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Dragged Across Concrete

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Where most filmmakers would cut, Zahler keeps the take rolling, to ratchet tension and (perhaps thanks to his novelistic leanings) to shift the tonal gears to a degree that’s cinematically inspired…

S. Craig Zahler is no slouch when it comes to creation: he’s published six novels, performs in metal band Realmbuilder (and black metal band Charnel Valley) and he’s sold or optioned twenty-one completed screenplays.

Since his directorial debut with the brutally lyrical western-horror Bone Tomahawk, Zahler has also tackled prison drama Brawl in Cell Block 99, displaying a penchant for infusing genre staples with a steely sense of B-movie exploitation, languid character development and graphic violence.

This continues unabated with Dragged Across Concrete, telling numerous inter-locking character arcs stitched together in a larger story, like an exploitation-infused version of Heat.

Henry Johns (Tory Kittles) has just been released from jail. His friend Biscuit (Michael Jai White) attempts to recruit him for a crew who are about to pull a bank job. Meanwhile, two ‘old-school’ police officers, Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Tony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), struggle to make sense of political and social cultural shifts, and of what is acceptable in the line of duty.

Ridgeman is filmed on a phone using excessive force while arresting a suspect, and the pair are placed on suspension without pay by their Chief Lt. (Don Johnson).

Ridgeman fears the financial pinch: his wife Melanie (Laurie Holden) suffers from multiple sclerosis, while daughter Sara (Jordan Ashley Olson) is bullied by local black kids, motivating Ridgeman to find cash for medical expenses and to move his family to a better neighbourhood.

Lurasetti has plans to propose to his girlfriend Denise (Tattiawna Jones), but this seems jeopardised by the uncertainty of being laid off from the force.

In need of fast money, Ridgeman pitches his partner a heist. The plan? Stealing from bad guys. Although in this case the bad guy is a little more than the pair have bargained for –  euro-trash crim Lorentz Vogelmann (Thomas Kretschmann) and his brutally psychopathic hired goons.

The setup is pregnant with potential, the execution is a little more problematic.

Zahler’s strangely formal and stilted dialogue worked brilliantly framed against the western genre setting, it works less so here.

Gibson is especially low key and nuanced in what amounts to one of his better turns of recent years. Our knowledge of his real-world, tabloid-strewn past sits a little weirdly against his character’s casually racist, misogynistic and world-weary manner. As a result, his performance vibrates with meta energy.

It’s no accident that Gibson’s gearing up to helm The Wild Bunch remake, as the ‘old school machismo out of step with a changing world’ thematic clearly resonates with him.

Vaughn is in the same territory he was in with True Detective season two, staring intensely and delivering mouthfuls of word-salad that even Tarantino would’ve probably binned after the first draft. “This is a bad idea” Tony says at one point, “It’s bad for you and it’s bad for me. It’s bad like lasagne in a can.”

We’re sure Zahler thought that was a great line while sitting at his writer’s desk but the musicality of it leaving an actor’s mouth is jarring.

All that said, Zahler IS a talented filmmaker, there are artfully directed robberies and tense atmospheric shoot outs that impress, all capably captured by Cinematographer Benji Bakshi’s camera and its unflinching, static gaze.

Overall, the only pressing issue with Dragged Across Concrete is that there’s a lot of fat that could’ve been cut; it’s an unwieldy two hour and forty minutes in duration. Where most filmmakers would cut, Zahler keeps the take rolling, to ratchet tension and (perhaps thanks to his novelistic leanings) to shift the tonal gears to a degree that’s cinematically inspired; at other times though, it’s a tone-deaf editorial middle-finger to the audience.

 
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Yesterday

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The Beatles were a once in a generation cultural phenomenon. They weren’t just ‘another pop group’. Their simple but somehow unforgettable melodies and lyrics led them to be sung, copied and covered, literally all over the world. In a sense it is hard to imagine popular culture without them, but what if they had never existed?

That is the brilliant conceit/hook that Danny Boyle hangs his new comedy upon. And, because the screenplay is by Richard Curtis, it has to be a soppy rom-com at the same time. But more of that anon.

