[11:25 am] Elvis isn’t quite as bad as I feared, but several sections are punishing to sit through. It’s a flashy, pushy, often exhausting carnival sideshow, very primary and primitive, clearly made for the ADD peanut gallery…a fairly blunt tool.
Baz Luhrmann understands the whole Elvis Presley story chapter-and-verse, and the film covers every last important or noteworthy story point, but God, what a crushing, staggering drag to hang out with fatsuit Tom Hanks (as Colonel Tom Parker) for 159 minutes.
Using Parker’s perspective as a framing device was an understandable decision, I guess, but the Hanks presence seems to drain so much of the film’s potential. It kills so much of the music, the invention, the potential fun of it, the all of it. At times it feels as the film is mainly about Parker with Elvis as a prominent supporting character.
Just as Parker became more and more of a pestilence (a constantly interrupting or stifling figure) in Elvis’s life and career, Hanks’ performance becomes more and more unwelcome and deflating from an audience perspective.
Ladies and gentleman, the villain of Elvis’s life! The guy who stifled and nearly smothered Elvis’s career because Elvis was too complacent or blinded or drugged by the big money to see what a bloated, selfish, gambling-junkie, revenue vacuum cleaner Parker had become.
Austin Butler does a good workmanlike job in the title role. He apparently gave everything he had. As Owen Gleiberman has written, Butler looks less like Elvis than the young John Travolta mixed with Jason Priestley. But he worked it hard. Respect.
I adored the moment in which Elvis’s “Memphis mafia” (i.e., the principal parasites) is introduced as if part of a TV show opening-credits sequence. One of Baz’s best moments.
Sidenote: Luhrmann ends it with the famous Las Vegas “Unchained Melody” a capella performance with a sweating Elvis sitting down at the piano, etc.
Going by the online trailers, I’ve been noting all along that the film seems to avoid the “fat Elvis” period, but it doesn’t. Because the “Unchained Melody” sequence is TOTALLY FAT FAT WHITE JUMPSUIT ELVIS…fat, fat, dessicated, dessicated, FAT FAT HEART ATTACK SWEATING SWEATING FAT FAT DEAD. But such a soulful delivery of a song.
It doesn’t seem to be a Butler fatsuit thing as much as a Butler face-paste…footage of the real fat Elvis with the singing, sweating Butler digitally inserted.