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Movie Review: Sounds Like a Revolution

June 25, 2010

Sounds Like a Revolution – A KinoSmith Release

Release Date: June 25th @ The Royal, July 2nd @ Carlton Cinemas

Rated 14A for coarse language

Running time: 76 minutes

Summer Preney (dir.)

Jane Michener (co-dir.)

Margaret Susan Martin (writer)

Mischa Chillak (music)

David Crosby

Ani Difranco

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Justin Sane

Our reviews below:


Sounds Like a Revolution Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sounds Like a Revolution is a Canadian documentary about the new wave of protest music.  Focused in the mid-2000’s, this follows bands like Anti-Flag, and the Dixie Chicks, and such artists as Michael Franti and Paris, and the music they used to protest the Bush administration, and the war in Iraq.  At times, it feels like it takes place before the election of Obama.

The use of music for somewhat-peaceful protests is an interesting subject, but Sounds Like a Revolution is more a look at the independent music scene.  The film is most interesting when the attention is turned to Michael Franti, as some of the other artists’ messages of “peace” could easily get lost in the shuffle of bad language and violent lyrics.

For the most part, it’s a somewhat interesting inside look at the independent music scene, but even at only 76-minutes, the film does feel like it’s spinning its wheels a bit.  But other than that, this is an informative documentary, that is worth a look.


Sounds Like a Revolution Review by Erin V.

**1/3 (out of 4)

This is not the style of music that I usually listen to, so I wasn’t really familiar with the works nor the artists presented here.  I found overall though, that this was an interesting, albeit slightly uneven documentary.  At times, I was finding my attention wandering, although a lot of it was interesting and its underlying messages had validity.  I found myself enjoying the parts with folk artist Michael Franti, more than some of the other more strictly punk/rap artists.  I personally found his messages seemed to get across the clearest.

I think that for those who know the artists, this will hold more interest, although it’s still more worth seeing, even if not interested in the subject, than some other docs I’ve seen.  Personally, for my musical tastes, I found the earlier release Soundtrack for a Revolution more captivating a film than Sounds Like a Revolution, but would recommend checking both out for an interesting contrast.

An interesting side-note is that this is a primarily Canadian funded film.


Sounds Like a Revolution Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sounds Like a Revolution is an interesting documentary about indie protest singers from the past decade.  The artists vary in style from hip hop, to folk, to punk rock music, but hold a common interest in speaking out on important issues such as war and peace, racism, and politics.  However, since some of the artists use strong language, provocative images, and even violent revenge fantasies in their song lyrics, their work ends up being censored of even banned from stores, radio stations, and public venues.

There seems to be a real fine line between freedom of speech and anger, which could incite violence in some people who misinterpret the meaning of the songs.  I didn’t agree with the use of violent imagery in some of the lyrics, or the “Christian Mock” number during the credits.  But I found three of the artists, namely folk singer Michael Franti, Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane, and Ap’apa’a to show actual compassion and a drive for peace, as opposed to just “stick it to the man.”.  My favourite parts of the documentary is when Michael Franti visits the Iraqi children.  As someone who prefers more of an acoustic sound, I especially liked Franti’s music.

Unlike Soundtrack For a Revolution, which focused on the 1960’s African-American civil rights movement, Sounds Like a Revolution is more about freedom of speech, then a film about peace.  I would recommend Sounds Like a Revolution to anyone who has an interest in contempory music.


Sounds Like a Revolution Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sometimes change comes from the most unlikeliest of places.  Sounds Like a Revolution highlights the songs and music of several independent punk, hip-hop, alternative recording artists.  Each of them in their own way tries to bring awareness and protest against issues such as former President George W. Bush, the Iraq war, poverty and the environment.  Their biggest concern is the censoring of their songs by big music labels.  Artists are increasingly able to get their messages out to their target audiences, using artist websites and social networking.

While many of these artists didn’t hold my interest, I found musician and activist Michael Franti to be the most captivating.  It’s too bad the documentary didn’t focus more on his work and ideas.  However, Sounds Like a Revolution did what a documentary should – open my mind to new information and ideas, and entertain.

Fans of today’s independent and alternative recording artists will find this interesting as will anyone interested in social change.


Sounds Like a Revolution Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sounds Like A Revolution is a documentary on American protest music.  Though it begins with a clip of Pete Seeger and pays brief homage at times to other 20th century artists, the bulk of the film concentrates on the current decade, so except for folk singer Michael Franti and the Dixie Chicks, most of the music is punk and rap, admittedly my least favourite genres.  Despite the vulgarity of most of their music, the artists all share similar liberal views.  The greed of the major labels and recent concentration of media outlets by the right-wing has kept most of this material off the regular charts. Despite these disturbing developments, the proliferation of independent labels and downloading has kept the artists before their enthusiastic, albeit niche fans.  For me a good documentary holds my attention even for a subject in which I have little interest.  This Canadian-produced film passes the test.  __________________________________________________________________________

Consensus: Although some of the artists featured are more interesting than others, and it more focuses on the troubles of independent artists, Sounds Like a Revolution is an informative documentary about the new wave of protest music. **1/2 (Out of 4)

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