The King
color & b/w. 109+ min. Eugene Jarecki, dist. by Oscilloscope Labs, oscilloscope.net. 2018. DVD $34.99; Blu-ray $39.99; public performance $295. sOc SCI/MUSIC
Filmmaker Jarecki (The House I Live In; Reagan) pretty explicitly uses Elvis Presley here as a symbol of the American Dream. He refurbished Elvis's 1963 Rolls-Royce as bait to attract a dazzling array of celebrities, musicians, and the occasional hitchhiker to reflect, sing a song, or just join a cross-country road trip, the latter roughly following the King's career arc, from Tupelo, MS, to Memphis, Nashville, New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, NV. Period footage recapitulates both sociopolitical eras and Presley's life, so that the bloated dead Elvis in his bathroom coincides with Donald Trump's election. Subtle? No. Eye-catching? You bet. Celebrity commentators, such as Alec Baldwin, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, and Mike Myers, offer everything from trite sound bites to thoughtful discussions of serious issues. A solid metaphor illuminates both concepts being compared, so one might learn a bit about Elvis while gaining perspective on the state of the American Dream.
VERDICT Sure to be a popular addition to any library.

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