Friday, April 6, 2018

Homeless and addicted, but singing for joy, in Delila Vallot's documentary, MIGHTY GROUND

Thanks to filmmaker Delila Vallot and her subject -- a crack-addicted black male singer named Ronald Troy Collins -- we get closer to the life and plight of the homeless than we often do in movies, either narrative or documentary.

Ms Vallot, shown below, devotes most of her movie to Ronald and his story, but she also allows a few experts in the field to speak out and provide some statistics that help place homelessness as one of the most problematic of society's many current problems -- one that ends up costing taxpayers much more than it should, while providing very little relief to those suffering without homes.

In Los Angeles (where this film takes place), for instance, much of the money earmarked for the homeless goes to the Los Angeles Police Department -- which barely helps those homeless but does, apparently, lead to more slaughter. Yes, Black Lives Matter continuously and forever, it seems.

As well as letting us see Ronald in his drug stupor (two photos below), as well his singing glory, we also view and hear some of fondest memories (Saturday morning cartoons and cereal made with near-frozen milk!), and we also meet some of the friends who have taken it upon themselves to try to help this fellow.

Two of these are Aimee (shown above with our hero) and William, a couple who feel their meeting with this homeless singer was somehow preordained. This attitude seems part and parcel with the film's somewhat oddball "spirituality" angle, along with Ronald's would-be ability to pray and then work miracles. Still, his enormous addiction problem does help keep the movie on more stable, serious ground.

The frustration of dealing with an addict, even one who is very talented. is huge. "I just want to know why he wasn't more honest with us?" one of our do-gooders asks, after Ronald has fallen off the wagon yet again. To its credit, the movie does not skirt this issue, and for awhile it seems as if addiction is bound to win out.

While the songs we hear Ronald sing are generally impressive, as is his voice, I sometimes wished the accompanying musical score didn't make the film more sentimental than it needed to be.

Along the way we hear some (but not as much as we might wish) of Ronald's music and lyrics, and even meet some of his fans and family members. Prior to that, however -- whoops! -- there's jail. And bail.

About one hour into this 83-minute documentary, we get a full-fledged song with accompany music video, all of which looks and sounds quite good. Then a live club appearance, and the beginning of what increasingly looks like an upward trend in Ronald's life. In the film's funniest, most ironic line, our boy tells us, "It's very addictive: having material things!"

Overall, the music here is surprisingly good. Ronald's is a voice you'll want to hear more of. In fact, you may want to get the EP soundtrack album (from GOAT Records) -- which will simultaneously become available, along with the DVD and digital release of the movie, via Random Media, this coming Tuesday, April 10.  

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