Friday, August 05, 2005

School of Cock Rock



Rock School
2005, USA
Don Argott
35mm

First off, let’s not get this confused with Richard Linklater’s School of Rock. This is a bad documentary, not a bad Jack Black comedy. The distinction may be difficult, since neither of them are very funny, but this movie at least has the excuse of being unscripted. Actually, it’s quite an interesting little film, though it feels too much like an A&E special stretched out from a pre-commercial length of 44 minutes to be truly great. For better or worse, I prefer my documentaries to have a distinct, auteur-driven voice, be it the complex narrative sine waves of Errol Morris’ films, or the frothy ravings and bald faced lies of Michael Moore’s. Rock School doesn’t really have this, but like the equally bland The Backyard, the subject matter is at least interesting enough to make it bearable.


Said subject matter revolves around Paul Green’s Rock School, an after-school program where impressionably young teens are taught to become drug-dependent rock club barflies through verbal abuse and KISS records. Teaching the young to play music is clearly Green’s way of living vicariously through his pupils as his dreams of stadium rocking and throwing up blood and tequila from the eighth floor of a Sofitel fade away, but he admits this freely, so I suppose that makes it slightly less pathetic. The film mainly focuses on Green’s attempts to get his star pupils ready for a massive concert at a three day Frank Zappa festival in Germany, and along the way we meet several interesting secondary characters, aside from Green himself, who seems to have neglected the depressive part of his clear bi-polar disorder and carries on like he just inhaled a meth lab. Among the more interested students are Will O’Conner, an attention-craving loner and a nascent Marilyn Manson fan if I’ve ever seen one, and Asa and Tucker Collins, two androgynous, talentless munchkin twins whose interest in music apparently functions better in theory than in practice, gathering from their inability to comprehend notes and rhythm, two necessarily components of all forms of music save Seth Putnam songs.

Actually, as in the School of Rock, the thing I found most annoying in this film was the music, but I will freely admit that that’s due more to a personal problem than any fault on the filmmakers’ part. As some of you may have gathered, the one thing I hate more than movies is music. I don’t listen to the radio, and I can’t stand anything that comes even remotely close to the Billboard top 200, but of course anybody under the age of 45 is going to say the same thing. The odd part is, however, that I don’t even listen to underground stuff. Alternative, math rock, garage, all that crap just sounds to me like they taped a Portishead song off a retro 90s radio show and played the keyboard riff backwards. The same melody, harmonies, and structures have been recycled for the past 50 years, and before anyone tries to get too snobby, playing a pop song in ¾ time does not make you original, so all you Tool and Radiohead fans can go back to sulking on the Pitchfork Media website. So, when Paul Green starts passing off Queen and Zeppelin songs as powerful and original, I go temporarily blind from rolling my eyes in exasperation, because the one thing I hate more than the bizarre infiltration of pop into the underground music scene, ass typified by the Scissor Sisters and The Polyphonic Spree, is 70s arena rock. Indulgent, over-long, and irritatingly obsessed with Lord of the Rings, it’s bands like Rush that make me ashamed that I even know how to play guitar. But while I cringed every time someone even looked like they were going to start playing Black Dog, I appreciated the fact that Green’s at least abusive enough that he prepares the kids for the kind of heckling his students are going to receive if they even try to perform Stairway to Heaven at anything but a high school dance.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your writing reminds me of this guy -- Leaping Larry L:
"Most of what runs through the multiplexes these days is the movie equivalent of an efficient suppository. The finger goes in, the shit comes out, and afterwards everyone forgets about it as soon as possible, and goes on with their lives. We’re endlessly told about films that are a “breathless rollercoaster-ride”, or whatever the current gibberish in question is, like that’s a good thing. Look, rollercoasters are the best rollercoaster-style entertainment mankind can get. They make a lousy blueprint for a movie though. You don’t take much home from a rollercoaster ride, unless you threw up on your clothes, or someone else did."

Check it: http://www.leapster.com.au/

He's got a bit up there on movies at the moment. He kills the Matrix. It's good.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah, he writes kind of like me, only he's actually funny, and not just bitter and anti-social. Thanks for the link though, it's really cool.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Talya said...

"Indulgent" is a word I recently used for television -a thingie that I can´t stand at all-, like you did for some music.
It ended up in me being saying "I know I dont have arguments but I still dont wanna watch TV. I just can´t stand it".
Then my friends went on telling me then how you can judge? They are pretty smart people, who I´m sure pick very well what they watch. But I was going on and on: "I just cant stand it". And there is nothing sweeter than the "click" sound when I turn a TV off. Ahh.

Bet you feel the same turning the radio off?

Still, you keep watching movies. Is there still any hope, maybe, back there in the basement? Not even a tiny little one? >:*)

Oh and BTW Just bitter and anti-social is way more funnier than funny, bitter and anti-social.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I hate television with only mildly less passion than film, only because it doesn't cost hundreds of millions of dollars to waste my time with an episode of Friends. The radio, however, I never even turn on, not even for the satisfaction of turning it off. I just have my MP3 player with the eight songs on it I actually like, with headphones because I'm not allowed to play them in the house. And no, there is no hope.

12:03 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home