Is the movie about the rock star worth watching?

There was a lot of anticipation (and also a lot of fear) around “Elvis“, the first major biopic of Elvis Presley, the king of rock, one of the most beloved artists of all time. Elvis died of cardiac arrest due to excessive medication and alcohol in 1977. Hollywood’s fear was precisely this: Would an icon who died 45 years ago still have the strength to take people under 50 to theaters?

And the answer is “yes”. The film is doing very well at the box office, and it doesn’t lack qualities. It is directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, who became known for his glittery films, full of luxurious costumes and lots of music. Let them say “Romeo + Juliet” (1996), a very interesting version of Shakespeare’s tragedy with Leonardo DiCaprio, and “Moulin Rouge” (2001), with Nicole Kidman, his most acclaimed film.

Luhrmann devoted many years to this obsession with bringing Elvis to the screen. Many actors (and non-actors) fought for the role, such as the British Harry Styles, the most popular singer at the moment. But he’s stuck with Austin Butler, a 30-year-old Californian with a low film résumé, who shines through every moment of the film – from the innocence of early success to the painful decadence.

Yes, there are some quirks that Luhrmann carries in all the films that would not be missed, such as the habit of inserting music of the moment in scenes of no importance “to update” the story – the result is bad.

But the greatest success of “Elvis” is perhaps the script itself, also signed by the director. Luhrmann chose to give the narration of the story not to Elvis himself, but to Colonel Tom Parker, who was his agent and manager for over 20 years.

Parker was responsible for seeing in Elvis the golden goose of American showbusiness, an artist of unparalleled charisma (especially sexual), who left fans hysterical at the first movement of the pelvis on stage. (The film does not leave out the reaction of politicians and conservative leaders, who, since the explosion of the King of Rock, have seen him as a threat to the traditional American family.)

In an always efficient composition by Tom Hanks, Parker is one of those characters that we should hate with all our strength, but we can’t help but sympathize. A compulsive gambler, he keeps half of Elvis’ income – he was later convicted by the Court of abusive exploitation – but he also shows immense affection for his creature, teaching him the path to success.

Hanks’ work is key to making Butler’s work shine. On the other hand, the wife, Priscilla, and the still small daughter, Lisa Marie, enter the plot without great importance.

In short: forget Baz Luhrmann’s two career setbacks, the tacky “Australia” (2008) and the bland “The Great Gatsby” (2013). At age 60, Luhrmann exudes passion for his protagonist, and the film’s two hours and forty minutes pass effortlessly.

“Elvis” opens in theaters next Thursday the 14th, with previews on Wednesday the 13th, World Rock Day.

Cronenberg, the disappointment of the year

On the same Thursday, David Cronenberg’s latest film, “Crimes of the Future” premiered. For movie buffs, Cronenberg needs no introduction. He gave us masterpieces about the organic mutations of the human being in the face of new technological advances, such as “The Fly” (1986), “Gêmeos – Morbid Similarity” (1988) and “Crash – Strange Pleasures” (1996).

Over the past 20 years, Cronenberg has devoted himself to films that are less “organic”, more cerebral and almost always interesting, such as “Marks of Violence (2005) and “Maps to the Stars” (2014).

In the new “Crimes of the Future”, he returns to the atmosphere of his first hardcore films to tell the story of Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), a man whose organism has the ability to develop new organs. They are extracted from his body in artistic performances conducted by his colleague Caprice (Léa Seydoux). The police have their eyes on them, and a boy who also displays a new aptitude turns up murdered.

The premise is all interesting – discussing the body as the new frontier of human evolution – but Cronenberg fails to bring the film to life and pulse.

Everything is icy like the place where Saul’s performances take place, and the characters spend the entire time explaining to each other what’s going on. Kristen Stewart plays a bureaucrat responsible for registering new organs, and the film ends before her character takes flight.

Cronenberg’s return to films from the past shows how much time has passed for him – and in that sense, it reminds him of “Os Amantes Passageiros” (2013), in which Pedro Almodóvar tried to return to the lame comedy of his first films and broke his face.

After opening in theaters on the 14th, “Crimes of the Future” arrives on Mubi streaming on the 29th.

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