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Elvis – Movie Review | Cannes Film Festival 2022

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Baz Luhrmann, the visionary director of Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet has made his long-awaited return to the Cannes Film Festival with his highly anticipated musical biopic “Elvis.” The Australian filmmaker has had a rich history at Cannes. His breakout film “Strictly Ballroom” started as part of the Un Certain Regard selection back in 1992. He then went on to open the festival in a “spectacular spectacular” fashion with his much-beloved jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! in 2001. He then had the honour of being the first person to ever open the festival twice with his adaptation of The Great Gatsby in 2013 – which received mixed reviews from critics. Since then, he’s mostly stuck to television projects such as The Get Down. It’s bonkers to think that it’s been almost a decade since the exuberant filmmaker has given us his last extravagant feature film.

Last night Luhrmann’s Elvis had its world premiere in the Grand Théâtre Lumière, where it received a 12-minute standing ovation – the longest of any film in the festival’s lineup this year. One can argue this wasn’t simply effusive adulation for the film but more of an acknowledgment of the Australian filmmaker’s grand return to the Croisette, a homecoming celebration of sorts. Because, to be honest, twelve minutes is exceedingly generous for a film like “Elvis.”

Rising star Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in Biz Luhrmann’s Elvis

The film stars rising talent Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as the king of rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley, and Tom Hanks as Elvis’ long-time manager Colonel Tom Parker, who serves as the narrator of the film. Parker takes us on a greatest hits tour of Elvis’ life through the decades. From his humble beginnings in Memphis, to worldwide fame as a singer and movie star, to his Las Vegas residency, and eventually his tragic death – which many blamed Parker for. The film dives deep into the relationship between Presley and Parker, which went from symbiotic to toxic over the years.

From the opening shot of the bedazzled Warner Brothers logo, you immediately know you’re watching a Baz Luhrmann picture. Never one to play things safe or subtly, the entire opening sequence is quintessential Luhrmann. With frantic camerawork, crash zooms, and operatic music to boot, it’s the hyperactive style we expect from him. However, it’s not just Baz’s typical sensationalism for the sake of it; it reflects Presley’s childhood love for comic books and superheroes. Baz’s use of split screens unfolds Elvis’ childhood, though as if we’re observing it through the window panes of a comic strip. However, there’s a noticeable shift in energy shortly after a scene where we bear witness to the pandemonium that arises from the birth of Elvis’ legendary hip-wiggle. After this point, Luhrmann adopts a less chaotic approach to the remainder of the story – leaving the film feeling slightly uneven overall.

It also doesn’t help that Luhrmann and co-writers Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner try to jam every aspect of Elvis’ life into one film, even with its 159-minute runtime. The screenplay is concerned with showing all the incarnations of Elvis; the singer, the movie star, the loving son, the husband, the father, and the Las Vegas legend – and not all of them get an equal slice of the pie. The end result is a film that feels both rushed and bloated in its execution. The relationship between Elvis and his wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) especially is sadly underbaked. The screenplay only gives them maybe two scenes to establish an entire relationship. The rest of the time, we only really see Priscilla as a passive spectator in the audience of her husband’s concerts. So when Priscilla calls it quits on their relationship, despite terrific performances from Butler and DeJonge, there’s little emotional fallout to be felt.

“Elvis” is the next in the recent trend of musical biopics about iconic musicians that tend to generate a lot of awards buzz. In recent years we’ve had Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Judy, and Respect. All have had varying degrees of success over award season. Many pundits already see Austin Butler as a viable contender for an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Such suspicions are very much justified. Butler sparkles like a rhinestoned jumpsuit in this role as he nails Elvis’ signature drawl, cadence, physicality, and gyrating stage presence. It’s the type of transformational role of a notable figure from the entertainment industry that Academy voters and mainstream audiences simply can’t resist.

Oddly, Butler’s performance is most reminiscent of recent Oscar winner Jessica Chastain’s work in The Eyes of Tammy Faye mainly because it’s all too easy to do a caricature impersonation of someone like Tammy Faye Baker or Elvis Presley. Like Chastain, Butler manages to go beyond Elvis, “the entertainer,” and gets to the root of Elvis, “the man.” He mines moments of pathos and sympathy from the unfocused screenplay, embodying all the qualities of the entertainer but without ever crossing the line into cartoonish exaggeration. However, the same can’t be said about his co-star, Tom Hanks’ Parker, whose hammy performance as the Colonel will most likely divide audiences.

Tom Hanks as Colnel Tom Parker in Elvis

Baz’s wife, collaborator, and two-time Oscar winner, Catherine Martin, brings her lavish production and costume design work to the forefront of “Elvis.” With Elvis’ proclivity for loud, rambunctious outfits, Martin gets to showcase an array of recognizably fabulous outfits, as well as bring Graceland and the International Hotel in Las Vegas to life with dazzling awe. The soundtrack boasts a fun selection of new songs from Doja Cat, Eminem, Eurovision winners Måneskin, and numerous bangers from Elvis’ catalog, all performed by Butler himself. There’s also a surprisingly delightful mashup of “A Little Less Conversation” and Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” which is sure to remind viewers of Luhrmann’s ability to blend styles and eras of timeless music as he’s done in his other films.

