[ONE NIGHT ONLY, DIRECTOR ATTENDING] Director Peter Richardson (How to Die in Oregon) shows it’s no small irony the small timber town neighboring Corvallis is literally named “love of learning”–and that, up until 2003, the town once built around a tiny country college had a fitting moniker. For 46 years, Philomath’s children benefited from the largesse of the Clemens family, specifically high-school dropout Rex, who made his fortune in logging and declared that every single Philomath High graduate would receive a four-year scholarship. The utopian system continued until media-courting Clemens nephew Steve Lower took up the tired culture-war script, complete with his “Get off my lawn!”-style screed against kids these days. Incensed by what he viewed as a latent anti-logging agenda among high-school faculty and administration, he began a backroom campaign to remove the district superintendent and threatened to pull the long-running scholarship program. Richardson lets the camera linger a bit too long on self-styled villain Lower, and Clear Cut devolves for a time into a chronicle of petty small-town in-fighting…until a moment, three-fourths of the way through, when it becomes clear how much of a parable–nay, microcosm—Philomath is for a country in danger of losing any semblance of common sense.
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- Release Date: Monday, June 6, 2011
- Critic's Score: 82
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