Was Elvis racist? New movie brings answer to old question

This is the online version of this Thursday’s edition (14) of the Na Sua Tela newsletter. This week, highlights for “Elvis”, “Crimes of the Future” and other movies coming to theaters and streaming, plus a curation of what’s worth watching. Sign up to receive the weekly newsletter. Subscriber UOL still has 10 exclusive newsletters.

This Thursday, the 14th, the long-awaited film “Elvis” arrives in Brazilian cinemas, which tells the life of one of the greatest icons of world music: Elvis Presley. Among other questions, the new feature film brings the answer to an old question: was the King of Rock, who died in 1977, racist?

It is explained: the star would have said in 1957 that “the only thing that black people can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes”. Shortly afterward, Elvis denied that statement—only the rumor remained forever a stain on his biography. Even today, some see him as prejudiced.

Even though it is a work of fiction, “Elvis” does deal with that theme, in addition to honoring the black origins of rock and roll. Read more below.

Taking advantage of this hook, this week’s Na Sua Tela lists five other productions that help to understand the context of the struggle for civil rights at that time, in addition to its reflections on current times.

Want more? The shocking “Crimes of the Future” also hits theaters this week, as Netflix presents the newest adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel: “Persuasion.”

Check out all this – and more – below.

What’s new?


"Elvis" goes through the most diverse phases of the musician's career - Disclosure/Warner Bros.  - Disclosure/Warner Bros.

“Elvis” goes through the most diverse phases of the musician’s career

Image: Disclosure/Warner Bros.

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: In cinemas – click to buy tickets
  • What’s good: The biopic “Elvis”, by director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”), provides an extensive – and, at different times, stylized and accelerated – account of the career of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) based on two great backbones. The first is the account of businessman “Colonel” Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who raised the musician to stardom – and who also exploited that fame. The other is from the cultural background and social unrest from the 1940s to the 1970s. The work emphasizes Elvis’ relationship with black culture in his childhood and adolescence, in addition to the star’s indignation with the segregation of the time. and, already in the 60’s, with the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Perhaps because of Parker’s manipulation, the musician didn’t do more for ethnic equality – but the film definitely emphasizes not only that its protagonist was not racist, but that the DNA of black music was in the genesis of rock’n. ‘roll of which he is the eternal king. Last but not least: Austin Butler is extraordinary as Elvis. Seeing him on stage is worth the ticket.
  • What makes you feel: amazed, astonished
  • Extra straight from Splash: 12,000 drugs and secret autopsy: the mysteries of Elvis’ death


Crimes of the Future - image - Publicity / MUBI - Publicity / MUBI

“Crimes of the Future” is a film that provokes to cause reflection

Image: Disclosure / MUBI

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: Playing in cinemas; July 29th at MUBI
  • What’s good: David Cronenberg (from “The Fly”) is one of the most inventive and shocking filmmakers within the horror genre. In “Crimes of the Future”, the director brings together a cast with the likes of Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book: The Guide”), Léa Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) to stage a tale that touches on themes like pleasure in pain, genetic manipulation, the opioid pandemic and more – all while alternating between over-the-top horror, excitement and acid humor. It’s certainly not for everyone’s taste, but it will please those who like to feel that discomfort that makes the movie theater seat small while the story unfolds on the screen.
  • What makes you feel: distress, discomfort
  • Extra straight from Splash: David Cronenberg regains his grotesque cinema in ‘Crimes of the Future’


Persuasion - image - Disclosure/Netflix - Disclosure/Netflix

Dakota Johnson Stars in Netflix’s Persuasion

Image: Disclosure/Netflix

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: tomorrow the 15th on Netflix
  • What’s good: Let’s face it: “Persuasion” is not the most faithful adaptation of a work by writer Jane Austen. So, if you are looking for something close to the book, you will certainly be frustrated. All because the feature invests in the climate of modern romantic comedy in the style of “Fleabag” – which, on the other hand, should please those who like the series. Even though this mixture sounds like a Frankenstein, “Persuasion” is credited with a very beautiful production design, careful photography and, above all, a great performance by Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Gray”). this is an adaptation and all the frustrations that this entails, you will find a fun period “Fleabag”.
  • What makes you feel: animation, fun


Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe - image - publicity/Paramount+ - publicity/Paramount+

“Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” brings back the duo that made it big in the 1990s

Image: publicity/Paramount+

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: On UOL Play and Paramount+
  • What’s good: MTV hit in the 1990s, the duo Beavis and Butt-Head returns in a new film. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the production brings the two teenagers back to the way they were in the past. That is, the characters only think about watching TV and sex – even if they never get laid. The novelty, even, appears when the script puts the behavior of both in counterpoint to the advances of society in the last 25 years. It’s scarily hilarious when they find out what “male privilege” is, for example. A ridiculously raw, vulgar and idiotic film, in the best sense that statement can have, showing all the stupidity of adolescence. For fans (and I include myself among them), it’s like the meme says: “cree, how delicious”.
  • What makes you feel: mockery, nostalgia

Understanding the context of ‘Elvis’

As mentioned, the struggle for civil rights – especially that of blacks – in the 1950s and 1960s plays an important background role within the story told in “Elvis”. However, it may be difficult to understand the scale of those events and the impact not only on the music star, but on the entire American society.

