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Formulaic, extremely predictable and stereotyped
This is not only a budget production but a bad, bland and extremely predictable movie.

Deadly virus that comes out of some exotic corner of the World? Check.

Doctor who struggles between familiar drama and her call to save the World? Check.

Young enthusiastic but socially awkward doctor/scientist assistant? Check.

All of this comes with uni-dimensional characters, cliché attitudes you can predict after first 5 minutes, lousy soundtrack and just zero novelty or creativity. It is just a reshuffle of countless bio-hazard movies with nothing new and noteworthy.

It Happened Here

An (imperfect) look into the issue of campus sexual harassment and violence
There have been many stories in the media about sexual harassment, rape and the subsequent mishandling of these situations by colleges and universities.

This documentary follows the journey of three young women that were victims of sexual violence in campus, and then mistreated by the institutions that should protect them as students, as they eventually coalesce around a federal lawsuit against the college where the events happened.

Rape is and will always be a crime difficult to prosecute, for it often leaves no conclusive evidence that third parties can assess. Perpetrators are very often known to the victim and part of their social/working circle, and the crimes often happen without any witness. Nonetheless, this shouldn't be an excuse for universities and colleges to sandbag victims, and to not help them go through the ordeal even if criminal prosecution of perpetrators is not possible.

In that context, the documentary does a good job of giving, as accounted by the victims, the circumstances in which they were raped: all by known people, some by perpetrators they thought to be their friends, some by colleagues from varsity athletic department. It then moves to its main focus: the aftermath, and how schools, the police and other institutions reacted to the events.

The last part of the documentary is a bit clumsy, however. It should have provided a bit more context to the lawsuits, and at least tried to hear the universities involved. It also seems the producers tried to fit too much into too little remaining time.

Race to Nowhere

Imporante issue, weak documentary
Overscheduled kids and teens, teach-to-the-test, erosion of free play time, stressful school environments are all real and serious problems that affect youth of America today.

"Race to Nowhere" is an attempt to cast a light and raise awareness to these problems, which are part of a larger tend where adult-led structured activities came to dominate virtually all non-sleeping time of students, in school, at home, or in the countless places they are chauffeured to and from. It follows the difficult-to- execute model of bringing several people who will tell their stories in parallel narratives while the director inserts other pieces to bring "familiar faces" of the issues the documentary portrays.

Excessive homework was the thread line chosen to guide the filmmaker throughout her project (which was born out of a situation she witnessed in her own family). It does a good job bringing and naming the issues and enumerating there.

However, there are 'execution flaws'. The parallel narratives of teens, parents, kids, teachers don't really add up depth and multiple viewpoints on the issue as much as they add length to the featured documentary.

More worrying, at some point the director starts shooting almost randomly at a variety of social issues: teen suicide (with a counterproductive and hard-to-believe direct blaming of a suicide case on a single event, which is something professional seriously advise against), income inequality, consumerism, social media hyperconectivity of teens, school district politics, teacher social standards etc. They could all be directly or indirectly tied to the hypercharged, hypercompetitive, test-driven school culture the films wants to take aim at, but they appear juggled around without much coherence or connection.

"Race to Nowhere" wasted an excellent opportunity to really look into misguided education practices and their effects on teens, but as it was unveiled, it certainly fails to rally up the audience to support the reforms the director seems to support right before the final credits.

The Living

A good dark indie movie, with major editing flaws
'The Living' is about unintended consequences arising from difficult decisions clouted by complicated personalities and troubled minds. It is a nice indie dark movie, with several highlights but some compromising flaws.

Acting is surprisingly good, with actors punching way above their weight. This his the highlight of the movie. The slow scenes with agonizing seconds of silences give them a dark and deep vibe, and the actors nail it, looking natural and very comfortable on screen.

The context of the story plot is very cliché, however, as it revolves about the struggles of a battered woman and her alcoholic husband who loves-her-even-though-he-hit-her.

