When Hull was named UK Capital of Culture for 2017, documentary maker Sean McAllister was appointed creative director of the opening event. On returning to his home city, McAllister moved in with his ageing parents, Harry and Kate, and vowed to ensure that the year-long celebration spoke to everyone in the city rather than just the cultural elite. To this end, he hooked up with warehouse worker Steve Arnott, who was appalled by the fact that one in three children in Hull live in poverty and hoped to provide them with a means of escape by taking hip hop into the city's primary schools. His efforts are captured in A Northern Soul, which the BBFC have saddled with a 15 certificate because of its salty language and have, in the process, excluded the very kids Arnott was seeking to reach. 

Once known as the gateway to Europe, Hull was the second most bombed British city during the Second World War and it has struggled to recover since its fishing fleet slipped into decline. McAllister hoped that the awarding of the City of Culture tag will help Humberside regain its confidence in the midst of a recession and Brexit confusion. Consequently, on opening night, he projected films on to the city's iconic buildings to help restore people's pride in their home and coax them into approaching the future with renewed confidence. 

Steve Arnott hopes to do the same with his Beats Bus, a brightly painted box van that he intends taking to local schools in order to give children a chance to express themselves and be heard. His company, Arco, is helping out and he is suitably grateful. But the tattooed 42 year-old chain smoker has to work hard for modest wages and McAllister compares the grind he endures with the comfortable retirement his parents are enjoying. Fussed over by a mother who complains about his scruffy clothes and wields an iron in the same way he brandishes a camera, McAllister identifies with Arnott because he also left school at 16 and started making films like The Season (1990) while working in a factory. 

Having just separated from his second wife, Arnott is living with his mother, who defies poor health to battle on. The neighbourhood is undergoing a facelift, but work has fallen behind schedule and Arnott and McAllister recognise this as a typical Hullian trait. Thus, Arnott is determined to make a success of his six-week programme with assistants Tim Yeomans, Nigel Taylor, Dave Okwesia, Paul Clark and Nick Horsefield. They receive a warm welcome at their first school, where eight year-old Harvey and Blessing rise to the challenge of rapping along with Arnott and Nigel during a busy day of activities that also includes graffiti art and break dancing.

Juggling shifts and visits, Arnott admits that the project has had a negative impact on his working life, as he has missed out on bonuses that he needs to help pay the monthly instalments on his £9000 debt. He is also being investigated after a co-worker reported him for making an unconventional repair to a snagged conveyor belt. Moreover, Arnott is only able to see his young daughter every fortnight, as he doesn't drive and she lives 90 minutes away in Helmsley. But he is determined to avoid the mistakes that his own father made and is also attempting to rebuild his relationship with a man who regrets the misdeeds of his past. 

As a result of the school visits, Arnott has selected eight kids to mentor and rehearse for a series of performances over the summer. Alongside Ash, Gabby, Gracie, Kaci, Lily Ann, Roxanne and Spencer are Blessing and Harvey, although the latter (who is bullied at school because of his stutter) has to be reminded about his behaviour after his mum is called to collect him after he steps out of line. However, he perks up after Arnott drops round to his house and Blessing also responds to a little pep talk after he gets upset following the first live show because neither of his parents could get time off work to watch him. The small crowd in a rough estate respond enthusiastically to the kids and Arnott is delighted with their work. He is also hugely proud when they audition for Britain's Got Talent.

Meanwhile, McAllister's parents are making an effort to attend some of the many multicultural events that have taken over the centre. They even tag along to a gay tea party outside the town hall. But, as nine months whizz past in the twinkling of an eye, the strain of the Beats Bus initiative begins to tell on Arnott, who is finding it difficult to make meaningful time for his daughter during her visits. He also has to put up with being demoted from line manager to general operative after the conveyor belt incident and the drop in wages makes it trickier to manage his debts. Yet, he is still in negotiations with the company to keep the van after City of Culture ends and continue finding new talent in the backstreets. 

McAllister is concerned for Arnott, who has started to feel like a `high-vis prisoner', and pleased when he hooks up with a woman he knew at school. However, she dislikes being filmed, unlike Harvey and Blessing, who have a delightful conversation about crisps that culminates in the latter declaring that he likes prawns, but he doesn't care for the cocktail. This flicker of humour scarcely lifts the gloom descending on Arnott, however, as he is informed that Arco have decided not to renew the insurance on the van and have given the equipment to a local school. Moreover, he has opted to sign an Individual Voluntary Agreement to restructure his debt payments and he gives a wry smile as he admits that the Beats Bus has done more for the kids than it has for him. 

Harvey is delighted when Arnott presents him with his copy of the band's CD single and he poses in front of the framed press cuttings in his front room. McAllister reminds Arnott that he has helped transform a troubled little boy and he receives further plaudits from the small audience when he performs at an open mic session. His rap tells of his pride in Hull and one is left to reflect on the price he has had to pay to make his contribution to the City of Culture schedule. As McAllister takes his father in a wheelchair to the Hull Prom, Arnott vows to take the positives out of his experience and a closing caption reveals that he quit Arco six months later to dedicate himself to the Beats Bus workshops. 

Closing with Harvey and Blessing recording a new song, this is a magnificent companion piece to Hull's Angel (2002), in which McAllister followed 48 year-old Tina's attempts to help the 1500 asylum seekers residing in the area known as `Little Beirut'. However, it also contains echoes of The Liberace of Bagdad (2004) and A Syrian Love Story (2014) in showcasing McAllister's talent for unearthing identifiable human interest sagas that provide telling insights into a wider news stories. Yet, by maintaining an on-screen presence and including his own folks among the dramatis personnae, McAllister has put a personal imprint on an actuality that exposes the impact of austerity cuts on the very `hard-working families' that governments always claim to have uppermost in their minds. In this regard, it has much in common with classic 1930s documentaries like Arthur Elton and Edgar Anstey's Housing Problems (1935).

Like most of us, Arnott is a victim of circumstance and his own misjudgements. But he doesn't court sympathy and channels the pain he feels at being apart from his daughter into helping kids on his doorstep who are in dire need of a little encouragement. Given that this is a relatively short film and a number of key events occur off camera, it's a shame we don't get to know the other six members of the Beats Bus combo or learn a bit more about Arnott's fellow volunteers. However, it's easy to see why McAllister would want to focus on Blessing and Harvey, as they become naturals in front of the camera once they manage to overcome their initial shyness. 

But, while this is very much a people picture, McAllister also has trenchant points to make about the state of the nation in general and Hull in particular. In adopting a edgily energetic style, he could easily have made this a grim exposé of Broken Britain, but he prefers to emphasise the positive aspects of a region that has been hard hit by post-industrial decline and social spending cutbacks. One hopes he revisits Arnott in a few years time to see whether he has managed to keep the show on the road and his own head above water. On the strength of this profile, he deserves to do both.

