Rock School

One day, after a period of teaching kids how to play music out of his own home, Paul Green decided to create a school where children could come rock their brains out. Thus the Paul Green School of Rock Music was born. It's a happy place really, like "Cheers", where school children can flood through the doors after school and be verbally abused while learning power chords and Grade-A head banging. The truth about the Paul Green School of Rock is that Paul Green desperately wants groupies and can only find them in middle and high schoolers. While I only partially think the kids are learning to play music, most of them are being groomed for the Heavy Metal Poser career track. Rock School puts cameras there to capture the action, the ego, and the suffering. As a documentary, I like Rock School well enough. There are great cuts of the footage interspersed with other points of view to show a nice balanced blend of feelings and thoughts by Green and his students. While the film does a good job at showing what happens at this school, the same film leaves me infuriated with Paul Green. Does that mean Don Argott did his job directing this documentary?

Although I was absorbed in the movie, I can’t stop the flow of insults I want to call Paul. He’s more negative and nasty than "American Idol"s Simon Cowell but with none of the charisma. He’s a thirty or forty-something kid still wearing a tee-shirt, jeans, and sneakers to work everyday. This man needs a reality check. Stop booking shows for the kids and then letting most of them play miserably, and then ranting about how awful they were. Spend some time actually teaching them to play instead of running up and down the hall farting around and then bitching when they haven’t had the desire to practice.

I like movies with characters that display an amount of consistency, even if that consistency is that they are inconsistent. Paul Green is a walking hypocrite. He talks about his love of teaching, how some people are born for certain things and he, The Paul Green, was born to teach. That segment happens early in Rock School, and then is quickly followed up by Paul yelling at kids to get out, cussing severely, slamming doors, and throwing chairs. In doing so, he takes out his feelings of musical inadequacy on these nine to seventeen year olds that "just wanna play, man." The result is eighty-five minutes of Green having temper tantrums, five minutes of back slapping "good jobs" in the face of an audience, and three minutes of credits.

The only person that seems to slightly keep Green in check is one of his students, Will O’Conner. While all the other kids of Green's rock school seem to look up to Green and his massive coolness (When you’re a teen, don’t you always find the teachers that cuss refreshing?) Will doesn’t buy it for a second. He doesn’t see him as a bad boy role model, the cool teacher, if you will. He even states that Green has a Peter Pan complex and can’t succeed in a normal society so he has to mingle with teenagers to feel superior. I agree with that because when one of the better students starts really getting good, Green feels the need to go home and practice so he can stay just ahead of the best student. What a horrible teacher if, 1) he thinks music is a competitive field [talent wise] and 2) he feels the need to never give his good students a sense of satisfaction. He keeps them all in check so he feels good about himself. On that note, no pun intended, remember the name C.J. Tywoniak, probably Green’s best student. I’ll be shocked if we don’t see something amazing from him in the future. My question is this: if he’s really as abusive as the camera shows, do the parents know what’s going on with their children or are they just glad to have them out of the house and into an after-school program?

Do you want me to tell you whether Rock School is worth the watch? Here’s a hint: The film is rated R simply because of the language Paul Green uses toward the children he is attempting to teach. If you like throwing things at yoiur television and feeling just as angry as he is then knock yourself out. If the hatred of Paul Green in Rock School isn’t enough, you’ll just love the fact that there are virtually no extras on the disc. By no extras I mean there’s an audio commentary and deleted scenes and that’s it. I’m seriously getting tired of DVDs with nothing much on them. It really all goes back to VHS tapes and how cheap they are. Why should I feel compelled to overpay $23 for a DVD with no extras when you know you can walk over to the other end of the store and find the movie on tape for something like $8.

The deleted scenes include segments of interviews, speeches Green gives to the students, and over all more yelling and threats. This is a lot of stuff like Paul threatening his students that if they don’t practice and the performance goes badly then he'll tell everyone the story of how he lost his virginity, which apparently wasn’t pretty. Basically it’s more stuff I don’t think is the most appropriate material for pre-teens.

Above my overall view gripe about wanting extras, I’d like to state for the record that not only do I want extras on a disc but also I want the option to select Play All for those extras. This disc has a total of twenty deleted scenes and you have to select each one individually. Thanks a lot Sony! Going one at a time, with some of the clips only running one or two minutes, this menu is great for my carpal tunnel.

If there’s anything redeeming about the special features, it’s the fact that the commentary with Director/ Cinematographer/ Producer Don Argott, Producer Sheena M. Joyce, and editor Demian Fenton is really pretty good. One thing in particular that sparked my interest was the way in which they referred to the kids and Green. Like good directors, producers, editors, they talked about these people as though they were characters. I think this is the key to their success for this material to stand as a documentary. They looked for the story and when a story wasn’t revealing itself, they pushed that “character” more into the background. When they made those conscious decisions during filming and in the editing room they helped elevate the people like Will O’Conner and C.J. Tywoniak into the spotlight. Those were the kids with a story to tell. I will give them credit also for keeping themselves and their feelings about these people out of the movie. They truly seem to have acted as silent observers, taking notes, and filming all they could while they had the time. If anything, even though I feel negatively about Paul Green and his “teaching strategy” I think checking out other films from Argott and the bunch would be worth a viewing.