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|Index||19 reviews in total|
I saw this movie at the Munich film-festival. Due to the nature of film-festivals I did not know very much about what I was going to see since the info on all the movies shown is very limited. From the first moments on the rapid and rough style of Marshall's picture grabbed me by the throat and held my interest until the end. THIS REVOLUTION has a feel of a modern reality show like the ones we see on MTV. Like it or not this is current and pretty "Zeitgeist"! This should appeal especially to younger audiences. It certainly would be a great thing if younger people watched this film. Marshall has a lot to address and delivers something that regular Hollywood fails to accomplish: He really changes your perspective on things. His film gets you thinking, especially after leaving the theater. Since Marshall wrote, shot, edited and produced the whole thing in the very short period of 100 days I am even more astonished how well it came out. Marshall delivers a clear and classic 3 act structure! That works well of course but Marshall - coming from a documentary background - also succeeds in filling in a lot of documentary like bits and pieces which launch a lot of social background at the viewer. Furthermore everybody gets a good idea of how divided America really is at the moment. If you take nothing at all from this film this still won't escape you. To me as a German this is particularly interesting. OK, the love story sometimes slows the movie down, the main character is not always sympathetic. But considering all the achievements Marshall made in this film and how big the impact of the movie was on me, I consider this minor flaws. This is a modern, controversial, exiting, stylish and very original movie that grows and grows and grows on me after seeing it. And that is certainly a good thing to say about a movie. Go see it. Especially when you don't share the same political view...it could be very inspiring! And if it annoys you...even better! Controversy means movement, and movement means change! For me as a German I can say that I am very happy to see a controversial film like this coming out of America these days. We all can look forward to more feature films from Marshall!
This movie offers true insight into the plight of the "real" average American. It depicts a hard core reality, and helps to clarify what system is keeping us down and who "The Man" really is! Working in the South Bronx of New York, I can testify that the reality of the situation (as accurately portrayed by "This Revolution") is harsh, and often times something middle America doesn't realize, or is blinded to seeing, either because they reject it, agree with it, just plain don't know.... I gave it a nine because the acting isn't that great at times, but the message more than makes up for it... for those who know, it's powerful, for those who don't know, it might just fly right over their heads....
Director Stephen Marshall is best known for his documentaries, including some that are Sundance winners. This is his first foray into fictional mainstream films, and it is a promising effort. I am mystified by some of the negativity I read here; granted, Marshall is no Costa-Gravas (yet), but I doubt even Costa-Gravas was Costa-Gravas in his first movie. Working under extreme deadline pressures with a cast of mostly unknowns and a limited budget, he has exemplified making lemonade out of lemons. Since many of his principals are non-actors, the fact that he gets good performances from them speaks well of his directing skills. He also has a painter's eye: there is one scene with Rosario Dawson and her fictional son, shot at sunset as they pretend to fly like the pigeons soaring around them, that is starkly beautiful. The street scenes pulse with life, no doubt because they are real. There are some amusing vignettes on the street that add piquancy to the mix. The modestly named rapper "Immortal Technique" has some interesting scenes, but for some puzzling reason appears to be identifying himself as black, when he is clearly hispanic. "Technique" also rips off the Brahms third symphony (third movement, trust me on this) for his rap, but no shoutouts to Johannes can be found in the credits to enhance his street-cred. I would like to see more character development, but given Marshall's background in documentaries this is not surprising. The motivation of some of the characters was hazy also, and anyone who has been to Times Square knows the big TV screens there are mute. But so what? These are minor issues, and he will learn. I saw the final cut at Sundance in January, and there was a large and enthusiastic crowd. Marshall spoke to us afterward, and came across very well. I look forward to more from this most interesting young director.
There's a scene in Butterfly, Jose Luis Cuerda's film about the lead-up
to the Spanish Civil War, where the teacher removes a book from his
bookshelf and briefly considers giving it to the protagonist, a seven
year-old-boy. The book is by Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin. It is
quickly returned to its place on the shelf.
Is the filmmaker suggesting we aren't ready for such ideas?
The scene in Butterfly provides a metaphor for the way anarchism and politics in general have been treated by filmmakers. With few exceptions, either such topics aren't broached at all, or they are broached in such a way as to leave the viewer completely mystified. "Social Realism", according to the online artcyclopoedia, "is a rather pejorative label in the United States, where overtly political art in general, and socialist politics in particular, are extremely out of favor".
Which is perhaps why I enjoyed "This Revolution" so much. There's nothing shameful about expressing overt political sentiments in art, and there's nothing shameful about going overboard either. Witness John Heartfield, or Josep Renau, or Jean Vigo, or Pier Paolo Pasolini. Better sorry than safe, and better to risk being labeled pedantic than pussyfoot around the issues in the hopes of appeasing the critics.
