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The Rule (2014)

How to save the inner city.


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How to save the inner city.

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An uplifting look at the future youth of Newark NJ

After watching Revolution '67 (2007), a documentary by Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno, any viewer should be able to walk away with a solid understanding of why the city of Newark, is the way it is today. Although it was released a while back, the information it conveys to its respective audience is still significant now. Within that documentary, the Bongiorno's painted a picture to assist the uneducated in receiving a better understanding of the old city. Topics ranged from social, political, and economic issues; to why and how they occurred. To the uninformed, the comeback for Newark has not been easy. There are still numerous controversies at hand that require attention. But of all this, the Bongiornos' were able to discover a hidden gem within the bustling streets. That gem is known as St. Benedict's Preparatory School, a school for the youth of Newark that has a reinvigorating set of ideals they call "The Rule" that demonstrates the current state of Newark isn't set in stone.

Of the St. Benedict's rule, their guidelines consist of 12 different fields of focus. Those sections consist of Counseling, History, Adaptability, Commitment, Hope, Connectedness, Trust, Leadership, Community, Perseverance, Spirituality and Stability. Directing this feature film is again Marylou Bongiorno, who goes through each part of St. Benedict's rule and systematically disassembles what each component means and how it effects the operations of the school. Together, these factors make up what is the structure of St. Benedict's and how it functions to enhance the lives of the youth that attend their campus. For the teens who attend St. Benedict's, they quickly learn the value of teamwork, friendship, leadership and learning that there is a future beyond the streets they live on. Of course the first stepping stone is instilling that in the students. This is where the counseling comes in. However, the reputation that St. Benedict's has now was not always as a well-oiled machine.

Along with demonstrating that the school could change lives, the institution itself was tested too. This test occurred in 1967, specifically which was elaborated on in Revolution '67 (2007). This particularly coincided with the history, adaptability, commitment and hope sections to their rule. The rest (connectedness, trust, leadership, community, perseverance, spirituality and stability) aims to transform the students for the better. All of these aspects are the necessary ingredients for a healthy upbringing that much of the younglings do not receive in the city of Newark and some of its surrounding cities. Yet of the schools in Newark where just 32% of students pass the high school proficiency assessment (stated in the film), St. Benedict's has a very high graduation and college acceptance rate percentage. Why is that? It's apparent that St. Benedict's rule has a very proactive impact on the youth who attend their school.

It's strange to think that these steps to achieving such success are real among all the negativity that encases the school, but it's quite impressive to say the least. It's this and the in-depth look at the school of St. Benedict's itself that really help the viewer grasp the journey that it took for this one school to get to where it is now. For how the information is presented, there isn't as much a variety of speakers but nonetheless they get the point across just as effectively. The majority of the speakers are the monks who oversee the school or other faculty that work there. There is an occasional appearance from a historian but that's it. Among the people speaking, audiences should get the most from Father Edward (a tough man with a soft interior) and Ivan Lamourt (a psychologist, director of counseling and assist. headmaster). These two really help put many of kids' outer lives into perspective for those who don't understand and cannot relate to such situations.

There are some people however the Bongiorno's should have included. What would be intriguing to know are the opinions of past alumni and the parents of those alumni or current students about St. Benedicts and whether they feel they benefited from it. It does seem a bit rhetorical but at the same time, actually hearing the success would be great. This time, the cinematography and music was handled by Jerome Bongiorno. For camera-work, again the movement is rigid when it comes to interviews and that's fine. For anything else, Mr. Bongiorno captures as much as he can within St. Benedict's and even has footage of some of the outside activities. There are also several pictures put in for historical reference that help when it comes to the history flashbacks. The music by Mr. Bongiorno is not as frequent as before like Yotam Rosenbaum's composition from Revolution '67 (2007), but it does still have some very short cues played on piano to aid certain moments. It's all very informative.

This positive outlook on the teaching the youth of Newark New Jersey is very enlightening and uplifting. It misses the opportunity to have alumni students and the parents of students reinforce the power of St. Benedict's, but the faculty who do speak on the behalf of the school display enough to prove good things are happening. The cinematography heavily engages its audience with the system of the school and the students who live there. Let's hope more people follow them as a positive role model.

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Release Date:

29 April 2014 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Newark, New Jersey, USA

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