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.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Elvis’ is an exuberant, exhausting experience”
Peter Dinklage should’ve been an Oscar contender.
Based on a 2018 stage musical, which itself was based on the 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the film “Cyrano” tells the story of the titular character portrayed by Dinklage. Cyrano is a writer, poet, performer and even a cunning swordsman. Despite his talents, though, he can’t bring himself to confess his love for his friend from childhood, Roxanne (Haley Bennett). This is because of his own self doubt related to his appearance.
His complicated romantic situation is only compounded when Roxanne, who’s expected to marry the duke De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn), announces her love for a soldier named Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Wanting to make his love happy, Cyrano decides to help Christian write letters to Roxanne, as the solider is also in love with her.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Cyrano’ is a sensational musical”
Tonight… Tonight… I’m rather disappointed tonight.
Because I didn’t enjoy this “West Side Story” adaptation as much as I hoped I would.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this marks the second time the 1957 musical was adapted for the screen, the first released in 1961. In the film, there are two gangs in New York City the film revolves around, the Jets and the Sharks, the latter made up of Puerto Rican immigrants. Tensions have already been high between the two, but their battles appear ready to reach an even higher level of violence.
Before that takes place, though, both gangs end up at a dance. There, a former member of the Jets, Tony (Ansel Elgort), meets Maria (Rachel Zegler), the younger sister of the Sharks leader. While the two fall in love, their relationship only complicates the situation between the two groups.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ doesn’t sizzle like its 60s counterpart”
The legacy of late composer Jonathan Larson is honored in this new Netflix feature, based on his own autobiographical musical, “Tick, Tick… Boom.”
Andrew Garfield stars as Larson in the movie, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film has a framing device of Larson of performing “Tick, Tick… Boom” as a one man show, where he tells the story of himself in 1990, struggling to get a new production off the ground.
That production is “Superbia,” and the story Larson tells includes details about how he worked at a small diner, his strained relationships because of his focus on his work and how he grieved for friends he lost to the AIDS epidemic.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’ is an enjoyable, touching tribute”
Sometimes a movie comes along and reinvigerates a person’s appreciation for a genre.
That’s what “CODA” has done for coming of age/teen drama films.
The title of the movie is an acryonym, meaning Child of Deaf Adults. The main character is Ruby (Emilia Jones), a teenager whose parents Frank (Troy Kotsur) Jackie (Marlee Matlin), as well as her brother Leo (Daniel Durant) are all deaf. On top of attending school, Ruby helps in the family fishing business, working on the boat and acting as a sign language interpretor for sales.
During her time at home, Ruby is a music lover and she expresses this on the boat with her singing. This inspires her to take up choir in her senior year of high school, where the film picks up. The movie then follows how she has to balance her job and her singing lessons, as well as her family’s reaction to her doing something they can’t enjoy or enage with.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘CODA’ delivers with humor and plenty of heart”
“In the Heights” is an appropriate name for this film and the stage production its based on.
Not only because it takes place in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, but also because it’s an experience that earns high scores.
The film is set in a Latin community and follows several characters, but the main focus is on Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who dreams of reopening his late father’s beachside business in the Dominican Republic. One of the regular customers to Usnavi’s shop is Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), a young woman working at a salon who wants to pursue a career in fashion.
Early in the film, Usnavi and Vanessa meet up with Nina (Leslie Grace), a Stanford University student whose father owns a taxi company. That company is where Benny (Corey Hawkins), who has relationship history with Nina, works. The four of them spend time with others in the neighborhood and try to navigate their futures during a heat wave across New York City.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Get in the theater for ‘In the Heights’”
Netflix’s latest picture takes audiences back to the Roaring 20s with a Blues tale based on a play.
Viola Davis plays the titular character here, who was a real life singer. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey was a woman with several hits during the 1920s, including “Black Bottom.”
This movie picks up with her and her band visiting a Chicago office to record that song and others for an album. The movie follows Ma’s experiences, and her band members’, such as Levee (Chadwick Boseman) as the recording session goes on.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Ma Rainey’s story doesn’t translate well to Netflix”
For the second year in a row James Corden is starring in a musical during the holiday season. This time, though, he has less fur.
Corden is one of four actors portraying Broadway performers in “The Prom.” Corden plays Barry, who is joined by other theater performers Dee Dee (Meryl Streep), Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells). At the movie’s outset, the four are somewhat down on their luck after receiving negative reviews for their latest show.
However, they soon find a way to get good press again by supporting a teenager in Indiana named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who’s come out as a lesbian and has been met with resistance to attending her prom as a result. During their time there, though, the four become supportive of Emma more than just for their own needs.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Star power and songs carry ‘The Prom’”
The tragedies of losing what you love and giving up what you love are tied together in this film, and it makes for a fairly strong drama.
Riz Ahmed stars as Ruben in the film, a drummer in a heavy-metal duo, with the other member being his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). The two have had troubled pasts, including issues with substance abuse, but at the outset of the movie, the two are clean, working gigs and are comfortable with how things are going.
Trouble hits Ruben’s life, though, as he begins noticing issues with his hearing. During a trip to a medical center, Ruben learns his hearing is dropping rapidly, and will likely be lost quickly. To deal with his plight, Ruben is sent an organization for recovering, deaf drug addicts and begins adjusting. At the same time, he is considering a surgery that could restore his hearing.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Sound of Metal’ is a success thanks to lead performance”
Will Ferrell is back with another silly character and this time he’s joined by Rachel McAdams in the co-leading role.
Ferrell portrays Lars while McAdams stars as Sigrit, with the two forming the music duo Fire Saga in this feature from Netflix. The two aren’t exactly the best musicians, and their skills have only earned them local gigs in their small Icelandic fishing town. Despite a lack of superstar success, though, Lars still has a dream of competing, and ultimately winning, the Eurovision Song Contest.
In the movie, Fire Saga finally gets their chance, as they sort of stumble their way into the contest, representing Iceland in the process. Upon their arrival, Lars and Sigrit meet their competitors and learn about how much of a challenge it will be.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Eurovision’ doesn’t have enough laughs to carry it for two hours”