Elvis Presley has been dead for 41 years. But documentarist Eugene Jarecki believes he continues to have a considerable impact on modern America. In The King, Jarecki takes a trip down memory lane in a 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V that was once owned by Presley himself in order to demonstrate how his personal and professional lives were shaped by forces that simultaneously transformed America and set it on the road to Trumpism. As in Why We Fight (2006) and The House I Live In (2012), Jarecki proves willing to take stylistic and thematic risks to make his argument. Some of his theories are fascinating, others feel strained. But few factual films this year have so consistently challenged the viewer to take a fresh look at themselves and the part they have played in the sorry mess in which the world is currently wallowing.

Opening with a montage showing how Jarecki and his crew tricked out the Rolls with camera to turn it into a luxurious moving studio, the documentary kicks off with political analyst James Carville comparing the effect Elvis had on American to being thumped by Mike Tyson. The boxer's blows were so powerful that an opponent's sense of taste was irrevocably altered and Carville suggests that the US tasted differently after Elvis emerged in the mid-1950s. 

We hear Emi Sunshine and The Rain singing in the back of the Rolls as it passes through Knoxville, Tennessee en route to Tupelo, Mississippi, where Terri Davidson from the museum at Elvis's birthplace explains how much the town treasures its association with the King of Rock'n'Roll. Yet, despite having a college education, she barely earns a living wage. An Elvis impersonator whose relatives sharecropped with Presley's family similarly struggles to get by and we hear audio interviews in which Elvis states that happiness is more important than material wealth. Cultural critic Greil Marcus (who wrote the book, Dead Elvis) suggests that Presley made people believe in the constitutional right to the `pursuit of happiness' and historian Steve Fraser recalls how shocking that document felt in 1776, when the world was dominated by monarchs and aristocrats and most people had no concept of anything other than the daily grind. 

Sitting in a roadside diner, Carville claims that the American Dream that Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised around the time Elvis was born on 8 January 1935 no longer exists because it's no longer possible for people to work in the same job for 30 years and send their kids to college. Presley biographer Peter Guralnick reveals that Elvis and his mother Gladys had to move into a shack in a predominantly black neighbourhood after father Vernon was jailed for passing a bad cheque. Jarecki asks the locals if they know where the house is and the African-Americans seem unsure, while the mother and daughter in residence concur that the American Dream has gone sour and that nobody in Tupelo cares about those on the margins. 

Jarecki drives to Parchman, Mississippi, where Vernon Presley served his time and meets bluesman Leo `Bud' Welch. He plays in the back of the car and suggests that the blues is the music of a good man feeling bad. His father was also an inmate at Parchman and he recalls that it was tantamount to being a plantation. Unsurprisingly, Elvis needed to be somewhere more vibrant to pursue his ambitions and he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, which Chuck D from Public Enemy describes as a confluence of social, economic and cultural influences in the 1950s. Mayor AC Wharton claims it was the city of three kings with Elvis being joined by BB King and Martin Luther King and gospel singer Erlis Taylor sings in the back of the Rolls outside the Lorraine Hotel, where he was murdered in April 1968. 

Taylor knew Presley at the church where preacher William Herbert Brewster placed a good deal of emphasis on music as a form of worship. She claims Elvis couldn't sing before he started listening to church music and Justin Merrick, the choir master at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis, explains how gospel and blues were two sides of the same musical coin that produced soul. Some of his students sing `Chain of Fools' in the back of the Rolls, as Merrick opines that Elvis came to South Memphis to acquire experiences that he couldn't get in his own community. 

As we meet  school pals George Klein and Jerry Schilling, Van Jones, the president of Rebuild the Dream, claims that Elvis was born into an American Nightmare. We hear Billie Holliday singing `Strange Fruit', as we see a photograph of a lynching and a clip of Klansman Asa Carter espousing his pernicious views. Schilling agrees with Jones that Memphis in the early 50s was so strictly segregated that it felt like one was living in an apartheid state. But, while Schilling called the blues forbidden music, Jones calls it the cry of pain and finds it disconcerting that those who inflicted the misery were the ones to benefit from the music. Chuck D similarly castigates a society that could extol films like Melville Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong (1933) without admitting that they were white supremacist allegories. 

Without a hint of irony, Guralnick explains how Sun Records owner Sam Phillips hoped that rock`n'roll would help break down the racial barriers in the United States. But, while he recorded the likes of Howlin' Wolf and BB King, he became convinced he needed a white artist to make the crossover into the mainstream. Actor Ethan Hawke travels to Memphis to meet Jerry Phillips, who recalls how his father discovered Elvis, who was working as an electrician before he came into the studio for a session that culminated in the recording of Arthur `Big Boy' Crudup's song, `That's All Right'. Hawke considers how different Presley sounded to other Frank Sinatra wannabes and guitarist Scotty Moore praises his unique talent. 

However, Jones and Chuck D have problems with the notion that Elvis was the King of Rock`n'Roll and aver that he was guilty of cultural appropriation and allowed himself to become the poster boy of White America in the same way that John Wayne had been. As we see Big Mama Thornton singing `Hound Dog', David Simon (the creator of The Wire) says that cultural appropriation is inevitable in a melting pot society like America and notes that the song was written by two Jewish tunesmiths, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and that Elvis was also influenced by country and bluegrass stars like Hank Snow and Bill Monroe, as well as easy listening crooners like Dean Martin. Chuck D has no problem with Elvis singing black music, just as he is cool with African-Americans playing classical piano pieces written by Germans. But Jones (who, like Chuck D, doesn't ride in the Rolls) is riled that Jarecki seems bent on trying to rescue Elvis from a charge of making a fortune from black music and doing nothing to repay his debt. 

As the scene shifts to Memphis, music executive Mark Wright joins the chorus of disapproval against Colonel Tom Parker, the carnival showman who began life in Holland as Andreas van Kuijk and who coaxed Elvis into accepting a Faustian bargain to make him the biggest star in the world. Although he liked to present himself as a small-town momma's boy, Elvis was fiercely ambitious and didn't enter into this deal with his eyes closed. As audio clips capture Elvis distancing himself from charges that rock fuels juvenile delinquency, John Hiatt gets emotional in the back of the Rolls, as he drives to the RCA Studios, where Elvis found himself after Parker had secured him the most lucrative recording contract in musical history. They meet up with singer Radney Foster, who suggests that this period saw Elvis lose the `roll' and start churning out slick `rock'. 

Emmylou Harris and Mary Gauthier have sympathy with him because he was a young man venturing into unknown territory and he trusted people who saw him as a money-making machine. Wright opines that Elvis was the first major crossover artist, but this ignores Bing Crosby and Sinatra, who also did radio, television, discs and movies. However, Elvis was also at the centre of a merchandising maelstrom and Wright suggests he was shoved down the throat of the American public, who swallowed him whole because they had never seen anyone as handsome and daringly charismatic. 