Despite all of the bombastic production value leaping off the screen, “Elvis” is a mixed bag of a film from one of the most polarizing filmmakers we have working today, which is no surprise given the reception to his previous efforts. His latest is trying too hard to tell every facet of Elvis’ life, thus causing it to buckle under the weight of itself. What Luhrmann and Presley have in common is they both have a spectacular flair for showmanship, so in many ways, Luhrmann seems like the perfect filmmaker to bring the king’s story to the big screen. And while it is still a sugar-rush ride of a movie, it is quite self-indulgent at times. It would’ve felt a lot more orderly and impactful if he reigned in the focus just a little bit more. However, this is an example of a mediocre film boosted to a pretty good one merely off the sheer skill of Butler’s incredible, star-making performance. In the words of Presley himself, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Elvis premiered out of competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Stay up to date with Luke’s coverage from the Cannes Film Festival via Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and TikTok @lukehearfield



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Throwback to Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

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Jacques van Zyl at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre

The annual Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 was a blast! Come join on me, Jacques van Zyl on a throwback to a very marvelous event!

Guests at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The local South African movie guests included Aidan Scott, Albert Pretorius, Alexander Maniatis, Arno Greef, Bianca Oosthuizen, Brett Williams, Celeste Loots, Chioma Umeala, Grant Ross, Langley Kirkwood, Leroy Siyafa and Theo Le Ray.

International stars who made a turn were Lesley-Ann Brand, Sean Gunn and Veronica Taylor.

Lesley-Ann Brandt is famous for her role as Mazikeen on Lucifer. Sean Gunn portrays the role of Kraglin in the Guardians of the Galaxy. Veronica Taylor does the voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokemon.

Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazikeen in Lucifer (IMDb)
Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteri (Marvel)
Veronica Taylor (IMDb)

Overview of Programme

The annual Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 ran from 27 April 2024 to 1 May 2024. Here follows a brief overview of activities that caught my eye during the convention.

Saturday, 27 April 2024

Veronica Taylor, Lesley-Ann Brandt and Sean Gunn was available for photos and autographs. The cast from the One Piece television series on Netflix had a discussion panel and a spotlight session was held on the latest Boy Kills World movie.

Boy Kills World Official Trailer (RoadsideFlix)

The following question for discussion was posed to our fellow comic book artists, “Is traditional comic book art dead?” A panel was held on the concept of investing in comic books versus buying just to collect.

Games, games everywhere at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The day ended with an amazing after-dark event, the Pokemon quiz.

Sunday, 29 April 2024

Gavin Thomson, a South African cartoonist shared some insight on how to bring life to cartoons and a panel of comic book writers came to share valuable insights on writing comics. A workshop was hosting on helping you deal with stage fright.

Monday, 29 April 2024

Horror Monday delivered a good scare with cosplayers dressing up as some of their favorite horror character. I came in early on the day to help with horror decorations at the main entrances. A discussion was held on how to write horror. One of the attendees who presented on this topic was Paul Blom who coordinates the annual South African HorrorFest.

Jacques posing with Paul Andre Blom

A quiz was held on the Conjuring Universe and a tutorial was offered on how to do your make-up for cosplaying as a horror character. The art of toy photography was one of the topics of the day. Sean Gunn and Veronica Taylor was around for more photos and autographs. The one discussion that caught my eye was on how artists can overcome artificial intelligence since most jobs are phasing in the use of artificial intelligence as a tool.

A movie screening was held on the movie Fried Barry.

Fried Barry Official Trailer (Shudder)
Some horror decorations
More horror

Tuesday, 30 April 2024

This day was called Pajama Tuesday and visitors could grab their favorite sleepwear for the day. A Harry Potter quiz was held to test the knowledge of fellow muggles and wizards and a disco party brought much needed entertainment. Veronica Taylor was back for more photos and autographs. A session was held to guide new and upcoming writers on the approach to follow when writing for different genres.

Wednesday, 1 May 2024

Paul Roos Orchestra came to open the day with amazing music.

Paul Roos Orchestra at Comic-Con Cape Town 2024

The One Piece cast and Veronica Taylor made a last turn for the day. A Disney quiz was hosted to test everyone’s knowledge about our favorite Disney movies and characters. Brandon Reynolds came to share insights on how to do a comic book strip at and helpful advice was shared on becoming either a scriptwriter for movies or a stunt professional. The concept of artificial intelligence was touched on since it is a tool that is also used for creating content.

Tabletop games, dungeons and dragon sessions, Pokemon card games, Yu-Gi-Oh and Star Wars Unlimited session took place everyday at the Tabletop Game area. Video games were also on offer throughout the week from racing to fighting games.

A mobile application was developed to help guide fellow comic-con fans throughout the journey. Maps were provided at the reception area as well which made the journey easy throughout the convention.

Cosplayers Galore!!!

