The Reviews

Review: John Carpenter’s Elvis

Right, it’s been a week or more since I last posted. I guess I’ve been a bit of a busy bee. By busy bee I don’t mean I’ve done anything constructive. I also don’t mean that I’ve produced honey and stung inquisitive young children. I mean I’ve just been doing a few bits and bobs that has meant I’ve spent a little less time online. I’ve also rediscovered my love for all things Football Manager. Mainly it was visiting people for Birthdays and what not.

I’ve managed to take in a couple of new (to me) films in the last few days though. These were When You’re Strange and Elvis. When You’re Strange is the Johnny Depp narrated Doors documentary that came out last year and Elvis is the 1979 John Carpenter film that gave Kurt Russell his first leading role. Both were great watches, with The Doors doc just being made up purely of old footage of the band whereas the Elvis biopic didn’t include a single second of footage of the actual King. I’ll stop there for a second as I’m currently listening to Sleeper. Just a random line that I feel that more people should appreciate, from Delicious, “We should both go to bed ’til we make each other sore…”. Love it. For those not aware of the genius of Sleeper, check out this funky little tune. For those that are aware of the genius of Sleeper, I salute you:

Now, the above song most certainly isn’t Delicious but Inbetweener seems to be the only song that I can find a decent performance of on YouTube. I found an acoustic version of Delicious but the recording’s all a bit too quiet. Bah, Inbetweener it is then. It reminds me of my Louise Wener love. Her, Donna Matthews (Elastica), Sonya Madan (Echobelly), Lauren Laverne (Kenickie) and, a bit later on, Charlotte Hatherley (Ash) were the girls for me. All stunning and all liked to dabble with the guitar to varying degrees. I’m a sucker for a woman with a guitar. I’m not sure what it is, but it just does things to me. I could spend days locked in a room with Elastica although obviously Justin would have to either wait outside or just sit and watch. Right, now that I’ve gotten totally off on a random tangent, err, Elvis, yeah.

So, Elvis, John Carpenter’s ’79 biopic of Elvis Aaron Presley. Great film. Over the years there’s been many different screen incarnations of the King. My personal favourite still stands as Bruce Campbell in Bubba-Ho-Tep, but I digress. Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Elvis is ridiculously good, more so in the fact that he covers many different stages of Elvis’ life. The film starts of with a very young Elvis, maybe 8 or 9 years old. This sets up him receiving his first guitar as a Christmas present and also highlights the financial struggle that his family is undergoing with making ends meet. We then skip forward about 6 or 7 years to Kurt Russell’s Elvis in high school, getting bullied for his non-conformist hairstyle. Russell then takes you on through the rest of the film and through the various stages of Elvis. There’s the shy but charming schoolboy with his sweetheart, there’s the nervous teenager that’s never performed in front of an audience but ends up in a school talent contest, there’s the mama’s boy Elvis that records a record for his mother, there’s the cocksure Elvis that starts to know how good he is, there’s the Elvis that gets rejected at an audition, then there’s the Elvis that goes on the meteoric rise that ends up with him becoming the biggest musical name on the planet. The film doesn’t follow right through on the Elvis story, choosing to end on his big Las Vegas comeback of the late ’60’s rather than to end with the King sat on the toilet mid-log and mid-burger. Kurt Russell’s performance is fantastic, showing innocence, arrogance, loving, hating, introvert, extrovert. He does a brilliant job of showing Elvis getting wrapped up in the whirlwind rise of himself, only to then realise that due to this he can no longer be just a normal man. He can no longer go for a walk, go on holiday, go shopping. The performance is astonishing for it’s range, from the country boy who dreamed of being a rock star to the King of Rock & Roll who has too much fame for him to deal with. The strut, gestures, characteristics and dance moves that Russell shows are unbelievable. Such attention to detail, just so much down to the little things like the way he moves or alters clothing. I’d definitely recommend it to all Elvis fans and to all music or film fans in general. That said, I’m a huge John Carpenter and Kurt Russell fan, so maybe take my words with a grain of salt. One thing that may put a few people off is the running time. The film was originally meant to be split up and shown in installments on TV, hence the long running time that sits at about 2 hours 48 minutes. That said, a shit load of people were happy to invest that amount of time in that Lord of the Rings: Two Towers bullshit which basically focused on 3 hours of walking. As a wiser man than me once said, “even the fucking trees walked in those moves”. If you don’t know what I’m on about, have a nosey at this (excuse the French subtitles):

In regards to the above, I quite like the first and last Lord of the Rings films. That said, it riles me when people go on about them being the best films of all time or describing them as “The Trilogy”. There’s only one trilogy and that’s “The Holy Trilogy”, as in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.


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