At this juncture, the silver Rolls develops engine failure and it has to be pushed on to a trailer for the journey north, during which Kate and Maggie sing in the backseat on Route 19 in West Virginina. It's also at this point that Jarecki asks road crew chief Wayne Gerster where he thinks the film is heading and he surmises that the director is trying to draw parallels between Elvis's decline and that of the United States. But he feels the country is merely stagnating and laments that the promise that everyone could achieve their dreams through hard work was a lie. Hawke similarly regrets that America has ceased to be a beacon of democracy and is now the totem of capitalism. We hear Elvis discussing his annual earnings and claiming that wealth and fame haven't changed him, but the talking heads insist that America was going through an epochal period of transition at precisely the time that Preseley emerged and that he became synonymous with the kind of celebrity that inspires today's `want more' generation. 

The story rolls into New York, as Jarecki cross-cuts between Kong's theatre appearance and the King conquering the Big Apple. Newcaster Dan Rather climbs to the top of the Empire State Building and wonders what the pioneers who followed the advice to `Go West' would make of the country today. This prompts a clip of Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin in their white gob suits in On the Town (1949) and Jarecki unleashes a black, an Oriental and a white sailor on Times Square in a bid to bridge the temporal and socio-cultural gaps. Stepping into this breach, hip hop artist Immortal Technique claims that America is about to hit the equivalent of Elvis overdosing by electing Donald Trump. In the back of the Rolls, he performs a rap building on his contention that the immigrants who arrived in 19th-century American shied away from the reality that their fresh start was founded on a genocide of the indigenous people and the enslavement of trafficked Africans. 

Schilling and music critic Luc Sante claim that New York had an incalculable effect on Elvis, as he was initially intimidated by it and quickly had it eating out of his hand. Rather tries to imagine how alien the city must have felt to a poor country boy and Mike Myers joins the debate to present the Canadian perspective. He suggests America was the sibling who went off to become a movie star while Canada stayed at home with Mommy Britain and he ponders the US love of individuality and mission statements. This segues into a discussion of the way the Colonel used television to bring Elvis into every front room in the country and we learn that TV host Ed Sullivan ended his blockade of Presley when his tuxedoed rendition of `Hound Dog' to a pooch on The Steve Allen Show trashed his special on John Huston's adaptation of Moby Dick (1956). Subsequently, he became a regular guest and broke records with almost every telecast, even though ultra-conservatives were doing their darndest to get Elvis and rock'n'roll banned from the airwaves. 

As Myers and Alec Baldwin concur that Presley had the right image to project this new brand of Americanism, Rather claims that he was at his most vulnerable at the very moment of his greatest potency. But he would never be the same after he was drafted into the US Army and retired colonel Lawrence Wilkerson remembers thinking how this act influenced his generation. As we see footage of Elvis in boot camp at Ford Hood, Texas (where he learned of the death of his mother) and his arrival in Germany at the height of the Cold War, Van Jones reminds us of the imperial power that America has wielded over the last century. He also states that Elvis could not have become a global superstar without the United States being a superpower, as he never performed outside his homeland and, yet, had kids on every continent screaming and swooning over him. 

Jarecki reaches Bad Nauheim, where the US influence remains strong, as he interviews locals during a Cadillac parade. However, Marcus and Wilkerson reveal that Elvis became hooked on pills during his stay in Germany, even though he was given freedoms his comrades in arms could only dream of. It was also during this period that he met the 14 year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, who was captured by the newsreel cameras waving Elvis off from Frankfurt in March 1960. Any fears that his 18 months away would cast him into the unknown were rapidly dispelled when he guested on Frank Sinatra's TV show and was treated like a conquering hero. Schilling noticed a difference in his old friend and Marcus declares that he came back radiating an all-American confidence that effectively saw him transform from James Dean to John Wayne. 

Wilkerson reveals that he was stripped of his illusions about the American Dream while fighting in Vietnam and he joins with Van Jones in suggesting that Presley misjudged the mood of the people during the Civil Rights and anti-war protests of the 1960s and that his silence condemns him at a time when Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda were joining Muhammad Ali in refusing to accept that the US establishment was unswervingly right at all times. Chuck D laments that Elvis failed to march alongside Martin Luther King and Jarecki intercuts a speech by Bernie Sanders to imply that Presley would not have agreed with his radical brand of politics. As we see a crowd gathering around a Donald Trump fortune-telling machine, Alec Baldwin confidently predicts that he will not win the 2016 presidential election. However, he does express the concern that the `Make America Great Again' movement has a point, as the country has become benchmark for a standard of living and has stopped being a shining example to the world.

Trevor Potter, the former chair of the Federal Election Commission, reckons America is facing a crisis of democracy, as it's easier than ever to buy power and use it to consolidate status. As Immortal Technique performs `The Message and the Money' in the back of the Rolls, Jarecki leaves his audience in no doubt that he views the rise of Trump as a calamity. But he also makes it clear that it is the culmination of a drift into decline that has been happening for decades and that Elvis's life and career was merely a reflection of what was occurring around him. 

Fittingly, at this point, the Rolls breaks down again and David Simon questions why Jarecki has chosen a British car when Presley was famous for his Cadillacs. However, he smiles with resignation when he supplies his own answer about the car symbolising the smugness of the Las Vegas era and we join The Handsome Family for a backseat tune, as the journey takes us along Route 66 to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Marcus notes how vast and unspoilt the landscape seems from this highway and Schilling recalls how Elvis used to philosophise during the long treks West and reveal more of himself than he ever did in public (we earlier heard him refuse to discuss his attitude towards the Vietnam War or the decision of other celebrities to speak out). But, as the Rolls takes a spin around a rodeo ring, the consensus of the off-camera voices is that modern America can be summed up by the chasm between the forgotten in the Rust Belt and those clinging on to the past in the Republican heartlands. As the car passes Mount Rushmore, one speaker (possibly Jones) declares the USA to be an empire in decline. 

With a good deal of irony, Jarecki accompanies the entry into Hollywood with a white jump-suited Elvis singing `Walk a Mile in My Shoes'. On a Californian beach, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers sing the Beach Boys song `Don't Worry Baby' and former girlfriend Linda Thompson remembers how much he loved being a movie star. But Hawke is baffled why somebody with so much to say as a musician would want to spout sanitised dialogue in anodyne pictures that were totally detached from everyday reality. We see a clip of an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine mocking Presley's film phase, but Chuck D and Marcus feel sorry for him because he was swimming against a capitalist tide and was powerless to kick against the system to which he had sold his soul. 

While a fan on the Walk of Fame boasts about the stars he has seen in the flesh, M. Ward takes to the backseat to sing a song about disillusion and we see glossy colour clips from several Elvis movies that contrast starkly with the grainy monochrome images of his raw, hungry years. Hawke wonders how he must have felt when The Beatles came and stole his thunder and Myers tells a story about the Colonel covering Presley's buggy with a blanket to get past the girls at the gates of Paramount Pictures and having to continue doing it after the Fabs came and the girls changed their allegiance. We even hear John Lennon bemoan the fact that Elvis started to sound to the kids like Bing Crosby and this saddened him because he had been his inspiration as a lonely boy in Liverpool.

