The King (2017) Poster

(II) (2017)

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6/10
Sometimes impressive, sometimes very weak Warning: Spoilers
"Promised Land" is the most recent filmmaking effort by award-winning American filmmaker Eugene Jarecki. It runs for 105 minutes and is of course a documentary movie that focuses mostly on Elvis Presley. And with that comment i want to say that this is also where the film was the very strongest, namely when it was entirely about the King, his art, his work, his struggles, his life and his views. I believe that one big strength here is that the film was pretty critical about him, also in terms of how he positioned, or did not position himself I should say, on global issues, while fellow other defining artists of their eras like Marlon Brando or Jane Fonda did not mind to get involved. Or the critical reference about how he basically only got as famous as he did as he took Black people's music and turned it into perfection and commercial success while these Black people had no chance to achieve the same because of racial prejudice, where I must say I was genuinely impressed by Chuck D's insightful comments on the subject because he really nailed it I think with his statement that offered all kinds of shades on the subject and not just black-or-white and I really liked that they also included people who were genuinely critical about Elvis. This is not a movie about adulation and praising him to the skies. Now I mentioned already one interviewee and these interviewees really were the ones who broke or saved the film. Ethan Hawke was as insightful as one could hope. Mike Myers impressed me too and his parallel abot Elvis having cloth over his head first that they would not see him and panick because of how much they loved him and later on about how he had the same cloth that he would not see how hardly anybody was there anymore was one of the best, saddest and most touching moments about the film. And then there is Ashton Kutcher who adds basically nothing but pretense and stays only memorable because of how some people next to him scream how much tehy love him. I have no idea why they included him, maybe to get younger audiences to watch the film? I don't know. But I would have preferred the film to take place completely without him. Same goes for Alec Baldwin, who in my opinion only used it to promote his SNL Donald Trump persona. The final statement by him and Hawke is really the perfect example how one nails it when Hawke elaborates on Presley's take on financial over creative decisions and Baldwin almost destroys it with the most random reference about President Reagan in the most desperate attempt to make this film as political as it can be. I already mentioned Trump and I really wished the film would not have elaborated on him at all because the filmmaker's intention to make a parallel between Elvis' demise and America's demise was nothing more than an attempt that in my opinion was doomed from the very beginning and it takes away a lot from this otherwise really inspired documentary that is at its best when it tries nothing other than giving an insight into who Elvis was and why he did what he did. The best example is when we have a bunch of Black Guys at a bar or so randomly talk about the evil that Mr. Trump brings upon America and with a reference back to said parallel, it also does not make any sense as these are the ones who really love Obama and this means that 2 years ago everything was great and glorious and perfect and honestly nobody can say that. It's another film that turns Trump into the big scapegoat the way media have been doing for a long time now without really offering anything substantial. But this film did not need to. It was really good enough otherwise for what it was. The only somewhat really good moment away from Elvis in here I liked is when we see a female interviewee talking about how basically nothing has changed in decades. Living costs are far higher, but people tend to forget, so they are tricked into believing that the economy is on their side only because their wages and salaries are higher. That was really a very smart statement that got me thinking a lot. Is being tricked into thinking we're fine not even worse than not being fine? Or is it better if we don't see through this scam? It's up to you to decide. Overall, this documentary gets a thumbs-up for me. I am still disappointed with how many wrong notes it hit and how it did not turn out as essential as I wanted it to be, even if I take a great deal of positivity for me from watching it. Go see it.
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1/10
"He had it all, and he had more of it than anybody."
classicsoncall12 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
You pick up a copy of "The King", knowing that it's about Elvis Presley, and you expect a warmhearted tribute to one of the pioneers of early rock n' roll. What you get instead is a scathing indictment of America and what was once considered admirable, the pursuit of the American Dream. For example, did you know that Elvis Presley was at the center of America's cultural, military and economic imperialism? That's according to self proclaimed Communist and CNN contributor Van Jones, one of the names interviewed for this rolling look at director Eugene Jarecki's twisted view of the music icon. In it's own way, the film does nothing less than bash the legacy of Elvis Presley, accusing the singer of cultural appropriation for bringing gospel and blues to the forefront of America's musical tastes. Personally, if Elvis had even one percent of the things on his mind that he's alleged to have had in this picture, I'd be incredibly stunned. With a host of left leaning commentators like Jones, James Carville, rapper Chuck D, Dan Rather, Mike Myers and Ethan Hawke, there's no doubt that the narrative is agenda driven to rewrite the legacy of the King of Rock n' Roll. Actor Hawke was particularly acerbic in his personal comments about Presley, whereas most of the others engaged in talking points about America's history of racism and exclusion. I had all I could do to make it to the end of the picture while firmly grasping the arms of the chair I was sitting in, but to be fair, I maintained self control in order to give the picture it's due. For potential viewers, this is peripherally about Elvis Presley, with a smattering of music and clips of the singer you might not have seen before. You might pick up a thing or two you didn't know before, and a lot more propaganda than you bargained for.
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Dead at 42, Elvis iconically changed the face of Rock and Roll.
TxMike6 December 2018
I managed to find this documentary on DVD at my public library. I remember Elvis, he was only 10 years older than me. I remember when he died but really didn't have a concept of how young 42 is. Now that my own youngest son is 42 it hits me.

