7:40 am: Years of movie-watching have taught me that if a new film’s reviews are on the disappointed, half-shitty side (as they certainly are for Elvis), the best thing to do, if I want to at least half-enjoy this allegedly shallow Baz Luhrmann sparkle-thon, is to swan-dive into the most negative assessments and let them cover me like liquid mud, so when I sit down with it myself (which will happen 50 minutes hence) I’ll emerge saying “hey, it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected!” Login with Patreon to view this post
And yet by his own admission Caine was half in the bag while filming this Mike Hodges gangster flick. During the ’60s and early ’70s Caine was smoking at least 80 cigarettes and “drinking two to three bottles of vodka” a day, he’s said.
Caine reportedly quit cigarettes “following a stern lecture from Tony Curtis at a party in 1971,” and has credited his wife Shakira, whom he married in ’73, for steering him away from vodka.
So that’s a no-go on catching tonight’s 6:45 pm debut screening of Baz Lurhmann‘s Elvis. (About 90 minutes hence.) Press tickets on the Cannes Film Festival’s online booking system have never once been available since I got here ten days ago. Several journos have requested tickets, and the replies from Warner Bros. have been either nonexistent or “we’ll try”.
So we’ve all booked tickets for Thursday morning’s makeup screening at 8:30 am, at the Salle Agnes Varda (formerly the Salle du Soixantieme). Extra-cool, in-like-Flynn journos caught the film in New York and Los Angeles before the festival began.
Trade reviews will presumably pop when the show gets out around 9:30 pm (3:30 pm in NYC, 12:30 pm in Los Angeles).
HE readers are hereby requested to post their capsule reviews right now. That’s right — imagine how it plays and write it up accordingly.
I’m not up on makeup techniques. I don’t know the functional differences between foam latex, gelatin, silicone and gypsum cement. But I’m moderately impressed by the Elvis transformation of Tom Hanks into Colonel Tom Parker, at least as it appears in the below photo.
A guy who’s seen Baz Luhrmann‘s film says that Hanks’ bulky, big-nosed Tom didn’t strike him as wow-level, but sometimes this stuff is in the eye of the beholder. The ears might belong to Hanks or not — I can’t tell. Otherwise I’m impressed by the thinning gray hair, the spray-tan complexion and especially the schnozz.
I understand, by the way, that while the film doesn’t transform Austin Butler into classic “fat Elvis” proportions (which reportedly manifested during the last couple of years, sometime between ’75 and the singer’s death on 8.16.77), Vegas-jump-suit Butler does appear slightly bulkier, or so it seemed to this observer.
Parker died in January 1997, or nearly 20 years after Elvis ascended.
Metronom, the debut effort by Romanian director-writer Alexandru Belc, is a spot-on, nearly perfect political drama about a pair of Bucharest-residing lovers in their late teens (played by Mara Bugarin and Serban Lazarovici) whose relationship is tragically perverted by Romania’s secret police.
It’s not a Cannes competition entry but part of the Un Certain Regard line-up, but if it were a competition film it would be a top Palme d’Or contender, at least in my book.
Set in October 1972, Metronom doesn’t particularly resonate with our present catalogue of political horrors, but serves as a time-capsule reminder of the beastly oppression of the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime, which ran Romania from early March of 1965 until Ceaucescu’s overthrow and execution on 12.22.89.
The story is principally told in personal, emotional and intimate terms, and is focused on the ins and outs of the relationship between Ana (Bugarin) and Sorin (Lazarovici). The inciting incident scene, which doesn’t happen until roughly the 45-minute mark, is a party in which they and their high-school-age friends listen to a Radio Free Europe broadcast by rebel DJ Cornel Chiriac (1941-1975).
Chiriac’s shortwave radio show, “Metronom,” delivered uncensored news from the non-Communist west along with contemporary rock music, and thus was feared and, as much as possible, suppressed by the Securitate.
As the party kids listen they decide to write a “thank you” letter to Chiriac for providing an anti-Commie view of the world, both topically and musically. Such an act, of course, was regarded by the bad guys as subversive and criminal, and so before you know it (and I mean while the party is still going on) the goons bust in, arrest the kids and take them down to headquarters to sign confessions about the letter.
Did someone rat them out?
That’s all I’m going to say about the plot, but what happens certainly has a significant effect upon Ana and Sorin’s relationship. Let’s just say that the last 55 minutes of this 102-minute film are quite chilling. This mood is complemented by Tudor Vladimir Panduru’s shooting style, which follows the standard Romanian-cinema aesthetic — plain, unfussy, longish takes.
I’ll admit that Metronom tried my patience here and there. Some shots seem to last too long. Bugarin’s performance is hard to read at times,. During the party scene there’s an announcement by Chiriac that rock superstar Jim Morrison has died in Paris, which is a problem given that the Doors frontman passed on 7.3.71, or roughly 15 months before the party scene in question. And near the end there’s a post-interrogation scene between Ana and her best friend Roxana (Mara Vicol) that doesn’t quite stick the landing.
But otherwise Metronom is quite riveting — an emotionally relatable story of state terror that sticks to your ribs.
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »