WHAT WE’RE WATCHING WITH WALTER WILLIAMS 🍿
ELVIS 5/5 ⭐
It’s been 45 years since Elvis left the building and he’s still Taking Care of Business in the new “Elvis” movie.
Do you remember as a child the thrill of a country carnival side show alley ride that as soon as you’d finished you told your parents you wanted to go on it again?
Well that’s the euphoria I felt in the feels (as the cool kids say) after watching Director Baz Luhrmann’s latest movie, “Elvis”. In fact, the film opens at a carnival with its ring leader Colonel Tom Parker discussing this new local sensation from Sun Records called “Elvis Presley”.
Over the course of the next 2 hours and 39 minutes you’ll see a veritable who’s who of Aussie actors on celluloid including Helen Thompson as Elvis’s mum Gladys, while Vernon Presley (Dad) is played by Richard Roxburgh. David Wenham pops up as country legend Hank Snow and Kodi Smit-McPhee (fresh from his Osca nomiated role in “The Power of The Dog”) as Hanks son “Jimmie Rodgers”. I was hoping Luhrmann wouldn’t destroy my memories of the King of Rock’n’roll by creating some flamboyant character that didn’t fit the legend. Thankfully he’d done his research and instead created one of the best films to ever come out of this damn Pandemic.
Remember at the beginning of Covid-19 this films star Tom Hanks and his wife Rita were the first high profile celebrities to contract the disease…which shutdown production of this film for months. Baz is not exactly a prolific Director. He’s only made 6 movies in his 30 year directing career…since his feature film debut with ”Strictly Ballroom”. It’s like he took all his knowledge from past successes and failures (but let’s not talk about “Australia”) and turned them into the biggest show on earth.
Newcomer Austin Butler will make you think Elvis is on the screen from his first hit record to his untimely death at just 42 in 1977. (Keep your hanky handy)
He looks, moves, dances, talks and sings like Elvis in his southern accent. It’s not a parody, impersonation or mimicking of the great man…he’s inhabiting his persona and channeling Elvis 100%. I’d go do far as to say Butler is the greatest acting discovery this decade.
There are some who’d make the Colonel the villain of this story and they’d be right. But every great story needs conflict and a villainous character.
Hanks revelled in his chance to not be the good guy for once in his long, successful acting career and he narrates the movie too as the Colonel in his oddly European accent. Fun Fact: Tom Hanks once played an Elvis impersonator in the movie “Elvis has left the building”.
This biopic traces Elvis from his dirt poor childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi to his rise to fame and fortune in Memphis, Tennessee, his downward spiral of drugs and alcohol, the Army years in Germany to avoid jail, the good and bad movies before and after enlistment, his marriage to Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge), Elvis’ comeback years, the conquering of Las Vegas, Nevada at “The International” Casino, his American tours, but most importantly the legacy of his music that changed the world forever.
What we see at one point is man so broken before his 40th Birthday, he was worried that nobody was going to remember him. “Elvis” gives us the good, the bad and the ugly side of stardom warts and all in a glitzy way that only Baz Lurhmann could create. In the end he’s created a stylish, near perfect biopic of the the King.
Add this to your list of movies you must see even if you’re not an Elvis fan like this little black duck.
Thank you very much!