The documentary is good if you view it as a collection of different people expounding on what they thought his influence was rather than take everything as gospel, pun intended. Some of the black commenters are especially brutal, "hating" Elvis for what they perceive is unfair appropriation of black music, and more so for failing to use his influence to help the causes for eliminating racial bias.

Perhaps it is ultimately fortunate that Elvis died so young, he was a blazing comet that came, did his thing, then left. Imagine an 83-yr-old Elvis performing at Branson, a shade of his former self. No, that would just tarnish our memory of him.

A very interesting look at Elvis and his life, and a modern look at places he grew up and lived in. And of course his 1963 Rolls Royce, touring the country and breaking down now and then.
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6/10
some dead ends along the journey
ferguson-619 July 2018
Greetings again from the darkness. Those of us in the United States have always loved a rags-to-riches success story ... it's the personification of the American Dream. The only thing we seem to enjoy more is tearing down the pedestals that we build for those folks, and then ripping apart their legacy. Acclaimed director Eugene Jarecki (WHY WE FIGHT, 2005) strains rigorously in his attempts to connect Elvis Presley selling out his talent for money with the transformation of the U.S. from a democracy to a crumbling capitalistic empire (likened to ancient Rome). The really interesting thing is that the film, despite being a staccato mess, is quite fascinating.

Director Jarecki's gimmick here is that he is taking a musical and historic road trip in the 1963 Rolls Royce once owned by Elvis. Along the way, he picks up passengers - some of which are musicians who perform in the backseat. The passenger list includes James Carville, John Hiatt, M Ward, Linda Thompson (ex-girlfriend of Elvis), Immortal Technique, and "best friend" Jerry Schilling (a comical description if you've read his book).

Chuck D from Public Enemy is interviewed due to his famous lyric: "Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant s**t to me". The contradictions from this interview fit nicely with the contradictions throughout the film. George Klein takes Jarecki on a quick tour of Humes High School, and Ashton Kutcher babbles about fame - though he makes one spot on remark regarding the prison of fame, something much of the film seems to ignore. Producer Ethan Hawke spends a good amount of time on camera and in the front seat, while author and activist Van Jones seems narrowly focused on cultural appropriation and angry that Elvis never used his clout to help the minorities that influenced him.

