A lot of this really happened. So Amsterdam opens. This being the new all-star enterprise by controversial awards magnet David O’Russell. Once known for winning, mid scale indie hits like Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, O’Russell shifted to more highfaluting affairs in 2013 with American Hustle. That was a glamorous, artfully convoluted and entirely overblown affair. Amsterdam follows suit. Regardless of how much of the film really happened, there’s no doubting there’s a lot of it.
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Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is exactly what you would expect a Baz Luhrmann directed biopic of the rise and fall of Elvis Presley to be. Which is to say, fabulous and frustrating by equal measure. The cast, choreography and cinematography are captivating. In Austin Butler, Luhrmann could hardly have found a better, more electrically charged, lead. When the finale bleeds from dramatic to documentary filming, the transition is seamless. Where Luhrmann falters is in an approach to narrative which lacks depth, nuance and all that might allow the film to compel beneath its glittering surface. It’s so Baz it’s good…and bad.
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Lesley Manville has made an art form of “the welcome mat woman”. Few in her field can so well capture the unspoken resignation of under-appreciation. To that end, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris offers an astute follow up to Manville’s showcase work in Stefan Golaszewski’s BAFTA winning sitcom Mum. It is a film that takes the burgeoning power beneath Manville’s performance in the latter show and allows it free reign to take on the world. The result is every bit as sweetly empowering as one could hope.
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