Priscilla (2023)

Priscilla is a 2023 American biographical drama film written, directed and produced by Sofia Coppola, based on the 1985 memoir Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley (sho serves as executive producer). It follows the life of Priscilla (played by Cailee Spaeny) and her relationship with Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi). 

In 1959, 14-year old Priscilla Beaulieu is residing with her family in Bad Naheim, Germany where her father stationed in the US Military. At a party on the base, Priscilla maeets 24-year old famous singer, Elvis Presely, who is also in the military. Elvis takes an instant interest in Priscilla, and the two begin a casual romantic relationship despite her parents’ concern over their age difference and Elvis’s fame. Elvis eventually returns to the U.S. after his service and loses contact with Priscilla, leaving her disheartened. 

In 1962, Elvis reconnects with Priscilla, proclaiming his love for her and asks that she come to U.S. to live with him at his estate in Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland. Elvis purchases her a ticket to come, where she is welcomed by Elvis, friends and business partners, and his grandmother. The couple take a trip to Las Vegas, where Priscilla takes drugs with Elvis. An unkempt Priscilla returns to Germany, and with Elvis’ help, convinces her hesitant parents to allow her to move to Graceland and complete high school in Memphis in 1963. 

While her time spent at Graceland is happy, Priscilla is treated as an object of intrigue and ridicule at her Catholic school due to her association with Elvis. Though she is welcomed by Elvis’s grandmother and his staff at Graceland, Priscilla finds herself controlled by Elvis’s strict father and stepmother, and isolated during Elvis’s long trips away to Los Angeles, where he is shooting a number of musical films. On one occasion, Elvis has Priscilla model dresses for him and his friends, and encourages her to makeover her appearance by dying her hair black and wearing more eye makeup. Distracted by her new lifestyle, Priscilla manages barely graduate high school. 

Priscilla’s isoloation and compartmentalization of her life begins to take a toll on her mental state, which is made worse by the highly publicized rumors of Elvis’s alleged infidelities, including with his co-star Ann Margaret. Priscilla makes an unexpected appearance in Los Angeles to confront Elvis about the affair, but is stopped when Elvis threatens her and insists that she must accept his behavior. 

Eventually, in 1967, Elvis proposes to Priscilla, and the two marry. Their happiness is fading, however, as Elvis’s career pressures and worsening substance abuse negatively affects the couple’s relationship. Priscilla quickly becomes pregant, and gives birth to their daughter Lisa Marie, in early 1968, as Elvis is preparing for his comeback special for NBC. Priscilla struggles to navigate the relationship as Elvis grows more violent, and the two begin leading separate lives, with Priscilla spending most of her time in California, and becoming romantically involved with Mike Stone, her karate instructor. While visiting Elvis’s hotel room after a performance in 1973, Priscilla finds him intoxicated, and he makes forceful sexual advances toward her. 

Sofia Coppola’s approach in telling the story of Elvis and Priscilla is done very well, although the film is very slow for the majority of its runtime. You see Elvis treat Priscilla like a girlfriend, a wife, sexual object, and just a friend. You also see him being like a second father to her when he enrolls in her in school in Memphis and makes sure she does her homework. You not only learn her side of the relationship, but you also see how both of them were crazy about each other, and in one scene it shows them staying in bed for days and in another scene Elvis is shown taking lots of pictures of Priscilla. So you see the crazy in love side of the couple, as well as them living different lives. 

Priscilla starts to see Elvis’s flirty and unfaithful side when he flirts with a fan at a Bible reading, and she instantly becomes jealous, upset, and angry. She confronts him multiple times throughout the film about his infidelities, after she spots him flirting with a girl, and finds love letters from other girls. His anger issues come and go throughout the movie as well, a side that wasn’t shown as much in last year’s Elvis film with Austin Butler. You see in this film that Elvis was really crazy about Priscilla, but he couldn’t keep his hands off other girls and couldn’t stop his drinking and drug abuse. 

Cailee Spaeny does great job as Priscilla, though she doesn’t look much like the real one did, even though Priscilla helped choose her for the role. Jacob Elordi does a really good job, as far as acting goes, but the voice was not a very Elvis sounding voice, fading from Mr. Presley, to a normal southern accent. Elordi only sings once and it’s not even his own song, it’s Jerry Lee Lewis. He also only dances a few times and it’s more like a good Elvis impersonator you see in Vegas, than an actor that has actually studied the musician. Elordi does look a bit like Elvis but not as much as Austin Butler. 