Actor Ashton Kutcher empathises with the situation Presley must have found himself in, as he admits to having reached a level of fame that far outstrips his talent. In a bid to deal with his frustration, Elvis apparently considered entering a religious retreat. But hairdresser Larry Geller recalls the moment Presley had an epiphany in the Arizona desert when he spotted the face of Joseph Stalin in the clouds and declared that he no longer believes in God because he realises that God is Love. He also decided to quit Hollywood and do something meaningful with his life and this bid was kickstarted by the 1968 Comeback Special (which we covered last week).

Marcus mentions the moment that Elvis picked up the microphone stand and shouted `Moby Dick' and he claims this performance can be seized upon by anybody seeking an allegory for the American Way. To his mind, however, this was a show about breaking free from the Colonel to enjoy `life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. Yet, no sooner had he broken one set of shackles, than he voluntarily donned another to become a cabaret caricature in Vegas. Myers remarks that they did so many nuclear tests in the desert beneath the city that it became a mutated vision of capitalism. But Marc Cooper (the author of The Last Honest Place in America) suggests that Vegas is the purest representation of the American psyche, whether we like it or not. 

As we hear `Fever' over shots of the gaudy neon signs, Freddie Glusman, the owner of Piero's and a veteran of the Rat Pack heyday, reckons that Elvis was courted by Vegas bigwigs to add a veneer of respectability to the major corporations taking over the hotels and casinos from the Mob. Cooper concurs and posits that Presley enjoyed his first couple of years on the circuit, even though he really wanted to tour and had set his heart on playing in Europe and Japan. Theories abound that the Colonel didn't want to apply for a passport and needed Elvis to stay in Vegas and help pay off his own gambling debts. But, as Myers states, this is a place where creativity is curdled by celebrity and the result is mush and Elvis's need to get through what became an ordeal saw him become increasingly dependent upon pills and fast food. 

Thompson insists he was only reliant on prescription medication, but she recognises that this made him an addict. Myers draws attention to the fact that President Nixon had made Presley a narcotics agent and we hear him telling a Vegas audience that rumours he's a heroin junkie are nonsense, when he is a karate devotee with a federal badge. The hypocrisy of this stance gives Jones the chance to highlight America's track record of serial failure through acts like the deregulation of Wall Street, the building of prisons to combat the drug problem and the declaration of war on Iraq to avenge 9/11. He laughs in despair at the craziness of the conduct of affairs and Jarecki compares the 2016 election to a nation pulling the handle of a fruit machine and hoping for the best. 

Elvis gets a little lost in this segment, as Jarecki strains to tie his theses together. But he gets back on track by meeting Monique and Sharon Brave, who recall meeting an overweight Presley to present him with a token from the Sioux nation. They got the impression he was ready to go home. This was June 1977, around the time he recorded the CBS Special that would be broadcast posthumously in October that year. Schilling and Thompson remember seeing it and being shocked, with the former claiming he called the Colonel to ask him why he had allowed his friend to be seen in such a state. Yet personal pianist Tony Brown remembers the rendition of `Unchained Melody', when Elvis sat at the keyboard, as being among the most moving performances of his entire career. 

Nearing journey's end, Jarecki meets Graceland housekeeper Nancy Rooks, who shows him how to make a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. She recalls being summoned to his bathroom to find him on the floor pleading with her to get him help. But Hawke finds it hard to pity the obese 42 year-old on his golden toilet, as he chose to follow the big bucks rather than his heart at every crucial point in his life and Chuck D concurs that artists, musicians and film-makers have a duty to stay true to their vision, as the rich and powerful have yet to find a way to silence them. A catalogue of key events in US history since 16 August 1977 counterpoints `Unchained Melody' and it's hard not to feel crushed by the reminder of how calamitously the world has been mismanaged over the last four decades. One dreads to think what that montage will look like when the centenaries of Elvis's birth and death are marked - if we're even around to do so. 

In many ways the flipside of Raoul Peck's James Baldwin profile, I Am Not Your Negro (2016), this is a brave, if sometimes flawed bid to find links between Elvis Presley and Donald Trump. There are times when Jarecki seems to be suggesting that The King was a victim of cynical and corrupt capitalists who exploited him to line their own pockets. It seems likely that he underwent some form of indoctrination in uniform, which suggests that he was either highly impressionable, knee-jerkedly nationalistic or dismayingly stupid. But Hawke's damning summation derails any Gullible's Travels approach, as Presley's roots in poverty persuaded him to follow the dollar at every opportunity and, ultimately, he succumbed to his own hubris and excess. 

Such a conclusion is a painful one to reach for those raised on rock`n'roll, especially when one takes the misgivings of Chuck D and Van Jones into consideration. But rock has provided the soundtrack to some of the most shameful decades in recent American history and one is left to wonder how different things might have been if Elvis had shared John Lennon's imperfect, but sincere sense of social conscience. 

Despite sledgehammering some of his points and taking a few too many rumours and fabrications at face value, Jarecki just about gets away with making this up as he goes along, thanks to the canniness of his conceit, the cogency of his contributors and the precision of an editorial team comprised of Simon Barker, Alex Bingham, Èlia Gasull Balada and Laura Israel. Even in an era of fake news, this may prove too divisive to land any big awards at the end of the year. But, for all its faults (including some peculiar track choices), it will open eyes and leave many to wonder why Western civilisation was ambushed and rebranded on their watch.

Hurricane Katrina is one of the events included in the closing cascade and, in One Note At a Time, Renée Edwards pays passing tribute to the 1836 residents of the Eastern United States (the majority of whom were elderly who lost their lives in 2005 by recalling the tumultuous events and their consequences through the eyes of the musicians of New Orleans. However, her primary concern are the dire conditions that many jazz artists endure and the struggle that many have with health issues that they cannot afford to have treated. 

An opening segment contains Katrina testimony from bass drummer `Uncle' Lionel Batiste, British drummer Barry Martyn, policeman-cum-artist Ralph Gavin, drummer Herman `Rosoe' Ernest III, composer Lathaniel Franklin, stellar musician Mac `Dr John' Rebennack, found object artist David Fountain and composer-arranger Wardell Quezergue, who reveals that two of his sons pined away to their deaths since being forced to move away from New Orleans. A caption reveals that many of those who remained found themselves trapped in `the sacrifice zone' of earning too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford Obamacare. Consequently, folks like sousaphonist Walter Payton, Jr. have been forced to rely on the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic and Assistance Centre, which has been in existence since 1998 to assist those who have helped sustain The Big Easy's reputation for musical diversity and excellence. 

Co-founders Johann and Bethany Bultman explain their background and why they felt compelled to specialise in tending to musicians who are so wrapped up in their work that they often fail to take health problems sufficiently seriously. We see nurse Catherine Lasperches dealing with patients like guitarist Paul Pattan, who has had a prosthetic right leg since being hit by a motorcycle. However, the three-year grant that NOMC received post-Katrina is about to be withdrawn and musicians have been rallying around the Bultmans to stage benefit gigs to raise funds to enable them to continue with their work. 

