Elvis Presley (1935-1977) torpedoed the music genre with the same iconoclasm Andy Warhol (1928-1987) dealt to the art world, blasting the suited-singers, framed paintings, eliminating boundaries, bulldozing the norm and excavating a future never envisioned. Director Baz Luhrmann (“The Great Gatsby”) with his lavishly excessive style unveils the genius of a young white boy saturated in gospel, jazz, rhythm-and-blues, a reverence for disc jockeys Rufus Thomas, B.B. King and the musical magic of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Luhrmann brilliantly intertwines prodigious, iconic blues, steeped in black history with Presley’s innovative, imitative skill at replicating and making it his own; Elvis, was a “King” and the film, layer by layer, reveals the boy, man and icon; a supernova, extinguished far too soon.
Told from the perspective of enigmatic Colonel Tom Parker (again Tom Hanks’s virtuosity, stupefies) Elvis’s manager: creator/destroyer, a Rasputin of poisonous, charismatic acuity, sculpting the career of a naïve, innovative and overwhelmingly trusting prodigy. Illusive, as to whether they would have anchored the celestial without each other?
Austin Butler, in league with Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury, “Bohemian Rhapsody”), Taron Egerton (Elton John, “Rocketman”) and Renee Zellweger (Judy Garland, “Judy”), conclusively cloned, to the minutest detail, his voice, liquidly of limbs, subtlest gestures, the man whose magnetism unleashed primal, orgasmic reactions from millions; cinematically, the song and dance sequences topped the scales in breathtaking magnificence, eliciting groans of exultation, jubilation, euphoria from rapt viewers.
Elvis Presley changed the way we danced, understanding that dancing is “the hidden language of the soul”, uninhibited movement unleashing the potency of the spirit, lying, hibernating, craving freedom, acknowledging it’s “Now or Never”.