Filmed in 2016, the film works hard to include the Presidential election, and we even see the sanctimonious Alec Baldwin adamantly proclaiming that Trump won't win. Jarecki is himself an activist, and here he stretches to prove his points - tying together everything from Elvis' induction into the Army to the Trump election more than a half-century later (and 40 years after his death). The road trip kicks off in Elvis' birthplace of Tupelo, where we meet some locals who talk about the lasting impact of Elvis on their town - a town still drenched in poverty. Memphis is next, and we hear about the 3 local kings: BB, Elvis and MLK. Jarecki even inserts a shot of the Rolls next to the Lorraine Motel. There is a terrific bit with the students from Stax Music Academy who perform "Chain of Fools" in the backseat. We then head to NYC and Nashville, capping off the musically creative portion of Elvis' career. Next up is Hollywood, Hawaii, and finally Las Vegas.

At times, the film is just flat out weird. One segment force feeds parallels with the 1933 King Kong movie (yes, really), then Elvis as a tourist, and finally, Dan Rather's all too familiar voice performing "America the Beautiful" ... each piece featuring the Empire State Building. But just when a Bernie Sanders rally makes you want to turn off the film, we get an insightful Mike Myers effectively pointing out the hypocrisy of the American Dream as sold by the government, or David Simon questioning the choice of the Rolls over one of Elvis' prized Cadillacs, or Sam Phillips' (Sun Records) son re-telling the story of how his father lost Elvis to the carnival-barker Colonel Tom Parker (neither a Colonel nor a Parker).

Jarecki and co-writer Christopher St. John try to weave a tapestry of fame and money with cultural and societal shifts. Some segments work, while others fall flat. The editing of talking heads sometimes gives the feel of a debate, but often the scattered and choppy film meanders through multiple messages whilst driving the backroads of the country. We get clips of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and getting his famous locks sheared in the Army, and the 1968 comeback special; however, there is little mention of Priscilla, Lisa Marie or Graceland.

Judging Elvis for money grab without seeming to take into account his young age (he was 21 when he first appeared on Sullivan, and 23 at his Army induction) and his extreme poverty of youth, much less the power of his domineering agent, seems to be harsh judgement in an era that had never seen such media giants as the Kardashians or Justin Bieber. When Jarecki's road chief admits, "I don't know what the hell you're doing" (when Jarecki asks him what he thinks he's doing with the movie), it's the first time we can actually relate to what someone has said. Despite all of that, you'll likely be glued to the screen for the full run time - either enjoying the songs, watching the clips, or trying to see if Jarecki's puzzle pieces even fit together.
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A Best doc of the year and a brilliant collage of images about Elvis and America.
jdesando21 July 2018
"Celebrity is the industrial disease of creativity." Mike Myers

It is commonly thought that America is in decline for the greatness it knew after WWII. Writer/director Eugene Jarecki has a vision in The King of a similar decline in Elvis Presley' life from unique, authentic talent to a has-been dead in his forties. This best-so-far-this-year documentary begs us to consider the analogy although to its credit, it does not force the similarities.

The film's interesting conceit suggests that both subjects bear their own responsibility for their descent-Elvis giving into commercialism and drugs, America, well, introducing itself to solipsism and commercialism, culminating in the election of Donald Trump. While America is a decline in progress, Elvis gave up 30 years ago but has never been forgotten.

That's the rub-he achieved artistically and financially beyond even Col. Parker's wildest expectations, but Elvis was not able to handle the fame or the money. Or maybe when you can buy all the cheeseburgers and drugs you want, you can watch your belly grow as your mind shuts down. Jarecki uses Elvis's 1963 Rolls Royce to have performers like Immortal Technique and Emi Sunshine sing in the back seat about America.

As Jarecki winds in the Rolls from Memphis to New York, Vegas, and back to Memphis, it slowly becomes clear this should been one of Elvis's pretty Cadillac's; how ironically perfect that it's a Rolls, so out of touch with his roots.

Besides the simple lamentation of greatness gone too soon is the argument that Elvis appropriated Black culture on his road to fame and wealth. Although arguments abound on both sides, this point illustrates the varied richness Jarecki brings to his documentary,

At any rate, having just watched Whitney about her great voice and its descent with the help of drugs, I am dismayed that such is sometimes the fate of the great. America is no different, and the frequently-montaged images from presidents to celebrities are sometimes surprising, sometimes depressing, but never dull. Jarecki has a gallery of shots that would be impressive even without sound. It's a museum of our glory and our loss.