Having made the acquaintance of trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and musician Keng Harvey, Edwards introduces us to Al `Carnival Time' Johnson, an old friend of Dr John's who spent over a decade fighting for the rights to the song that gave him his nickname. He finally won his courtroom battle and now receives royalties and he is grateful that the struggle is over. Attending mass each morning in the old people's home where he lives, Wardell Quezergue is equally thankful that he can continue to arrange music with his son, Brian, and singer Irma Thomas praises his ability to keep producing sublime sounds even though he is almost blind. Singer and patient advocate Felice Guimont has also been afflicted with sight issues, but NOMC has helped her keep her condition under control.

Martyn and Johnson both have diabetes and respectively admit to having had too bourbon and too many doughnuts. The former has also had several wives and concedes that a musician's lifestyle is not conducive to domestic bliss and healthy consumption. Songwriter Bud Tower pens a tune reflecting the work NOMC does in the community in the hope of raising awareness. The lyrics talk about the musician not being ready to go home. But, even though he continues to play and enjoy himself to the end, Payton passes away in October 2010. 

Over footage of Payton's funeral, Ben Jaffe recalls his happy times with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and various voices chime in that a New Orleans jazz send off helps people cope with grief and come to terms with their own mortality. But such occasions are also celebratory and remind mourners of their duty to make the most of their own time before the last note sounds of their swan song. The congregation following the band is known as `the second line' and spoken word artist Sheldon `Shakespear' Alexander writes about the emotions he has experienced in tagging along through the streets just to hear the music. Indeed, non-funereal `second line' parades have become popular since Katrina and Edwards joins a throng bopping along to the music, as the band strolls through their neighbourhood. 

Although New Orleans has scrambled back to its feet, Eric Cager, the founder of the Cutting Edge Music Conference, reveals that so many people were forced to move away that it has yet to accept that it's a much smaller city than it used to be and that the aftermath of the flooding has impacted upon tourist numbers. But combos like the Treme Brass Band play on and drummer Batiste is proud that he is following in his multi-instrumentalist father's musical footsteps. He jokes that he loves to dance, but the girls always chase him.

As New Orleans has always been a poor city, the Bultmans rely on donations from outside and nurse Rose Mancini helps Bethany provide the food for a jazz tea for some European benefactors. Bethany is keen to keep the brass band culture going and encourages the likes of Roy Lancaster of the Young Fellaz Brass Band to go into schools and explain how playing music is better than doing drugs or being in a gang. Unfortunately, there are lots of orphaned street kids living rough and crime and violence rates have increased since 2005. The police often move bands on while playing around the city, but Mike Corrigan has come from Kansas City to set up his Horn Doctor van and he does low-cost repairs for those who can't afford to be without their instruments. 

This kind of service is a blessing to the likes of trumpeter Terrell `Burger' Batiste, who plays alongside sousaphonist Benne Pete in the Hot 8 Brass Band, as he lost both legs in a traffic accident and his medical debts have been piling up during his two-year recovery period. But making a living in New Orleans has been made more difficult by the anti-noise laws that newcomers to the city demanded in the wake of Katrina. There has been an increase in the amount of amplified music, as non-jazz clubs have opened in the French Quarter. But cops prowl around at night trying to silence street acts and trombonist Edward `Juicy' Jackson of the To Be Continued Brass Band thinks they should focus on the real crime in the city rather than picking on musicians trying to entertain the tourists, who wouldn't come without them.

Actor Clarke Peters bemoans the ignorance that brands music as `noise' and he is backed by the Bultmans and Tamara Jackson of the New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force. But this is no longer a problem for Herman Ernest, who was taken home on 6 March 2011, and NOMC puts on a cancer awareness benefit in his memory, with saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. and Dr John (making light of his hepatitis C) on the bill. However, as Bethany Bultman points out, NOMC gets more donations from a rotary club in northern Germany than it does from the entire United States. 

While Pattan has health issues and guitarist Cliff Hines, saxophonist Rex Gregory and trombonist Delfeao Marsalis talk about new styles enriching the New Orleans mix, Wardell Quezergue finishes a jazz Passion shortly before he dies on 6 September 2011. Martyn tells a story about playing at Louis Armstrong's 70th birthday concert before we see his band performing on a Mississippi riverboat. Cager thinks the music has improved since Katrina, as it has a new urgency and Jaffe agrees there has been a silver lining. But NOMC still has to battle against healthcare policies, as it lost funding again when Republican governor Bobby Jindal took Louisiana out of the federal health insurance reform scheme. As a consequence, it continues to take each day one note at a time. 

Meaning well, but meandering somewhat aimlessly between its interrelated themes, this is a melancholic study of a city that came close to losing its heartbeat. Filming over several years, Edwards is right to identify music as a crucial aspect of New Orleans life and her take on the health issues linked to the lifestyle is sincere and thoughtful. But this sometimes seems like a NOMC promo reel when it might have taken an angrier stance against the federal failure to provide adequate healthcare for American citizens. 

In a bid to showcase the city's range of musicians, Edwards includes too many contributors, with the result that some, like pianist Ellis Marsalis, vanish after a single comment, while others simply get lost in the mix. This proves a particular problem when a speaker passes away before we have really got to know them. But there is plenty of wonderful music and Edwards deserves credit for focusing on the bouncebackability of New Orleans and the musicians who will long continue to provide the soundtrack to its tragedies and triumphs.

On 20 August 1968, troops from five Warsaw Pact countries entered Czechoslovakia to put an end to what had become known as the Prague Spring. Five decades on, Slovakian producer Peter Kerekes has invited directors from each of the invading countries to make a short film about the contribution of these so-called `friendly' armies and to examine how individuals get swept along by the tide of history. The resulting feature, Occupation 1968, will be screened under the auspices of the Czech Centre at the Czech Embassy Cinema on 23 August. 

The opening vignette is Evdokia Moskovina's `The Last Mission of General Ermakov', which begins on a beach in Odessa, as General Yuri Ermakov hosts a reunion dinner for the unit that participated in Operation Danube. He recalls being given the order to fire a thousand bullets for every shot aimed at his men and his commander, Lev Gorelov, is proud to report that he returned every soldier entrusted to him to his mother. Moskovina is presented with a medal by one of the veterans and she accompanies Ermakov and nurse Maria Pononamarova a return to Prague, via Kiev and Minsk, where they are joined by Ilya Smolokovsky, who is keen to let his new companions know that he is Jewish. 

On the train, Ermakov and Smolokovsky wonder how they might have reacted if they had been ordered to fire on Czechoslovakian civilians. The latter is sceptical about the fact they had been dispatched to fight the forces of counter-revolution and this phrase is used in a newsreel they watch during a visit to another old comrade in Moscow. As he raises a glass, Ermakov recalls one Praguer saying to him, `I am very thankful to the Russian nation for saving me from the concentration camp, but I am sorry you arrived here without invitation.'

