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America's Heart & Soul (2004)

 -  Documentary  -  1 May 2004 (USA)
4.6
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Ratings: 4.6/10 from 534 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 24 user | 31 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg hits the road to capture America's people and its natural beauty.

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Title: America's Heart & Soul (2004)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dairy Farmer, Waterbury, Vermont
Charles Jimmie Sr. ...
Tlingit Indian Elder, Klukwan, Alaska
The Vasquez Brothers ...
Frank Pino ...
Rock Band, Waltham, Massachusetts
David Pino ...
Rock Band, Waltham, Massachusetts
John 'Yac' Yacobellis ...
Patty Wagstaff ...
Acrobatic Flyer, St. Augustine, Florida
Paul Stone ...
Explosive Art, Creede, Colorado
Ed Holt ...
Wine Grower, Santa Maria, California
Weirton Steelworkers ...
Themselves, Weirton, West Virginia
Cecil Williams ...
Himself - Glide Church, San Francisco, California (as Rev. Cecil Williams)
Janice Miriktani ...
Executive Director, Glide Church, San Francisco, California
David Krakauer ...
Klezmer Clarinetist, New York, New York
James Andrews ...
Jazz Musician, New Orleans, Louisiana
Trombone Shorty ...
Jazz Musician, New Orleans, Louisiana
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Storyline

America is a vast country--three thousand miles from end to end. But it's not the land that makes America so special--it's the people. Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg packed-up his camera and hit the road, with a goal of capturing both the unparalleled beauty of the land and the incomparable spirit of the people. He connects with people, capturing their values, dreams, and passion in a journey that reveals the stories--unusual, captivating, inspiring and emotional--that make Americans into something more than a collection of individuals. It's a celebration of a nation told through the voices of its people. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Documentary

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Release Date:

1 May 2004 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$184,917 (USA) (2 July 2004)

Gross:

$314,000 (USA) (23 July 2004)
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Company Credits

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1.85 : 1
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Connections

Features Farther Than the Eye Can See (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The fools who call this movie "JINGOISTIC"
3 July 2004 | by (California) – See all my reviews

The dictionary defines "jingoistic" as:

"Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism"

There isn't one nationalist statement made in this entire movie. No one talks about "this great country of ours", or "aren't we blessed to live in the best gosh-darned place on the planet". It is simply snatches of moments showing the lives of various people around the country; some corn-ball, some silly, some serious. Yes, there are some "whitebread" people presented (as one reviewer described them), backwoods types who play the banjo, sing old songs, raise their families and don't hurt anyone. Oh yes, they must me mocked by oh so hip reviewers, how dare they be so simple and unaffected and so... so... "whitebread". There are working class people who work long hours at tough jobs (steel workers) who see their way of life fading away as their jobs are eliminated (along with health care benefits, noted by the father of a little girl with a recurring brain tumor). Yes, let's sneer at them, say the cynical reviewers, for they are only capitalist stooges and deserve what they get. Speaking of evil capitalists, Ben Cohen of "Ben & Jerry's" is profiled, who had the audacity to start a small business, see it become a national success, and gave back to the community and is an active founding member of Businesses for Social Responsibility, an organization that works to promote socially responsible business practices. Let's condemn him for daring to succeed, doesn't he know that America is a hopeless land of brainwashed drones who must mindlessly conform to the ever-present Big Brother? It must be, because the reviewers insist it is. A reviewer says that Black people are "almost absent" in this film. I guess he just doesn't like the Black people who are shown. We see an elderly Black female gospel singer who delights in sharing her love of God (oh oh!) in joyous song. We see an activist Black minister who devotes his life to making positive change in the community. We see a Black boxer who made mistakes early in his life, but now has turned his life around and is also helping those around them. We see Black street musicians in Louisiana, young and old, playing together on street corners, enjoying the freedom to just "hang out" and make music for themselves and others. Yes, all these Black people are shown, the simple deluded fools. How dare they live productive and happy lives! Don't they know America is a pit of hopeless despair and racism? It must be, because the reviewers stomp their feet and insist it is!

We see the successes, but we also see the failures; homeless people pushing shopping carts aimlessly down the street, the down and out in soup kitchens, the people wondering where the American dream failed them. In other words, we see America as it is, unsugarcoated, unsanitized, warts and all. And this is precisely what drives certain people crazy. The film is HONEST, and honesty flies in the face of agenda-driven politics and manipulative propaganda. If this was a "ra ra go America" film, you wouldn't see the failures. If Michael Moore had made this film, you wouldn't see the successes and day to day joys of the common people.

This film shows America not as a shining citadel on the mountain for all to marvel and envy, nor as a cesspool of corporate greed, political corruption and hopeless and despairing masses. It simply shows a place where one can strive, and by striving one can succeed OR fail, and if you fail you can pick yourself up and try again. Do some people have advantages others don't? Sure. Do some people seemingly have the decked stacked against them? You bet! Welcome to the human condition, this is nothing new in history nor unique to America. Nothing is guaranteed, and everything is possible. The script of your life isn't written until you yourself write it.

So I implore you to ignore the hand-wringers, the finger-waggers, they with the earnestly furrowed brows who insist the glass is perpetually half-empty.

go see this charming little film. Oh, and also go see FAHRENHEIT 9/11 too, because that's what makes this a pretty neat place to live: all opinions and points of view are permitted and eventually everybody's ox gets gored.


18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Don't review what you haven't seen. ed_desu
Why didn't they just call it Triumph des Willens and have done with it? BatFreak
Politics aside. Why this movie rocks. Flick_Montana
For those of you comparing AHS with F*9/11.... Stephen F Boatright
So Upsetting... noize23
What I Find Funny... brutesentiment
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