It’s still hot in New Orleans but the summer heat is slowly relenting. The dew point is a bit less dewy or is that dewey? I’m not sure which Dewey we’re dealing with: the decimal system guy, the racket buster turned politician, or the doofus character from Justified.
Beats the hell outta me. Anyway, it’s less muggy this week.
Visionary former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landieu died this week at the age of 92. As mayor from 1971-79, he brought New Orleans into the modern world. Most notably, Landrieu was the first New Orleans mayor to treat Black folks as full citizens. My friend Clancy DuBos knew Moon quite well and has written a tribute to him. It’s a must read. Well done, mon ami.
Tony Joe White is from rural Louisiana and wrote this week’s theme song in 1968. It was a hit for him. What’s not to love about a song with this chorus: “Polk salad Annie, gator’s got your granny.” It also became a staple of Elvis Presley’s live shows complete with karate chops and such.
We have two versions of Polk Salad Annie for your listening pleasure: the songwriter’s original version, and Elvis live.
Since I’m fixated on the “gator’s got your granny” line, here are two more alligator tunes:
We’re going to do something different with our second act this week and review one movie. It’s a big movie from a big-name director about the first king of rock and roll. Surely, you know who I’m talking about.
We begin with a movie poster triptych:
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis: Baz Luhrmann doesn’t make realistic movies. His films tend to be surreal as well as few and far between: Elvis is only his sixth feature film in a thirty-year career. It’s his first since The Great Gatsby in 2013, which gave the world the gift of this GIF:
I loved Gatsby but the ultimate Luhrmann flick is 2001’s Moulin Rouge, which uses anachronistic music and features terrific performances by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. It’s flat-out weird, y’all.
The Luhrmann movie is why the featured image is At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. There’s occasionally method to my madness.
If you didn’t like Moulin Rouge, Elvis is not for you. Much of the movie feels like a fever dream as the familiar origin story unfolds. Luhrmann tells it cinematically and hallucinatorily.
The early scenes in Tupelo and Memphis look like picture postcards from the 1950’s. Repeat after me: fever dream.
There’s been a lot of controversy about Tom Hanks’ performance and his Dutch accent as Colonel* Tom Parker. I liked his take on one of the biggest fakes in American history. Nothing about Parker was real so expecting Hanks to do a realistic performance is, well, unrealistic. Repeat after me: fever dream.
Many of the complaints boil down to Hanks playing against type. He’s one of the genuine good guys in real life, so people have a hard time accepting him as a villain. It’s called ACTING.
Austin Butler is excellent in the title role and does his own singing according to film PR. I suspect he had some help from the magic of recording studio technology but that’s okay. Nothing is really real about Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Butler is nearly as good as Kurt Russell in the starring role. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I’ve always thought that the King’s real problem was that he was too nice, too well-mannered to say NO. The film captures this dynamic in its surreal hallucinatory way.
Here’s the trailer:
Grading Time: I give Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+
FYI, the music of Elvis Presley will be featured in this week’s Sunday Dozen.
The last word of our second act goes to the real Elvis:
We begin our second act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: Our Elvis theme continues with the Tom Parkers and Elvis Presleys from Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.
The Movie List: Reviewing Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis put music biopics on my mind. It’s a cinematic earworm or is that eyeworm? Beats the hell outta me. I reviewed two of these flicks, so I linked to them on the list.
The Music Biopic Dozen
- Bound For Glory
- Walk The Line
- Love & Mercy
- Coal Miner’s Daughter
- The Buddy Holly Story
- Lady Sings the Blues
- Sweet Dreams
- What’s Love Got To Do With It
- Get On Up
- Elvis 2022 & 1979
FYI, parts of Ray were filmed in New Orleans. The church scene was filmed around the corner at Valence Street Baptist Church. I wish I could say it was fun, but it was a pain in the ass. I was neighborhood leader at that point and had to forward complaints about parking restrictions to the cops. We won that round because my friend Eddie Hosli was our district commander then. He helped me yell at the movie people. That part was fun.
Let’s let Lady Day sing us out of this segment:
Now that we’re all blue, let’s cheer up with some Canadian comedy.
Best Of SCTV: Here’s the great Martin Short playing one of his signature characters, Jackie Rogers Jr.
Saturday GIF Horse; Sick of Elvis? I’m not.
See Elvis dance. Dance, Elvis, dance.
See Elvis play air guitar. Play air guitar, Elvis, play air guitar.
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Closer: This week, a classic video from the man who took Elvis’ first name as a tribute to the King. It was no accident.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Elvis and Colonel* Parker on a movie set. Looks like wish fulfillment to me.