Waiting for Superman

Blu-ray Review: Disingenuous ‘Won’t Back Down’ Oversimplifies Vital Issues

Won't Back Down Blu-ray

CHICAGO – If a film were meant to be judged purely on the basis of its final shot, then Daniel Barnz’s “Won’t Back Down” would be an unqualified success. The image of a little girl finally learning to pronounce the word “hope” could’ve easily been a cheesy contrivance straight out of a Feldco commercial. Even on paper, the shot sounds downright silly.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Waiting For Superman’ Presents Bleak Picture of Public Education

Waiting For Superman

CHICAGO – Davis Guggenheim was crowned one of the Kings of the new documentary movement when his “An Inconvenient Truth” won the Oscar for its category but the follow-up, a scathing look at the public education system, failed to make the cut after a wave of controversy hit the film like a melting glacier. How much of the drama surrounding “Superman” — some of which went as far as to suggest that facts in the film were wrong and that case studies of children were faked — was deserved and how much was blown out of proportion? Rent or buy the film, now on DVD and Blu-ray, and decide for yourself.

Film News: Academy Announces 15 Finalists For 2010 Best Documentary

The Tillman Story

CHICAGO – Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reveals their short list for the Oscar for Best Documentary and every year there’s a notable snub or two that makes one question the process. Last year, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil,” one of the most-beloved films of the year, didn’t make the cut. This year, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” failed to make the cut, continuing a pattern in which films not deemed “serious enough” by Academy members can’t get past the first round.

Film Review: American Education is on Alert in ‘Waiting For Superman’

Waiting for Superman

CHICAGO – “Every Child Left Behind” could be the subtitle of this stunning new documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, the helmsman of another major doc, “An Inconvenient Truth.” The other truth in this new film is that the American system of public schooling is bent and broken in many places, risking our very future.

Interview: Director Davis Guggenheim on ‘Waiting For Superman’

Waiting For Superman

CHICAGO – Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”) has returned with another film likely to play a major role at next year’s Academy Awards, the devastating “Waiting For Superman,” an indictment of the entire American education system that stands both as riveting documentary filmmaking and a call for change.

DVD Review: ‘The Lottery’ Sings Bittersweet Praise For Charter Schools

The Lottery DVD Thumb

CHICAGO – The little boy looks intently at his hand. He’s trying with all his might to solve a math problem posed by his father, whose tenderness and patience have begun to reach their breaking point. As the camera closes in on the boy’s face, his eyes glisten with frustration until his mind reaches an epiphany: 2 plus 3 equals 5. In that one beautiful shot, the miracle of learning is captured on film.

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