Strangely, the lack of character development isn't that much detrimental on 'The Living' as it would be in many other movies, as the focus quickly shifts to the mental state and how the characters process the situation they got themselves involved with, instead of just re-telling a worn-out and over-used simple story line.

Finally, editing seems to be hurried up, as it is the case of so many otherwise promising indie productions, unfortunately. As I mentioned, many individual scenes are harrowing, deep and engaging, but the transitions don't work that well, which is frustrating.

I give 'The Living' a 6/10 score, realizing I'm averaging some very good marks with poor ones. Having so much quality disparity is what, in my opinion, makes the difference between some other reviews here that swing from critical 3s to glowing 9s and 10s.


A surprisingly good low-budget production
'Common' is a low-budget drama centered around the prosecution of four young men that got involved on a stupid crime by different ways and degrees.

It will then explore difficult choices made by all those involved, who also comprise families and other people, exploring angles around the prosecution of the crime and its wranglings.

The major difference for other typical courtroom dramas is that 'Common' is more concerned on the tensions that arise between co- conspirators.

Acting is decent, and sometimes even good. Editing is also well-done considering the profile of the movie. The end result is pleasant and it does give food for thought regarding a specific controversial feature of the law that is obviously conveyed as negative in the movie.

The major flaw is the absence of any context of how the characters ended up tangled with each other on the dramatic events that trigger the story, beforehand or in flashbacks.

Middle of Nowhere

It could work, but it didn't. The script is too slow.
It is always refreshing to see good indie movies exploring dark themes in a sensitive and almost lyric way. These are, incidentally, the two major strong points of this movie.

There are many titles, some rather good ones, exploring incarceration an its effects on the person behind bars. Multiple angles and story lines are explored, almost always from the incarcerated point of view.

'Middle of Nowhere', instead, puts the focus on an accomplished young woman whose life hangs still when her young husband is incarcerated for a long term, and makes the movie about the effects of incarceration on people who are on the outside, supposedly free, but actually suffering by proxy a set of restrictions and struggles that derive from the fact that a loved one or in-law is not present. That is an interesting take on the subject.

Nonetheless, the script is just too slow. There are several cogent reasons for a script to be slow, such as character development, parallel narratives - but none of them could possible justify it here. Thus, it becomes very difficult to keep paying attention on what the director had in mind as dozens of minutes are just fillers that, in turn, are juxtaposed with some pivotal scenes that are paradoxically too hurried up.

Abducted: The Carlina White Story

Interesting story, bad writing and lackluster editing
Carlina White abduction and subsequent events were all over mainstream media in 2011-12. It was and is an amazing story on its own. Alas, a docudrama was bound to be put out soon, and sure it did.

The major critique I have on this movie is that its writing is outright bad. Clichés, discontinued story lines, simplistic and stereotyping portrayals of people who were accessory to the story all contribute to make this feature lame, simple in a bad way, adding nothing to the main narrative, exploring no additional angles. Nothing.

Editing is also limited and hurried, especially on the later third of the movie.

I give it therefore a 5/10 score for its limited quality. Yes, the real-life story is amazing and compelling, that is no excuse for bad production, though.

Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story

An overall good documentary that sadly left one issue our of the table
"Stop at Nothing" follows the history of Lance Armstrong as he made extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs and hormones on his long sportive career. It managed to get great testimonials from people who worked very close with Armstrong for years, such as cycling teammates, assistants, his foundation's former manager, sport reporters and more, and this is a very positive aspect of this documentary compared to other features made about the fallen athlete. The personal on-screen first-hand accounts are very interesting and personal.

Throughout the movie, Armstrong is portrayed as a ruthless person who'd stop at nothing to conceal his own cheating and his own fraud, stomping and kicking everybody around him if necessary. First-hand accounts of those on the receiving end of his wrath give a picture many had never seen from following his media appearances over the years and how he was portrayed as an inspirational leader after overcoming cancer and returning to win several times more the Tour de France.

