'This Is Elvis' and 'D.O.A.'
In a very different way, two new documentaries focus on popular music. This is Elvis is a weird account of Elvis Presley's life and times. I say "weird" because it mixes up all kinds of approaches. There's a scripted narration by an Elvis impersonator, and actors portray the singer in early scenes. Then we switch to actual film of the late star, interspersed with interviews and other material, some of which appears to have been staged. The result is less an account of Elvis than of the culture that spawned him and then practically worshipped him. The more raucous D.O.A. deals with punk rock, as embodied mainly by the notorious Sex Pistols, who are followed during a long tour. Some parallels with the Presley film are fascinating -- especially the similarity in style between detractors of these utterly dissimilar pop phenomena. But the most searing images in "D.O.A." occur during an interview with the late musician Sid Vicious, whose drug-impaired personality hollers an implicit and urgent warning that can't fail to impress any thinking spectator.