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    Saturday, September 23, 2023

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ('Elvis,' 'Stranger Things,' 'Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?')

    Austin Butler stars as Elvis Presley in the film "Elvis." (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)



    If you saw director Baz Luhrmann’s movie “Moulin Rouge,” you won’t be surprised by how jumpy and wild and all over the place his latest, “Elvis,” is. His look at Elvis Presley’s rise and fall zeroes in on how the star was used and financially abused by manager/carny Col. Tom Parker. Luhrmann, who helped develop the story and co-wrote the screenplay, tries to cover way too much territory — essentially Elvis’ whole life — to give any of it more than a cursory glance. What makes “Elvis” worth seeing is the star-making performance by Austin Butler as the King of Rock and Roll. He disappears into the character, capturing Elvis’ sensuality and naivete, as well as his singing and his signature, entertainment-industry-changing moves. Tom Hanks sinks into the muck and mire of being Tom Parker. Hanks wears a convincing fat suit and a not-so-convincing Dutch-adjacent accent. Watching Hanks’ Parker manipulate Butler’s Elvis gets to the heart of their relationship and the heart of this movie.

    — Kristina Dorsey 

    TV TIP

    Stranger Things 4

    Amazon Prime

    By the end of Season 3, I was already tired of the futuristic-but-Lovecraftian machinations that provided the menace for this amazingly popular series. Still, the "It"-style youthful cast and a few wonderfully written and portrayed adults kept me watching and mostly pleased. Finally, we have Season 4, and I went into it wondering how the overall charm could be maintained now that "the kids" are, what, 28 or so? So far, six episodes in, I'm enjoying it. A lot of tough expositional questions have been dealt with creatively, and an overall shift in tone from sci fi to old school horror appeals to my personal tastes. The cast is still great with two welcome newcomers — Joseph Quinn's Eddie (the too-old leader of a high school Dungeons and Dragons group) and Eduardo Franco's Argyle (a Spicoli-esque pizza van driver with the added bonus his hair is even longer than Bobby Caldwell's was in Captain Beyond). There's a lot of witty lines to keep it from getting too heavy, and, yes, a snowy Soviet gulag plays a big role.

    — Rick Koster

    TV TIP

    Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?


    I caught this reality show during its blink-and-you-missed-it run on E! and really enjoyed it. Nikki Glaser is a standup comedian, so of course she has quick retorts and witty observations, but she’s just plain likeable, too. The setup, as with pretty much all reality series, feels bluntly obvious. Glaser moves from California back to her childhood town of St. Louis during the pandemic. How will she handle going home again? Her relationship with ex Chris Convy is interesting because of the two people involved, not the manufactured will-they-or-won’t-they drama. The real selling point of all this is Glaser, who makes everything bright and breezy.

    — Kristina Dorsey  

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