by Eric RANDOLPH
Cannes was shaken, rattled and rolled on Wednesday as the world premiere of “Elvis” rocked the film festival on the French Riviera, in what has proven a vintage year for music-lovers.
The highly anticipated new film is the latest from Australia’s Baz Luhrmann, the technicolour maestro behind “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!”.
He wore a rhinestone Elvis belt buckle and a blingy pinkie ring with his tuxedo as he walked the famous red carpet for perhaps the glitziest evening of the 12-day festival.
The movie itself was a typical explosion of colour and break-neck editing — the 159-minute running time flying past — as rising star Austin Butler, 30, stepped triumphantly into the blue suede shoes of Elvis Presley.
Butler received unanimous praise in the initial reviews, with Screen Daily saying he recreates The King’s performances with “stunning force”, while Tom Hanks plays his infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker, with “oily charm”.
“As a tribute from one champion of outrageous showmanship to another, it dazzles,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter.
Luhrmann has become a favourite at Cannes, having wowed critics with his debut “Strictly Ballroom” in 1992, and opening the festival twice, with “Moulin Rouge!” and “Gatsby”.
His latest has been warmly welcomed by the family of Presley, who died in 1977 at the age of 42 after a descent into drug addiction, with granddaughter Riley Keough describing it as “a very intense experience”.
The King’s widow, Priscilla Presley, was a guest at the premiere, along with popstars Kylie Minogue, Shakira and Ricky Martin.
– Divided contest –
As arguably the world’s leading film festival, Cannes seeks a line-up that balances hard-hitting dramas, arthouse experimentation and blockbuster spectacles.
This year has seen plenty of Hollywood glamour, with “Elvis” preceded by last week’s launch of “Top Gun: Maverick”, which brought Tom Cruise and a French Air Force display team to the red carpet.
Other stars making an impression on Wednesday evening were Sharon Stone in a pair of Elvis-like aviator shades, and Brazilian model Adriana Lima showing off her baby bump in what appeared to be a homage to Princess Leia’s slave outfit from “Return of the Jedi”.
Meanwhile, a selection of more arthouse films are competing for the top prize, the Palme d’Or.
There have been powerful Iranian films about the country’s economic crisis and male violence (“Holy Spider” and “Leila’s Brothers”), a David Cronenberg film featuring gruesome bodily mutations (“Crimes of the Future”), a film about a legendary Russian composer’s secret homosexuality (“Tchaikovsky’s Wife”) and even one starring a donkey (“EO”).
But no clear frontrunner has emerged from the 21 films in competition, with critics deeply divided over almost every entry.
That has left everyone guessing about who might pick up awards on Saturday night.
The decisions lie with the jury, which this year includes Indian superstar Deepika Padukone, Iran’s two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi and led by French actor Vincent Lindon.
– Kaleidoscopic –
Celebrating its 75th edition, the festival has been a feast for music lovers this year.
There were rave reviews for a new documentary about David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream” — part of a recent wave of innovative films about music legends.
“It’s not a biography,” its director, Brett Morgen, told AFP. “The film is meant to be sublime, and kaleidoscopic, and kind of wash over you.”
Ethan Coen, one half of the beloved Coen brothers film-making duo, was also in Cannes to present a documentary about another rock’n’roll pioneer, Jerry Lee Lewis.
Both films eschew expert talking heads in favour of a more immersive experience.
“I don’t care what experts say,” Coen told AFP at the festival. “Jerry Lee is a performer so I want to see the performance — not what some expert thinks about it.” — Agence France-Presse