Along this nostalgic road, and America itself seems to be stuck there without a clue about how to save its future from the decision it made in 2016, is the prevailing idea that Elvis also followed the money and the easy way. We see how he ended up, so can we learn and make some tough decisions now?
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1/10
Random assemblage of propaganda bits and pieces
dierregi29 October 2020
Definitely targeted to US audience, this "documentary" is a fast editing of snippets from everything and their dogs (Vietnam war, King Kong, random unknown musicians, hitchhikers and - literally - their dogs, lynching in the 30s, etc...) mixed with snippets about Elvis'background and meteoric rise to fame.

Given that I am not even an Elvis fan and definitely not from the US, I had no idea who two thirds of the people interviewed were and couldn't care less to listen to their tunnel-vision blabbering.

I just wanted to know a bit more about Presley, such as how he became a myth and how he managed to squander everything. What I got instead was patronising about how America is going down the drain and how Elvis "stole" his success from the Afro-American.

I definitely agree about the down the drain part and this doc is a good example.
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6/10
Weird mixture
blumdeluxe4 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"The King" is film somewhere inbetween documentary and commentary, connecting the life and work of Elvis Presley with modern days American politics, trying to explain what the producers see as the downfall of former greatness.

You have to give the filmmakers credit for talking with a lot of relevant (and irrelevant) people, forming a portrait of an artist. Unfortunately, the picture remained rather superficial because it didn't feel like it really got to the core of Elvis' personality. Furthermore, I don't understand how the idea was born to connect those two very different topics with each other. What you get are two solid documentaries that don't go together and a theory that is rather impulsiver than scientific.

All in all you get a film that is produced on a high level and not lacking creativity, but the basic idea just doesn't work out that great.
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A dense and impactful Documentary, but stretches the concept too much
gortx2 July 2018
Unorthodox documentary not so much "about" Elvis Presley, but about how Elvis affected --and was affected by -- American culture. The gimmick Director Eugene Jarecki employs is that he purchased Elvis' actual Rolls Royce, and then films interviews of a wide variety of folks in that vehicle as it travels across the places that Elvis himself stayed at various points in his life, from his hometown in Tupelo Mississippi to Memphis (although, curiously, Graceland is barely mentioned) and places in between.

Even though Jarecki doesn't give us a straightforward biography of Presley, THE KING does a pretty fine job of covering the bases, even if indirectly. The most effective part of the Doc comes early on in a discussion of whether Elvis was a cultural appropriator of black music, culminating in his early crowning as The King Of Rock And Roll. The movie gives a fair-minded balance of pro and con with people like Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore, Emmylou Harris and John Hiatt on one side and rapper Chuck D on the other (he, of the infamous song lyric: "Elvis was a hero to most. But he never meant **** to me you see."). There's also a clip of Big Mama Thornton's blistering original version of "Hound Dog". Jarecki then follows Elvis' travels to NYC and even bigger fame and riches. Then, it's off to the Army and Presley's decline into B movies and Vegas schmaltz. The clips of 'fat Elvis' at the end are truly shocking even all these decades later.

Where Jarecki over-reaches is that he isn't satisfied just showing Elvis' effect on the public, but then tries to tie it in with today's culture wars. Shot during the 2016 campaign with such guests as Alec Baldwin, Van Jones and James Carville, Jarecki makes tenuous connections. VERY tenuous connections. No question that Elvis was a seismic force when he hit, but, save for the brief glory period after the '68 Comeback Special, Presley can hardly be looked upon as a central artistic force after the very early 60s. While significant figures can certainly have a long influence, the fact that Elvis passed on in 1977 makes it a stretch to say that he is symbol of our Red-Blue state America today. If anything, Elvis is the very definition of 'Purple' celebrity - equally loved by all demos.

