Elvis (2022)

Elvis is a 2022 epic biographical musical drama film directed by Baz Luhrmann. It stars Austin Butler as Elvis Presley with Tom Hanks, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJonge, Luke Bracey, Natash Bassett, David Wenham, Keven Harrison Jr. and Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting roles. 

In 1997, Elvis Presley’s manager, Coloner Tom Parker is on his deathbed looking back at how he met the future King of Rock and Roll. In the early days Elvis has bettled a poverty-stricken childhood with his parents Vernon and Gladys. He finds music to be his redemption, even though he his picked on by his friends because of his love for African American music od Memhis’ Beale Street. Parker is a carnival peddler who calls himself a modern day PT Barnum. 

Although Parker is already managing country singer Hank Snow, as soon as he hears Elivs on the radio, he is impressed by what he hears and has dreams of becoming his manager. He eventually meets and coaxes Elvis to let him take control of his career. However, not all of the public is impressed with the young performer. Many parents believe that his ruining their children and racist politicians also attack him. After a violent incident at a concert, Elvis is faced with a possible jail term. However, Parker persuades the government to draft Elvis into the US Army as a way of avoiding anymore legal compications. During his time in the service, Elvis suffers the sadness of his mother dreaking herself to death. 

While stationed in Germany, Elvis meets Priscilla Beaulieu, and upon his discharge, he resumes his career making concert tours and movies while Parker’s control of his life grows stronger. After Parker locks him into a long contract at a Las Vegas hotel, Elvis starts to grow tired of his deceitful manager and tried to fire him, only to be sued by Parker for a substantial amount that will leave him broke and he will lose everything from his house, to his cars, to all his Elvis merchandise. A brutal argument develops, where Elvis has to admit that he has no choice but to keep Parker, although they grow apart and rarely see each other afterwards. Elvis’ life eventually goes downhill as Priscilla takes their daughter Lisa Marie and leaves him over his prescription drug addiction, which grows even more after she is gone. 

When I saw a preview for this film for the first time. I couldn’t see Austin Butler as Presley, but after watching it, I do see it one-hundred percent. The fact that he acts, sings, dances and plays the music is amazing. He brings the King of Rock and Roll back to life and you learn so much about Elvis’ life. The Elvis voice, singing, music playing and dancing done by Butler is spot on. He does the bouncy voice, the shaking and gyrating so perfectly, you forget you’re watching an actor and you feel like you have stepped back in time with the real Elvis. 

Oliva DeJonge does an outstanding job as Priscilla Presley. She looks the part perfectly and you’d never believe she’s actually Australian. Tom Hanks does a great job as Colone Tom Parker, though his accent does get pretty annoying and makes you wonder if Parker actually talked like that (if you didn’t already know). Helen Thomson does a great job too as Elvis’ mother Gladys Presley. Richard Roxburgh does a fine job as his father Vernon Presley. Luke Bracey is really good as talent manager Jerry Schilling. 

The story, acting, costumes and makeup and scenery and props are all spot on, period perfect. This film introduces young(er) generations to Elvis’ music and other music of the 50’s to 70’s. You learn so many things about the life of Mr. Presley, his childhood, his music, his relationships, fandom and addictions. The movie is really long at a nearly three hour runtime and could have been quite a bit shorter, as some scenes are really drawn out. You do wonder if the film is ever going to end, but other than that, it is extremely entertaining and makes you love Elvis’ music, either for the first time or all over again. 

This movie is as shocking as it is entertaining and Butler, DeJonge and Hanks all deserve awards for roles. Fantastic film from begining to end! 18+ 4.5/5 

House of Gucci (2021)

House of Gucci is a 2021 American biographical crime film directed by Ridley Scott, based on the 2001 book House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed by Sara Gay Forden. The film follows Ptrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) and Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), as their romance blossoms into a struggle for total control over the Italian fashion brand Guicci. Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino also star. 

In 1978, Patrizia Reggiani is a young, pretty Italian woman working as an office manager at her father’s small trucking firm. At a party, Patrizia meets Maurizio Gucci, a law student and heir to 50% interest in the Gucci fashion house through his father Rudolfo. Patrizia forcefully pursues the awkward Maurizio. Rudolfo warns him that she is only after his wealth and tells him that he will disinherit him if he marries her. Maurizio chooses Patrizia over his relationship with Gucci, leaving the family. Patrizia and Marizio marry and he takes a job at the Reggiani trucking company. 

