Sandy Kenyon reviews 'Elvis and Nixon, 'A Hologram for the King'

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Sandy Kenyon reviews the new film about the meeting between President Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley.

A photo taken after a meeting between music legend Elvis Presley and then-President Richard Nixon is the image most often requested and viewed at the national archives.

Now, the new movie "Elvis and Nixon" takes a look at the fateful sit-down between two icons of the 20th century. It lasted just half an hour, making this a slim premise for a movie but watching Michael Shannon as Presley and Kevin Spacey playing Nixon is interesting enough.

The year was 1970 and the Watergate scandal was still a couple of years away for Nixon. One of his henchman gets a letter from Presley, hand-delivered by the superstar to the White House.

Presley, already using copious amounts of prescription drugs, hoped to be appointed a special agent at what was then called the Bureau of Narcotics. As wacky as it sounds to everyone, especially Nixon, an Oval Office meeting is hastily arranged.

Shannon looks nothing like the real Presley, and Spacey doesn't resemble Nixon but each actor manages to capture key aspects of their character to find the man behind the persona.

There is no record of their private conversation, so the movie about their meeting is free to speculate on what happened; no fiction could be stranger than the simple truth.


Another new movie featuring Tom Hanks as a businessman, "A Hologram for the King" is set in South Africa. Hanks plays an executive sent to sell technology there, while still suffering the effects of his divorce. Hanks has surely earned the right to go off the beaten track and we can't begrudge him the odd movie or two, but this film never decides what it wants to be: satire, romance, political commentary. The picture scrambles all those elements together.

Similar ground was already covered five years ago in a terrific movie called "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Rent that one instead of seeing "A Hologram for the King."

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