REVIEW: ‘Elvis’ is an exuberant, exhausting experience

Elvis Presley has been portrayed on the large and small screen many times before. However, none of them featured the flair of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, until now.

The story of Elvis (Austin Butler) in this biopic is told from the perspective of the performer’s infamous manager, Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The movie begins with Parker on his deathbed and from there, the former manager recounts the events of his time with the singer, from when he discovered him to the performers final days in Las Vegas.

The movie showcases how Elvis’ popularity surged, his inspiration from African American musicians, his controversial stage movements and his attempt at a comeback after some down years. It also features the decline of his health during his time doing several shows in Vegas.

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REVIEW: ‘New Era’ at Downton offers enjoyment, despite shortcomings

I didn’t always know what was going on in the 2019 “Downton Abbey” film since I didn’t watch the series. That was true again here.

However, like its predecessor, it’s still fairly enjoyable.

“New Era” has two main stories unfolding. One revolves around a new film being shot at the Downton estate, where Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Violet (Maggie Smith) are keeping watch of things. While the family is hesitant about the film industry using the building, they allow it as it will provide funding to do needed roof repairs.

Meanwhile, the characters Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Edith (Laura Carmichael), Herbert (Harry Hadden-Patton), Tom (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) travel to southern France to explore a villa Violet inherited. The inheritance was included in the will of a man who Violet met decades ago in her youth.

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REVIEW: Meticulously made’ Northman’ devoid of heart

As a Vikings fan, I felt a major urge to clap my hands above my head whenever the word “skol” was thrown out in this film.

The story of “The Northman” is based in a Scandinavian legend, which ultimately inspired Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The protagonist of this film is a prince, Amleth, (Alexander Skarsgard) who witnesses his father (Ethan Hawke) be killed by his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang).

Amleth is forced to flee as a child after Fjolnir’s bloody rise to power, but vows to return. He eventually does so, now as an experienced, hardened warrior. To get close to his uncle, Amleth goes undercover, appearing as a slave working on Fjolnir’s land.

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REVIEW: Technically sound ‘Tragedy of Macbeth’ too inaccessible at times

I felt like I was drinking a 40 oz in the auditorium, because this film has a whole lot of Olde English.

Based on William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth,” “Tragedy” was written and directed by Joel Coen, with Denzel Washington playing the titular character. The film is a fairly straightforward retelling of the story, with Washington’s Lord Macbeth having a vision of ascending to the throne of Scotland.

That prophecy becomes fulfilled, and as the story goes, Macbeth’s reign turns out to be a difficult one. Soon after he takes the crown, he becomes paranoid and begins taking actions that only lead to more trouble.

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REVIEW: Biopic ‘Being the Ricardos’ drops the Ball

It’s easy to love “I Love Lucy.” But that’s not the case with “Being the Ricardos.”

The film stars Nicole Kidman, who portrays Lucille Ball, the actress well known for the series “I Love Lucy.” The movie picks up during a week of filming the “I Love Lucy” show, where the production has been impacted by some recent news.

Rumors are swirling around Hollywood about Ball possibly being associated with communism during the height of the Red Scare. The film follows how this affects production, and Ball’s marriage to her husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem).

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REVIEW: ‘House of Gucci’ grabs a viewers’ attention, despite flaws

Al Pacino hasn’t been in a family this intense since the Corleones.

“House of Gucci” follows the famous fashion family from the late 70s until the dynasty fell apart in the mid-90s. The movie’s main focus is on Patrizia (Lady Gaga), a woman who in 1978 met and married one of the Gucci heirs, Maurizio (Adam Driver).

From there, the movie follows how the two maneuvered to gain more power in the family. Their efforts to do so put them in conflict with other members of the family, and eventually, each other.

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REVIEW: ‘Passing’ swings for the fences, but it’s a miss for Netflix

The 1920s are brought to life in this new Netflix feature, with a black and white look reminiscent of movies from the era.

“Passing” stars Tessa Thompson as Irene, a light-skinned black woman who lives in Harlem with with her husband, an African American doctor (Andre Holland), and two sons. The movie picks up with Irene out and about one day where she runs into a friend from high school.

That friend is Clare (Ruth Negga), who is African American, but because of her light skin and blonde hair, “passes” as white. The film explores the friendship between Clare and Irene, and how it relates to race and class.

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REVIEW: ‘Spencer’ is a master class character study

Diana, Princess of Wales, has been portrayed on screen for decades, in everything from TV movies to the critically acclaimed series “The Crown.”

Perhaps no film has featured a portrayal as intimate and powerful as the one in “Spencer,” though.

Kristen Stewart stars as Princess Diana, who’s joining the rest of the British Royal Family in Norfolk at the Sandringham Estate for the holidays in 1991. The film follows Diana closely, from Christmas Eve through Boxing Day, showcasing her strained relationship with the rest of her family, her struggles with mental health and commitment to be a strong parent for her sons.

Where “Spencer” differs from other biopics about Princess Diana and other films about the royals is the hyper-focus. The movie centers nearly exclusively on Diana, and what she has to go through.

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REVIEW: ‘Belfast’ is a relatable, enjoyable black and white feature

The beginnings of the Northern Ireland Conflict are shown at a humble, micro-level, through the eyes of a young boy in this new film from Kenneth Brannagh.

The film is somewhat autobiographical, as Brannagh, who wrote and directed, grew up in Belfast, before his family relocated as the situation was heating up. The movie is told from the perspective of Buddy (Jude Hill), who lives with his family, which includes brother Will (Lewis McAskie), mother (Caitriona Balfe) and father (Jamie Dornan).

While his mother is always present, his father is mostly home just on the weekends, as he works as a contractor in England. The work situation comes into play heavily during the movie, as Buddy’s father sees moving the whole family to England as a good option with tensions heating in Northern Ireland.

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REVIEW: Scott’s ‘Last Duel’ is a dull, callous film

Ridley Scott’s historical epics have been rather disappointing, with 2014’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and 2010’s “Robin Hood” missing the mark.

Sadly, Scott’s latest effort, “The Last Duel,” doesn’t get in the win column.

“The Last Duel” is set in France during the 1300s and follows three characters, two of them being the knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and the squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who served on the battlefield together. The third lead character is Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), Jean’s wife.

As fellow warriors on the battlefield, Jean and Jacques not only have respect between each other, but a friendship as well. The friendship begins to strain, though, as Jacques begins enforcing rules set by the local Count Pierre d’Alencon (Ben Affleck), which Jean finds unfair. The situation reaches a boiling point when Marguerite accuses Jacques of rape. As a result, the two warriors are set on a path toward a deadly showdown.

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