Elvis ★★★½

Expectedly wikipedia overstuffed script but laser-focused through the mess on the losing battle of person vs money and image. Luhrmann’s assault of gaudy spectacle, shiny hyperactive cliches, and unconvincing period and setting (check out the amazingly shitty looking dream casino Tom Hanks narrates from) are purposefully or not appropriate for the fake lives of two men who are totally full of shit. This Elvis fancies himself a revolutionary but is just another shill and exploiter, as bad as Tom Parker only more charismatic and blind. Butler nails the Presley stage energy and practiced sensuality, but he can never sell a full human in the constant presence of Hank’s borderline-parodic caricature. Parker is bone-deep liberal Americana wearing bad accent and obvious fat suit. Elvis is a scared little white boy wearing the costume of a Black man, a preacher, a superhero, a serious artist, a young man, finally the old fat man Parker. In the last scene, Parker remembers and mythologizes one of Presley’s last performances, claimed to demonstrate the power, talent, commitment still in his bones till the end; as Elvis belts out Unchained Melody, two brightly branded Coca Cola cups sit atop the piano, selling product even in his last moment as a man with something genuine to say.

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