Film Review: Bad Education

Cory Finley’s sophomore picture Bad Education is a well-crafted exploration of deception. Hugh Jackman delivers an outstanding performance.

Dr Frank Tassone is superintendent of New York’s Roslyn School District, and has turned the high school into one of the top performing public schools in the country. However, a malfeasance scandal threatens the school’s reputation…

Based on real events, Bad Education is a darkly comic drama. Written by Mike Makowsky, Finley’s second feature focuses on malfeasance at a school district. This perhaps does not sound like the most gripping of subjects, yet becomes multi-layered and consequential in Finley’s capable hands. 

The narrative takes a little while to get going, whilst the context and main players are introduced. One of the highlights of Bad Education is that it is unclear where the plot will go, particularly after a significant revelation. 

Makowsky and Finley flesh out the main characters in a methodical fashion. It is unclear exactly how important certain characters will be to begin with, and Finley keeps viewers guessing. One of the film’s strongest points is its depiction of protagonist Frank. The director is careful in his depiction, slowly peeling back the layers, and shifting audience perception. It is expertly executed.

In focusing on this incident, Finley explores a number of themes. Key to the film is responsibility, accountability, and deception. Like Thoroughbreds, Bad Education is concerned with the nature of sociopathy, and the wider impact it has. The setting works as a microcosm to address larger problems in society as a whole. Some of the dialogue later in the film gives pause for thought. 

Bad Education is darkly humorous, yet knows when to be serious. Finley wisely holds back, and is often restrained in terms of comedy.  This works well to assert the gravitas of the incident, as well as the mindset of the protagonist.  

Hugh Jackman delivers a superb performance as Frank; one of the best of his career. He is as convincing as the charmer as well as the deceiver. Allison Janney is also wonderful, and steals several scenes. Geraldine Viswanathan offers a good turn as Rachel.

Bad Education is great character study, and an entertaining watch. Finley certainly knows his craft. 

Bad Education is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

Previews: Creed II Clip, Uglydolls, More!

Lots of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a new Creed II clip, Uglydolls, Missing Link, and more…

Creed II Clip

Here is a brand new Creed II clip. A sequel to 2016’s Creed, the film sees the return of Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson. They are joined by a face from the original franchise; Dolph Lundgren reprises his role as Ivan Drago. Directed by Steven Caple Jr., Creed II will hit UK screens on 30th November 2018.

Uglydolls Trailer

Here is the first trailer for animated adventure Uglydolls. Based on the toy brand, the film is about the residents of Uglyville, who confront what it means to be different. The film features original songs by Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, and Blake Shelton. Uglydolls is set for release on 16th August 2019.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Poster

Above is the latest poster for the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film focuses on a different Spider-Man universe. With an all-star voice cast (including Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nicolas Cage), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is out in UK cinemas on 12th December, with previews on 8th and 9th December 2018.

Missing Link Trailer

Missing Link is the latest film from animation studio Laika. The film is about an explorer who  discovers the world’s most legendary creature. Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Zoe Saldana, Missing Link is set for release on 5th April 2019.

Aquaman Poster

Here is one of the latest posters from the upcoming DC film Aquaman. Nicole Kidman stars as Queen Atlanna in the film. She is joined by Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe. Directed by James Wan, Aquaman will hit UK screens on 14th December 2018.

White Boy Rick Trailer

White Boy Rick is based on the true story. Set in 1980s Detroit, during the height of the war on drugs, the film is about a father and his teenage son, who becomes a police informant. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Brian Tyree Henry. White Boy Rick is being released in UK cinemas on 7th December 2018.

Film Review: The Front Runner

Jason Reitman’s political drama The Front Runner is an engrossing watch. The film is superbly scripted, and boasts solid performances from its cast.

In 1986, Gary Hart is the front runner to be the presidential candidate for the Democratic party in the 1988 election. A lot can change in three weeks…

Set over a three week period in 1986, The Front Runner tells the story of democratic candidate Gary Hart’s campaign demise. The film conveys how quickly the front runner’s campaign fell apart after a scandal. Reitman’s film focuses on different sets of characters – the candidate’s team,  the set of reporters who break the scandal, other reporters in the pool, and Hart’s family. The action jumps between various locations on the campaign trail, and from campaign to newspaper office.  

