Young@Heart (USA, 2007, Steven Walker/Sally George)
Ya gotta love these guys. How can you not love these guys? The whole choir and this film about it is one big, wonderful footnote to Harry Nilsson singing "I'd Rather Be Dead," with a bunch of geezers in a nursing hoom, (Son of Schmilsson, 1971).
The film is pretty horribly manipulative with respect to editing and the use of background music, but it's for a worthy cause and the narrative voice is honest enough about the positive bias underwriting the proceedings. Besides, if the chronology of events presented is factual, this is enough to make Young@Heart a legitimate tear-jerker.
After the second singer died, Max objected. He complained in a typically teenage and male manner that the film should not be dwelling on these deaths; come on, let's get back to the humor of seeing a geriatric white man sing a track by the Godfather of Soul, let's keep laughing about how he can't remember his two lines of a groove by James Brown that only has four lines in it anyway. He complained because he was pained, because he was so saddened to see those old guys go, and it's easier to be bothered than to feel sorrow. It's genuinely moving when those two individuals pass on. And even more so when the returning choir vet sings in remembrance of them, in what was for him a life-theatening performance and probably his last time with the group.
It's also very worthwhile to hear these old people give the lyrics a brand new spin. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes pretty profound. Ya gotta love these guys. How can you not love these guys? The choir director obviously does. On this side, I wish the film had explained the origin of the choir, how it is financed and the involvement of the band. I wanted to hear from the muscians especially. It is clear from everyone else involved - including the audience (the prison performance was fantastic) - this is not some joke or novelty act. This is genuine artistic expression, cultural communication, call it what you will. But the most serious and specifically musical validation, the ultimate endorsement of singers has to come from the instumental players who accompany them as their peers. I am optimistic that the band behind this choir would have readily given it up to them as peers. But I wish this had been made explicit.