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Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ Is Utterly Exhausting

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Baz Luhrmann has never been given credit for his cinematic innovation, so let it be said here that with Elvis he has pioneered the first film to consist exclusively of montage from beginning to end. The whole Greatest Hits of montage are here: newspaper headlines by the truckload; a ferris wheel that turns into a spinning record; a succession of screaming audiences from one town to another; concert posters signifying Elvis’s growing fame, in which his name moves up the bill; money and the trappings of fame. Luhrmann’s fondness for this most hackneyed of techniques is but a symptom of a wider disease in his filmmaking, namely his disturbing addiction to hacking and remixing. The director cannot hear a song but he has to chop it up, spin it around, put a donk on it, slow it down, add a breathy vocal, speed it up again, chuck in a gospel choir, hit the echo pedal, and finish it off with an irrelevant rap outro. As in his process, so it is with his storytelling: it’s dispiriting that he doesn’t trust his material to capture our attention off its own bat, but instead gussies it up like Blackpool illuminations. Elvis is a film for babies.

The supposed hook for this new film is that it focuses on the financial abuse of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler, who is not the worst thing in the film) by his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks, who might be). This could have been a rich........

© The Daily Beast

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