Colorful biopic is the latest version of the life of legendary singer Elvis Aaron Presley (Austin Butler). It traces his upbringing in the black neighborhoods of Mississippi, where he first got his musical influences, to his discovery by promoter Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), to his rise as one of the biggest stars in history, and eventually to his shocking and unexpected death in 1977.
Biography is directed by Baz Lurhmann from his script and story with Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner and Sam Bromell. It’s visually stunning and filled with music as Lurhmann tells the story of one of the greatest performers of all-time in the director’s usual over-indulgent style. Underneath Lurhmann’s smoke and mirrors, though, is a heartfelt and sometimes powerful story of the life of one Elvis Aaron Presley. The film is interestingly told from the narration of Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker, who is not painted as a good guy despite telling the tale. There are wonderful performances here that help make this work, especially from Austin Butler as Elvis and Hanks almost unrecognizable as the shady Col. Parker. The film is filled with not only Presley’s music but that of the black rhythm and blues and gospel artists that inspired Elvis’ music and style. These artists are given full credit for helping create one of the greatest entertainers in history. The film traces Presley’s youth among these artists, his discovery by the unscrupulous Parker to his rise, temporary fall and comeback as the music icon we know today. It also doesn’t sugarcoat or avoid the sad events leading up to his untimely death. It’s a visually stunning, music drenched biopic that is given a strong beating heart and soul by a director who seems passionate about the story and two leads giving it their best. An emotional and musical ride through the sadly too short life of one of the greatest musical icons of all-time. Also stars Olivia DeJonge as Elvis’ wife Priscilla, Richard Roxburgh as his father Vernon and Helen Thomson as his mother Gladys.
24 EXPOSURES (2013)
Odd and unsatisfying thriller has a troubled police detective (Simon Barrett) investigating a series of murders and questioning a fetish photographer (Adam Wingard who directed The Guest) who worked with a couple of the victims. The two form an odd bond as the investigation continues. Yea…that’s kinda it. I found this thriller rather pointless and dull. Writer/director Joe Swanberg seems more interested in giving his fellow director buddy Wingard opportunities to make-out with and enact sex scenes with multiple women than he is in actually telling a story. Ironically, when Barett’s cop character tries to sell his experiences as a book, he’s told that the characters and story aren’t compelling enough and there are too many loose ends…kinda like this movie. Also, instead of patting each other on the back by giving each other acting roles, this pack of filmmaker buddies should keep egos in check and hire real actors…just a suggestion.
KILL ME THREE TIMES (2014)
Another Tarantino wannabe thriller that has a hip soundtrack, spurts of graphic violence and a story told out of sequence with dark humor. This time the wannabes are writer James McFarland and Aussie director Kriv Stenders. They deliver the story of hired killer Charlie Wolf (Simon Pegg) who is being payed by a ruthless husband (Callan Mulvey) to murder his cheating wife, Alice (Alice Braga). Unknown to Charlie, a conniving couple (Theresa Palmer and Sullivan Stapleton) are planning to kill her, too, in an insurance fraud plot…but Alice has other ideas. Add in a dirty cop (Bryan Brown) and a lovesick mechanic (Luke Hemsworth) and things get complicated and bloody fast. Flick isn’t terrible, it’s just that it’s style is so familiar at this point and a good deal of it is predictable because so many have already tried to be the next Quentin Tarantino and we know what to expect. Pegg seems to be having fun in more of a tough guy role, but the proceedings in flicks like this have just become so passé and it never reaches the cleverness or the manic energy of the filmmaker whose work is being emulated. OK at best.
THE INTRUDERS (2015)
The Intruders is a completely derivative and familiar story of a emotionally troubled girl named Rose (Miranda Cosgrove) who moves into an apparently haunted house that wants something from her. Obviously her recently widowed father (Donal Logue) thinks it’s all in her troubled head and no one believes her that something may be in the house with them. So, she begins to investigate. Add in alleged disappearances and suspicious neighbors and you know where this is going. Thriller isn’t badly directed, as by Adam Massey, it’s just that Jason Juravic’s script is loaded with been-there-done-that. The only thing that elevated this for me out of the incredibly familiar and mundane material was that Cosgrove is actually quite good, despite being surrounded by clichés. In a much better film, the former Disney Channel actress could be quite an impressive final girl. Also stars Tom Sizemore as the suspicious neighbor and Austin Butler as the stereotypical nice guy hunk with a soft spot for pretty, damaged girls. Up to you.