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Rittenhouse Square (Unrated)

Release Date: July 22nd, 2005 (NYC-Lincoln Plaza Cinema)
Directed by Robert Downey, Sr.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about a popular square in Philadelphia.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This documentary is more entertaining than it should be—especially because Robert Downey, Sr. has a good eye for cinematography. He visits the Rittenhouse Square in the summer, fall, winter and spring. The square mainly consists of grassy areas for picnics as well as an area for musicians. It looks very different in each season, but it maintains its beauty. Downey does a good job of capturing moments with the many different people—young and old—who visit the square every day. He is also not afraid to show his wild side with his camera zooming in on rear ends. What really makes this film entertaining is the background music which he uses throughout and with the actual musicians performing. One of the musicians is Caeli Smith a very talented girl who plays the violin surprisingly well for a 12 year-old. There are a few interesting stories about the square, such as the gradual change from a place full of drugs and violence, to a more peaceful place where anyone of any age can feel safe to go to. What gives character to the square is the people. Downey finds some quite offbeat and humorous people in the square; some of them are even funny-looking, such as a man who always wears a hat and a bowtie as if he just stepped out of the past—he really . Everyone in this film is lively and engaging, including Downey himself who appears in a few scenes to ask some questions—and to answer some too.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are some pretty big topics in the film even though it is primarily about Rittenhouse Square. One of the topics is the definition of the perfect woman, which both young and old people get a chance to give their perspective. Even Downey himself discusses it, too. It is uplifting to know that a small area such as this square could bring so many different people—and talents—together.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A well-shot documentary about a small, lively place in a big city. Great music, surprising humor, and interesting people make for a very entertaining, thought-provoking, and satisfying experience.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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