Jack Malik (Brit TV actor Himesh Patel in a career-launching performance) is a wannabe muso. Despite having some native talent (and thankfully Patel has a pretty good voice in real life), Jack is stuck at the very bottom rung playing to three dullards and a lager lout in divey pubs. Like all musos, he cannot actually give it up, as to do so, would be to give up on his very raison d’etre. He even has a sort of ‘manager’ called Ellie (the ubiquitous Lily James) who keeps on booking the gigs even in the face of world-sized audience indifference. It is no spoiler to say that things change for Jack when an ‘altered timeline’ kicks and he is given a chance to coast on the genius of Lennon and McCartney. (Incidentally, this is The Beatles of the wacky fab four mop top era, not the psychedelic drug band they morphed into.)

The premise has so much going for it. Well exploited in places are the fun possibilities of imagining that the commonplace things that you know, are unknown to everybody else. Mixing up quirky high concepts with love stories is a balancing act that Curtis has pulled off before (see the rather charming About Time for example), and both Patel and James are likeable screen presences, with chemistry.

However, the end result is that for the rom-com to work, we should care about the long-denied love much more. As usual with Curtis, so much of the engine of his story is in the idea of thwarted love or misrecognised attachment, or just the very-English idea that emotionally retarded men can never really say what they want until it is too late. How much you like the film will depend on your tolerance for this trope. As Lennon said, life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans; perhaps in a funny way this applies to this film too.

 
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Annabelle Comes Home

Horror, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

Annabelle the doll first appeared in The Conjuring (2013) and was subsequently spun off into her own starring flick, Annabelle (2014). It was a powerfully awful film that nonetheless earned several dump trucks worth of cash, so a sequel (technically a prequel) was made, Annabelle: Creation (2017) and against all odds it was actually pretty bloody good. It also netted groaning sacks of filthy lucre, so naturally a third chapter, Annabelle Comes Home was spawned. So, does the old doll still have some new tricks? Actually, kinda yeah.

Annabelle Comes Home features an appearance by the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) but they’re less an important plot element and more a reminder of the larger cinematic universe. No, the real story of ACH revolves around Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) and her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), the latter of whom is looking after the former while the elder Warrens are away for the night. Judy and Mary Ellen are almost somnambulistically wholesome, so it’s a relief when Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) pops over to liven them up. Daniela is dealing with the recent death of her father, so when she gets a quiet moment, she decides to have a look in the Warrens’ room of evil aka The Spin-Off Closet. Naturally a certain almost comically ugly doll catches her eye and, well, you can probably figure out where this is going.

The striking thing about Annabelle Comes Home is its distinct tone, which sets it apart from other Annabelle films and The Conjuring series as a whole. While recent spin-offs like The Nun (2018) and The Curse of the Weeping Woman (2019) have felt like dollar store Conjuring knock-offs, Annabelle Comes Home embraces its logical position as safe horror for pre-teens. It’s low stakes, death-free, goreless, giggly thrills, full of goofy jump scares, wide-eyed teenagers and CGI ghosties that wouldn’t look out of place in the next Goosebumps film.

Director Gary Dauberman is clearly having a hoot with this flick, and the young cast – particularly Katie Sarife and Mckenna Grace – do solid work here as well. Ultimately, Annabelle Comes Home is a film that knows what it is and performs accordingly. It certainly won’t be for horror aficionados looking for something that transcends genre boundaries, but is highly likely to be a much shrieked at classic of pre-teen slumber parties.

 
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Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Documentary, Festival, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

Miles Davis could just as easily use his windpipes to revolutionise music as he would use his raspy voice to describe someone as a motherfucker.

Through archival audio narration from Davis himself, as well as various music commentators (including previous colleagues and ex-partners), Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool documents Davis’ musical ability as a medium for black expression and an outlet to release his indignation.

Davis’ contribution to music history is one for the ages. From Davis’ early days living in Jim Crow America, to his involvement with the music scene in 1940s NYC, it’s clear that Davis was an artist whose dedication to jazz would become an outlet for his hardships, creating a place where he could get some relief. Ongoing racial mistreatment and the abuse he witnessed in his childhood, through to his difficulties with substance addiction in adulthood, all fed into his music and mythology.