Even with this central flaw, there is no question that THE KING is a dense, engaging Documentary. One can't help but feel that they have gone on some sort of journey itself, much like Elvis's well-traveled Rolls itself.
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5/10
Good idea, unfortunately not working so well
VinceGambini2 August 2019
The King is essentially three or four really good documentaries edited into one and that's where the trouble starts. Elvis' life and career are fascinating to watch. And the lies on which the American dream is built - stolen land, slavery, apartheid, the corrupted political system - deserve every effort to refocus public awareness. The roadtrip in Elvis' old Rolls Royce is a nice idea. Just that trying to link his rise and fall to all that happens in America over the past 70 years seems forced and doesn't give each story the necessary time and attention. Viewing The King I felt like watching an interesting docu on TV while someone else got hold of the remote and constantly switches to another channel. 8 Stars for the original idea, 2 Stars for execution.
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2/10
Pretentious Twaddle
jake_fantom24 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is an infuriatingly pretentious "documentary" that documents nothing except an astonishing lack of talent on the part of those who assembled it. While the title might lead you to believe this is a film about Elvis, that's not a big enough canvas for this director. Instead, the film attempts to somehow correlate Elvis' life story with America's current and ongoing political and social woes - by interweaving a vast hodge-podge of unrelated vignettes into one grand festering mess of a movie. The various devices the film trots out, unsuccessfully, to make its ill-conceived point include: a series of (mostly forgotten) celebrities opining about Elvis, Donald Trump, racism, cultural appropriation, and anything else that floats into their self-reverent brains; various virtually unknown performers plunking away on guitars, ukeleles, and other stringed instruments in the back seat of Elvis' vintage Rolls-Royce as it travels aimlessly around the country; snippets of familiar newsreel footage ranging from riots and marches to atom bombs detonating; and last but not least, some actual clips of Elvis performing throughout his meteoric career. At the end, you're left feeling as if you just got bilked by Colonel Tom Parker at the carnival - and instead of a hot dog, you just got a bun. I am awarding this moronic turkey two stars instead of one because I just adore Elvis, and a few of the clips of him seen here are not the ones that have become so commonplace. But please, if you elect to watch this for that reason, bring your gas mask and have a vomit bag handy just in case. You've been warned.
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7/10
THE KING is ambitious.
JoshuaDysart2 August 2018
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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5/10
The longest dummy spit in history..
daniellawsonrt1 May 2019
The left continue to whine about Trump, this time dragging poor old Elvis into their narrative, at least the music saves this mess from being a complete unwatchable disaster. I feel bad for this filmmaker though, it must be hard not to have grown up being the special little snowflake his parents promised he would be....
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Snappy Editing, Alongside a Bowl of Political Agenda
Tail_End_Charlie29 January 2019
Late one night, I came upon this little ditty on PBS, as the moon was about say adios. To echo what others have said, this film has an abundance of nice images, and it welcomes a plethora of comments from those who respected, love, and even pitied Elvis. There are some poignant moments from those who were close up to the King. One of the most touching moments comes when a contemporary musician feels such empathy for Elvis, that he can't help but shed painful tears.

As "GORTX" (and other reviewers) have wisely pointed out, the director felt compelled to connect some dots in a bit of a reckless way... particularly when he compares the dynamics of Elvis with today's political climate and the American Dream. When he does this, it somehow minimizes certain parts of the singer's dramatic narrative.

