June 7th, 2005


Teacher uses tough love in real-life school of rock

Teacher uses tough love in real-life school of rock
`Rock School: ' *** 1/2

In ``Rock School,'' Paul Green seems to be every parent's worst nightmare. As a teacher, he berates his kids with profanity-laced diatribes. To coax more effort out of them, he threatens to tell the story of how he lost his virginity. ``Do you love Satan?'' he asks one underperforming child.

All of which is OK, I guess, considering that what he's teaching is rock 'n' roll and that at least half of what he says is tongue-in-cheek and that the results of his unorthodox academic methods are, to say the least, inspiring.

Green runs the Paul Green School of Rock Music, a Philadelphia after-school program for 9- to 17-year-olds. The school is the subject of this fascinating and funny documentary by Don Argott.

``Rock School'' is half about Green, a guitarist who turned to teaching after failing to make the big time, and half about his young charges. Of particular note is C.J. Tywoniak, a pint-size guitar player whose scorching performance at the 2003 Zappanale, the annual German music festival honoring Frank Zappa, is the film's highlight.

You can't argue with success, and the fact that Green's program is able to produce players like C.J. says a lot about his tough-love pedagogy.

The scenes of him lavishing affection on his charges under the closing credits go a long away to round out this entertaining portrait of a volatile but effective educator.
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