The only critical issue missing is any discussion about the behaviors of sponsors and others whose made huge money out of Armstrong's career, and the indirect or sometimes direct role they play in cycling doping culture. They were treated almost as an afterthought, and considering how many people related to the sport the producers had access to, they should have been able to explore it better, so I give it an overall 8/10 score.

Boy Wonder

Underrated dark psychological thriller
This is a very interesting lower-budget production portraying the life a late teenage boy, Sean, as he struggles to deal with things we cannot understand about his past.

Sean is a deep character that doesn't fit until usual off-the-shelf vigilante narratives. He is not a person who lost all moral bearings and became entirely detached, as it is often the case of many vigilante characters. He is also not a ruthless hardened criminal justifying his acts on basis of his past.

Permeating the story line are Sean attempts to reconcile a disjoint world of his own, as it throws conflicting signs triggering irreconcilable emotions at him.

A most pleasant surprise of this small-production movie is that the supporting cast performs a surprisingly good job. Very basic and plain stock characters are avoided, which is refreshing to the a more attuned viewer.

'Boy Wonder' is definitively a recommended movie: complex, imaginative and requiring viewer engagement to be understood and fully enjoyed.

She Made Them Do It

Totally predictable, shallow, dull
'She Made Them Do It' is a bland, uninspiring and entirely predictable movie.

I'm usually open-minded towards lower budget productions, and I can get past some consequences of a tight production resource list and a less experienced cast, as long as the story is compelling and the final cut interesting.

This is no such case, though. Characters are incredibly shallow, editing is off-the-mark, and the whole movie looks just a random collage of lines and scenes I'm sure I've been before, elsewhere. Actors feel like they are not comfortable with cameras at all.


A very good, if underrated, documentary about small town twisted ways
Shenandoah follows the aftermath of a gruesome hate crime that happened on the homonym town.

Had this not been a true story, it would sound like a cheap script movie: declining Appalachian town, start high-school football players who provide the only entertainment, bitter people unable to cope with new economic realities, suspicion of outsiders, bigoted locals, corrupt local police...

However, this is not fiction, but the grim reality surrounding the murder of a Mexican immigrant. The basic facts are presented on first two minutes. Then, the documentary alternate interviews with the victim's family, one of the accused students, and people in town as they prepare for the trial.

This documentary does a good job of trying to look at the crime from different angles without providing validation for the excuses of the perpetrators. Permeating the narratives and the very few on-camera questions is the question of how the ex-ante dehumanization of the victim somehow makes the crime more palatable to the local community. Nonetheless, instead of stating this fact repeatedly, the directors cleverly let the prejudice and the other processes that go on people's mind transpire to the viewer.

Kids for Cash

Interesting take on an outrageous juvenile judicial scandal
Kids for Cash is a neat documentary covering the unfolding of the "Kids for Cash" scandal in Luzern country, PA, where two judges sent more than two thousand children to a juvenile detention center while getting paybacks from the private operation of the same facility.

The filmmakers had personal access to both accused judges, who gave lengthy interviews on camera. However, the producers didn't let that fact cloud their views on the whole affair as it is common in such productions. Instead, we have several interviews with young victims of the scheme and their parents.

What is not so good about the movie are is the parallelism of the stories of victims they follow. The cut points on the narratives look hastily put together instead of carefully chosen to permeate the viewer to the individuality and commonality of each story.

At the end, viewers are left with the impression of two corrupt men who genuinely think they weren't doing anything wrong other than some minor procedural violations. Although not the main theme of the documentary, one is left to wonder how horrendously normalized it had become to just take "bad kids" away from school and send them to correctional facilities.

Miss Representation

Important subject, inconsistent production
Miss Representation address, mostly, the important issue of how women are represented in the media and the impact such representations have on how society perceives women, how it affects the ability of women to reach higher echelons of media-related positions, and how that in turn affects programming, choices in advertising, and perpetuation and certain stereotypes and patterns. On this aspect, it delivers quite a powerful message.