This film shows sides to both Priscilla and Elvis, most don’t know of. You see the good and the bad, the sweet, funny, and sad. This film is very slow most of the  runtime, and the couple spends a lot time kissing, making love, staying in bed, and fighting. Had there been more scenes of Priscilla and Elvis in California, Vegas, or other places, and had it had less kissing and less sex scenes and been less slow paced, it sould have been more enjoyable. There were even times when I couldn’t hear what the two main characters were saying when they were whispering and I was in a theater. 

 The costumes, makeup, and hair were great and the soundtrack, as well as the scenery. The acting was really good, apart from Elordi’s bad accent. Sofia Coppola might not have the looks down perfectly for the main characters, but she does know talent, but she also is known for slow and depressing films. At least this one had some fun and sweet moments. As far as as what was the better Elvis related film, last year’s Elvis was A LOT better, even though this is Priscilla’s story, I just think the portrayal of Elvis was better and the acting was better too. Also it is too soon to revisit Elvis, Priscilla, and Graceland. 

I loved seeing her side of their relationship and how her parents just let their young daughter date and then move in with an older man when she was just a teenager. (Thank goodness he waits to marry her.) You wonder  at first what he saw in her apart from being pretty, (which she was), because you think she’s really nothing special, and she was pretty ordinary, but then you learn about her charm, her sweetness, her intellegence, and sexuality. You learn about how mature she was and how she at times was more like an adult in a teenage girl’s body and your opinion is changed. 

Not the best Elvis and Priscilla film, but not the worst either. The acting is good, the actors didn’t look that much like the real people they were portraying, and the accents are off, but overall, this a rather lukewarm telling of a former wife’s relationship with one of the most famous men in history. I bet Elvis and his daughter are rolling over in their graves. 18+ 3.5/5

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 

tick…tick…Boom! (2021)

Tick…Tick…Boom! is a 2021 American biographical musical drama film directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and is written by Steven Levenson, based on the stage musical of the same name by Jonathan Larson, it is a semi-autobiographical film story about Larson writing a musical to try to enter into the theater industry. The film stars Andrew Garfield as Larson, alongside Vanessa Hudgens, Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp, Joshua Henry and Judith Light. 

In 1992, Jonathan Larson performs his rock monologue Tick…Tick…Boom! at New Theater Workshop with his friends Roger and Karessa. He describes an annoying ticking sound he hears in his head and begins to tell his story. An unseen narrator explains the films is the true story of Larson, “except the parts Jonathan made up.” 

In early 1990, Jonathan balances work at the Moondance Diner in SoHo with getting ready for a workshop for his musical Superbia. He feels pressure to be successful before he turns 30: with his birthday just over a week away, he sees the workshop as his last chance. He has a party at his apartment with his friends, including his former roommate Michael and his girlfriend Susan. Susan tells Jonathan about a teaching job at Jacob’s Pillow and asks him to come. Michael, who recently left theater for a mediocre advertising career, sees Susan’s offer as a chance for Jonathan to consider a serious future and invites him to join an advertising focus group at his company. Jonathan’s producer asks him to write a new song for Superbia because the story needs it. This depresses him, as his idol Stephen Sondheim told him the same thing at a composong workshop several years prior, but can’t come up with anything and he only has a week. 

Jonathan finds himself unable to concentrate on getting ready for the workshop as he thinks about Michael and Susan’s offers. His worries grow when he learns from Carolyn (friend from the diner) that Freddy (also works at the diner), is HIV-positive, has been hospitalized. Susan angry at Jonathan’s hesitance to make a decision and obsession with his career, breaks up with him. 

To get money for a full band for the workshop, Jonathan attends the advertising focus group. However, he purposefully ruins it, making Michael mad, who feels Jonathan is wasting the chance to have a life with the person he loves on an unstable theater career, something Michael can’t do as a homosexual man in the AIDS crisis. After getting a promising call from his agent Rosa, Jonathan tries to write the new song, but his power get cut off. He goes to a swimming pool to rant his frustrations over his personal life and the workshop, before coming up with the new song at last. At the workshop are friends, family, industry professionals, including Sondheim. Jonathan recieves praise but no offers to produce Superbia. Discouraged, Jonathan begs Michael for a job in his company, but Michael changes his mind after seeing the workshop and urges Jonathan to continue with his theater career, revealing that he is HIV-positive. 

Though I haven’t seen Tick…Tick..Boom! on stage, I did enjoy Larson’s Rent on stage and the film version, though it was not as good as the stage production. Rent is a wonderful story filled with wonderful music. I thought it was terribly cheesy and depressing at first, but once I saw both the movie one and the stage one, I fell in love with it and I now wish this musical could continue on stages forever just like other greats like Chicago and Fiddler on the Roof. 

