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Canberra Today 8°/9° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Movie review / ‘Elvis’

Hunk, a hunk of burning love… Austin Butler in the title role of “Elvis”.

Elvis (M) **** and a half

THREE people stand in the creative front line of this filmic blockbuster (159 minutes) around the life of the singer credited with creating rock and roll.

Leading the pack is Australian Baz Luhrmann. Director and (with three associates) screenwriter. Says he prefers not to work with a producer, but a film this big needs somebody at the top of the heap to make the decisions and I can’t find anybody higher than him for “Elvis”.

Next is actor Austin Butler. Will turn 31 next month. 35 acting credits to date, of which 29 are in TV and short films. Playing Elvis Presley is the first time his name has headed any movie’s cast list. Watching him is a satisfying experience.

Ever heard of Jonathan Redmond? Together with Matt Villa, he edits the movie, assembling cinematographer Mandy Walker’s photographic moments into a cohesive story. Few scenes in the final structure of “Elvis” would run for more than about 10 seconds. But you couldn’t call the result of their work “flicky”.

Where was this film about high points in the life of a quintessential American actually made? In a studio in a suburb of Queensland’s City of Gold Coast.

What is it about? At its heart, it’s a conflict movie. What conflict? Is it a conflict about ownership of the squillions of dollars that flowed into the Presley coffers after young Elvis’ musical style had the world’s young women pulling down their panties and throwing them at his gyrating body while he performed? Not really. 

Elvis’ voice and physical presence brought in enough money to support his family several times over and sling a manager’s fee at the man who took control of his life for too long, Col. Tom Parker. 

Tom Hanks plays Parker – if that was his real name; and there is no record of his ever having been a soldier of any rank much less a colonel. Portraying a man whom it is a pleasure to hate, Hanks gives a cracker of a performance, worth filing away while awaiting next year’s awards season.

Elvis’ musical style, form and content never grabbed me during his life. But I sat enthralled by how Luhrmann and Butler have told his story, ultimately pitiful despite the squillions of $$$ it brought in. And I wonder how many $$$ Luhrmann’s movie will bring.

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Ian Meikle, editor

Dougal Macdonald

Dougal Macdonald

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