Davis’ commitment to innovation, wherein he famously improvised his jazz recordings, often fusing other genres of music in with the freeform nature of jazz, is explored in vivid enough detail that those unfamiliar with Davis’ contributions to music can appreciate its significance. His prodigious talents saw him capable of creating work that spoke to great pleasure (“music people could play and make love to” as described by one commentator) and underlying struggle. This musical duality was counteracted by Davis’ acid-tongued-personality and his uncompromising veracity that was motivated by the inequality stitched into the American social fabric.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool finds its relevance as an examination of African American mistreatment; a mirror from the past that reflects into the now. Race relations had always been a defining aspect of Davis’ career: this ranges, but is not limited to, the appropriation of black identity, casual racism being accepted by society and Davis’ experiences with the police, which despite his success still saw him unable to escape racist encounters.

Commentators celebrate Davis as a pioneer within the field of music, not just as a maestro jazz artist but a musician unafraid to experiment with genre. Their admiration for Davis is spoken to with intelligence, recognising the work of a talented musician that influenced other greats; yet looking at his transgressions towards women as though they were iridescent. In the documentary, Davis’ acceptance of his wrongdoings is earnest, but is underscored by Stanley Nelson’s direction – a somewhat abnormal feat as Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool exists in a period where the condemnation of celebrities is considered entertainment.

A musical genius whose demeanour was as unpredictable as the jazz harmonies he produced, Miles Davis Birth of the Cool provides an explicit account of a musical legacy that refused to be restricted by genre.

 
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The Eyes of Orson Welles

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Analysing the thematics of Orson Welles’ oeuvre is no mean feat. Finding a through-line that cuts to the core of who the man was, that hasn’t been ground into a well-worn path by biographers and documentarians over the years, seems a tall order indeed.

Enter Irish film critic/author/filmmaker Mark Cousins, who earned his bones introducing cult films for BBC TV on a show in the ‘90s called Moviedrome before graduating to interviewing filmmakers (like David Lynch and Martin Scorsese) for the TV series Scene by Scene. He’s favoured the visual essay documentary format in recent years (in similar territory to Jean Luc Godard), where he re-frames the subjects of his documentaries via his personal perspective on them, addressing the subject of the documentary in the first person within the narration, posing questions to the subject that hang in air, unanswered. In his recent What Is This Film Called Love? he chronicled a three-day ramble around Mexico City, having a ponderous ‘conversation’ (of sorts) with a picture of Sergei Eisenstein.

The success of his softly spoken Northern Irish lilt, narrating in a ‘stream of consciousness’ fashion, depends on how you react to the documentary’s subject matter. In the ground-breaking series The Story of Film: An Odyssey or the wonderful A Story of Children and Film, it works remarkably well, with an almost ethereally beautiful synergy. In the films he’s made that don’t gel as successfully, it can tip over into self-indulgent wankery, with sharp rapidity.

In The Eyes of Orson Welles, Cousins stays true to form and steams in with his signature style and perspective, to wrestle with the core themes in Orson Welles’ filmmaking, drawings and paintings. He breaks the documentary into five thematic segments, numbered like chapters.

This rigidity in categorising an artist’s intent and thought process seems to draw a long bow but Cousins has a considerable amount of insight to offer on Welles’ work. There are truly fascinating observations put forward, particularly when he looks at the ‘facelessness’ of characters sketched or painted by Welles after the period that saw the rise of authoritarian leaders like Hitler and Mussolini in the 1930s. This concept of ‘facelessness’ became Welles’ go-to motif in films whenever alluding to corruption, loss of humanity and power and there are notable examples in Citizen Kane, Macbeth and The Trial.

Cousins also talks to Welles’ third daughter, Beatrice, who sheds light on her own relationship with her iconic father. However, it’s when Cousins uses Welles’ paintings and drawings (Welles trained to be a painter at the Chicago Art Institute) to find the connective tissue that linked his films, his romantic life and his political views, that the film soars. Using Welles’ artworks as a way in to examining his inner life is an inspired move, though it does shift the focus of The Eyes of Orson Welles, seeing it become less a dissection of a filmmaker than it is an overall reflection upon the creative impetus of an iconic artist.