Andrew Garfield does an outstanding job as Jonathan Larson, giving him a perfect New York accent, as well as acting, singing and playing the piano and keyboard himself. Most of the songs are super cheesy, but that’s musical theater for you and Garfield performs the songs with the perfect cheese factor with song and in several scenes with dancing too. Most of the songs, besides being corny, don’t sound like a mature adult wrote them and since the movie is filled with those kind of songs, it does get a bit annoying and makes the film almost unenjoyable at times. 

Alexandra Shipp is great as Susan Wilson, based on the real life Janet Charleston, Jonathan’s girlfriend, a former dancer. Robin de Jesus does a fine job as Michael, Jonathan’s best friend, based on the real life Matt O’ Grady, who left theater to work in advertising. Vanessa Hudgens is also great as Karessa Johnson, although she has very little dialogue and mostly sings and dances. Joshua Henry is very good as Roger Bart, Jonathan’s friend and performer in Superbia and Tick…Tick…Boom! Bradley Whitford is superb as Stephen Sondheim. 

This film does a splendid job telling of Larson’s journey to become the next great musical theater sensation, even though it is a bit of a cheeseball at times. The songs, choreography, and acting are all eqaully fantastic. This is drama filled, song filled movie that will have you tapping your feet at times, getting angry at moments and also crying at times too. It teaches you to never give up on your dreams and that the great things you do will live on forever after you die. 

There is song and dance, drama, heart and passion in this film that make it such an entertaining watch. There is fighting, sex, rejection, drinking, smoking, disease, cursing and selfishness that make this movie inappropriate for really young viewers. Teenagers and adults will enjoy this one much more. Tremendous film!  13+ 4/5 

Music (2021)

Music is a 2021 American musical drama film directed by singer-songwriter Sia. It stars Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr. and Maddie Ziegler and is Sia’s directorial debut. The movie follows Zu, a freshly sober drug dealer who becomes the sole gaurdian of her half-sister Music, a teenage non-verbal autistic girl.

When I first read about Sia making this film, I was excited, as I am on the autistic spectrum myself. I also love Sia’s music and was eager to this movie. After reading and hearing all the controversy, I was still willing to give it a try, so I tried to watch with an open mind. There are very few good things about this film and lots of bad. I applaud the music, the choreography and Sia for her idea, but the idea wasn’t executed well at all. It is supposed to shine a light on autism and instead does not. It stereotypes and shows scenes that are actually harmful to autistic people, like the restraint scene and the flashing lights and loud music, that would cause an autistic to have either a meltdown, panic attack or seizures. The fact the main character is unaffected by the brightness and loudness is the complete opposite of a person on the spectrum.

This film doesn’t educate neurotypicals (as they’re called in the autism world) about autism (particularly non-verbal), it instead paints a world with a combination of stereotyping and falseness. Yes, all people on the spectrum are different, but this like a picture painted by someone who knows very little about the disabilities. I know the actors and actresses were just doing as they were told to, so no fault to them. This is all on Sia and screenwriter Dallas Clayton, who created what they thought would be a masterpiece, but instead it is just a horrible piece that should’ve never been filmed in the first place. The mere fact that Sia worked with Autism Speaks, a charity trying to cure autism, is bad too, as there is no cure.

Kate Hudson does a good job in her role as Zu. Leslie Odom Jr. is the stereotypical gay African American, but is just okay in his part. Maddie Ziegler does mediocre in the title role, but I believe that isn’t necessarily because she’s not autistic, but because she needs more experience at just acting alone, instead of dancing and acting combined like she normally does. She was just going by what she saw in videos and movies and tried to reenact what she saw.

So many people criticize Sia for not casting an autisic actor or actress for the lead part, and although it would’ve made it more realistic if she had, non-disabled people can play disabled characters like Leonardo DiCaprio in What;s Eating Gilbert Grape, Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, it has to be done right like these films. Research has to be done extensively and I believe both Sia and Dallas Clayton did very little of.

Overall, I loved the music and the parts of the story, but didn’t really enjoy this movie. I was mostly bored, confused and offended throughout watching. I wanted to like it and prove people wrong about the controversy, but hated for the most part. I now get the criticism, the disgust and hatred towards this film. All the good reviews are mostly from neurotypicals who don’t know much about the autistic spectrum, if at all, they just see the art of the film, not the story, cinematography and art combined.

Whether you’re on the spectrum, have another disability(ies), or not, do not bother watching this film. It is offensive to the max and boring, even the song and dance scenes are mediocre at best. Sia should be ashamed of this piece she calls art. It’s not art, it’s garbage. I don’t know how anyone can like this movie or even make it through the first 20-30 minutes without being appalled. This is a cringe-worthy pile junk that just seems thrown together fast and called a motion picture. Nothing carefully curated to be the least bit realistic. Wow! Just Wow! 13+ 1.5