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Tivoli Theatre Presents – After Hours Film Society – My Old School

November 7, 2022 @ 7:30 pm

Directed by: Jono McLeod
Alan Cumming, Camilla Kerslake, Carly McKinnon
Not Rated
Runtime: 104 mins.

“My Old School takes a unique approach to uncovering a genuinely twisty real story, and as a result becomes a documentary that is not to be missed.”
–Rachel Labonte, ScreenRant“A masterclass in the art of deception.”
–Serena Seghedoni, Load & Clear“Exceedingly creative and endlessly clever.”
–Rolling Stone:Deliciously compelling.”
–The Hollywood Reporter
My Old School

Reviewed by Rachel Labonte | ScreenRant

My Old School takes a unique approach to uncovering a genuinely twisty real story, and as a result becomes a documentary that is not to be missed.

Movies are the best places for outlandish stories, and one can argue documentaries are even better. There is no greater thrill than watching a true story unravel right before one’s eyes, especially when it seems like it couldn’t actually have happened. This is the case with My Old School, a new documentary from Jono McLeod. While some of the biggest documentaries seem to focus on major historical events and towering public figures, this film goes for a tale that might not have gotten much notice outside of Scotland. That detail somehow makes it no less gripping or relatable. My Old School takes a unique approach to uncovering a genuinely twisty real story, and as a result becomes a documentary that is not to be missed.

In 1993 Glasgow, a 16-year-old boy named Brandon Lee caused a stir when he enrolled in Bearsden Academy, and not only because he arrived mere months after the actor Brandon Lee passed away on the set of The Crow. Brandon quickly stood out among his classmates due to his odd looks, his intriguing background, and his high intellect. It would be some time before Brandon’s shocking secret emerged, and when it did, it shook the entire community to its core. Now, decades later, his classmates have reassembled to look back on the stunning event that shaped their school years and offer their own perspective on the story of one Brandon Lee.

As My Old School makes clear right from the start, Brandon opted to not be shown on camera. McLeod carefully works around this by having beloved Scottish actor Alan Cumming stand-in for Brandon during the talking head portions and lip-sync along with his answers. The result works far better than it seems like it would on paper, with Cumming doing an excellent job at matching Brandon’s tones and vocals with his own expressions. This also serves to make Brandon even more of an elusive figure for the audience; though everyone can hear him, his true appearance remains a mystery, save for some archival footage near the end. Even that reveal does nothing to lessen the enigma that is My Old School’s central figure.

To give any further details about Brandon’s story would be to take away from the thrill of watching it unfold through the eyes of those who attended Bearsden with him. The concept of former classmates reuniting to look back on their school days is one that can resonate with everyone, and My Old School smartly basks in the nostalgia by allowing each of the interview subjects to really laugh and talk with each other. Their asides aren’t always focused on Brandon, and so they help enhance the overall story. It is easy for the viewer to feel like they too attended Bearsden back in the ’90s. Additionally, McLeod interjects another bit of creativity by, similar to last year’s hit Flee, using animation to recreate the memories of the past, employing a style that will feel quite familiar to those who grew up during that decade. Overall, My Old School feels authentic and personal, and that gives it a warmth that is irresistible.

Even when the truth comes out, the full story of Brandon Lee holds more twists and turns than one might expect. My Old School doesn’t leave anyone with easy answers. It might seem simple to pass judgement on Brandon after learning his secret, but McLeod has assembled so many varying opinions and offered plenty of insight into Brandon’s life that the audience will likely be hard pressed to decide one way or another how they feel about him. Credit should also be given to the way McLeod allows the story to unravel. What first seems like a straightforward retelling takes on a new light as more interviewees chime in and as certain quotes and moments come back to reframe what was said before. Sentences that first seemed innocuous sound much different when woven back into the narrative an hour later.

Even for those who may not seek out documentaries normally, My Old School is a film that shouldn’t be missed. It’s an absurd and stunning story, but it also holds such heart and authenticity that it feels deeply relatable. Rather than take a by-the-book approach, McLeod matches Brandon’s story and embraces the unique by bringing real creative flourishes to the film. This is a tale that mostly affected those who lived in Glasgow at the time, but it is guaranteed to now stick with anyone who settles in to watch My Old School unwind its impressive web.

$7.00 Members | $11.00 Non-Members
5021 Highland Avenue  |  Downers Grove, IL
630-968-0219 |  classiccinemas.com
We apologize—Movie Pass cannot be used for AHFS programs


November 7, 2022
7:30 pm