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SCREENING ROOM

'Me and the King' Charming Entry in Late-Night Circuit

January 10, 1995|KEVIN THOMAS

Melissa Jenkins' 47-minute "Me and the King," which begins a Friday and Saturday midnight open run at the Sunset 5 this week, is a beautifully sustained vignette, shot through with pain and humor, about a young small-town Alabama man (Lawrence Monoson), whose late Elvis-obsessed mother (Annie O'Donnell) believed that, upon the death of the king of rock 'n' roll, God told her to "pay homage" to him. This meant to her that she should raise her infant son to be an Elvis impersonator.

In this rueful memory film, the off-screen narrator looks back to what it was like to help his understanding uncle (Time Winters) tend a bar, where every night he lip-syncs to Elvis. "Me and the King" turns upon the crazy dichotomy between the youth's hip-swiveling, pelvis-thrusting on stage and his vow of virginity that his mother insisted was part of his duty as an Elvis acolyte.

Based on a short story by Linda Broggi and made under the auspices of the Directors Guild Mentorship Program, "Me and the King" affords Monoson a wonderful role delineating a particularly thorny and convoluted rite of passage; especially impressive is a sequence in which the heretofore nerdy youth discovers at last his own sexuality while impersonating Elvis.

Jenkins' film is aptly paired with Tom Corboy's 27-minute "Mondo Elvis," a non-judgmental documentary on fans who carry their Elvis obsessions to creepy extremes.

Information: (213) 848-3500.

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