviates from the cartoon. But he has the voice and the moves and hits the best scene in the film when Elvis gives his first live performance in 1954 and the girls in the audience swoon. “It’s,” recalls former carnival vendor Colonel Tom, “the biggest carnival attraction I’ve ever seen.”
Elvis’ impact on them was like that of a charismatic young evangelical preacher, and Luhrmann gives us a glimpse of another of his influences by taking us back to 1947 to show us a wide-eyed child living in the province of Mississippi observed a religious revival meeting.
But the film’s main focus is the time between the rise of the great man and his sad demise; from those early shoots at Sun Studio in Memphis and his beloved mother and family’s move to the nearby Graceland estate (scenes clearly reminiscent of The Beverly Hillbillies), to making movies, enlisting in the Army, meeting Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) and the Finale , Overweight, Unlucky Vegas Years.
Many of us already know the story, but this provides a vivid reminder.
“A modern day Elvis,” says Liam Gallagher of the George Michael: Freedom Uncut star, but he means in life, not in death. This is the autobiographical documentary the singer was working on shortly before his death, and he drew in many of his celebrity friends for sycophantic observations. The irony, of course, is that his sad death at the age of just 53 made Gallagher’s questionable Elvis comparison even more valid.
George Michael fans will enjoy this film, but there’s not much to excite the rest of us. Yes, there are some great clips from the heyday of Wham!, and he shares some candid thoughts on fame, grief and depression, but really this is an exercise in vanity made all the more poignant, but no longer interesting, by his death on Christmas Day 2016 .
As for these celebrities, do we really need to hear what James Corden and Ricky Gervais think of their pal George? Mind you, there’s a memorable line from Naomi Campbell, who admits she’s more of a Culture Club fan. “We used to throw eggs at Wham! fans,” she admits.
There was a longer recap of Elvis last month.
George Michael fans will enjoy this film, but there’s not much to excite the rest of us
The black phone
Considering the Mediterranean weather outside, there was a surprisingly large crowd at the 6.30pm screening of The Black Phone (15, 102 mins) at the Odeon Hereford on Wednesday.
They were rewarded with some decent jumpscares, but a movie that teetered a little unsteadily from gritty child-abduction thriller to supernatural horror.
It’s based on a short story by American writer Joe Hill, who knows a thing or two about the transition of spooky stories from page to screen; his father is the powerful Stephen King.
Gwen believes she has psychic powers, which she will also need when Finney is kidnapped; by a mask-wearing lunatic named The Grabber, and played, somewhat against type, by Ethan Hawke
Set in suburban Colorado in 1978, the film focuses on a pair of siblings, Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), several of whose schoolmates have disappeared. Gwen believes she has psychic powers, which she will also need when Finney is kidnapped; by a mask-wearing lunatic named The Grabber, and played, somewhat against type, by Ethan Hawke.
Locked in a basement, Finney then begins communicating via the eponymous black phone with his kidnapper’s previous victims, who offer him advice on what to do and what not to do to escape.
The director is Scott Derrickson, a horror veteran, although his mainstream film is the huge 2016 Marvel hit Doctor Strange. He keeps this bowling pretty alert (aside from that part when the young woman in front of me buried her face in her boyfriend’s arm) and has the common sense to keep it pretty concise.
Source: | Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/celebrity/its-nearly-three-hours-long-but-this-elvis-shakes-rattles-and-rolls-writes-brian-viner/ It’s almost three hours long, but this Elvis shakes, rattles and rolls, writes BRIAN VINER