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Case Number 26622: Small Claims Court

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This American Journey

Cinema Libre // 2013 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // November 27th, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart eats alone in diners—but only because he's hungry.

The Charge

"We begin our drive into the American Heartland—New York to Los Angeles—and who knows what in between?"

The Case

"Some guys got arrows in their backs, and some guys didn't."

During the TV season, if you heard someone saying that to Paul Blackthorne, they'd be talking about literal arrows—he plays Detective Quentin Lance on Arrow—but in This American Journey, the conversation was about the winners and losers in Wall Street turmoil.

Blackthorne—along with still photographer Mister Basquali—was starting his cross-country journey to see and hear America. The expat friends—Blackthorne from Britain, Basquiat from Australia—loaded some soup and oatmeal into their car and took off. They also loaded movie equipment into their car, so we could get This American Journey, of course.

They get a lot of talk about CEOs and corporate giants, which you'd expect from someone taking America's pulse. It's not all that, though. You hear fears of Wal-Mart interfering with small business, but you also hear from a guy who gets prescriptions there at 3 a.m. and a musician who avails himself of their parking lot at night when on the road. Elsewhere, you see the guy with the NRA cap, but he's talking about his interest in green energy.

In Montgomery, Alabama, there's an effective switching between different voices—including that of Martin Luther King Jr.—to tell the story of the civil rights marches, showing how everyone was involved in the struggle. Discussion of religion takes Blackthorne and Basquali to a Muslim worship and a Cowboy Church.

Shots of the road are intentionally grainy for effect, but the picture is otherwise clear. Some muffled sound is subtitled.

I had some problems with the extras menu; the trailer and one of the deleted scenes weren't there, sending me back to a long run of coming attractions trailers. The photo gallery puts the film crew into the scenes; it wasn't just Blackthorne and Basquiat on a road trip.

The conclusion you're to draw from This American Journey is the economy stinks, but people have faith and self-reliance to get them through. It might not be totally random—they did find a guy who ran for president once—and it's not surprising, but it is agreeable—perhaps my favorite anecdote was from the woman who eats alone in diners so people will ask what she's doing. If that weren't enough, the two travelers found a puppy in a motel parking lot along the way.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Cinema Libre
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Gallery
• Trailer


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