You'll will find some good stuff here, even if you think the political references are not justified. Try to absorb the lively rhythm and zesty imagery. Elvis had an easy charm and a distinct voice. His face was unusually striking. While his physicality might seem superficial, his looks served him well, and propelled his fame to a deeper level.
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8/10
Loved it.
LnineB19 January 2020
This is an Amazing film that actually paints Elvis in a positive light while exposing the culture of racism of the America that loved and continues to love him. Elvis was NOT a racist but couldn't escape the fact the a large portion of his fans were. The fake quote wasn't the catalyst behind the racism belief , but yet it was the experiences of the many black fans that adored him that actually started the racist beliefs. You know...... the ones that couldn't see him in the same venue along side their white peers, or the ones that were thrown out of concerts for made up reasons or not let in at all. It also didn't help that he was the biggest star during arguably the worst time in America and said very little about the injustices that he himself hated and sometimes expericed himself ( ie, when he toured with black band members or vilified for sounding and dancing too "black"). Many minority fans waited for the time when The King would prove that he was an ally but that time never came even when America's race relations were coming to a boiling point in the 60's. Those fans felt portrayed and essentially lumped him in with the era he was so closely tied with. It didn't help that later it was discovered that the music he made his millions with came from black song writers who didn't get a dime. It also didn't help that his later self absorbed "Vegas" years exposed a tortured and sometime contentious, unlikable person. With that said, I really think he gets a bad wrap for things he couldn't control , or who knows, wasn't allowed to control.
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9/10
Excellent filmmaking
mbrindell22 July 2018
This film makes an analogy between Elvis Presley's rise in America's consciousness and the rise of corporate domination throughout much (most?) Of the Western world.

The filmmaking is excellent; it is well shot and deftly edited. Some of the analogy wanders a bit and doesn't always hit the bullseye; the documentarian definitely has a bias. But then ALL documentaries are biased, because they are ALL produced by people, and ALL people have biases.

Most all of the people in the Rolls' backseat are fascinating, even the ones who don't speak. Baldwin comes off as least personable, but there's no denying his prescient insights.

A fine---no, excellent---look at America, where it's been, and where it's likely going.

Highly recommended for its intelligence and entertainment value (heck, it's got Elvis!).
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7/10
Thought provoking documentary, it's not all about Elvis, fans be forewarned
Lauran12330 July 2018
Still ruminating on this one. The film tries to compare the career of Elvis Presley to the rise and fall of the American dream. While taking a road trip in one of Elvis' Rolls Royce's (not a trademark Cadillac) and interviewing celebs, people who knew him, and people who didn't but live near where he did. Ambitious. Thought provoking. Originally called Promised Land then changed to The King. Just like the change of the title, the allegory doesn't quite work.
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1/10
Political hit piece
thbiz-0791422 June 2018
The people who endorse music that glorifies hitting women and dealing drugs and killing want you to know how evil americana and elvis are and were..

Say goodbye to elvis sub-culture. No longer politically correct according to the establishment that is destroying free market economics and conservative culture..

Which I'm not part, but I do make a point to call out agendas based on lies and greed..
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5/10
Is this about Trump or Elvis?
yankeecpt18 May 2020
It is ridiculous.... Every time they want to simulate chaos they show Trump or Trump rallies. Then they double down having Obama's vocals representing the American Dream.. In an Elvis documentary, ALec Baldwin drives around in Elvis' Rolls rolling window down talking about Trump. They try to connect the fact that Trump was elected President because of Elvis. Movie is a fail because of their political motivation... NEXT!
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6/10
Is this an Elvis biography or social commentary?
ssyuval10 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film can't decide whether it's an Elvis documentary or social commentary and these two subject don't intermingle very well.

The stated objective of the director is to explore how America has gone from Elvis to Donald Trump, and attempts to portrait the rise of fall of the King as an allegory for the demise of the American dream. The framework for relaying this story is a road trip in Elvis' Rolls-Royce Phantom V through parts of the South but also New York City and the West, while juxtaposing interviews with locals, actors, and other social commentators with historic footage of Elvis.

As a brief biography of Elvis the film does an okay job, though it basically skims the surface of the known narrative - roughly what would appear on Wikipedia. There are no groundbreaking revelations.

But as social commentary, the film fails to deliver upon its promise. All the interviews, documentary footage and narration fail to come to a cohesive thesis about what's changed. General exclamations about "an empire in decline" are repeated several times.
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