Elvis (2022)

This is not Elvis. This is Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, and you need to know this going in. The director’s films are frenetic to the extreme. Full of hyper-stylized montages, jump cuts and crash zooms in the spirit of New Wave MTV.


The tenured Aussie director specializes in grafting present day pop culture onto ancient stories that today’s youth would otherwise consider too boring to investigate or appreciate. Like ElvisπŸ˜…. Notably, his movies always feature an eclectic soundtrack with originals performed by today’s artists. In Moulin Rouge (2001) Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink performed “Lady Marmalade” in the setting of Parisian bohemia circa 1900. In The Great Gatsby (2013) it was Lana, Florence, Beyonce and Jay Z and other A-listers roaring at Jay Gatsby (Leo’s) luxurious 1920 parties in West Egg.

Here is Luhrmann’s brilliant description of the musical rationale applied in Gatsby: “When I went to do Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote African-American street music, jazz numbers, into the novel,” the director explains. “He coined the term Jazz Age. Jay-Z and I realized that the translation of jazz must be hip-hop. We were translating not only what it was, but what it felt like.”

In addition to Elvis classics, The present soundtrack features originals from Doja Cat, Eminem and CeeLo Green, Kacey Musgraves, Stevie Nicks and Chris Isaak, and Jack White – all dubbed over a Beat Generation backdrop. Gary Clark Jr. performs guitar, and Austin Butler (as Elvis) sings his own vocals. There are also sprinkles of other generation music in between. Like traces of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Backstreet Boyz to appease us millennials – the director’s first fans.


“To audiences of today, Elvis Presley might seem like a relic of a bygone era: a guy with an oft-imitated voice, flashy jumpsuits, and a cadre of hokey movies to his credit. But what Luhrmann and Butler wanted audiences to appreciate was just how dangerous Presley seemed when he first rose to fame.” (Lenker, 06/22/22)


A Baz Luhrmann movie is always a party. It will be a feast for the eyes and ears, if it is not downright disorienting. Wife and long time collaborator, Catherine Martin’s production designs are impeccable of course. The 2 Hr. 40 min. runtime will surely be a dealbreaker for many a prospective audience. But clearly the director felt his subject deserved the added space. IMO there were just too many scenes, happening too quickly. I felt like I could not catch my breath until the very end. Maybe this is how The King from Graceland felt his whole life though. Maybe this is exactly the restless heart Luhrmann wished to portray.

E.F.


Elvis (2022)

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2Hr. 40 min.

Director: Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby)
Production Designer: Catherine Martin (“”)
Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge

The Inside Out: (65/100): Disgust / Joy

27 thoughts on “Elvis (2022)

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  1. I just saw it and I loved it! Everybody loves Elvis not matter what generation they’re from. Which is why the inclusion of modern day singers was a turn off for me. I wish he kept the focus on the singer himself thank you very much.

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    1. I agree – I feel like the whole film is operating under the assumption that Elvis is not inherently interesting – that the whole story needed to be spiced up x100. It’s like Luhrmann is still catering to teenagers instead of all ages. I also would have liked more focus on the singer himself. For sure. Thanks for the great comment!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Musicians today have fair warning – when you “sell-out” This is what the industry can do to you. But Elvis was a pioneer this way, the “guinea pig” in the commercial music experiment. He didn’t know what it would cost. I appreciate the tragedy more so after seeing the movie now… The Graceland visit sounds neat!

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      1. I suppose there was time when Graceland lay in a rural setting but it is no longer so. The route south of Memphis is littered with drive through banks and strip malls.

        During our approach so long ago now one first saw the tail fin of the aircraft “Lisa Marie” sticking up behind a fence. The fence was there because it cost more to tour the airplane, plus even more to tour the cadillacs. We chose the mansion alone.

        We had our disabled daughter with us. Graceland features the only parking lot I have ever encountered where the handicapped parking is the furthest from the entrance as possible. I suppose that is a comment of sorts: only the beautiful people are encouraged to visit.

        We were behind a Dodge Caravan with Iowa plates. I noticed the several middle aged women getting out, all made up as if they had some grand personage to visit. We were in shorts.

