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Rock School - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}There's a Rock and Roll revolution of sorts taking place in Philadelphia. And if Paul Green, the egomaniacal musician-turned-music-teacher, has his way, the future of rock and roll will trace its roots back to his cramped studio in the Henderson Building at 1320 Race Street. This is the location of his "Paul Green's School of Rock Music." That the title of the school bears his own name is a testament to the size of his ego. An Ivy League-educated psychologist who couldn't crack it as a rock musician, Green considers himself a natural teacher. Some 120 students are currently enrolled in his asfterschool music program for kids aged 9 to 17, and the curriculum consists of Led Zeppelin, AC DC, Santana, Frank Zappa, and more.

Don Argott's warts-and-all documentary, Rock School, takes an interesting but appropriate approach to engaging the audience. Rather than focusing on the children, which would be the most likely angle, Argott instead puts the fiery Green at the center of attention. The equally irritating and lovable Green castigates, humiliates but ultimately inspires his students into learning the finer points of classic rock and roll. I'm certain there's something wrong with his teaching methods (which include directing profanity at the children), but the results are inarguable. One example is the 12-year guitar prodigy C.J. who rips through a Carlos Santana guitar riff like Skynyrd through a bottle of Jack Daniel's. But on the other end of the scale is Will, the self-described social misfit who Green calls a "piss-poor musician." In between are Madi, the Sheryl Crow convert, and nine-year old fraternal twins Asa and Tucker, who display the right attitude for their rock aspirations but who haven't yet mastered the finer points of carrying a tune or playing an instrument.

Going in, I expected the film's most entertaining scenes to be the ones that featured the kids who would bring the music of my upbringing back to life, but surprisingly and to Green's delight I'm sure - the film is driven by the segments in which we learn more about Paul Green himself. His openness and honesty in front of the camera is a delightfully unexpected treat. He never tries to hide his ego, in fact he adds the following: "If Paul the music teacher succeeds, his students will eclipse him, becoming better musicians than he is, and Paul the guitarist won't be happy about that." Argott was very adamant about striking a balance in the way Green was depicted. Just when you've made up your mind that Green is a selfish and immature baby who can't stand to not have something go his way, we see a calm and compassionate side to his personality. He has a loving, supportive wife and a 2 year-old son.

I would have liked to have learned more about Green's teaching philosophy. Yes, we know he yells, screams and flails his arms a lot, but why does it work for him and not for other instructors? His success is undeniable as there are Paul Green Schools of Rock in nine U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York, Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas. We know his philosophy is to take the students back to the basics of rock and roll and away from today's diluted down, fifth and sixth generation versions of old school rock, but where do his students come from? Do musical prodigies seek him out or does he hand pick from a waiting list of hundreds? Despite these exclusions and unanswered questions, it's fun to watch this generation not only learn how to play the songs with meticulous accuracy, but also display the appropriate devil-music attitude that they really know nothing about.

Atypical of a documentary, Rock School follows a classic three-act narrative structure of storytelling. Gaining inspiration from concert films and other documentaries, Argott realized that the virtues of classic storytelling can apply to documentary filmmaking as well. He gained much of the inspiration for the way Rock School is put together from watching The Bad News Bears during the editing process. The Rock School kids go through much of same things the Bears kids did. They grow up, they face obstacles along the way and all is topped off with "the big game", or in this case, a trip to the annual Zappanalle Festival in Germany, during which the kids perform the uber-complicated Inca Roads in concert with veteran Zappa sideman Napoleon Murphy Brock, who incites the crowd into bows of unworthiness.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; deleted scenes; featurette; music video; trailer.

* Featurette - Behind-the-Scenes featurette - Making the Soundtrack.
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Video

Number of discs: 1 - Keepcase packaging.


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