Arriving at Ruzyne Airport, the trio are introduced to Karel Dvorak, who was in charge of air traffic control on the night the invading planes landed. Now in his nineties, he takes them to the tower and explains how he had been unable to warn anyone about the incoming flights and freely admits that he has never forgiven the Warsaw Pact `brothers' who came to liberate his country, as the Germans had done in 1939. He is also more than a little peeved when Ermakov insists on phoning Golev to let him know they have arrived at the scene of his triumph. The threesome are shown walking along streets seen in the monochrome newsreel footage before Ermakov reports back to his grandson and his general to proclaim mission accomplished. 

At the start of Linda Dombrovszky's `Red Rose (Friendship and Love in the Time of Occupation)', a caption reveals that Hungarian forces were sent to southern Czechoslovakia, which was still predominantly Magyar-speaking, as much of the region had been Hungarian territory prior to the treaties signed at the end of the Second World War. We meet a group of old soldiers reuniting at the István Dobó Barracks to don their uniforms, paint some white markings on an old army truck and relive what it felt like to be mobilised out of the blue one Sunday evening and be kept completely in the dark as they were kitted out and armed for a top secret mission.

Having been invaded by Soviet forces themselves in 1956, these men were more sensitive than most to the nature of their mission. Thus, when they approached Ersekujvar, they tried to avoid confrontation and not only did some of the troops forge friendships for life, one also met his future wife and he returns to the spot where her house had once stood. Camping in the woods and doing their morning exercises and ablutions, as they had done five decades earlier, the Hungarians recall seeing a coffin floating down the river and presume that it was an attempt by the locals to intimidate them. But a few residents asked if they could leave Czechoslovakia when they returned and all were relieved that there was no fighting.

Needing to find things to keep themselves occupied, the soldiers played cards, skittles and football and the veterans stage a kickabout for the camera. Some helped with the harvest, while others made tanks and sailing ships out of matchsticks and other created caricatures and flags out of pebbles and cookhouse stores. We hear extracts from letters home, with one wife urging her husband to shave off his moustache because it doesn't suit him. Eventually, the units were recalled without suffering any casualties and the film ends with a montage of black-and-white photographs showing the troops and locals getting along without any suggestion that an occupation was in progress. 

Following clips showing daily life in Poland in 1968, Magdalena Szymków's `I'm Writing to You, My Love' focuses on Irena Orakowski's recollections of her wedding day. Her husband, Tadeusz, had received a three-day pass for the ceremony, but his superiors had frowned on the fact he had been married in a church and suspended his promotion. On returning to barracks, he writes to his bride to let her know that they are on a war footing and will soon be shipping out on a secret mission. 

While the rest of the country enjoyed East German singer Edith Haas performing at the annual musical festival in Sopot, protesters issued leaflets criticising the Polish involvement in the Czech invasion. First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka commended the troops on doing their patriotic duty, but visiting singers began to withdraw from the festival and sessions were cancelled because there weren't enough acts to complete the bill. As a consequence, Eurovision ceased its coverage, although radio broadcasts continued from Czechoslovakia to leave the Polish people in no doubt that their neighbours felt betrayed.

When Tadeusz was granted a few days' leave, he was heckled when he went to the cinema in his uniform and Irena wondered what he would have done if he had been called upon to open fire. Back at Sopot, Stanislaw Janusz was arrested for singing a protest song, while Jan Szpadel was detained for tearing down the Hammer and Sickle in the street. The festival ended on a low note, as the Czechoslovakian delegation pinned a black mourning banner to its flag at the closing festivities. A few days later, Ryszard Siwiec set fire to himself in the 10th Anniversary Stadium in Warsaw and horrific footage of his immolation is cross-cut with images of long rows of surveillance files and an extract from a report about the growing levels of discontent in Gdansk. In the midst of the crisis, Tadeusz became a father and the film ends with Irena describing how they packed up the car when he was discharged and moved somewhere where nobody knew them. 

At the start of Marie Elisa Scheidt's `Voices in the Forest', a caption reveals that 16,000 East German soldiers were stationed in the Saxonian forests near the Czechoslovakian border awaiting orders that would never come. Communist leader Walter Ulbricht was the first to denounce the Prague Spring as counter-revolutionary and everyone expected the man who had built the Berlin Wall to be in the vanguard of an invasion. But, following a curious shot of Laura Hempel finding an upright piano in the woods, we meet two men who found themselves in uniform in August 1968. 

While Reinhard Bohne through the trees remembering the sights, sounds and smells of camp life, Klaus Auerswald revisits the cell where he was held for suggesting that GDR troops should refuse to fire on their Czechoslovakian cousins. He shows us the day cells, whose floors were coated in chalk to prevent inmates from sitting or sleeping, as any contact would leave a residue on their clothing. Reinhard remembers smuggling a pocket radio into his uniform and he listened to broadcasts from the West through an earpiece. Hearing Cole Porter's `Night and Day' moves him, as he describes hearing the East German station announcing that troops had invaded when he knew full well he was sitting idle in a forest. 

The men meet up and concur that Berlin (and possibly Moscow) probably concluded that German divisions on Czech soil would stir up too many memories of 1939 and decided to keep them in reserve. As they chat, they flick through magazines that were smuggled into the GDR and infuriated the authorities who feared that they would corrupt impressionable young minds. As the segment ends, Reinhards sits in on the keyboards, as Hempel sings with a jazz band playing `Night and Day'. 

Up to now, the emphasis has been on resistance and rebellion. But lives were lost, as Stephan Komandarev recalls in `An Unnecessary Hero'. Master Sergeant Nikolai Tsekov Nikolov was 20 when he left Bulgaria for Prague and his older brother, Peter, shows us the plaque on the wall of the childhood home in Burkachevo where he still lives. Neighbours remember him as a cheery chap who lived life and enjoyed singing. Some of his comrades gather to drink to his memory and play some old songs, while recalling their own emotions at being informed by their general that they were going to war and would no longer be toy soldiers. 

One of his brothers in arms remembers 8 September being a festive day and the Bulgarian government had sent wine to the troops to help them celebrate. He had left Nikolov at his station near Hostivice and returned to the airport. Peter comes to the spot and notices that they have listed his brother as Nikolai Nikolov Tsekov on a monument that has been erected in his memory. He shrugs at the error, lays his flowers and says it's nice that they tried to commemorate him. 

A female archivist accompanies Peter and she opens the voluminous files on the case before another man explains that Nikolov had been trying to flag down a car in the hope of going to Karoly Vary, when he had been picked up by Miroslav Frolik, Rudolf Stransky and Jiriho Balousek. When he boasted about being armed, the Czechs decided to push him out of their truck. But, when he landed on the roadside, Balousek felt he was reaching for his gun and killed him with three shots. 