 
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The Secret Life Of Pets 2

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With the likes of Despicable Me, Minions, Hop, Sing and The Grinch, major player animation house, Illumination Entertainment, has established itself as a creator of polished, entertaining, reliable family animation. But this is serious middle-ground stuff; while Illumination’s films never fail to hit the sweet spot, they also never really achieve anything truly new or transcendent. There’s nothing on their list, for instance, to rank alongside the likes of Zootopia, The Lego Movie or anything from the Pixar stable. In short, Illumination is always good, but never great. 2016’s popular The Secret Life Of Pets – and now its sequel, The Secret Life Pets 2 – fit tightly with the studio’s modus operandi.

Somewhat lazily structured, The Secret Life Pets 2 seeks to divide and conquer by splitting up its ensemble of domestic animals and sending them off on various adventures. Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt, who’s been subbed in for #metoo casualty Louis C.K) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are sent off to the country; now-superhero-wannabe Snowball (Kevin Hart) and new pal Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) set off to rescue a tiger from an evil circus owner; and the primping Gidget (Jenny Slate) disguises herself as a kitty to reappropriate Max’s favourite toy, which has been lost in a house owned by an eccentric cat lady. They all reunite for the climax, but the separation tactics undeniably give the film a distractingly episodic feel.

That said, there’s a lot to like here. Comedy talents du jour, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish (who have collaborated on several past projects), are an absolute laugh riot as Snowball and Daisy, while big screen animation debutante Harrison Ford effortlessly steals all of his scenes as the imposing Rooster, a too-cool-for-school farm hound who teaches the wimpy Max to toughen up a bit. Gidget’s freaky adventures in the crazy cat lady’s house are highly inventive and amusing, and there are a few welcome jokes (Lake Bell’s kitty Chloe high on catnip is a highlight) for the grown-ups. Though good fun from start to finish, The Secret Life Pets 2 won’t quite have you rolling over and begging for a third installment.

 
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Child’s Play

Horror, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

The original Child’s Play first lurched onto screens in 1988, introducing the world to a Brad Dourif-voiced killer doll, Chucky, and a surprisingly solid horror franchise. Six sequels followed, of varying degrees of quality (the best arguably being 1990’s Child’s Play 2 and 1998’s Bride of Chucky) and creator Don Mancini is currently working on a TV series, Chucky, due sometime next year. It’s something of a surprise, then, that while the original creators bring the Chuckster to the small screen, a remake of the original film is hitting cinemas. All ethical considerations aside, it’s a very 2019 thing to happen. So, with that backstory established, is the new Child’s Play any chop? Or does the curse of extremely ordinary horror remakes – including but not limited to A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Carrie (2013) and Poltergeist (2015) – continue? The answer is somewhere in the middle, because while Child’s Play 2019 has some enormous flaws, it’s also got its rough charms.

Child’s Play (2019) tells the story of Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman) and his single mother, Karen (Aubrey Plaza). Life isn’t exactly grand for the Barclays, as the pair have moved to a dodgy neighbourhood where Andy doesn’t know anyone, and would rather spend time on his phone than attempt to socialise. Karen, who works at the rather grim looking Zed Mart, decides to acquire a new Buddi doll, a wifi-connected toy that acts like an exceptionally ugly Amazon Echo, to try and bring Andy out of his funk. Surprisingly, it seems to work, because while the doll who calls himself “Chucky” is “for little kids” according to Andy, it’s also malfunctioning in frequently hilarious ways. Chucky imprints on Andy, and slowly begins to learn the moppet’s likes and frustrations. While Andy and his new mates watch (somewhat inexplicably) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and laugh uproariously at the gore, Chucky seems to believe that Andy and chums actually like violence and wields a knife accordingly. Later, when Andy expresses his dislike for his mum’s boyfriend Shane (David Lewis), well, Chucky has a neat solution for that little problem too…