When Patrizia gets pregnant, she sees her child as a way for family recognation . She slips it out to Maurizio’s uncle Aldo and he is delighted by the news takes them in. Maurizio reconciles with his very ill father shortly before his death and Rudolfo writes him back into his will, but forgets to sign the papers, sending the Gucci shares to him before he dies. Patrizio falsifies his signature, giving Maurizio 50% interest in the company. 

Patrizia starts to invent a scheme to take a powerful interest in Gucci by taking Maurizio’s uncles Aldo and Paolo’s shres. At a family ski trip, Patrizia senses that Maurizio is having an affair with a family friend and consults a psychic for help. Maurizio asks for a divorce and says he also is going to take away her shares in the company. Many illegal events happen after she is dropped from Maurizio’s life and the Gucci brand, prompting her to devise a plan with the psychic to hire hit men from Siciliy to trick Maurizio and shoot him. 

You don’t have to be rich, a fashionista, or even a fashion designer yourself to enjoy this movie. The acting is equally superb from all the main stars. The soundtrack is awesome with a great mix of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s hits. The constumes and makeup is outstanding as well. Parts of the film are very slow and not much time is spent on the tiral of Patrizia and Pinna the psychic, just facts on the screen mostly. I was affraid the actors wouldn’t get the Italian accent right, but most of them did, except for Jeremy Irons whose accent was a mixture of Italian and British. 

This a really long movie at two hours and thirty-eight minutes and seemed like it wasn’t going to end. I did find myself a bit bored at times, wishing certain scenes would get over with. Some scenes are dragged on, like Aldo and his birds, just show he has them and move on, it’s not that important to the overall story. So much of the film seemed a bit soap opera-ish, like an Italian version of Dynesty, making it not as entertaining as Ridley Scott intended. For a film of a highly talented cast, I was expecting an exceptional motion picture, but got far less. Not worth spending money to watch on the big screen that’s for sure. 

The acting, fashion and music are the only things really good about this movie, so those award nominations will be well deserved, but not Best Picture or Best Director. Save yourself time and money and just read the book on audio, because the film is not as good they make it seem. 18+ 3/5 

Shirley (2020)

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Shirley is a 2020 American biographical drama film directed by Josephine Decker based on the novel of the same name by Susan Scarf Morrell. It stars Elizabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg Odessa Young and Logan Lerman. The film follows a young couple that moves in with Shirley Jackson and her Bennington College professor husaband, Stanley Hyman, hooping to start a new life. Instead they find themselves in a psycho thriller drama that inspires her next book.

You learn a lot about the life of thriller and mystery writer Shirley Jackson and her mental and physical health. She was a heavy drinker, had severe manic depression, was paranoid schizophrenic, agoraphobic, selfish and often times mean, speaking exactly what she was thinking. She was married to Stanley Hyman from 1940-1965 when she died.

Shirley (Moss) never leaves the house and studies the young wife, Rose Nemser who is living in the house and helping out around the home while going to school and looking for a job. Rose’s husband is Fred Nemser and he eventually becomes a professor at Bennington too, like Stanley. The young couple discover that Shirley is mentally ill and needs 24/7 care but Stanley refuses it telling them to just leave her alone and let her do her writing alone. Rose finds a page of Shirley’s newest novel in progress, starts to read it, discovering it’s about Fred and her,  gets upset and offended. Shirley walks in and finds her reading it and they both get angry and fight. Shirley hits Rose across the face.

Rose tells Fred about what happened and he doesn’t believe her until one evening at dinner when Shirley acts out dark and twisted scene, pointing a knife at both of them. The couple tell Stanley they can’t continue living there with Shirley in the house and they both beg him to send her to a mental institution, which he turns down, saying she is better off at home with him. Other parts of the film read and reenact scenes from Jackson’s book Hangsaman.

Elizabeth Moss is fantastic as Shirley Jackson and Michael Stuhlbarg is outstanding as Stanley Hyman. Odessa Young and Logan Lerman are very good, not great as Rose and Fred Nemser. The chronicles the life of Shirley and Stanley and the Nemsers that live with them and her latest novel.

Them film is fairly spectacular but would have be better if it had started from her childhood but it’s not a documentary. But you still get to know Shirley well as in her mental illnesses, her drinking problem and her inspirations and writing style. She may have been ill, but she was a fantastic writer and has inspired many ther writers.

This film is filled with illnesses, selfishness, drinking, smoking, fighting and sex. There is full frontal nudity in a couple of scenes as well, so no young viewers at all, only adults. The role of Shirley was one hundred percent perfect for Moss. No other person could have played her but Elizabeth. This a dark, pretty disturbing (at times) film. It shows how how mental health issues affect people and the ones around them and how a writer comes up with their stories. Some parts are a bit slow, but overall an  excellent movie. 18 & up 4.5/5