As Peter inspects the monument, he finds a flyer claiming that Nikolov was a fake hero, who was trying to flee to the West when he was captured. The printout concludes that he should be lionised for defying Party orders rather than be feted as a model Bulgarian. Peter, however, is adamant that Nikolov was abducted from his post and murdered for political reasons. He moves a Cyrillic plaque to the front of the monument and lays his flowers beside it, as the male historian reveals that he was the only Soviet bloc soldier to perish in Czechoslovakia and suggests that he died as a result of a tragic misunderstanding. 

Back in Burkachevo, Peter visits the plinth that once supported a bronze bust. He is told that it was stolen for the metal and that the police have done nothing to catch the perpetrators. Fellow students at the nearby school point out that the wording of the dedication stone was changed after democracy arrived and Komandarev has it removed and turned round to reveal a paean to an internationalist hero who was butchered by counter-revolutionary thugs. Nikolov's beaten and naked body was found a few days later by a man picking mushrooms. Even now, some veterans feel he got what he deserved for deserting his post. But a sculptor is hired to make a new stone bust for the monument and the understandably emotional Peter is present for the unveiling ceremony. 

Following a towering drone shot Epilogue, in which Ermkov sketches the borders of the now defunct Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia on the tideline in Odessa, a closing caption dedicates the film to the 106 civilians who died during the 1968 Occupation. It's a curious tribute, as Kerekes prioritised the perspectives of the invaders. But it's also hugely effective, as the five films demonstrate how many of the satellite state soldiers felt some sort of solidarity with the sentiments of the Prague Spring and reluctant the majority were to breach Czechoslovakian sovereignty. What leaves the most sobering impression, however, is Ermakov's aside to his grandson that the younger generation considers the events of August 1968 to be ancient history and that only those who lived through them continue to venerate their heroes. 

Each short is thoughtfully made, with Moskvina adding a touch of absurdity to Ermakov's blinkered trip down memory lane and Dombrovszky dressing her troops in their uniforms to re-enact the mundanity of their mission. Szymków makes marvellous use of archive material to contrast the response of the Polish authorities and their citizens, while Scheidt (in the weakest episode) opts for a minimalist approach in conveying East Germany's inglorious role in events. But Kerekes saves the best until last, as Komandarev's account of a senseless death shows how deep the scars still run half a century later in a much-changed, but scarcely improved world.

A feud worthy of the Hatfields and the McCoys plays out in the middle of the Russian taiga in Clément Cogitore's documentary featurette, Braguino. Showing the The ICA in London, this feels like a work in progress rather than a completed analysis of a complex situation. However, such is the antipathy between the Braguine and Kiline clans that Cogitore was forced to throw in his lot with the former family, who would have ceased to co-operate if he had even attempted to contact their foes. Given that he had no idea of the existence of the Kilines and had trekked to Siberia to make a study of off-grid sustainable living, the French film-maker - who won the César for Best First Film with Neither Heaven Nor Earth (aka The Wakhan Front, 2015) - must have felt deeply frustrated. But he deftly responds to the changed agenda and offers some judicious insights into the nature of isolation in a shrinking world. 

As a helicopter brings the crew to the Branguine compound on the Sim River, the family members gather to watch them land. Over a storm lantern supper, Sacha the patriarch explains that he wanted to get away from the rat race and enjoys the fact that there is no one for miles around. He is peeved, therefore, when someone mentions the presence of the Kilines on the opposite bank and we get our first glimpse of them when some Branguine children take a boat to the small island in the middle of the stream and walk with their dog under the watchful gaze of their Kiline counterparts. 

Cogitore accompanies Sacha on a duck shoot and captures a poetic image of his boat cutting through the water in the misty morning light. He is proud of the fact that he only ever kills what he needs and rarely has cause to throw food away. At the kitchen table, he mocks the Kilines for being scared of bears and takes one of his sons to hunt down the creature that has been creeping around the camp. They stalk it when one of the dogs corners it in the woods and Sacha dispatches it with two shots before proceeding to cut off its head and paws and skin its fur. Having identified that it was an elderly animal, he suggests performing a prayer ceremony before burying it. Instead, the head that was left resting on a tree trunk rolls off into the undergrowth.  

When we next see the Branguine children, a girl in a pink dress is wearing a pair of bear paw boots. She is playing happily in the sand on the island when the Kiline kids sail across in their boat and land nearby. Showing off for the camera, while also staking their right to the shared land, the youngsters (who look remarkably like their neighbours) strut around for a while and make a couple of trips back to their side of the bank before the Branguines finally decide to head for home with a nervous look back over their shoulders to make sure they are not being followed and that a confrontation has been avoided. 

Sacha claims that the Kilines are able to listen in on them and we see him trying to repair a battery operated transistor device. However, he has more to worry about when a helicopter lands on the Kiline side bringing city slickers to hunt in the woods. He is furious because the outsiders will kill for pleasure and deplete stocks and there is an awkward stand-off when the chopper lands and the Branguines make their presence felt. Despite the concern that the feud is going to end in murder, the incident passes, and Sacha channels his frustration into the fact that he can't get a signal on his cell phone to report the interlopers to the authorities. 

As night falls, Sacha reveals that he had a dream that his family was no longer on the riverbank. They rig up a ham radio device and their call sign is picked up by a man (more than likely a Kiline) who offers to sing them a song. There is no animosity in his voice and the film ends with Cogitore filming sleeping bodies and a baby standing up in its cot. 

Although Sacha has been living on this spot for 40 years, it's never made entirely clear which family settled on the land first or why the other chose to plant themselves directly opposite them when there isn't another settlement for 1000 kilometres. Nor is any reason proffered for the origin of the rivalry. Instead, we watch with an uneasy sense of intruding upon a private dispute, as the families go about their everyday business with a watchful loathing that is all the more bemusing when collaboration in such a remote and unyieldingly Edenic location would make much more sense. 

Lyrically photographed by Sylvain Verdet and with Julien Ngo Trong's sound mix being complemented by an atmospheric score by Eric Bentz, this is a simmeringly tense curio that leaves so many questions unanswered - relating, for example, to issues like the parentage of the numerous children when the chances of meeting partners must be exceedingly limited. But it intrigues rather than engrosses, while the sight of the bear being butchered brings back shuddering memories of the excess of evisceration in Ulrike Ottinger's Chamisso's Shadow (2016).

The sole fictional feature on the slate this week is Dean Devlin's Bad Samaritan, which thoroughly merits its place at the bottom of the bill. Having incurred the wrath of the critics with his directorial debut, Geostorm (2017), the producer who made his name in tandem with Roland Emmerich in the 1990s returns behind the camera with a no-nonsense crime saga that has been scripted by Brandon Boyce and was originally intended to provide Marc Roskin with his first feature credit. Few will be any more convinced that Devlin has a director's eye. But none will be able to forget the knowingly scenery-scoffing antics of a onetime Time Lord. 

Since arriving in Portland, Oregon with his Irish mother, Patty (Lorraine Bahr), Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) has dreamt of becoming a photographer. Stepfather Don (Rob Nagle) keeps nagging at him to take a job snapping fast food for his cousin in St Louis, but Sean has artistic integrity, which is one of the reasons why girlfriend Riley Seabrook (Jacqueline Byers) adores him. However, she knows nothing about the fact that Sean and buddy Derek Sandoval (Carlito Olivero) borrow the cars they are supposed to be parking at the restaurant owned by Nino (David Meyers) and use the sat nav to burgle the houses of rich clients who treat them with no respect. 

