A Double Feature Review!
Elvis is big, bombastic, flashy, and entertaining from start to finish. Baz Luhrmann’s (Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!) electrifying style is deeply embedded into this film’s DNA. Actor Austin Butler’s commanding performance as Elvis Presley will dazzle. Splashy and bright, this is a jukebox biopic to see on the big screen. Elvis marks Luhrmann’s long-awaited return to the director's chair since 2013's The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann’s picture about the King of Rock and Roll is nonstop energy for all of its 159-minute runtime. The film doesn't give you a break, sending the audience on a roller coaster of country music and rhythm and blues. The style that Luhrmann fuses with this picture might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a style that I have come around to love and admire.
Our story follows Elvis from his childhood growing up in the poorest parts of Mississippi to his big break into the music business in the 1950s to his military service in the early 1960s and his comeback reign/death in the 1970s. Luhrmann does touch on the race relations/controversy surrounding Elvis during his music empire. We see how Elvis, in many ways, took the sounds and harmony of African-American music and infused it into his lyrics. Yet, we also see how Elvis did have many African-American friends and artists in the music industry that he frequently hung out with. People like B.B. King (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Little Richard (Alton Mason). Butler completely transforms into Presley — gifting us with a whirlwind of a performance from start to finish. Butler will razzle and dazzle throughout the film.
We see Butler illuminate Elvis at his highs and lows throughout his starstruck career. In addition, Tom Hanks also gives a solid performance as Col. Tom Parker, Elvis' slimeball manager. I was a little worried seeing Hanks' performance from the trailer, but he turned out to be pretty good and held up well throughout. Cannot look at Santa Claus the same without thinking about Hanks demanding Elvis (Butler) to sing "Here Comes Santy Claws." Since Elvis' worldwide release, the film has made grossed $212.7 million against its $85 million budget, becoming the second highest-grossing music biopic of all time behind 2018's Bohemian Rhapsody and the 10th highest-grossing Australian-produced film. In the end, Luhrmann's Elvis is a rockin' good time.
Elvis is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Strong Language | Smoking | Substance Abuse | Suggestive Material.
Want to hear more of my thoughts about Elvis? I spoke with my good friends, Matt and Ashley, on their podcast, Mashely at the Movies | Listen Here.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr., David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Luke Bracey.
Cha Cha Real Smooth
Cha Cha Real Smooth is a sweet film with a lot of heart. I looked over at Glynis during the movie and said, “we are officially at Dakota Johnson’s character’s stage in life… no more nightclubs for us.” But, Cooper Raiff’s (2020's Shithouse) film is a tender-hearted dramedy. Written, directed, and produced by Raiff, Cha Cha Real Smooth is a small film that will slap a big smile on your face. Cha Cha Real Smooth is a pure-hearted dramedy, and it proudly wears that title. Andrew (Raiff) is a 22-year-old who's fresh out of college and stuck on what to do next with his life. Andrew moves back home with his mom (Leslie Mann), younger brother David (Evan Assante), and stepdad (Brad Garrett). He ends up landing a job as a DJ/motivational dancer for local bar and bat mitzvahs. While at a bat mitzvah, Andrew meets and befriends a local mom, Domino (Dakota Johnson), and her autistic daughter, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt). Cha Cha Real Smooth is a film that unveils unconventional love backed by emotional honesty. Raiff is an exciting young filmmaker to watch blossom on the screen; while showcasing his ambition in genuine storytelling. Cha Cha Real Smooth uses warm sentiment, wit, and charm to draw in its audience. Not everything works, but it doesn't give up. For that, I applaud it. So, let Andrew's charm move you onto the dance floor and "cha cha real smooth."
Cha Cha Real Smooth is rated R (Restricted). Language | Some Sexual Content.
Trigger Warning: There's a scene that depicts a miscarriage in this film.
Now Streaming on Apple TV+
Directed by Cooper Raiff
Starring Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Brad Garrett, and Leslie Mann.
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