The film is honest. Marshall may not be in the same league as Pasolini, but as another reviewer pointed out, he's not ending his career but beginning it. There's nothing in This Revolution that can't be forgiven in light of the budget constraints and timetable. If nothing else, it's a lot of fun. Watch for Immortal Technique's piece and the 9/11 rant; watch for the RNC footage, which is electrifying (you won't always be sure what is staged and what isn't); and watch for the reference to Malatesta, who I'm pretty sure has never been mentioned in the medium before.
Get off your high horse and I think you'll find Marshall's film refreshing and timely. We need more of this stuff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Produced entirely within 100 days, funded on a shoestring budget, featuring no big name actors and only a handful of B-list celebrities, and as director Stephen Marshall's first attempt at fiction (or docu-drama if you prefer), This Revolution is still a standout. Our protagonist Jake is a well written character who I absolutely hate - he's the guy we all know that espouses radical beliefs and anti-establishment rhetoric while collecting a corporate paycheck and seeing the world on their dime. His recent trip to Iraq was only the opening stage of his awakening - through the course of the story he slowly realizes the absurdity of his situation and the full extent of the exploitation he suffers at the hands of his employers. His ultimate rejection of the corporate culture and his final act of rebellion against his former employers are like the middle finger to big business that all of us secretly wish we could hoist into the air. Most of the acting is shaky - understandable since most of the actors aren't, well, actors - but the incredible performances by Rosario Dawson and Immortal Technique justify the price of admission or the DVD. Ultimately, the docu-drama idea isn't quite as well executed as the classic Medium Cool, but the backdrop of the RNC protests are a very rich and colorful setting for the fictional events. I was happy to see all the footage of protesters that nobody else was willing to show me. Not Mr. Marshall's best work - I'd save that accord for his documentary BattleGround - but well worth watching on many levels.
This Revolution is a remarkably smart, relevant and timely take on media and personal responsibility in an era of the Patriot Act and fear of terrorism. Shot in a somewhat gritty style, the cinematography and editing offers a front line perspective in a beautiful and effective way. Footage from the actual Republican National Convention is disturbing and effective. It is able to humanize certain aspects of the media. Nate Crooker, as the character Jake Cassevetes, has the ability to take the audience through the ethical challenges that those in the media must face when reporting on highly charged and controversial topics. There is a fantastic dynamic among the cast and the emotions ring true.
Writer/director Steve Marshall may have thought himself in trouble when
the big name star of his low budget film got arrested doing a shoot
during the real protests in New York. Certainly he had to rework his
film to accommodate the loss of Dawson but I think he quickly got over
it and was thankful for it happening particularly for all the press
the film got at the time. I know I watched this film because it stuck
in my head for that reason and I imagine that many others heard about
it and saw it as a result of her arrest. And, from Marshall's point of
view it is a blessing because there is very little else about the film
that makes it memorable or something to be talked about.
The film appears to have been conceived in good faith as an attempt to capture the spirit of the activists and deliver their message in a film. However in reality the film has a very thin plot that it spends a lot of time on and leaves most of the commentary down to asides that are sound-bites no different from those you have heard before. If you agree with what they are saying then I guess maybe you can ignore the quality of the film and embrace this content but that will only appeal to a limited audience and even then. Many have criticised the quality of the filming but I can forgive this to a point given the low budget and style of making. Some of the set shots are really clunky and obvious though and little about Marshall as director is of interest. The real problem is in the material though which doesn't have the complexity and realism to draw the viewer into the characters or the discussion. This is a real shame considering how many viewers (including myself) will agree with the broad sentiments of the activists (if not their methods) but yet it just clunks around on the screen in an annoying way.
The blame must more or less be totally put at the feet of Marshall because he is responsible for the majority of the film. His low budget matches his low ambitions in regards his cinematography and plotting and the end result is a rather lacklustre film that looks cheap and feels thrown together. The cast are mixed but generally don't have the material to help. Even if Dawson got the cover and the headlines, Crooker takes the main character you will probably not have heard of him as an actor because he is frankly not very good. He doesn't feel real and has no screen presence not helped by the nature of filming either. Dawson tries to have chemistry with him but it doesn't really work. She is good once (on the fire escape) but she has no character, no material and has been put in a hairstyle meant to make us think "street" but only made me think "wow, someone has worked out a way to make the stunning Rosario Dawson look ugly". Outside of these two the supporting cast are mixed the activists generally convince but other set performances are generally weak. It was a nice idea to have the political rapper Immortal Technique involved but again this doesn't work within the context of the film.
