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The King (2017)

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Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.

Director:

Eugene Jarecki

Writers:

Eugene Jarecki, Christopher St. John (co-writer)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Alec Baldwin ... Himself
Tony Brown Tony Brown ... Himself
James Carville ... Himself - US Political Analyst
Rosanne Cash ... Herself
Chuck D ... Himself
Maggie Clifford Maggie Clifford ... Herself
Lana Del Rey ... Herself
Emi Sunshine & The Rain Emi Sunshine & The Rain ... Themselves
EmiSunshine EmiSunshine ... Herself
Radney Foster ... Himself
Patricia Gaines Patricia Gaines ... Herself
Mary Gauthier Mary Gauthier ... Herself
Emmylou Harris ... Herself
Ethan Hawke ... Himself
John Hiatt ... Himself
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Storyline

Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Rise of a King, the Fall of an Empire.

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Promised Land See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$257,372, 13 September 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
THE KING is ambitious.
2 August 2018 | by JoshuaDysartSee all my reviews

There is a moment in Eugene Jarecki's mostly successful cinema essay, THE KING, where something to this extent is voiced about the success of "race" music, or black music, in America, "America profited from the enslavement of black culture and then, after resisting giving freedom to that culture for as long as it possibly could, started profiting from the soulful cry that arose from their suffering."

THE KING is most interesting when it's wrestling with this problematic American history through the lens of Elvis Presley - a white performer who rose to mega global super-stardom in large part by mining the music of the African Americans who could never dream of achieving the same level of fame. But THE KING wants to do more than that. It wants to map the entirety of American history on to the life of Elvis. From the early concept of America as an "experiment in democracy" equating it to the early, idealistic, wide-eyed Elvis; to the current America, seemingly synonymous with runaway capitalism, paralleling the bloated, addicted, Vegas Elvis. Sometimes the metaphor works clearly, cleanly, and even profoundly, other times it feels forced. It's not helped by an almost constant quick-cut, manic editing style that never settles into much of a groove. There are two very powerful montages in the last act that drive home the thesis Jarecki is going for, and they are wonders of contextual editing and visual meta-meaning, but because they're dropped at the end of what is essentially a montage-movie, they're impact is muted. What should have been an apex moment in the visual storytelling comes off as just a slight uptick in the pace and rhythm of the film. Apparently there was close to 250 hours of footage shot for the doc, and you can see it in the editing. There's a lot that the filmmakers want you to see, but the pacing, tone, and thematic clarity suffer from a lack of breathing room. Some of the interviews are outstanding. Chuck D, as always, is a national treasure. Ethan Hawk is affable as hell. John Hiatt has one particular moment of emotional clarity that's pretty much worth the price of admission. And, in a surprise powerhouse showing, Mike Myers turns out to be an incredibly astute and impish observer of the American phenomenon. Sadly all of these interviews are really just reduced to sound bites in the frenetic race to get from moment to moment, beat to beat.

I have to also mention the musical performances, which are outstanding, but also, not given a whole lot of room to stretch.

But THE KING is good, you should absolutely see it. THE KING is ambitious. THE KING is even important. If the failures and successes of THE KING were the failures and successes of more modern American art and thought, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today. Check it out.


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