However, there are also serious flaws, some of argument, some of execution.

While I myself fully support gender equality, and otherwise agree with the problem of glass ceilings and reduction of professional women to their sexualized attributes, I think it is very, very worrying the suggestion for some level of censorship and regulation of media content, especially the implication that some government agency should step in to enforce "family standards" in online content production and broadcasting. As a viewer, I was left with the impression the producers really didn't have a clue about issues concerning freedom of speech and were incredibly naive on their pro-censorship stance (since it doesn't resonate with the rest of the documentary).

Editing also could have been better. Some of the short testimonials could have been consolidated in longer shots focusing just one subject, instead of having too many parallel interviews clumsy moving forward on little bits that often got lost.

Finally, I think they could have better explored the hook on how sexist attitudes are bad not only for girls and women, but also for men. That would make the documentary even more interesting, although it already lacks, fortunately, a us vs. them tone.

The Sacrament

Failed attempt at shaky camera found-footage thriller
'Found-footage' thriller/horror movies are always a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes they yield interesting productions, sometimes the result is just something you'd expect from a B-rated class project on a film school. I'm afraid The Sacrament belongs to the latter category.

Its first third is actually interesting and engaging, and probably its only major positive feature: it tries to slowly build context and get viewers engaged with the main characters, who went on a trip to a remote undisclosed location, where the sister of one of them has relocated together with the rest of a small religious group that rescued from from alcohol and drugs.

Unfortunately, as soon as major plot twists and turns start to happen, the story becomes boring, extremely predictable for those who get the historical references. Moreover, the writing doesn't seem fit for the 'found footage' style, and that mismatch only increases in the last 25 minutes.

Ultimately, 'The Sacrament' is an obvious bummer, and fails to deliver either the thrills or to present anything unique to it. It just looks like a really bad docu-drama ripen from the historical events, with some key names, locations and dates changed - for the worse, I'd say.

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

Lousy 'coming of age' teen movie
I had read about some accolades and awards 'The Way He Looks' has been getting in anticipation of its theatrical release in several countries. As I was suspecting, there is too much hype around the movie. It has lousy screen play, a predictable story line as in most "coming of age" teen featured movies, and really bad acting for most supporting characters.

There is nothing special or enticing about the movie, and I think most of their intended teen audience would roll eyes at how obvious and repetitive the scenes are. Disability and sexuality are brought together as a failed attempt to build an unique character, but it ends up resorting to regular teen movie staple clichés, the sort of pick-and-mix ones you can randomly thrown in together and write a lame context story around to get a light and superficial movie about light teen themes (friendship, unrequited love, mood swings, middle-class teen rebellion-lite, adults that don't get the teen world etc.)

Actually, you can find most teen movie stock characters in this film. Mean evil girl chasing after boys? Check. Popular-but-deeply-insecure alpha male student? Check. Misfit goof-ball? Check. Cool kids that supply alcohol? Check. Uni-dimensional parents at odds with each other? Check.

The issues (sexuality, disability) that would make 'The Way He Looks' a shocking and/or groundbreaking movie don't work that way; if writer and director Daniel Ribeiro intended so, he is probably a decade too late.

I honestly don't understand why this movie is so hyped, I think it deserves not much of it. Therefore, I give it a vote score of 4/10 and not a single half-point more.


Decent B cast, decent acting but poor writing
"Missionary" revolves around conflicts that appear beneath seemingly friendly and interesting relationships, only that nothing is what is seems on surface.

I'm usually willing to give latitude to smaller productions that feature a B-level cast, and that was the attitude I had when I saw the movie. The results were mixed.

There is some decent acting on this movie, and when they have good text they can put some above average character performance. The major problem of this film is that writing is very inconsistent. The story oscillates between some good and believable scenes, with others that let you down by their incoherence, lack of continuity or just plain 'straight from cliché handbook'. A couple passages are extremely lame, almost giving the impression two separate writes at odds with each other developed the story.

