The Black Artist? A Very Belated 158-Word Review of “Elvis”

Freedom Suite?

An overlong but serious and well-done meditation on how Black American artistry is the engine for true 20th-century American freedom of any type, perhaps of any time. The first half grounds itself in a Magic Negro experience par excellence, a remarkable 21st-century achievement because it pretends to take on the issues directly; it attempts to muddle the mind so that cultural theft is confused with willing baptism into the Church of the Real Thang. In this flick, Elvis–whose early life is presented with all the speed, rhythm and wail of early rock ‘n’ roll and then some–is recast by biopic history as a public champion of Black stylings, his struggles made to mirror and parallel another, and more dangerous, freedom movement taking place outside his door and largely off-camera. And then the bejeweled latter half, the slow, disappointing realization of being lied to, exploited and manipulated by The Man. Powerful, but ultimately, however well-intentioned, racially manipulative.