Sunday, April 24, 2016
Elvis & Nixon (2016) **
On December 21, 1970 fading rock star Elvis Presley visited President Richard Nixon in the White House, a moment encapsulated in a photo that is reportedly the most requested at the National Archives. With two heavyweight actors in the lead roles, Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon, the film never goes too far off course. The subplots revolving around White House Staff and Presley's "Memphis Mafia" get tedious. To those who are unfamiliar with the story, Presley on a whim tried to get a meeting with Nixon. He wanted to be an undercover FBI agent. Disgusted by the growing youth revolt and drug epidemic, Elvis wanted help fight the war on drugs. Shannon plays Elvis with an understated charisma, always speaking in a relaxed tone, masking his melancholy. While Elvis remained popular in 1970, the British Invasion Bands made his music seem safe, even boring. Spacey is a surprisingly benevolent Nixon, an interesting counterpoint his nefarious president he plays on House of Cards. The King and the President connected through their shared loneliness and sense of having overcome their modest backgrounds. Elvis & Nixon is a nostalgic look at a unique moment in pop culture history, nothing more and nothing less.