Friday, September 28, 2012

Chick flick ticks (off) critic

Erin Brockovich, Norma Rae, Lara Croft...they're not making them like they used to, and some film critics can't get over it;
...the movie [Won't Back Down] taps a rich vein of accumulated public frustration at the continued failure of government to provide decent access to public schools for all American children. 
But, egad!
 For all its strenuous feints at fair play, though, Won't Back Down is something less honorable — a propaganda piece with blame on its mind. Directed with reasonable competence by Daniel Barnz from a speechifying screenplay he co-wrote with Brin Hill, the movie is funded by Walden Media, a company owned by conservative mogul Philip Anschutz, who advocates creationist curricula in schools. Walden also co-produced the controversial pro-charter school documentary Waiting for Superman, so the outfit is not without axes to grind.

That movie's love affair with the charter movement seems to have cooled somewhat in Won't Back Down, which features a lottery scene complete with nail-biting parents vying for a handful of vacancies at the excellent Rosa Parks Charter School. The fact that many charter schools have failed to produce better-educated kids, however, is not where this strenuously populist scenario is headed.
.... it's nuance and reason that fall by the wayside amid the sloganeering rhetoric of Won't Back Down. Like most large institutions with interests to protect, the unions could use some reforms, especially when it comes to shielding bad teachers from scrutiny and discipline.
But if you were to wave a magic wand that replaced unions and bureaucrats with a rainbow coalition of local parents and educators coming together to create the kind of school they want, the result would be chaos, not to mention an end to the tattered remains of our common culture.
"We need to start somewhere," comes a stern, God-like voice in Won't Back Down, waving off all talk about the role of poverty and inequality in under-resourced schools and underachieving pupils. We do indeed. Just not here.
That's some movie review, that breezes over the acting, directing, plot, the quicker to challenge the political implications of the film.

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