Elvis and Judy are available to rent, buy or stream.
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Baz Luhrmann’s glittering jukebox exploration of the life, career, rise and fall of Elvis Aaron Presley is a fascinating and fantastical biopic that defies simple genre labels. On the one hand, Elvis is a shimmering tribute to a musical legend many call the King of Rock and Roll and on the other, it’s a melancholic portrait of the horrors of fame and the devil in disguise: Money. Elvis is a fantasia, a fairytale with moments of spine-tingling beauty and deep, inescapable horror. In Luhrmann’s world, Elvis is a puppet from the moment he agrees to let Colonel Tom Parker (a sinister and almost cartoon-like Tom Hanks) into his life. Parker’s strings extend from every limb of our dancing and singing boy – pulling, manipulating and controlling every move.
Austin Butler brings this scared, delicate, beautiful, and powerful man to life with such love, grace and sincerity that one could almost be watching the hip-swinging King himself. Of course, some fairytales have happy endings, but not this one. We all know how this story ends. But that doesn’t make the final few frames of Luhrmann’s movie any less heartbreaking as the puppet master squeezes every last drop of energy from his marionette before the strings finally break.
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Adapted from the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter and directed by Rupert Goold, Judy is a devastating, heartbreaking, yet tender and loving exploration of a woman in freefall, desperately trying to cling on to the rock face of stardom as her nails give way one by one. Zellweger’s performance captures the beauty of a voice slowly breaking as a lifetime of buried pain and hurt resurfaces in fits of anxiety, doubt and nervous energy. Zellweger performed every song live in this emotional exploration of a star attempting to find a new place in a glittering sky while battling the cold darkness surrounding her.
The result is a tender, loving and honest exploration of a woman who lived for the stage and suffered for her art – her choices, addictions and vulnerabilities shaped by a yellow brick road through Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s Hollywood powerhouse of dreams and nightmares. Judy reminds us of Hollywood’s impact on its young stars as their youth fades and media commentary morphs from adoration into discussions of their age and worth; heartbreaking and joyous, it’s a loving tribute to a legend and a cutting commentary on the psychological trauma of studio control.