First Published: 12 Aug 2016 – Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: Elvis & Nixon (2016 Amazon Studios)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I actually remember President Nixon being in office. Bits and pieces. More so than President Johnson, and the President before him; John F. Kennedy. My birth was in 1961. Hard to believe that five and a half decades has since almost passed. I’m especially surprised with each new day that goes by, how much I remember from my childhood. Spent the entire 1970’s as a resident of the great state; New Jersey. Was nine years old and living in South Amboy, when the main event in this movie took place. I do not remember watching the evening news, which would have come out of New York City, and being informed that the one and only Elvis Presley had visited the White House that day, taking in a meeting with then President: Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994). Odds are I was outside playing, or preoccupied doing something else. Fourth grade was a busy time.
For President Nixon, Watergate would later on equal impeachment. A dark chapter in our nation’s history. Bill Clinton’s impeachment over two decades later, was a stain on the fabric that made this country great. Another story for another day, for that’s not the occurrence that happened in the White House’s Oval Office that this theatrical film focuses on. For it’s towards the end of 1970, when the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley decided his country needed him. The TV news was full of could be communists and kids (young adults) using dope (pot). In Elvis’ eyes, the United States was going to shit. Wanting to be of service, the rock n’ roller, perhaps foolishly believed that by simply obtaining a real badge and title, Federal Agent at Large, that he could be of service to the country he loved, and respected so dearly. After all, he was a black belt in karate, and a movie actor in which he pretended to be other people. Tools / experience to help him go undercover. To rid the streets of the ones he concluded were ruining the good old United States of America. So on the spur of the moment, off to Washington DC he goes. Tries to anyway. At first he finds it somewhat difficult. But then it’s straight to the White House. To hand deliver a letter, and then ask for a meeting with the President. Again, not as easy as he thought.
Giving President Nixon positive promotion, is what the White House was about. To get a picture taken in the oval office of Richard Nixon with the most popular entertainer in the world, would mean instant voter approval. Especially young voters, and those who lived in the South. When Nixon learns that he’s going to meet Elvis, he wonders aloud; “Who the fuck set this up?”. Nixon was not keen on the idea of spending time with the musician, and at first said no. A little persuasion from his daughter, and before you know it, the most requested photo of The National Archives is snapped; Nixon & Elvis. This movie is all about that fateful day.
I always liked Elvis. Even the fat Elvis towards the end. The 1970 December 21st Elvis, in which this film depicts, pretty much still had his shit together. Some crazy episodes. Things not everyone was aware of. Example, he had the habit of shooting TV’s when it displayed something he didn’t like. In the beginning of this movie, he’s seen watching the news, and getting more pissed by the second. Then he takes his handgun, and fires at several television sets. Doing that sets this picture in motion.
Michael Shannon, portrays the legendary musician, Elvis Presley. The skinny version. Give it a minute watching Michael’s perform, and after that you’ll have no problem believing he is Elvis. A very creditable performance. And the movie itself, has a great look and feel to it. Must be hard to go back over forty years, and recreate what it was like. A lot of research and hard work. A period piece is either one hundred percent believable, or it’s garbage. All involved with ‘Nixon & Elvis’ did their homework, and it shows.
And while I’m throwing praise around. I always believed the more writers a movie had, the greater the odds of it blowing chunks. Three writers responsible for Elvis & Nixon, and all doing a terrific job; Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, and Cary Elwes. For the viewer, it’s like being a fly on the wall. A story well told / presented. Directed by Liza Johnson, in what I hope is her most successful film yet.’Elvis & Nixon’ should appeal to many; historians, President Nixon & Elvis fans, those into politics or rock n’ roll, and anyone else who enjoys watching a good film, that doesn’t involve superheroes. Rated ‘R’ I believe for salty language. Might bore the youngins.
Have I mentioned Kevin Spacey yet? Reminds me of actor Gene Hackman. Both men, outstanding at whatever movie they are in. Mister Spacey had his imitation / portrayal of Nixon down to a science. His mannerisms. The way he spoke. And the look is there also. Thank God not spitting image. Give it thirty seconds to get used to. May not even be necessary. Spacey’s believable right out the gate. The same throughout the whole one hour and forty minute film. If I was handing out Oscar’s, he’d get one for this performance.
Those who played the parts of Nixon’s aides and Elvis’ associates, also did a wonderful job. Elvis’ long time friend, Jerry Schilling is portrayed by Alex Pettyfer. Johnny Knoxville, did a very good friend playing Sonny, another Elvis’ caretaker. Colin Hanks as Egil Krogh, Evan Peters as Dwight Chapin, and Tate Donovan as White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman. All do justice to their portrayal of these men.
Music: A well done score by Edward Shearmur, and a very cool soundtrack that screams what we call now, classic rock. Songs like Suzy Q by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
“Uncle G” Rates … Elvis & Nixon (2016 Amazon Studios)
Using the same rating ten star rating system as the IMDb website, whereas one star means it’s horrible, to ten stars in which Elvis would rate his favorite sandwich on the Earth, peanut butter and banana, … I give the 2016 movie, ‘Nixon & Elvis’ … 10 stars. Not an historical event serious enough that it changed the world. Both men, notorious for being critical of others. Not a surprise these two would find common ground, and get along.
Official Website: http://www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/elvisandnixon