Scott Marks 12:30 p.m., July 26
- Rated R | 1 hour, 47 minutes
- View trailer
Director and co-writer Eugene Jarecki’s documentary tells the story of Elvis Presley in America — or rather, Elvis Presley as America. To wit: a youthful phenomenon, the likes of which the world had never seen, rocketing up from humble, hardscrabble beginnings into the stratosphere on the strength of talent, energy, and a troubling relationship with black labor. Still: a wonder to behold, until the money takes over, the war takes its toll, and decadence takes hold. And there’s more, lots of it: the push West, the obsession with image, the loss of way, the death of the Dream. Jarecki isn’t coy about the parallel; at one point, he openly discusses it with a member of his crew, one of the guys helping him tour Presley’s gorgeous old Rolls Royce around the nation, stopping along the way to pick up a host of musicians, actors, and commentators on King and country. Nor is he subtle, or gentle, or modest in his ambition: toward the end, he juxtaposes the Shock and Awe of the Iraq War with Elvis’ last-hurrah performance of “Unchained Melody.” The insistence may inspire a furrowed brow here, a rolled eye there, and a shaken fist or knowing nod over yonder, but there’s enough earnest comment and good music to make the effort worth seeing and chewing over. 2017.