Elvis Movie Review

There are only a handful of artists who are known by a singular name. Their image and influence have permeated the culture in a way that everyone knows who they are and what they represent. Elvis Presley is one of these artists.

The new biopic, Elvis, hit theaters last week. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the film stars newcomer Austin Butler as the title character and Tom Hanks as his manager with sometimes questionable intentions, Colonel Tom Parker. The narrative follows both of them from the early days of Presley’s career until his death in 1977 at the age of 42. The Colonel tells the story, casting himself as the manager who saw the potential of an unknown artist. As Elvis becomes a megastar, he faces criticism for his supposedly “wild race music” and its effect on the nation’s young people.

As the years pass and he becomes a has-been, Presley, and the Colonel pivot. After a very successful television special, he becomes a Las Vegas regular. But while his client is on stage, the Colonel is enriching himself. When everything comes to a head, Elvis has to choose between staying with his manager or trying to go his own way.

Though Butler does not look exactly like the King, he completely inhabits the man and the legend. Playing him from his teenage years until his early 40s, Butler is enigmatic and completely convinces the audience that he is Presley. Hanks, as usual, is up to the task. His character is a man who sees an opportunity and takes it, even if means crossing some boundaries.

What made the movie work for me was the man behind the icon. Presley was a devoted son to his parents, Gladys and Vernon (Helen Thomson and Richard Roxburgh). He was also madly in love with his wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) and a devoted father to their daughter. He respected the black artists whose music he “borrowed” (depending on your perspective) from. What Luhrmann does brilliantly as a filmmaker is to point out that while African-American musicians of the era were largely ignored outside of their community, Presley made a fortune singing the same songs.

My only complaint is that the middle of the narrative could have been trimmed down a bit. Other than that, the film is incredibly good and definitely worth the price of a movie ticket.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Elvis is presently in theaters.

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Republicans and the Hypocrisy of Small Government

Every political movement, big and small, has a core ideal that governments their policies and legislation.

If we are to believe the current Republican party, they are governed by the idea of small government. As per Thomas Jefferson, it is as follows:

[A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

On paper, it doesn’t sound hypocritical at all. It comes off as fairly reasonable. The powers that be should not be interfering in the day-to-day life of the average person on the street. But the reality is another story entirely.

When they are called out for their duplicity, they claim “free speech“. What about my right to free speech? Why is it they are allowed to speak their truths, but if I do it, I am labeled a radical lefty snowflake?

If they want to live in a right-wing, sexist, and racist Christian theocracy, that is their choice and their decision. As we say in Judaism “Zolst leben un zein gezunt!” (Yiddish for you should live and be well!). but do not impose your beliefs on me and expect me to quietly give in.

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Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic Book Review

Societal change comes in many different forms. Sometimes, it comes via a book. In 1962, Sex and the Single Girl hit bookstores. Written by Helen Gurley Brown, it broke barriers and opened doors. Brown’s groundbreaking narrative told women that they didn’t need marriage to be fulfilled and happy.

In May, Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic, was published. Edited by Eliza Smith and Haley Swanson, it contains a series of essays by well-known authors who apply Brown’s rules and recommendations to their own lives. Each comes from a different background and tells her own story while responding to Brown’s ideas. They also take on some topics that for any number of reasons are not mentioned in the original text. It both honors Brown and takes her recommendations to a level that would have been unfathomable sixty years ago.

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I love this book. Though Sex and the Single Girl was and still is groundbreaking, it is firmly set in its era. This anthology is the perfect follow-up. The contributors walk in the footsteps of women like Helen Gurley Brown while creating new paths for future generations of women. For me, it was a reminder of how far we have come and how much further we need to go.

Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.

Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic is available wherever books are sold.

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