Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Rock School at Sundance - Part II

(Daughter Julie on bass and CJ on guitar on stage in Germany at the finale of the movie)

Oh yeah! The great reviews from the Sundance Film Festival for Rock School keep rolling in. This one just posted today at "Ain't It Cool News"

Rock School (5 out of 5)

Wow. This is one hell of a documentary.

Anyone that has seen School of Rock, meet Paul Green – the real Jack Black. Paul is a teacher of 120 students; all kids under the age of 17 who want to learn how to play rock. Not some pansy 311, Sheryl Crow, shitty punk band music as they will all tell you – real rock and roll. They’ll start off learning some Black Sabbath, work up a bit to some more advanced Van Halen and AC/DC with some serious solos, and end playing some of the top of the line Frank Zappa where the best of the school hope to go on to Germany to play at a 5 day Zappa fest. You might not be a fan of some of the music, but I dare anyone to see these kids and tell me they aren’t impressed.

Paul and the kids are all a perfect choice for any documentary. Any parent that would want their kids to learn how to play the guitar or drums would likely never send their kids to Paul’s school – as he’s more of an in-your-face coach dropping the F bomb every other word and screaming his lungs out at any kid that argues with him. But he’s also hysterical. You question if he’s just putting on a show in front of the cameras or he’s always like this, but his comments and remarks fly out at a Robin Williams pace and you’ll simply be shocked by half of what he says. Even if he comes off as a complete asshole half the time, you can see that he is just a kid at heart and I found it very hard not to like him – even if I would never agree with half of his teaching methods.

Out of all the kids, the one that will likely stand out the most is CJ. This kid is destined for fame, fortune, and Playboy models – he is single handedly one of the best guitar players you could imagine seeing and he’s only around 12 years old. His fingers fly up and down the guitar and he could carry a 10 minute solo with every single member of an audience with their jaw on the floor. Simply amazing.

The documentary has an excellent structure as it shows us the starting point for some of these kids and the all-stars that head off to Germany. As a filmmaker, you couldn’t be luckier to see this story unfold in front of your camera as it would be such a remarkable story for Hollywood that they likely wouldn’t believe it. Sure, these are just kids playing rock and roll – but what we see look like little prodigies kicking their feet through the doors and sticking it to the man better than anyone could imagine. A number of kids grow up and want to become rock stars, but none of them would ever expect to be this good and be able to handle the caliber of music as the ones featured here.

Simply put, Rock School is the Super Size Me of this years Sundance. It’s a simple story told wonderfully and could not have been executed better.