One night, Sean is dead against Derek breaking into the home of a decent couple with their young kids and is amused when he returns with a tale of having been chased by a fierce dog. But, when Cale Erendreich (David Tennant) rolls up in his Maserati and only breaks off from his phone call to warn them against damaging his vehicle, they agree he is fair game. Sean speeds round to his place and enters via the automated garage. Unlike Derek, he doesn't wear gloves or shoe covers and leaves fingerprints on every surface he touches. Nevertheless, he is delighted to find a new credit card in the post and activates it using Cale's landline. However, when he uses his skeleton key to break into what appears to be a fortified office, he is horrified to find Katie Hopgood (Kerry Condon) tied to a chair with a gag in her mouth. 

Sean promises to help her, but the shackles are impossible to break without tools and he is spooked when he finds an antechamber filled with bloodstained implements that he presumes have recently been used for dismemberment. With Derek calling to urge him to hurry up because an impatient Cale is waiting for his car, Sean is forced to abandon Katie and only just manages to hide some bolt cutters under the passenger seat before pulling up outside the restaurant. The sneering Cale zooms into the night, but Sean feels a duty to call the cops and does so from a nearby payphone. 

Leaving Derek to finish the shift, Sean drives back to the house to check the police search the premises. But Cale has spotted an imprint on his pristine bedsheets and has called a woman to provide him with an alibi by the time officers Aguilar (Delpaneaux Wills) and Pickett (Dana Millican) arrive. Thus, they are persuaded that nothing untoward has happened and they leave, as Sean watches on in frustration from his own car parked nearby. Derek shows up and reassures him that he has every right to feel scared. But Sean is determined to make Cale pay and, when he goes out in the middle of the night, the pair break in through a conveniently unlocked window. Unfortunately, Cale reports a burglary and they only just manage to escape before the squad cars pull up. 

As Derek is terrified of what his family will do if he is caught up in a crime, Sean agrees to keep him out of the story he intends telling the cops. Meanwhile, Cale takes Katie to a cabin in the woods and puts a shock collar around her neck to prevent her from screaming. He says something about training her for dressage before ordering her to bathe and locking her in a cage to sleep. Hunkering on the bed, she notice the word `Help' scratched into the metal. 

Try as he might, Sean can't convince Detective Wayne Bannyon (Tony Doupe) that Cale is a monster. However, he does go to the house and can find nothing to suggest that a girl has been abducted and detained against her will. Bannyon reminds Sean that he risks losing his Green Card if he persists in petty crime and suggests that he files a missing person claim with the FBI if he is so convinced that the girl on his phone is genuinely in distress. Unaware that Cale has fitted a tracking device to his car, Sean confides what he knows to Agent Olivia Fuller (Tracey Heggins), who wonders whether this case is linked to the disappearance of a trust fund heiress. 

Meanwhile, Cale follows Sean home and downloads the contents of his computer to a flash drive while he's in the shower. He also calls Nino to ask why he employs thieves as valet parkers and Derek gets beaten up when he tries to challenge the twosome who have taken over their pitch. But Cale is only starting to wreak havoc. He hacks into Sean's Facebook page and sends a peek-a-boo photo of Riley to all her friends. Furthermore, he frames Don for stealing from work and has Patty suspended for assaulting a child in her care. Sean tries to explain what's going on and hopes they can forgive him for his folly. 

With his car out of action, Sean borrows Dan's truck when he spots a PO box address on the cheque book page he photographed during the robbery and heads to the backwater of Sandy, unaware that Riley has been attacked in the street or that Fuller is taking his accusations seriously. While Sean drives into the country, Cale has another nightmare about the childhood shooting of a horse that we saw at the start of the picture. He pulls a gun on Katie and reminds her that he brings order out of the chaos not her or Sean and she readily agrees in the hope of calming him down. 

Detoured by a call that Riley is in hospital, Sean tries to apologise, but she writes on a pad to ask him to leave. He calls Derek and is chatting to him as he is ambushed in his own home and shot through the head to make it look like a suicide. However, Cale makes the mistake of picking up Derek's phone and Sean is able to get a snapshot of him, which he tries to pass on to Fuller when he comes to Derek's house. He also decides to break into Cale's house through the unrepaired kitchen window and uses the computer in the Maserati to discover the location of the Sandy cabin before Cale blows the place sky high with a bomb planted in a kitchen cupboard.

While Cale dyes his hair and has a family retainer make arrangements for him to relocate to Vancouver, Fuller discovers that he has been trying to break people since his father betrayed him by sleeping with his adored horse trainer when Cale was a kid. As the FBI convoy heads to Sandy, Sean slips through the gate blocking access to the cabin and makes his way through the snowy woods, armed with the bolt cutters that were still handily under the passenger seat. Cale fills a pit in the grounds with quicklime and returns to the cabin just as Sean makes contact with Katie through the window. He knocks him cold with a shovel and marches Katie to the edge of the grave so he can shoot her when Sean comes round. But he misses and is too busy taunting the Irishman to notice that she has clambered out of the corpse-filled hole and is creeping up behind him with the same shovel.

Naturally, she doesn't knock him out cold and he pursues them through the trees. However, his shots convince Fuller's rulebook boss (Brandon Boyce) that they might be able to venture on to the property without a warrant to save some lives. By the time they reach the cabin, however, Sean has beaten Cale with an axe handle and bound and gagged him in his own chair for Fuller to collect. As the camera closes in on the psychopath's bloodied face, he growls like a wild animal in a trap. 

Undeniably slick, but also utterly resistible, this unpleasantly smug chunk of torture porn will be remembered solely for the pantomimic sadism of David Tennant and little else. Replete with gadgets that enable Tennant to commit his crimes by remote control, Nate Jones's production design and David Connell's photography are perfectly functional, while Brian Gonosey's editing has considerably more stealth than Joseph LoDuca's randomly booming score. But there's little finesse in either the far-fetched and increasingly convoluted scenario, the exposition-strewn dialogue or the cumbersome direction, as the pieces clunk into place with thudding proficiency. 

Robert Sheehan struggles to summon much anti-heroic charisma, as the small-time loser stumbling across a suburban maniac, while the remaining roles are mere ciphers who keep the plot lumbering along between Tennant showreel set-pieces. Nothing in Boyce's script adequately justifies his reign of terror, as it strives clumsily to denounce the sins of the unaccountable rich. Indeed, the writer of Bryan Singer's Apt Pupil (1998) and Paul McGuigan's Wicker Park (2004) tosses away the explanation in rushed aside delivered to a peripheral character played by himself. But logic rarely plays a prominent role in American horror-slash-thrillers and those likely to be entertained by such chauvinist dreck won't mind a jot.