(2011/Weinstein/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)
B-/C+ Sound: B-/C+ Extras: B Main Programs: B
Not to be
confused with the equally impressive, hard-hitting Larry Clark drama from 2001
(whose mature potential audience was lost in the shock of the hideous 9/11
attacks as a important film people should have been talking about and highly
recommended, though expect graphic violence), We have covered many dramas on
the subject of bullying, but Lee Hirsch’s Bully
(2011) is a documentary that shows the situation is as bad as ever and getting
worse. It tries to show people fighting
back, but the neglect and violence of the incidents only made worse by those in
power ignoring it has made it a national crisis.
this has always existed in some form and juvenile delinquency dramas and
documentaries of or about school and being a teen in the 1950s and 1960s have
not ignored the subject, they usually did not go far enough in showing the
abuse making it an un-dealt with celebrated ugliness as we can see in Richard
Linklater’s Dazed & Confused (reviewed
elsewhere on this site) that shows it as no joke complete with the sexual
violence and terror that goes with it.
Hirsch’s doc takes on several cases throughout its informative 99
minutes how it affects those who are alone, different and how racism and sexual
persecution is also involved to the point where the victim is continuously
hurt, cut down, abused, ignored, sexually assaulted, severely injured,
harassed, sometimes commits suicide or even kills in revenge.
are the adults? The parents try to help
in some cases, but they are not emotionally, intellectually or financially
prepared, the teachers are too often more worried about their jobs and don’t
care and they are joined by school administrators who are also more interested
in their jobs or covering for either their friends or people in town with money
whose children are the bullies to begin with.
It goes all the way to the police in too many cases and there is no
political will to fix this in too many cases, even (especially?) in rich
schools. Then you have the anti-union
agenda of horrid people and films like Won’t
Back Down (reviewed elsewhere on this site) who never even talk about
bullying as a reason children underperform or even acknowledge its existence
because they are too hell bent on ruining the system further down to vouchers
for private or religious schools to makes the public schools poorer and less
able to educated students in safety.
documentary does not offer many answers, in part because those answers are
complex and more on the level I am talking about here above. The trend also reflects too disturbingly for
some the mentality that started in the 1980s of our own children being
disposable, so if other children get rid of them “for us” we don’t have the
”expense” of said children to worry about.
That is how cold this has become all the way to the recent antics of the
NRA. If these assaults were happening to
adults, there would be legal charges in many cases, but until enough adults act
like adults and a few legal cases change this behavior, all the lectures and
talk in the world will not stop this trend.
Only money and the law, including some serious financial legal victories
against school districts like the irresponsible Murray District of Georgia in
this film will send the message that if adults get paid money to teach and take
care of educating children, they have to protect them instead of treating them
as if they are disposable. Bully might just help us get closer to
that much-needed goal, or something more awful and unspeakable is on the way,
while the victims tend to be the most original, sensitive and unique human
beings around, of which this society never can have enough of.
is killing the future for all of us!
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Blu-ray is an
on-location HD video shoot and may have some motion blur and other expected
flaws, but is as good as can be expected with older analog video footage of
some of the victims (including those no longer with us) well edited and with
enough exposition to make the points necessary to understand what we have seen
all these decades. The anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVD is also not bad, as good as that format
could deliver, but the Blu-ray makes this a bit more intimate.
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Blu-ray can be towards the front
speakers as we get much location audio and talk, so that is to be expected with
some audio subtitled if it is weak, so this could not be better. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is
also decent, though it is simply a bit weaker.
the bonus DVD version of the film, Deleted Scenes and a dozen clips to further
show what has happened since this film was released (including a wonderful clip
with Meryl Streep) and more about The Bully Project. Hirsch has created an important, timely work
that is long overdue and once again, the Weinsteins have backed priceless work
(which even has a tie-in book) that is a must-see for everyone!
- Nicholas Sheffo