The biggest aspect that’s lacking in Child’s Play is, weirdly, Chucky himself. The newly designed doll is so unspeakably ugly that it’s simply not credible it would be a valued item on the market. Further to that, short of an intriguing prologue that seems to criticise the capitalist abuse of third world countries (that is swiftly abandoned), he has a maddeningly inconsistent agenda. While the original Chucky was actually the spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray attempting to use dark magic to possess a small boy and get out of the doll’s body, 2019 Chucky is a toy whose “evil switch” has been turned on, which is just not a terribly compelling narrative. Mark Hamill’s voice work as Chucky is fine, but never feels integrated to the extent of Brad Dourif’s standout turn in the original series. The relationship between Andy and Karen is a lot better here, however, with Aubrey Plaza bringing her trademark snark and wit to a role that could otherwise have been thankless and dull, and young Gabriel Bateman is one of about half a dozen kid actors who isn’t hideously annoying.

The direction by Lars Klevberg is mostly effective, but its in service of a script that feels somewhat unfocused and almost certainly heavily rewritten and reshot. That said, there is fun to be had here. The initial reaction of the kid characters to Chucky is genuinely funny, a couple of the kill scenes are extremely well-staged and there’s a decent amount of gore and stoner comedy to amuse anyone looking for some amiable trash.

Ultimately, it’s apt that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 features so heavily here, because that film was rather famously criticised for being much less effective than its predecessor, relying instead on excessive gore and goofy comedy. So it goes with Child’s Play 2019, it’s less effective than the original Child’s Play movies (the first two in particular) but still delivers 90 minutes of mostly enjoyable, albeit thematically empty, gore and giggles. One can’t help but feel, though, that it would have been nice if they’d set their heights just a little higher than “evil wifi”.

 
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Parasite

Asian Cinema, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

What with Bong Joon-ho’s increasing work rate – this film appears just two years after his last, Okja, his shortest ever gap between features – it can be easy to forget that Parasite is the director’s first film made fully within the Korean system in a decade, since 2009’s Mother.

Both 2013’s Snowpiercer, Bong’s Hollywood debut, and 2017’s Okja, the first major film to launch through Netflix – are very fine films, although among the weaker entries in a formidable body of work, with a thematic reach that sometimes exceeds their grasp.

By contrast, Parasite is the work of a director intoxicatingly in his element. In many ways, this feels like the culmination of inimitably Bongian preoccupations: his obsession with psychologically freighted subterranean spaces, stretching all the way back to his debut, Barking Dogs Never Bite; immaculately executed whiplash moments that snap from comedy to tragedy; and a predilection for the surreal in his setpieces. Bong’s sense of the baroque has sharpened since Okja, and Parasite’s finale, involving a conglomeration of beautiful, wealthy people, gains in horror and poignancy from the luridness of its conception.

Bong is operating here at peak craft: the mise-en-scene is dazzling, evincing his flair for witty ensemble staging, then unleashing overwhelming imagery that heightens character and mood. All of this is aided by superb production design. It is also tightly plotted – a rarity for Bong – with a strong comedy of manners influence, a new direction for the director.

Very much like Snowpiercer, the chasm between rich and poor is the leitmotif of the film; it even follows a similar visual schema, and the ‘parasite’ of the title is left deliberately unclear. But there are also distinctive, piquant Korean flourishes that may, or may not, hold a deeper allegorical meaning: multiple allusions to North Korea, and a surprise reference to the 16th century Japanese invasions of Korea.

The characters are acidic creations, yet the film lacks a traditional protagonist: Parasite is a true ensemble work, with the characters driven by collective concerns. The cast is uniformly excellent, although Song Kang-ho does nothing to diminish his reputation as Korea’s finest character actor with his subtle performance. That the high-wire, precarious confidence act of the film’s tone can be sustained is testament to the total commitment of the actors: one only has to recall something like 2010’s unloved The Housemaid, a glorified Korean melodrama with similar setting and themes, to see how something like this could easily fall apart.

There are minor shortfalls in the storytelling. Bong sets up the arc of child character Da-song (Jung Hyeon-jun) but fails to follow through, and a crucial turning point involving a kick (a recurring motif for Bong) is dubious in terms of its physical staging, the only occasion in which the carefully constructed spatial environment of the film is violated. All this can be forgiven, though, when Bong delivers another of his caustic, haunting endings (in retrospect, perhaps the reason why Okja and Snowpiercer seem like lesser works is that their endings fall ever so slightly short). This is Bong’s best film since 2003’s Memories of Murder, and makes a good case for being the first out-and-out classic of Korean cinema since 2016’s The Handmaiden.