This Revolution is a nice idea and got fame from Dawson's arrest but yet it doesn't make the most of this potential. The ugly visuals I can sort of understand but the plot is messy, the characters poorly drawn and the message is clunked down in an obvious manner that is a lot less effective than it would have been if it had been delivered with intelligence, insight and debate. Of course it has been made for a target audience who loved it before they saw it, but for the casual viewer this is a pretty average film.
I saw this film tonight at the Beyond TV festival in Swansea, S. Wales and I was very impressed. As well as being an intelligent expose of the Big Brother state that the US has become, the film is also very enjoyable at all levels, and I think it would appeal to a wider audience. The protest scenes at the beginning really set the pace for the film which never lets up until the end. Its great to see a film about the real America without the Hollywood glitz. I'd happily recommend anyone seeing this film, and I'm glad to hear that it's coming out on DVD. I'd be interested to know how much of an airing it gets in the US.
I had the opportunity to see "This Revolution" at the 2005 Sundance
Festival. This film is the work of director Stephen Marshall, known for
his innovative short films, music videos (including the Eminem video
"Mosh"), and documentaries. "This Revolution" represents Stephen's
first foray into a full length dramatic production.
I had a great experience seeing this film. I was very surprised while, buying popcorn, I looked up to see Roger Ebert standing next to me. Also attending the festival, Roger took in "This Revolution" along with other features.
The film begins rather awkwardly, perhaps reflective of the very tight filming which took place (Stephen Marshall rushed production to hit the deadline for entry into Sundance). However, as the narrative unfolds, the film begins to come together quite nicely.
"This Revolution" explores the interactions of a network broadcaster, Jake Cassavetes, as he collects interviews and footage of the 2004 RNC convention in NYC. Jake's relationships with two women, one a producer at his network, the other Tina Santiago (well played by Rosario Dawson), the widow of a slain Iraqi occupation soldier.
As the narrative unwinds, we learn that Jake's network is relaying the footage he collects to the Department of Homeland Security, which is building profiles on each of the "enemy combatants" involved in the protests.
Stephen Marshall succeeds in crafting a highly compelling film with "This Revolution." He combines the best of his work as a documentary and short film director, including his signature "scratch" technique. The scenes between the leads, Dawson and Nathan Crooker, are effective, and relay excellent chemistry.
While the production contains several flaws, these can be excused as the work of a first time director. The overall end production is very powerful, and memorable. It is worth seeing if only for the footage of the RNC protest, suppressed in our mainstream media. Watch for the cameos by Marshall, including the scene where he is arrested.
The movie starts with what appears to be documentary footage of
protests at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.
Later we learn Jake filmed the footage and is showing it to Chloe, who works at BCN and is also his romantic interest. They don't have a perfect relationship, though, since Chloe cares about getting ahead and Jake cares about the truth.
The Republican Convention is coming up in New York City, and BCN wants Jake to cover the "war" taking place in the streets. Jake has experience with war, having been the first "embedded" journalist in Iraq.
Before the convention, though, Jake and his sound man Dexter film some opinions of people in general, including a wacko who thinks Bush caused 9-11, and rapper Immortal Technique, who is angry about the way black people and other minorities are disrespected by cops and others.
Jake meets Richie, who raises homing pigeons with his father Cruz, who is serving in Iraq. They become friends, and Jake also develops a relationship with Richie's mother Tina, who explains that her husband was killed but Richie doesn't know it.
Soon Jake is learning about the protests and those who are participating, including one group that wears masks so its members will be anonymous. While Jake believes he is doing good, BCN and its president of programming Bob Kramer, who was once a journalist but now considers himself a businessman interested in his company's success, want to help Homeland Security keep track of potential terrorists.
The ending is pretty amazing if disturbing.
If you are a Bush-Cheney supporter who believes in conservative values, this movie may not be for you. The conservative point of view is presented but mostly to be ridiculed or criticized. Those who served in the military are respected and praised, but why they were serving is another matter.
Of course the protesters are more than just lazy people looking for an excuse to make trouble as some of the conservatives think. But they are working hard to take a stand and drive change. If they were lazy they'd just back down from all the adversity.
Rosario Dawson does a great job as a mother who is trying to cope and seems reasonably happy considering her circumstances. And she is pushing her son to be more than she is.
Nathan Crooker does a good job as an idealistic journalist.
The real stars of the movie are the ordinary people. Most appear to be merely actors but they come across as more. And there is a lot of what appears to be real footage.
And of course the convention itself was real. According to this movie, though, Bush didn't speak at night, but I guess that's a minor criticism. Maybe it wasn't safe to film that part of the powerful climactic scene during the day.
There is some violence, but it's not too bad. I'm so glad I saw this movie cleaned up for TV, because the sound went out a lot.
It's not what we would like to see, and it's not necessarily the truth, but it's what we need to see. If only to make us think.
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