Baz Luhrmann has been shouted down for his Elvis biopic, but here’s why it could be amazing.
Look, I know it’s not trendy, but I love Baz Luhrmann. (Though I will admit that Australia was terrible; I am a human with eyes, after all.) Critics have a pop at Luhrmann for being a one-trick pony, but nobody tars Wes Anderson with that brush. Wes Anderson is also excellent, don’t get me wrong. And I’m not saying they are particularly comparable as directors. But it is fair to say that Wes Anderson makes films that are – deep breath – kind of samey. But nobody has got bored of his monotone-funny-walking-high-colour-saturation mildly perilous adventures yet. Ditto Tim Burton. Oh look, another Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp staring as an eccentric and weirdly nervy oddball in a film about the supernatural. Great.
Baz Luhrmann pops up every couple of years with his bright colours and awesome soundtracks and fancy costumes and choreographed party scenes and the general consensus is that Baz is boring. Is this fair? Currently, rumours abound that Baz Luhrmann is considering making an Elvis biopic. If this happens I will go and see it on the day it comes out (or, to be technical, on the first Orange Wednesday after the day it comes out) and I will show no shame. This is for two reasons. I like Baz Lurhmann and, as can be assumed because I am a human with not only eyes but also ears, I like Elvis. A combination of both of these things will equal fun. I also like fun.
Baz Luhrmann and The King have one thing in common: a shameless love for the ludicrously flamboyant
It is perfectly acceptable for a film to be fun, but it seems this is a very lame opinion to have. It will probably see me shunned by tweed jacket-wearing film students the world over. Apparently, films have to be head-scratchingly complicated and vague (which is the only reason David Lynch is so popular, as far as I can figure out) in order to be worth the consideration of proper adults. Biopics about musicians love to get all complicated and metaphysical about shit (I’m Not There, Nowhere Boy, Last Days), usually leading to a snooze fest for anyone other than die-hard fans.
More on biopics: Should the biopic be documentation or celebration?
I’m talking about the kind of people who would spend hundreds of pounds on eBay for a snot-covered Kleenex allegedly used by their idol. If Baz Luhrmann goes ahead with this project, it will be with Warner Bros, who own the rights to all of Elvis’s music, so no problems there. With a bit of good casting, some shamelessly glitzy costumes and an inevitably awesome soundtrack, this could be a proper romp. Baz Luhrmann and The King have one thing in common: a shameless love for the ludicrously flamboyant. Who other than Baz would have thrown disco tracks into Romeo + Juliet, or Nirvana onto the soundtrack for a movie set 100 years ago? Or thought “I know what will probably work, I’ll cast Kyle Minogue as a hallucination of a fairy”? Or insisted upon costumes like these?
Now imagine The King’s white rhinestone jumpsuit glimmering against a Baz Luhrmann over-the-top-glitz-and-glamour 1950s set. Imagine a blue Chevy pulling into a diner to a Luhrmann soundtrack mash-up of Elvis Presley and Rihanna. Imagine what Graceland looks like in the mind of the man who set a Shakespeare play on LA’s grimy Venice Beach and made a Victorian-era whorehouse look like Disneyland. If this doesn’t fill you with a sense of excitement and joy, you need to put your grumpy hat back on and go right back out the door, back to your serious, gritty biopics. I’ll be singing along too loudly to notice anyway.
More biopic goodness: Five biopics that are bound to happen
Featured image: Eva Rinaldi via Flickr
Inset image: Twentieth Century Fox