At the end of the movie, when closing credits come, there is this feeling that the director wasted an overachieving cast (relatively to their league) with bad text.

After Tiller

Trying hard - and failing - to present a neutral view on underlying issues of abortion, to show the human side of people performing it
Abortion is probably the most controversial issue in so-called 'cultural wars' of modern Western countries. Slogans, monikers, personal attacks, dirty political moves national an local, and - sadly - sometimes violence, are present and real.

This documentary follows a group of doctors and other medical staff working at a handful of US clinics that perform very controversial late- term abortions on third trimester, using the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 as a convergence point to which the film will go back several times to assert viewers of the process of victimization of these professionals working at those clinics.

I recognize people have very different opinions on abortion, and that such opinions can be highly divisive. Personally, I abhor any justification for premeditated violence like arson, vandalism, drive-by shooting let alone murder as a way to get your views imposed on others.

In this context, "After Tiller" tries to showcase the environment of fear, stress and even social isolation that the professionals performing these controversial, albeit legal, procedures face. It is easy to see the effects that dehumanizing people one disagree with have on creating a corrosive environment that doesn't spare them, their relatives or friends. The documentary does a good job on showing the dark side of the 'mob mentality' that commands the tiny, but dangerous, faction of anti- abortion activists who rationalize their own use of violence.

The film does is in a non-sensationalist manner, avoiding the low- hanging approaches of exploring the emotions of people affected by these incidents. It leaves to the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions about the impact of mob-style activism and its effects on a free society.

However, this strive for an unbiased perspective gets tossed out when the filmmakers delve into the rationalization process that the medical staff performing these abortions go through, and that is the major flaw of the documentary. As one professional recognizes at some point, abortions done well past 28 or 29 weeks are in effect euthanasia-and- stillborn deliveries. The documentary is very deceptive in that it downplays crucial differences between early-stage abortions when, as someone said in the film, the fetus is "mostly a mess of tissue".

The idea of euthanasia of viable fetuses that could well survive as pre- term babies outside the womb is a very controversial one, especially when, as it is the case in all cases of patients followed on the documentary, the life of the mother is not at risk in any way. The directors made it look like there are no major difference between claims that 'Plan B is murder' and euthanizing a viable a 27-week fetus because the mother cannot cope with the idea of giving a live baby to adoption while also not wanting to raise another kid.

By falling into this trap, the documentary takes an equally extreme assumption to the ones it rightfully show as such on the other spectrum of the abortion discussion. One might well watch the documentary thinking that any opposition to abortion before actual labor starts is the same, and that no other issues or mishandling happens in the process (like lack of proper counsel for early pregnancy of teen mothers). From the documentary implied perspective, there is no possible position other than fully supporting the work or late-term abortion workers, or being an extremist against all rights of women regarding their reproductive health. I was not even expecting some more confrontational content on the issue of late-term abortions, but at the very least some additional perspectives on whether other measures within the health care system could be used to prevent women from having to undergo such procedures in first place.

Balancing it all, I'll give this documentary a score of 5: flawed in part, very interesting in other segments.

Girl Model

The ugly, non-glamorous, exploitative side of youth modeling, unfortunately rather poorly edited
For a while I've had this impression with me that youth modeling, especially the cast of (almost always) girls who are barely out of childhood (mentally and physically), invokes close resemblance to pedophilia. This documentary confirms that impression, following a young teenager girl (Nadya Vall) from a rural village in Russia to a trial at the very bottom feeder market of Japan commercial modeling.

It is the antithesis of Top Model or other glamorous portrayal of girls striving to conquer it all. Much on the contrary, Girl Model displays, in a crude form, how young girls are de-humanized, reduced literally to pieces of meat with a very short expiration date, and shuffled across continents and housed (or should I say warehoused) in tight confines while being, all the way, to navigate the unknowns of a country whose language they don't speak, a business they clearly have no idea how it works (which leave them vulnerable), while clearly bearing the insurmountable expectations that their whole families put on them as an escape from a poor life. It is an amount of pressure no 13-year old teenager should ever have to deal it so young in life.