        Once the fee is paid we are loaded onto a Ford mini-bus and begin to hear a steady stream of Elvis music for the drive across the street to the mansion. The gates with the music cleft iron works upon them swing open and we ascend the drive.

        Upon disembarking we are met by young beautiful people who tell us that we will only be on the first floor and the basement, as Elvis told his aunt she could live there as long as she wanted, and she took him up on the offer. This was in 1993, and at the time all I could think of what the aunt might be like at that point was the mother of Norman Bates, c.f. Psycho (1960).

        The living room is tastefully decorated. A white couch reminds me of photos of the King sitting there with Priscilla. We see a massive chandelier hanging in the stairway up to where the mother of Norman Bates must be lying and are told the front picture window had to be removed to allow the fixture to enter the house. And that more or less sets the stage for a house full of excesses, a product of a man with a lot of raw talent and people who fashioned it into a wealth he really didn’t know what to do with.

        Next we are ushered into “The Jungle Room” inspired by Elvis’s visit to Hawaii. In the young beautiful guides telling it sounded like Elvis discovered Hawaii and is responsible for statehood. We are told he picked out all the furniture in a department store in downtown Memphis in 20 minutes. The guy behind me says “There will never be another like him.” Right, that is what I am thinking too, although it is not entirely a compliment.

        Downstairs we find the pool table still with the rip in the cloth and the three televisions inset into the wall so the King could watch three football games at once, like Lyndon Johnson had at the White House to monitor the news, the story goes.

        Out back there is a small office where Col. Parker issued the King instructions. The beautiful guide tells us Elvis ignored these instructions.

        A shooting range is also outback. The story goes the neighbors complained about the noise, and called the police. Because of his on board charm, before long the police have joined Elvis in target practice, using their service revolvers. America was a different place then.

        Finally we are taking to the handball court, adorned with all the gold and platinum CD’s and records, told about the day Elvis died after exercising heavily. We are ushered to the grave where his parents have been interred next to him, as well as the remains of his twin who died at birth. A guitar shaped pool graces this southern wing of Graceland.

        All in all it felt tragic. Raw talent, employed by those who knew how to fashion it, but ultimately it all caught up with him.

        This is a longer than usual comment Experience, and if you have made it this far I would like to Thank ya, Thank ya vury mush.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is outstanding You should also podcast this vivid experience! It is detailed like the movie. My younger sister has Downsyndrome so the discriminative handicap parking would have enraged me… It is a “beautiful” people with beautiful problems kind of story isn’t it? “All in all it felt tragic. Raw talent, employed by those who knew how to fashion it, but ultimately it all caught up with him.” This is what I took home from the movie as well.

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  2. Good review. I’m going to be watching this movie in a few days and reviewing it over the July 4th weekend. Sounds like its more style over substance. Hopefully, I like it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. An excellent analysis, mate! Thank you. I’ve never been a freaky fan of the king, but I like some of his songs, and I also believe that he belongs to the history of music. I will look forward to watching that movie. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ––πŸ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I’m one of the only people on earth who enjoyed this director’s Romeo and Juliet, and it sounds like he made the subject of Elvis just as engaging somehow, even though the topic (in both cases) is hackneyed. Sounds interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. R+J is my favorite Luhrman film. Still is. It’s good to hear you like it too! I think what is especially remarkable is how the dialogue is straight Shakespeare – It just works so well with the action and adrenal cinematography. Well said, hackneyed. Luhrman def infuses every story with new energy and flavor, including this one.

      Like

  5. If you believe Elvis “electrified” what he touched, then you’ll probably agree the director was a wise choice. If there was some philosophy in there you might want another choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The mood I need to be in to watch this hasn’t quite struck just yet. Perhaps it will, eventually. Either way, I find myself intrigued by your take on why there were too many scenes happening quickly. I may have to see this just to check if I concur. πŸ€“ Particularly that would be a smart comment to make about him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mood is key with Luhrman. I wasn’t in it when I watched this, so there’s a lot I missed. At the least, Austin Butler is amazing. I know you’ll enjoy his performance. But yeah I def still think there were too many scenes.

      Liked by 1 person

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