That’s why we list here some movies that help you understand this context – and that, with luck, will open your eyes or deepen your knowledge.


I Am Not Your Negro - Disclosure / Imovision - Disclosure / Imovision

Protest registered in “I’m Not Your Negro”

Image: Disclosure / Imovision

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: Globoplay, Reserva Imovision or for rent and purchase on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube and Claro tv+
  • What’s good: Based on the unfinished book by author and activist James Baldwin, “I Am Not Your Negro” has narration by none other than Samuel L. Jackson. The documentary explores Baldwin’s memories of the life and death of three great leaders of the civil rights struggle: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King – the latter mentioned in “Elvis” -, as well as commenting on the history of segregation in the USA. It is a hard story, even incendiary, that makes us understand the context of that time and the relationship of forces within American society (and, why not say, also in Brazilian society).
  • What makes you feel: impotence, indignation


A Night in Miami - image - Publicity/Amazon - Publicity/Amazon

“A Night in Miami” is based on an encounter that actually happened in real life.

Image: Publicity/Amazon

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: Prime Video
  • What’s good: In 1964, boxer Cassius Clay – later to be known as Muhammad Ali – fought Sonny Liston for the world championship boxing belt. “A Night in Miami?” takes place almost entirely on the night of that clash, imagining what it would have been like to meet Clay (Eli Goree) with other great personalities of the 1960s: activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Atir), American football player and future actor Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.). In a heated chat, the viewer learns more about the fight against segregation, the differences in thinking between these personalities and a little about what they believed. In addition to bringing a lot of reflection on the time, it is a real business card to later explore and get to know a little more about the life and work of everyone present there.
  • What makes you feel: provocation, inspiration


Judas and the Black Messiah - image - Publicity/Warner Bros.  - Disclosure/Warner Bros.

Daniel Kaluuya won an Oscar for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Image: Disclosure/Warner Bros.

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: HBO Max
  • What’s good: Yet another recent film, based on facts, that portrays the fight against segregation in the 1960s. Here we follow how a leader of the Black Panther Party, named Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar winner for the role), is betrayed by Bill O. ‘Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), a man J. Edgar Hoover’s (Martin Sheen) FBI infiltrates the organization. In this way, we discover the contours and nuances of the disputes that took place at the time, and how US institutions sought to manipulate this struggle. If you want to dig deeper into the story, the events of “Judas and the Black Messiah” run parallel to the story of Netflix’s “Chicago 7”.
  • What makes you feel: anger, disgust


Mississippi Burning - image - publicity/Orion/MGM - publicity/Orion/MGM

“Mississippi Burning” Uses Social Conflict to Build a Suspenseful Plot

Image: publicity/Orion/MGM

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: Prime Video Channels, or to rent and buy on Apple TV
  • What’s good: Although extremely fictionalized – characters’ names were changed, for example – “Mississippi Burning”, from 1988, remains one of the great crime thrillers that use the civil rights struggle of the 1960s as a backdrop. FBI agents (Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe) travel to Mississippi to investigate the murder of three activists (two Jews and one black) who were organizing the voter registration of African Americans. There they come face to face with the dreaded Ku Klux Klan. The cast also includes Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and other familiar faces. It pleases those who like a mix of suspense and historical drama.
  • What makes you feel: bitterness anxiety


The 13th Amendment - image - Disclosure/Netflix - Disclosure/Netflix

“The 13th Amendment” brings a broader and more current view of the problem of segregation in the USA

Image: Disclosure/Netflix

  • watch the trailer
  • Where: Netflix and free on YouTube
  • What’s good: Directed by Ava DuVernay (of “Selma”), the title of this documentary references the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, the one that ended slavery. The point of view, however, is astounding: from the moment the abolition took place, another criminalization of blacks began. The behavior of the police forces, in addition to actions such as the disastrous drug war, only created a new kind of deprivation of liberty in prisons. Today, the descendants of slaves suffer from lynchings and violence from the security forces – and the fate of many is to return to the chains, like their ancestors, or even lose their lives.
  • What makes you feel: anger, revolt

It is also worth mentioning two other films. One is the 1961 classic The Sun Will Shine Again, which features a black family battling decades of discrimination — and you can buy or rent it on Apple TV. Another is “Selma: A Fight for Equality”, about Martin Luther King and which, unfortunately, is no longer available in Brazil. It remains to be hoped that Disney will soon bring the film to the Star+ catalog.

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* The availability and release dates of titles are the responsibility of platforms and distributors, and may be changed without prior notice.

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