America's Heart & Soul

Crimes

  • Appeasing Disney shareholders with a feature-length Successories commercial on the American Dream after the studio dumped Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11
  • Fusing political correctness and reactionary patriotism into a nauseating camp artifact of the Bush & Benetton Age
  • Commissioning an original song by John Mellencamp and featuring the umpteenth montage sequence set to Smash Mouth's "All Star"

    Defender
    Producer/director Louis Schwartzberg

    Tone Of Commentary
    Brimming with can-do, freedom-loving positivity. For Schwartzberg, each of the film's five-minute "documentary" vignettes symbolizes the American Dream, even the one about a struggling rock band that wants to sound like Pantera, only "not that tough." When he's not stopping to admire his inspirational subjects or his soaring helicopter shots, Schwartzberg posits the film as an answer to movies about "violence and drugs and crime and sex."

    What Went Wrong
    Not much, apparently. The limited budget meant that the segments had to be shot in only two or three days, but that's more than enough time to cursorily gloss over people's lives. Schwartzberg praises his movie endlessly, but his remarks on a Berkeley car festival are revealingly defensive: "They're not waiting for the official approval of critics that what they're creating is art."

    Comments On The Cast
    Schwartzberg admires so many of his characters that he can't decide which one he loves the most. Could it be the Mississippi Delta gospel singer? ("If you could bottle [her energy], you could solve the energy crisis.") The Appalachian tapestry weaver with her homespun wisdom? ("So incredibly poetic.") The father who pushes his son's wheelchair through the Boston Marathon? ("Every time I see it, it's hard not to shed a tear.")

    Inevitable Dash Of Pretension
    "I believe that history lives in the present," Schwartzberg notes. "If you turn these images into black and white, they're almost like a portal into the past."

    Commentary In A Nutshell
    "Obviously, the eagle represents America. But more importantly, it represents freedom."

  • More Commentary Tracks Of The Damned