Saturday, May 6, 2017

ELVIS & NIXON (2016)

Directed By: Liza Johnson 
Written By: Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal & Cary Elwes 
Cinematography By: Terry Stacey 
Editor: Sabine Hoffman & Michael Taylor 

Cast: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Johnny Knoxville, Alex Pettyfer, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Sky Ferreira, Tracy Letts, Tate Donovan, Ashley Benson, Ahna O’Reilly 

The untold true story behind the meeting between Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n Roll, and President Richard Nixon, resulting in this revealing, yet humorous moment immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.

While this is an interesting story to be told. It has been before cinematically most memorably in the showtime TV-movie ELVIS MEETS NIXON. Which I would suggest over this film as it is funnier and seems to provide more insight. Maybe as that one isn't as insider based. So they are allowed to embellish a little more.

This film seems to want to be more fact based and told from both sides by informers on each participants inner sanctum. As the film is based on two biographies of people who were involved in trying to get the meeting to happen.

The main difference in this film over the others is that the others are more fun and seem to have a lot more energy. As even for all the craziness involved in this film. The film seems to play it very straight and mild mannered. I'd even go so far as to say bland and bare. There is no pizzaz. So that it feels very low energy. Even with a more recognizable star studded cast. Even the side stories of his friend needing to make a crucial appointment feels thin and only there to put a deadline on the action.
Even if while watching there never feels like anything is on the line, Or any suspense as of course we know the meeting will happen, by we never feel it is in danger and even watching all the things that went into it. Doesn't necessarily feel thrilling or even too interesting. So the film never garners any excitement for the audience.

The film is saved by the performances of the two main stars. As the rest of the cast more or less goes through the motions of reacting. Kevin spacey makes sense in the role and is really good. As he is known to be a good mimic and impersonator. The real surprise comes from Michael Shannon as his performance comes from Left field but strangely he makes the role his own. As a more soft spoken Elvis Presley and it works. He plays a more down to earth legend who knows the strength of his stardom. YET wants to be treated as normal.

It's fun to see Johnny Knoxville in the supporting cast, but he is given little to do.

Though this tale is more fact based. The film feels like an extended episode of the show DRUNK HISTORY only without the patterned wackiness. Or maybe seems more a star studded film that would be good enough for the history channel.

This film feels lien a tax shelter scheme. Where a film needed to be made for the investors to show an investment. Even though they knew it would lose money. Where all of the actors took small Roles for checks to have steady non-television work. They seem like they were under contractual agreement to have to do this film or else risked being sued. Maybe as the film was barely released and not exactly talked about or remembered.

The film offers nothing more and nothing less than what the film title promises. It just happens and it is here. There is some fun in seeing how the meeting comes about and what was involved in the making of it, but soon becomes simple though seeks to be a caper.

The film also downplays Elvis Presley's alleged own drug use at the time. When he wants to meet the president to become an undercover FBI drug agent. Out of supposed patriotism and trying to set the country and it's youth right. Though he seems more interested in acquiring the badge for his collection as a memento also to show the strength of his fame. as well as denouncing the more popular the Beatles and hippies.

Though not a bad film and certainly not offensive it brings very little to the table.

Grade: C

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