Elvis | Cinematheque Programming

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Directed by: Baz Luhrmann. Subject: Baz Luhrmann, Jeremy Doner. Screenplay: Baz Luhrmann, Jeremy Doner, Sam Bromell, Craig Pierce Photograph: Mandy Walker. Editing: Jonathan Redmond, Matt Villa. Production Designer: Karen Murphy, Katherine Martin. Music: Elliot Wheeler, Anton Monstead. Cast: Austin Butler (Elvis), Tom Hanks (Colonel Tom Parker), Helen Thomson (Gladys), Richard Roxburgh (Vernon), Olivia Dejonge (Priscilla). Production: Baz Luhrmann, Katherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McKornick and Schuyler Weiss for Bazmark, Jackal Group. Duration: 159 minutes. Copy from Warner Bros.

Exaggerated. Surplus. Immeasurable. Chaotic. Extreme. These are some of the most frequently used adjectives in reviews and analyzes of Elvis, the film that Australian director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby) dedicated to the life and legend of Elvis Presley. (…) Elvis is a tsunami, because with overflowing energy he tears apart all the biographical models that have been seen on the screen so far. This makes a clean slate. And invent a new model. Try it. He checks it out. And he does this without being afraid to flaunt that somewhat luxurious and even decorative elegance that is characteristic of Rococo. Just take the incipit: Luhrmann breaks the screen, cuts it, multiplies the split screens, you see even four or five windows/frames at the same time; the montage is telluric rather than frantic, images form and break, vision becomes lysergic and kaleidoscopic, colors accumulate, lights explode, graphics play, isolate and surround, approaching Elvis’ face within the roulette circle. which then becomes a disk. But then there’s the color that needs a counter-melody to the black and white, the graphic novel design is etched into live footage, the red circle with Hal’s Kubrick’s eye 9000 appears and plunges out of the background again, while on the soundtrack for the for this moment the notes of the first chapter play “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Our eyes are blinded. Fascinated, seduced, stunned. As if Luhrmann wanted to offer us an odyssey to success: a vivid parable about how nostalgia for the stage, for fans, for fame can turn into a deadly weapon of self-destruction. (…)
In the film, two registers are constantly colliding: a shimmering stage one, with madly crowded fans, panties flying across the stage, light, glitter and sparkles, and the movement of the idol’s pelvis, into a programmatic breakdown of feelings, not disdaining the kitsch of a certain rock aesthetic; and next to it is the most intimate and private register of fragility, fear, weakness, the register of broken dreams and impossible love.

(…) Someone said it was an Elvis roller coaster. That’s right: the gaze goes up and down, back and forth, deviates, jumps, approaches, shimmers. The beat beats, the sweat splashes and the music drives the movement. Elvis’ translator, the young, extraordinary Austin Butler, personally performs some of Elvis’s repertoire, but then the soundtrack sees and asks for the collaboration of various artists, including Eminem, Chris Isaac, and also our Maneskin, who interprets a cover of If I Can Dream. Between one concert and another, between one song and another, the story of this poor boy, the son of a white family, living in a black neighborhood, fascinated by gospel and blues since childhood, intersects with a great story. (…) And Elvis prefers not to stand aside and watch: “When you can’t say something, sing.” And he sings. He can’t do anything about it. He sings until the end, when something mysterious (perhaps the addiction to success and the love of the fans …) takes him away forever, at only forty-two years old.

Gianni Canova

An evening promoted by Assoricambi

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