The story is told in a compelling way, with markers showing each of the three weeks. Pacing is good; the freneticism of the campaign is mirrored by the jumping from location to location, from conversation to conversation. Reitman harks back to the period with his shooting style and the titles. It can be a little hokey, but draws viewers into this world. 

The script, written by Reitman, Matt Bai, and Jay Carson, is fantastic. The dialogue gives an easy feel for the large cast of characters, conveying the personalities adroitly. The dialogue is often quick-fire, and there is plenty of humour to be found, amongst the more serious proceedings. The Front Runner has an enviable cast. Hugh Jackman gives a strong performance as Hart. J.K. Simmons, Mamoudou Athie, Jenna Kanell all highlights among a great cast. Music is used well throughout. 

What does The Front Runner say in this political age? The scandal which sunk Hart is far, far more tame than the numerous scandals that did not even dent the current US president. A couple of themes become clear. Reitman returns to the idea of the role of the press, questioning the shift from serious reporting to tabloid splashes. Yet this seems redundant in this new political age, when neither appears to make as much of an impact.

Furthermore, Reitman underlines Hart’s disparaging of the personal line of questioning he receives from the press. At the same time, the film makes it clear that this obtuseness is a hinderance to Hart’s own team, much to their frustration. Reitman sets up the paradox of a man who demands integrity from others, but lacks the very same himself. The Front Runner plays with these ideas – the role of the press, the public versus private persona of politicians, whether a scandal should deter an otherwise meritorious politician – without positing a firm opinion. The film works better for leaving these ideas for viewers to mull over themselves.

The Front Runner is a diverting watch, and one of Reitman’s more accomplished films.

The Front Runner is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Previews: Peter Rabbit Featurette, Ferdinand, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a new Peter Rabbit featurette, Ferdinand, Smallfoot, and more…

Peter Rabbit Featurette

This Peter Rabbit featurette wisely introduces the wider cast of the film. With James Corden receiving bad publicity recently, Sony uses this feature to shift focus to other cast members. Corden is joined by Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Domhnall Gleeson in this big-screen adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s work. Peter Rabbit will be released on 16th March 2018.

Ferdinand Clip

This is a clip from upcoming animated adventure Ferdinand. The film is about a bull who is mistaken for a dangerous beast, and taken from his home. The voice cast includes John Cena, Kate Kate McKinnon, and Gina Rodriguez. Ferdinand will hit the big screen on 9th December 2017.

The Greatest Showman Featurette

This featurette for The Greatest Showman focuses on Zac Efron, and what attracted him to work on the film. The Greatest Showman is an original musical about P.T. Barnum and the birth of show business. Hugh Jackman leads the cast, and is joined by Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya. The Greatest Showman will be released in cinemas on 26th December 2017.

Smallfoot Poster

Here is the new poster for Smallfoot. The film is an animated adventure about a yeti who finds something he didn’t think existed – a human. The film is directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, director of Over the Hedge. Smallfoot features the voices of Channing Tatum, Zendaya, Common, and Danny DeVito. The film is set for release on 5th October 2018.

The Mercy Trailer

The Mercy is director James Marsh’s (The Theory of Everything) latest film. The film tells the true story of an amateur sailor in the late 1960s, who hopes to be the first person in history to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe without stopping. The film stars Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, and David Thewlis. The Mercy will be released on 9th February 2018.

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Previews: Logan Lucky Trailer, Stronger, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Logan Lucky trailer, My Little Pony: The Movie, Stronger and more…

Logan Lucky Trailer

Here is the new Logan Lucky trailer. The films sees director Steven Soderbergh teaming up with Channing Tatum once again for this new action comedy. Tatum is joined by an enviable cast that includes Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, and Daniel Craig. Logan Lucky will hit UK cinemas on 25th August 2017.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Trailer

Here is the brand new trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The film is set in the same world as the 1995 film, albeit updated to be a video game rather than a board game. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is scheduled for release in UK cinemas in December 2017.