The documentary is interesting, as well, in the sense it shows the overall insensitive nature of all people working with these young teens. They rationalize their work in different ways, and they probably worked with hundreds of girls before, so they become just oblivious to the obvious distress, anxiety and fear they have.

Ashley Arbaugh, a former model-turned-scout, co-star the documentary. She has been clearly affected by her years on the fashion industry, and is very conflicted about it - on one's hand grateful it helped achieve some financial security, independence and stability; on the other hand very ambivalent to the shallowness of the fashion world and the utter commoditization of models as they are reduced to their bodies and how they fit the aesthetics tastes of the moment. She can relate to the difficult moments of her own career as she signs two young Russian girls for a trail on the industry in Japan.

All of that notwithstanding, there are some major flaws with the documentary. Editing is bad, really bad. Even as the stories are compelling, they were merged into a documentary in a way that gives the impression of an unfinished job. I know this is a low-budget production, but this is not about money, but a rough editing job that compromises the viewer experience greatly. P.O.V. shooting might work great, but it does require good editing afterward.

They also tried to use the progression of an Ashley's medical issue as a hang to build her own insertion in the documentary, but it clearly didn't work, at least in the form presented.

Finally, I think it was a huge mistake not to let some of the people who are featured in the documentary to speak freely a bit, even if in the form of 'confessionals'. It would have greatly expanded the viewer's insight on the brutal work of C-level youth modeling.


Good psychological thriller, though compromised by some bits of bad acting
U Want Me 2 Kill Him is a psychological thriller of the crop of lower budget movies that mix tech savvy young people and computers. A lot of things in this movie happens over an Internet connection, but this is not a 'geek-hacker' plot.

The plot is interesting, and there also some complex character development. This is definitively not your regular "pick a list of stock characters" drama movie.

However, acting is somehow inconsistent. Not bad, but inconsistent - there are some great intense scenes that are just followed by some instances of really bad acting (which is why I give this movie a 7 instead of 9 score).

The Kingdom

Promising thriller that degenerates into worn-out shootout formula
Don't be fooled by The Kingdom's trailer or teaser: the promise of a Syriana-like political thriller with deep characters and complex plots is not fulfilled despite the interesting first third of the movie.

The movie starts with an interesting premise and savors the viewer with what could have been done with the story play. It puts some interest context and then throw in characters that the viewer might even start to like.

However, it is not long before the story goes downhill and all complexity and elaborate plots are replaced by your run-of-the-mill shootout movie full of stock characters: the old-school know-it-all guy, the trigger-happy stud, the enlightened member of enemy camp who has 'seen the light' and wants to do the right thing, the overachiever female that needs to work extra hard to prove her worth and so on.

It still has very good photography and, for those who like, wobbling hand-held camera shots. Just lower your expectations before watching it.

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Very important points raised, but credibility diminished by leaning on conspiracy
Pink Ribbons, Inc. brings up compelling and unsettling issues about the commercialization of the "fight against breast cancer".

It presents a thorough history of how the pink ribbons became big business, while transforming female breast cancer into a hurdle that can or could always be fought, overcome and ultimately defeated if only the women facing it have the right attitude.

In this context, the documentary brings compelling testimony of women who were left behind the pink ribbon movement, the unwanted faces on runs and events: those who, despite doing all the 'right things' (exercise, auto-exams, early treatment) still got late stage non- treatable cancer for whom "living to see my grandchildren" is not an option and for whom death looms as a matter for, at best, couple years. These women, without resorting to self-pity, clearly explain through their ordeals how they feel alienated and left behind by the whole pink ribbon movement, as if they had the "wrong" type of cancer to be accepted by support groups or advocated for by associations and their events.

