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"Elvis" wants everything, but gets too little - Walla! culture


The spoken biography of Elvis Presley wants to recreate the achievements of "Bohemian Rhapsody", inspired by "Amadeus" and revealed as a collection of clichés and a vulgar and superficial film

"Elvis" wants everything, but gets too little

The spoken biography of Elvis Presley wants to recreate the achievements of "Bohemian Rhapsody", inspired by "Amadeus" and revealed as a collection of clichés and a vulgar and superficial film, illustrating the problematic nature of the genre

Avner Shavit


Friday, 24 June 2022, 00:27

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Trailer for the movie "Elvis" (Tulip Media)

Star rating for movies - 2.5 stars (Photo: Image Processing,.)

In his life and death, Elvis Presley was an integral part of American cinema.

He himself, his doubles and of course his songs have starred in many films over the years, and there have also been some biographies about him.

Buzz Lorman's 'Elvis', which hits theaters this weekend, is the most ambitious biography to date.

It spans a little over two and a half hours, and goes up to screens accompanied by a massive marketing campaign, which also included a glittering premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

The marketing campaign compares "Elvis" to "Bohemian Rhapsody", probably hoping to recreate his huge box office achievements, but the truth is that his character is reminiscent of a less recent musical biography - "Amadeus".

During the press conference after the Cannes premiere, it was not surprising to hear Lorman explicitly state that this was his source of inspiration.

"Amadeus", it will be recalled, was named after Mozart, but presented his story from a different point of view - that of Slayer, a contemporary composer who, out of jealousy of the rare talent of the prodigy, faced obstacles and embittered his life.

"Elvis" takes a similar course - it may be called Presley, but it focuses on a different perspective - that of Colonel Parker, the musician's promoter.

Despite his name, the colonel was generally a Dutch immigrant, who came to the United States in the late 1920s, erasing his past and inventing a false identity for himself.

As part of his new life, he was the first to recognize the exceptional abilities of Presley - or rather, the money he could make from it.

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To the full article

Wants to be the new "Bohemian Rhapsody".

From "Elvis" (Photo: Tulip Media)

How cunning was Parker?

This can be illustrated by a quote from our colleague Amir Kaminer this week from the Yedioth Ahronoth archive, who wrote about the dubious nature of the "Colonel" as early as the 1970s - "he is able to sell Israeli bonded bonds to sheikhs in Saudi Arabia - and they will thank him for it."

This is of course picturesque language.

Parker, as far as we know, did not sell Israeli bonds to the sheikhs, but at least according to the film, he did cheat his protégé.

"Elvis" turns out to be a classic story of "his rise and fall."

He reviews Presley's breakthrough and the way he brought the black gospel music on his knees growing up to the American mainstream, but also less positive chapters in his life, and builds a narrative that the promoter is responsible for them.

"Amadeus" claimed that Slayeri stood in Mozart's way, and "Elvis" claims that Colonel Parker cut off Presley's wings.

Not only did he steal money from him - he is also the one who prevented him from showing more political and social involvement at the height of the culture war and the struggle for civil rights, he is the one who prevented him from developing creatively and he is also the one responsible to some extent for his physical decline.

For decades, America has been asking itself what led to the untimely death of her beloved son, already at the age of 42. This film finds the answer, and how convenient that Hashem is not American at all, but Dutch.

Presley is played by the rather anonymous Austin Butler, and Parker's casting is also surprising - Tom Hanks, an actor almost as beloved as Elvis himself, who almost always plays the characters of pure heroes.

Perhaps so that we do not get confused, and understand that this time he is playing a villain, the film exaggerates the character of the promoter.

His appearance, accent and papers - everything is extroverted and even grotesque, as if the veteran actor entered the character of the evil witch from "The Wizard of Oz", and this is not the only problem here.

The story of an idol.

From "Elvis" (Photo: Tulip Media)

Musical biographies are an excellent genre commercially and artistically problematic.

Hollywood loves to produce them nowadays, because like the adaptations of comic books, they are based on existing and popular cultural assets, and nowadays it is difficult to bring audiences to halls without this foundation.

The problem is that this is a particularly artificial genre, which is difficult to evade its conventions, and "Elvis" also turns out to be a collection of clichés.

"Elvis" is an original macro-level film, because since "Amadeus" we have not seen films that have chosen such a perspective, but not at the micro level.

We may not have expected him to choose Colonel Parker's point of view, but from now on - almost everything is to be expected, including all the moves familiar from previous musical biographies.

At the top of them, of course, are the montages that skip through frantic editing between stations in Presley's life and American history, making the result look like those "big moments" videos.

This is how it is: Although the film lasts about 150 minutes, it is not much time relative to all the tasks he took on.

Lorman wants it all: to summarize Elvis' experiences, to answer questions related to his life and death, to present a new perspective, to put everything in a socio-cultural-cultural context and to make all of Presley's hits accessible to the younger generation, who do not necessarily know them.

One of those hits was "Love My Tender."

Lorman does the opposite.

As in his previous films, where "The Great Gastby" was the last of them a decade ago, there is not a drop of softness here.

The director presses all the buttons at once.

Everything in "Elvis" is loud and bouncy.

He constantly compresses as many plot details, references and contexts as possible, like a person trying to cram several pieces of food into his mouth at once instead of chewing each one separately.

This film swallows, does not chew, and as it develops it becomes both more frenetic and more banal.

There are moments of rest of spirit, for example when Lorman incorporates in the soundtrack a segment of contemporary rapper Doja Kat in an attempt to fuse the past with the present;

Or when he imagines for a moment what is going on flipping through a comic book as a tribute to Elvis' admiration for the genre, but those are the exceptions that do not attest to the rule.

Love not congratulations.

From "Elvis" (Photo: Tulip Media)

Perhaps it is naive to demand from this fresh musical biography to show more momentum and go further.

After all, this is a product that claims to be a summer blockbuster, so there is a limit to the amount of risks that can be taken.

Here, too, lies the contradiction in Lorman's vision: he speaks of the inspiration of "Amadeus," but the Oscar-winning classic did not record extraordinary commercial achievements.

It ranked 56th in that year's local box office hits in the United States, and apparently did not aim for more than that.

Maybe that’s why she had more class and depth than this vulgar and superficial film.

Will "Elvis" win Oscars like "Amadeus" and register as a classic?

We will only know the answer in the future, but I find it hard to believe.

Will "Elvis" recreate the box office success of "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

We will know the answer soon, but even in this case it is hard to believe, because the lightning does not strike twice.

In any case, Lorman said he was interested in only one thing - the Presley family's opinion, and that was heavenly happy after watching the film and contributed enthusiastically to his marketing campaign.

One can understand the source of ecstasy.

America loves heroes and loves victims, and the film portrays Elvis as a hero and a victim - a victim of a Dutch immigrant, who left no children behind and has no privileged American family to protect him.

  • culture

  • Theater

  • Movie review


  • Elvis Presley

  • Buzz Lorman

  • Tom Hanks

  • Priscilla Presley

Source: walla

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