Here's the setup: an earnest and eccentric, but perhaps commercially unviable, rocker takes it upon himself to school the next generation of wannabe musicians in the art of gettin' the Led out. Sound familiar? Director Richard Linklater's popular 2003 film, School of Rock, featured Jack Black as a wild-eyed music aficionado who manages to inspire musical greatness in a bunch of school kids. Now Rock School, a documentary from first timer Don Argott, follows Paul Green—the self proclaimed "überlord" of the Philadelphia-based Paul Green School of Rock Music (and possible inspiration for School of Rock)—through a year of classes at his after-school program for 9-to-17-year-olds.
Green's program offers private lessons on a variety of instruments and then groups the students together based on skill level for jam sessions. Headmaster Green, an accomplished guitarist in his own right, says he wouldn't want to be a rock star now. He'd rather be one in back in the '70s, and his choice of material for the students bears this out. Recitals come in the form of live shows featuring music from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, and Black Sabbath. The most advanced of the groups, the All Stars, performs prog-rock pioneer Frank Zappa's repertoire and tours globally. And at the center of it all is Green, who alternately serves as teacher, bully, manager, best friend, and worst enemy.
Whereas School of Rock is a feel-good take on the tension between reveling in the glories of anti-establishment rock 'n' roll and becoming part of the establishment (i.e., growing up), Rock School ratchets those tensions up to eleven with displays of brilliance, enthusiasm, melancholy, and frailty—all juxtaposed against and influenced ...1
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