 
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Warhammer: Chaosbane

Game, Gaming, Home, Home Entertainment, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

In the world of ARPGs (Action Role Playing Games), the king of the hill is, arguably, Diablo III. Blizzard’s staggeringly popular demon-hunting jamboree has managed to conquer PCs and consoles since 2012-2013 respectively; although there have been plenty of contenders to the throne. The latest example is Warhammer: Chaosbane, and while it lacks Blizzard’s honed slickness, it’s not without its charms.

Warhammer: Chaosbane is set in the dizzyingly massive Warhammer universe – the fantasy branch, not the sci-fi ‘big men in armour go shooty-shooty’ one – and tells the tale of a group of adventurers and their quest to battle a great evil and save the world of men. Players can take on this daunting task as an Imperial Soldier, High-Elf Mage, Slayer or Wood-Elf Scout. Three of these classes are a lot of fun, with the Mage in particular pulling some funky moves, but the Imperial Soldier is a bit dull, to be honest. So either by yourself, or teamed up with friends or online randoms, you’ll battle through towns, dungeons, castles and swamps on a lengthy quest for victory and a new hat with better stats.

Chaosbane doesn’t exactly break new ground in the ARPG mode, in fact if you squint really hard it can look and feel like you’re playing Diablo III, but in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay it can be a lot of fun. The controls are snappy and responsive, the combat colourful and splattery and with a group of mates it can be a blast. Problems do occur when it comes to longer term involvement, however, as the enemy types and environments do a lot of recycling. You’ll lose count of the number of times you run through the same cobbled courtyard, the same dungeon hallway, and at the time of writing there’s not a huge end-game to keep you coming back for more.

The story, also, is a whiff, with occasionally hilariously bad voice acting and an overall journey that will have you shrugging with either boredom or bewilderment. Still, it’s early days for Chaosbane – and apparently big plans are afoot for further content – so these negatives may be irrelevant in future months.

Ultimately, Warhammer: Chaosbane is an above average ARPG with oodles of future potential. If some of the rough edges, and lack of variety, can be polished over time it could be truly grand, however right now it’s stuck firmly in the kingdom of “Pretty Good”.

 
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Gay Chorus Deep South

Documentary, Festival, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

In response to legal reforms that jeopardise the livelihoods of members of the LGBTQI+ community, members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir embark on a tour of the American Bible Belt as documented in Gay Chorus Deep South.

The choir, comprising of people from differing backgrounds, use performance as a medium to instigate discussion amidst a heated political climate – a form of peaceful protest that bellows as powerfully as the choir songs.

Going as far as to label Gay Chorus Deep South as an angry film would misrepresent the sincere intentions of the choir using their voice to spread messages of unity. At the same time, Gay Chorus Deep South demonstrates discourse through anger laced rhetoric – a flat note that sees the film become blinded by the same misguided attitudes that it wishes to fight.

Gay Chorus Deep South acknowledges the choir can only appeal to those that are willing to listen. Whether or not the choir, or the film, recognises that their platform will reach those they are looking to persuade appears to have been overlooked and creates a misalignment between the choir’s objective with their execution.

A willingness to investigate the motives of the choir, to help or to intervene, creates a fascinating dissection on liberal values in America – particularly those belonging to Americans on the West Coast. Gay Chorus Deep South drills deeper into the complexity of the issue because of this, though, renders itself incapable of recovering from heavy blows against the choir’s involvement being counterintuitive, elitist and imposing.

It’d be remiss to discuss Gay Chorus Deep South without mentioning its release being timed with abortion reforms in the American South (or that its premise is not unlike Oscar winner Green Book); exemplifying how politics is riddled with religious foundations that disadvantage women and members of the LGBTQI+ community.

It is important however to recognise that religion is never presented as the villain, with Gay Chorus Deep South at the very least offering solidarity to marginalised communities whose political freedoms are compromised.

For others, Gay Chorus Deep South preaches to the already converted.