The film follows an entire season of classes, in the process establishing school founder, director, and self-proclaimed "überlord" Paul Green as one of the most complex, contradictory and unforgettable characters. A whirling dervish of energy, Green is at once sensitive and verbally abusive; generous of spirit and mercilessly critical. As tornado-like as his tantrum-filled teaching style can be, however, Paul's commitment to his student's goal of achieving musical greatness is never in doubt.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
He still wants to be a rock star - but not today's rock idiom: in 1972. But if you can't be a guitar god in the rock n' roll firmament ... teach kids who may become one. And give 'em hell in the process. The film documents not just the what of it but the how of it: how Paul Green relates to his students (ranging from age 9 to17) and asks whether his raw methods - like shrieking at them, throwing chairs - help or hinder his students. But considering there aren't that many schools of rock around on the East coast (or anywhere else), Green has a natural advantage.
To his credit, Green has given Don Argott uninhibited access inside his school - and a glimpse inside his motivations: he wants his kids to realise their potential and then to get them in front of an audience - usually their parents and friends first, but not only.
He calls his method 'good cop, bad cop' but berating the students is a regular methodology, and he can be quite cruel. And marginal violent.
Some of the students have touching, complex, difficult life stories, which adds extra layers to the doco and puts the students as well as Green in profound human context.
Green teaches the work of rockers like Zappa, not the pop of today: legendary rock guitar heroes he calls the basic: like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. But his mantra is still "practice early and often". And play it loud.
It makes for an entertaining film, although perhaps it is a stretch to maintain the interest at its highest pitch for all of its 93 minutes. But it's worth hanging in there, as one of the highlights is the kids gig at the German Zappa fest, and 12 year old CJ drawing the adulation of the crowd (as well as Napoleon Murphy-Brock, the late Zappa's flute player who joins the kids) due a budding guitar god.
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ROCK SCHOOL (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Paul Green, the founder and director of the Paul Green School of Rock Music, and his students
PRODUCER: Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott
DIRECTOR: Don Argott
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Argott
EDITOR: Demian Fenton
MUSIC: Charles Raggio (music supervisor)
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 7, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: October 5, 2005