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Flash Movie Review: Elvis

THE COUPLE SITTING NEXT TO ME were being rude. We were sitting inside the city’s stadium for a music concert and the opening act was performing. This couple did not pay any attention to the act as they continued with their conversation. I had no idea who the artist was; but I still wanted to listen to them perform. Even if I did not care for their style of music, I would have been considerate of the people sitting around me and not carried on a conversation. From a long time ago, I learned to pay attention to the opening acts because you never knew if they would become a success one day. My favorite example is Tina Turner. I had tickets to a concert where she was listed as the opening act for the star attraction. Her work with Ike was well known but that had happened a long time ago. None of us knew what she would be doing by herself. Well, you can see what she did based on how quickly she returned to being the headliner. As a warm-up act, she was utterly amazing. By the end of her set, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth; she was as they say, a superstar. Because of that concert, I always pay attention to the opening acts at concerts. There was a singer songwriter I got to see early in their career as the opening act; they went on to have a #1 song on the charts.      EXPERIENCING A MUSICAL ARTIST AT THE beginning of their career journey and following them to the top of the charts is an awesome feeling. I remember seeing this one musical artist who came out on stage with her hair bound up in a scarf, dressed in old fashioned clothes, with a couple of backup singers and a small band; yet it was an incredible show due to the singer. Her personality and voice were both amazing. From that first time seeing her, I have followed her career as it ventured into movies and Broadway stages, not once being disappointed by her performances. She had something different I had never seen and with her talent, I was sure she was going to be a star. I even have photos of her in the early days of her career because in the initial stages of a musical artist’s career, I believe, they can be the most exciting times. If you do not believe me, feel free to take a look at this dramatic biography to see what it is like.      SOME MUSICAL ARTISTS CAN REACH THE top of the charts, but only a few can usher in a whole new movement. One of those artists is the subject of this musical movie. With Tom Hanks (News of the World, The Post) as Colonel Tom Parker, Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die) as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Sisterhood of Night) as Priscilla, Helen Thomson (A Man’s Gotta Do, Getting’ Square) as Gladys and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge) as Vernon; this film was very lucky to have Austin as Elvis. If he had not been in the starring role, the first 1 ½ hours would have been more painful than they already were for me. I thought the quick cutting from scene to scene and the over-the-top dramatics took away from the performances. It almost appeared cartoonish. The last hour was the part that engaged and kept my interest. I say that because we finally got to see a more vulnerable Elvis as the scenes were given emotional depth. Up until this point I found Tom’s performance erratic; at times, his acting was excellent, other times it was off the mark. If for nothing else, it was worth it to me to see Austin’s singing performances. I felt like I was at a concert seeing someone who would be going far in their career.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Visit

Walking into a room where the strangers are related to you by blood means nothing to a young child. It even sounds icky. I remember as a young kid meeting a relative who was 2 generations removed from me. She was quite short and frail looking with dull white hair tied up into a bun on top of her head. Taking my cues from the adults going up to her, when it was my turn to be introduced to her I carefully wrapped my arms around her when she came over to hug me. It was the only time I ever saw this person but I still have that memory. When one is a child, it can be a scary experience meeting some stranger who you were told is your relative. Before I had ever heard the word dementia I remember going to a nursing home to visit a relative. As I walked into the place the bright fluorescent lights sounded as if they were humming as the smell of bleach hit me like a moist fog. There was a woman sitting on the side dressed in a housecoat and torn sweater. She greeted us with a loud “howdy” and continued to say it over and over. I already was on edge and felt uncomfortable as we walked into a large dining hall. There were some people who were dressed up as if they were attending a fancy social function while others sat motionless while nurses tried to slide spoonfuls of nondescript food into their mouths. As a kid, visiting older relatives sometimes took on a scary aspect.    BECCA and Tyler, played by Olivia DeJonge (The Sisterhood of NIght) and Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) were going to visit their grandparents for the first time. They hoped to document their time spent there and find answers to why their mother stopped talking to her parents years ago. This comedic horror film from writer and director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village) was a vast improvement from his recent movies. I particularly enjoyed the filming of this story, where certain things were just slightly out of focus while characters were being filmed off center. With Deanna Dunagan (Dimension, Running Scared) and Peter McRobbie (Lincoln, 16 Blocks) as Nana and Pop Pop, I thought the cast did an exceptional job with their characters. They added believability to the premise of the story. On the down side, I found some scenes lacked intensity. This may have been due to the mix of comedy with horror; in my mind they sort of cancel each other out. In addition I felt several stereotypical actions for shock value were just thrown into the mix. This was a step in the right direction for M. Night Shyamalan. My visits to relatives were not as scary as this one.

 

2 1/2 stars

 

 

 

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