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Cartel

Cartel (2010)

tomatometer

47

Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 30
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 16

Director Bob Bowdon may make some strong points in The Cartel, but they're drowned out by his grating screen presence and amateurish filmmaking.

47

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 8

Director Bob Bowdon may make some strong points in The Cartel, but they're drowned out by his grating screen presence and amateurish filmmaking.

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 168

My Rating

Movie Info

About The Cartel | Teachers punished for speaking out. Principals fired for trying to do the right thing. Union leaders defending the indefensible. Bureaucrats blocking new charter schools. These are just some of the people we meet in The Cartel. The film also introduces us to teens who can't read, parents desperate for change, and teachers struggling to launch stable alternative schools for inner city kids who want to learn. We witness the tears of a little girl denied a coveted charter school

Unrated,

Documentary, Kids & Family, Special Interest

Bob Bowdon

Independent Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (16)

With its clunky chalkboard chapters and a parade of static talking heads too often repeating the filmmaker's underlying theme of political corruption and union myopia, it's a C theatrical experience. Maybe a C+ for right intentions.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film -- for which Bowdon directed, wrote, narrated, produced, operated a camera, composed music and sang -- spends a little too much time on static shots of flickering computer screens filled with gray text, and it has the look of cheap video.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are plenty of legitimate grievances here, but like Michael Moore at his pushiest, Bowdon often undermines his own argument with obvious factual cherry-picking.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bowdon makes an insufferable first impression, and his movie often looks as if it were shot with a camera-phone (for good measure, he includes actual camera-phone footage, which admittedly looks worse than his).

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bowdon makes a compelling argument against the defensive maneuvers of teachers' unions and in favor of vouchers and charter schools, but his documentary is no exercise in free-market cant.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Watching this film, you'd think that most public schools were Mafia-run slaughterhouses and most charter schools were urban academies with high success rates. Bowdon barely mentions the religiosity and profit motive behind some charter schools.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Comment (1)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

But this amateurish, ultimately poorly argued documentary isn't likely to convert many of those on the fence on this issue.

July 18, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist

In The Cartel, New Jersey public schools are an example of what's going wrong in U.S. school systems generally, despite a "spending explosion."

May 12, 2010 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

...you will more likely find yourself annoyed by this documentary's similarity to a series of television segments pasted together and stretched out to 90 minutes...

May 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Playback:stl
Playback:stl

You may not agree with the solutions offered in The Cartel but it's impossible not to be outraged at the corruption on display.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: What Would Toto Watch?
What Would Toto Watch?

Anyone who gets a thrill out of town meetings may salivate at what Bowdon throws at viewers, which is all statistics and wonkery.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington City Paper
Washington City Paper

If it played on New Jersey TV, I bet The Cartel would open some eyes, but as Bowdon tries to parlay a very local issue into a nationally released movie, it's more likely to close them.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

The question, "Is our children learning," has never seemed a more appropriate statement for the state of education in the United States.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

Bowdon believes fervently in school choice, and brings his argument to theaters at a time when the tectonic plates in the stratified debate are shifting violently.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

It makes no sense to approach a nationwide issue with such a limited focus.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Metromix.com
Metromix.com

The topic may be urgent, and the fallout heartbreaking, but this clumsy treatment barely passes.

April 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

After ninety minutes of charts, graphs, and tearful testimony, we get the point.

April 28, 2010 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

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