My Old School (2022)
November 20, 2022 10:52 AM - Subscribe

In 1993, 16-year-old Brandon Lee enrolled at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in a well-to-do suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. What followed over the next two years would become the stuff of legend.

A documentary on Hulu. Spoiler-free review of the movie here. Spoiler-full discussion of it here. The filmmaker tries to make it a slow reveal halfway through the show as to what exactly Brandon was up to in the 90's, but it's also foreshadowed enough by people's remarks that you can figure out early on what's going on before it's Officially Said. Therefore, I'm not sure exactly sure how "spoiler free" I should be about this.

Notable spoiler-free things about this movie from the start:

(a) It features a veritable high school reunion of former classmates talking about another classmate, Brandon Lee. One classmate, Jono, is making the movie.

(b) While Brandon himself is participating in the documentary, he let himself be recorded but did not want his current face to be seen on screen. Alan Cumming plays Brandon on camera, lip-syncing to Brandon's pre-recorded speech.

(c) The 90's high school flashback scenes are animated by the animators of Daria, apparently (or someone copying it very well, I do not know which it is officially), which is an absolute fitting delight.

(d) You will eventually see Brandon in 90's video towards the end, so you can judge for yourself as to what you think.

After that, I'm going to discuss spoiler information below the post. Up to you as to whether or not you want to read that.
posted by jenfullmoon (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This kind of reminds me of "Catch Me If You Can" in some ways. I've certainly seen the Leonardo movie, and the stage musical, and read the book of it. In the book, Frank notes that he was a large, hairy, adult-looking guy and that's how he got away with what he was doing. People comment here that Brandon looked physically older and had a very odd looking face (which, well, he does, it's unusual and long-shaped), and there was some kind of claim he'd been in an accident. I kind of wonder if his looking unusually weird may have thrown people off enough for him to pull it off. He definitely changed his hair (they don't mention if he dyed it, but it's mentioned as looking red IRL in the 90's, but it doesn't look red in real life footage) and permed it for a more distinctive mop.

I find it hilarious that "Brandon Lee" had no idea about the actor (who had just died) when he picked his alias, choosing the name from 90210. I also think it's hilarious that there was another student with his given name, Brian MacKinnon, there at the same time. Original Brian even says early on that he's used to hearing about others with the same name, which cracked me up once that was revealed.

I've never heard of some kind of thing where you can go into medical school right out of high school, I'm not sure if this particular school had some kind of Arrangement with the med school for this. But you do kind of wonder if he had to go to this particular school to get back into that med school again. I am somehow not surprised his old teachers never recognized him, though, decades later. I note one girl in the movie said something about how he didn't have to lie to go after his dreams--well, it sounds like he very specifically DID have to for this particular dream at this particular age-restricting school, so...

The moment where everyone watches the South Pacific video and realizes he was doing a looooooooong kiss (the girl herself didn't remember that and thought it was a peck) is...uncomfortable.

Nope, Brandon hated his second stint at high school too!

I'm not surprised he's just kind of doing not much except trying to get back into some med school, which will probably never happen now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:02 AM on November 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've never heard of some kind of thing where you can go into medical school right out of high school

In the UK it's common to do A-Levels (or Highers in Scotland) at age 16-18 at college or secondary school ("high school"), then go straight to university (sometimes with a gap year in between school and uni). This includes going to study medicine.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:56 PM on November 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's like a whole real-life genre of adults who go to high school; sometimes they're people like Cameron Crowe, who did it (I'm pretty sure with the permission of the school) to research Fast Times at Ridgemont High, sometimes they're doing it for some unfathomable reason, and then there's this guy, who I guess was obsessed with going to high school until he "got it right", whatever that meant for him. I probably would have done a bunch of things differently if I had to do it over, but I can't imagine really wanting to go back to high school as an adult.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:18 AM on November 21, 2022

I wasn't initially sold on the animated sequences until it became clear that they were a whole part of the artifice of the story. And we needed to see that before we got the real story -- as much as we could get the "real" story with such an unreliable narrator as Brian/"Brandon" is (who didn't want to appear on-screen but had to have Alan Cumming mouth his words) and the classmates -- including filmmaker, Jono McLeod -- who are having to remember things from 25 years ago.

I think what this does well is that it absolutely reminds you that all of these classmates are real people with real lives and they weren't just supporting characters in whatever Brian/"Brandon" was doing. I liked that they were all still trying to understand this weird thing they were involved in.

(I do think it's fascinating that people's general inclination is just to believe the thing that people tell you. I know my flaw is sometimes I'm ... not naive, exactly, but just willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and just start from a baseline of "why would this person be lying?" I can just see being 16 and shrugging off a lot of my questions. The faculty ... I mean, maybe less so, but I also get it.)

I liked this more than I thought. It was also different than I thought. I can see that it's not something everyone might want to stick with but it does reward the people who do.
posted by edencosmic at 5:38 PM on November 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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