I had the chance to catch a few photos with some of the cosplayers at the comic convention. Many of the cosplayers went to the next level with their outfits.

To me, my X-Men

Here I am posing with cosplayers who dressed up as X-Men. As a huge Marvel, and X-Men fan in particular, I couldn’t pass an opportunity for a photo.

X-Men Cosplayers at Comic-Con (Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch, Jacques, Wolverine, Cyclops)
Jacques and Rogue.
Wolverine and Jacques

DC

There weren’t as many cosplayers dressing up as our favorite DC heroes and villains. As usual Batman put crime-fighting aside for a week to surprise us at Comic-Con.

Batman (DC) and Jacques
Scarecrow (DC) and Jacques

Horror Monday

Lunchtime I disappeared into the crowd as Ghostface from Scream to take a few photos with some of the cosplayers embracing their favorite horror character. Many cosplayers decided to do Pyramid Head from Silent Hill and we saw Freddy and Jason also run around at the convention.

Pinhead (Hellraiser) and Ghostface (Scream)
Jacques and The Nun (Conjuring Universe)
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill) and Jacques
Jacques and Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street)

We had other cosplayers who made a turn during the week. I found the Witcher, but sadly couldn’t toss a coin to him this time. I saw a few Mortal Kombat cosplayers as well. Even Tomb Raider decided to skip treasure hunting day and visit the convention.

The Witcher and Jacques
Round 1: Jacques versus Kitana (Mortal Kombat)
Round 2: Jacques, Raiden and Sonya (Mortal Kombat)
Jacques and Lara Croft / Tomb Raider

Comic-Con Cape Town 2024 was really amazing and I’m definitely looking forward to the next comic convention. The organizers went totally Super Saiyan with the programme and all the planned activities were next level.

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The Dive (2023) is a Claustrophobic Thriller | FrightFest

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Maximilian Erlenwein’s The Dive stars Billions’ Louisa Krause and Medieval’s Sophie Lowe. It follows two sisters May (Krause) and Drew (Lowe) as they go on their yearly diving trip off a remote coast. However, disaster strikes, and the sisters find themselves underwater when a rock slide occurs. May gets trapped under some of the rocks and must instruct Drew on how to get out of the situation. What follows is Drew needing to find a solution to rescue her sister, while her air is slowly starting to run out.

The Dive brings us a claustrophobic thriller that uses the real-time oxygen supply to keep us on edge. It gets to highlight how remaining calm is the best way to survive. The Dive uses the real-time situation to show the desperate measures Drew must go through to rescue her sister. Along with the obstacles that have now been placed in her way.

The Dive [credit Augenschein Filmproduktion]

The Dive gets to set the pulsing racing and the blood pumping even though the characters remain incredibly calm. This gets to explore the dangers of diving in remote locations without any added safety measures. The movie involves problem-solving and flashbacks to the sister’s childhood getting into the hobby. Louisa Krause brings an unbelievably natural calm to her performance. While Sophie Lowe shows us the inside panic she is dealing with.

Over the recent years, we have seen a lot of movies with somebody trapped in or on the water being hunted by a predator. In this movie, we get to keep the situation down to the accident and the idea of trying to figure out a way out of the situation. This creates an edge-of-your-seat journey that keeps us wanting to see the next challenge they are facing. Think 127 Hours meets 47 Metres Down and you know exactly what you are facing.

The Dive is tense, suspenseful and gets the blood pumping as we join the race to survive.

Rating 4/5

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Dune: Part Two Where Will The Anticipated Premiere Land?

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Dune: Part Two is one of the most hyped movie releases for 2023. The latest announcement from the project, is that it will not premiere at the Venice Film Festival, unlike the first movie. This is due to the Visual Effects (VFX) team needing more time, which has prolonged the initial release date. Originally scheduled for 20th October 2023, “Dune: Part Two” will now be released November 3, 2023.

Dune: Part Two will see the return of Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling. In addition to the new cast members Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Lea Seydoux, Christopher Walken, and Tim Blake Nelson.

The immediate successor to the 2021 film, it will be the second installment of a two-part film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune, and will cover approximately the second half of the book and possibly include aspects of Dune Messiah.

Dune 2021, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya | Warner Bros. [Credit: Alamy Stock Photo]

The sequel will follow Paul Atreides (Chalamet) as he joins forces with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen to exact vengeance on the villains who murdered his family. Faced with a decision between the love of his life and the destiny of the universe, he attempts to avert a dreadful future that only he can predict.

Dune premiered at Venice Film Festival two years ago, followed by Toronto, New York and London Film Festivals. There is a possibility for the film to still premiere at other film festivals such as London Film Festival which will also run from 4th October to 15th October 2023. This also doesn’t mean the cast may not be present at the Venice Film Festival.

While Challengers starring: Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor directed by Luca Guadagnino announced a UK release on 15th September 2023,  the aim is perhaps do an initial premiere at Venice Film Festival. There is also potential of Wonka (2023) premiering at the Venice Film Festival despite the viral online leak of the trailer two weeks ago and announcing its UK release on 15th December 2023.

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