Nonetheless, the directors took an easy and unfortunate option that tarnishes the whole message of the documentary. They clang on one of the many scientifically plausible causes of cancer - environmental factors - and tried to construct a narrative where there is this whole conspiracy that thrives on cancer-awareness while preventing its cure, which would be easily achievable if only they investigated environmental factors that cause cancer. Mainstream science already knows, with quite some confidence, that cancer can have multiple factors determining its onset, and even people living very healthy lifestyles might still be affected by it. Environmental factors are one of many causes of cancer, but not the only one, and certainly not the only worth researching about. At this point, my score to this documentary went down from an 8.5, give or take, to 6.

Chasing Madoff

Subject is very interesting, subjects are relevant, direction and editing are atrocious
This documentary explores very interesting aspects of what went on behind the curtains while the massive Bernie Madoff's scheme developed, expanded and ultimately collapsed.

However, the documentary wastes the potential by using a very weak and wacky personal storyline anchor, which becomes repetitive and ultimately annoying after one of the main subjects starts putting out his paranoia for the n-th time.

The end result is a clumsy piece that bumps from a few high moment between a repetitive cycle of self-pity, delusion and confused thoughts of a man that slide into it after not seeing any results from his push to expose a major fraud in the making.

The Summit

Interesting story portrayed on a confusing docudrama
High-altitude mountaineering fascinates many people, this reviewer included, for the extreme demands it places on sportsmen engaged on the sport. They go to places where helicopters don't go, where no human could live for extended periods of time. Different than other extreme nature sports like rafting, cross-country skiing or long-distance trekking, mountaineering provides the only way for people to reach places that are higher above the rest of the World.

In this context, I generally like documentaries and docudramas that focus on various aspects of the sport, its challenges and also its tragedies.

However, The Summit covers a nice story on a confusing and haphazard edition. It combines real-time footage of events, 'debriefing'-style post-fact interviews and dramatization of events are accounted by those that survived or witnessed them first-hand. All that material should yield a great final piece, but I'm left with the feeling of watching an unfinished job, or a piece that was somehow the result of compromises of an intractable committee with diverging opinions on how the documentary should look like.

The Prep School Negro

Underwhelming, confusing but still worth watching
This documentary follows the first-person account of the struggles, internal conflicts and dilemmas of a low-income African-American that attended a prestigious prep school on a scholarship.

The premise is good, some interviews with other students and present and past teachers are very interesting, but overall I felt the documentary doesn't deliver a cogent message, especially when Robert Lee is talking to and shooting at his relatives' houses.

I got the feeling Lee is still very conflicted about his own experience at his prep school in Philadelphia, and that ambivalence unfortunately translated into a confused editing. It would have been a much more interesting documentary if the whole family drama had been put on the sidelines to explore more angles on how minority students fit in an environment that is strange to their surroundings.

Schooled: The Price of College Sports

Interesting documentary showing the dark side of college sports
Varsity sports have become one of the major, if not the major, cultural references people keep in relate to universities. It has evolved into a major business, racking billions of dollars in revenue every year and exerting huge influence over the schools and communities that host major college sport teams, especially football and basketball.

Schooled presents and discuss the often ignored downsides of the oversize importance of college sports. It brings to the viewer some candid interviews and exposes on actions taken by NCAA and athletic departments of some famous universities.

It devotes a good part of screen time discussing the contradictions and hypocrisy of a system, centered around the "student-athlete" concept that fails such student-athletes in many possible ways: by not giving them a meaningful education in case they don't go pro (as most won't), by leaving students without basic support they need, by merciless cutting athletes out when they get injured and especially by making the student-athletes the only part of the system that doesn't get paid for the millions they games they play earn for everybody else (coaching staff, universities, broadcasters, sports' companies).

'Schooled' explores well the contradictions of the so-called amateurism, presenting a less than flattering story on the historical origins of the idea of a pure system where athletes play for the love of the game only.

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