My Little Pony: The Movie Trailer

Will this new film be as good as 1986’s My Little Pony: The Movie? Only time will tell. After Hasbro re-launched the toy and media franchise in 2010, a new new movie seemed inevitable. This new film features an all-star voice cast, including Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoworth, Live Schreiber, and Taye Diggs. My Little Pony: The Movie arrives on UK screens on 20th October 2017.

The Greatest Showman Trailer

The Greatest Showman is a new original musical. The film is inspired by P.T. Barnum, and celebrates the birth of show business. Hugh Jackman headlines, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. The Greatest Showman is set for release in UK cinemas on 1st January 2018.

Annabelle: Creation Poster

Here is the latest poster for Annabelle: Creation, which emphasises the creepiness of the doll. The film is a prequel, and details how the doll was brought to life originally. This latest horror is directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out). Annabelle: Creation hits UK screens on  11th August 2017.

The Dark Tower Featurette

This new featurette for The Dark Tower reveals a bit more about the main character in the film. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the film, based on Stephen King’s novel. The Dark Tower is out in cinemas on 18th August 2017.

Stronger Trailer

Here is the trailer for drama Stronger. The film is based on the true story of the Boston man  whose iconic photo from the 2013 Boston marathon bombing was broadcast throughout the world. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Masley, and Miranda Richardson. Stronger will be released later this year.

Previews: The House Trailer, Get Out, More!

Plenty to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The House trailer, Get Out, Aftermath, and more…

The House Trailer

This new The House trailer depicts an unusual way for parents to pay for their child’s tuition fees. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are the parents who decide to operate an underground casino to ensure their daughter can go to university. The comedy is the directorial debut of screenwriter Andrew Jay Cohen (responsible for the scripts of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and others). The House is set for release in UK cinemas on 30th June 2017.

Kong: Skull Island Image

Here is anew image for the upcoming Kong: Skull Island. The film features a stellar cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and John C. Reilly. The film reimagines the origins of the mythic Kong. Kong: Skull Island launches on to UK screens on 9th March 2017.

Aftermath Trailer

Here is the trailer for thriller Aftermath. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a husband and father who hunts down the air traffic controller who he holds responsible for the crash that killed his family. The film also stars Scoot McNairy and Maggie Grace, and is produced by Darren Aronofsky. Aftermath will hit UK cinemas on 7th April 2017.

Catfight Trailer

Catfight is a comedy about two old college friends who meet again years later. When wealthy housewife Veronica and struggling artist Ashley clash, their rivalry lasts years. The film stars Anne Heche, Sandra Oh, and Alicia Silverstone. Catfight is out in cinemas and on VOD in 10th March 2017.

Get Out Poster

Get Out is a thriller about a black man who visits his white girlfriend’s family estate. Worried that her family don’t realise he is black, the reality is about to get much worse. The trailer can be viewed here. The film is written and directed by Jordan Peele, and stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. Get Out hits UK screens on 17th March 2017.

Logan Clip

Above is footage of Laura, a new character from the upcoming Logan. It reveals a little more about the young character who seems to have the same condition as the title character. Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen. Logan is out in UK cinemas on 1st March 2017.

Life Poster

Life is a new sci-fi thriller about a group of scientists who discover a new life form is space. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. Directed by Daniel Espinosa, Life will be released in UK cinemas on 24th March 2017.

Everything Everything Trailer

This is the new trailer for Everything Everything, based on the best-selling novel of the same name. The film is about Maddy, a teenage girl with a condition that means she can’t leave her house, and her neighbour Olly who wants to be with her. Starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, Everything Everything is coming to cinemas soon.

Gleason Trailer

Here is the trailer for documentary Gleason. The film is about Steve Gleason, an American football star who is diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) at the age of 34. The documentary is directed by Clay Tweel. Gleason is out in UK cinemas from 17th march 2017.