Tag Archives: Rafael Casal

Bad Education (2020) Review

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Bad Education

Time: 108 Minutes
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Frank Tassone
Allison Janney as Pam Gluckin
Geraldine Viswanathan as Rachel Bhargava
Alex Wolff as Nick Fleischman
Rafael Casal as Kyle Contreras
Stephen Spinella as Tom Tuggiero
Annaleigh Ashford as Jenny Aquila
Ray Romano as Big Bob Spicer
Director: Cory Finley

The beloved superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district (Hugh Jackman) and his staff, friends and relatives become the prime suspects in the unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history.

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I heard of Bad Education a little while ago, it is an HBO movie about an embezzlement scandal that takes place at a school with a cast featuring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano. However, what really got my attention of this movie is that it was directed by Cory Finley, who made the great Thoroughbreds some years ago. Bad Education didn’t disappoint, it was greatly written and directed and everyone performed their parts well.

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Bad Education is based off a true story, and while I wasn’t familiar with the real-life details, it definitely was an intriguing story which made for an interesting and entertaining movie to watch. The script from Mike Makowsky was great and felt quite fresh, with some naturalistic dialogue, the tension being raised over the course of the movie, and the third act really delivering. The movie also does feel quite grounded and real, which worked to its benefit. It’s darkly comic too, balancing comedy and drama with its distinct tone. On top of showing things going on behind the scenes at the school with the teachers involved, it also shows it from the perspective of a student (played well by Geraldine Viswanathan) who exposed the embezzlement scandal publicly, and I thought that aspect was handled well too. We do get a little bit of her home life and motivations but it does feel like they could’ve afforded shown more of it. Speaking of things they could’ve added, for as great as it was, I think the third act could’ve been a bit longer and less rushed. Additionally, some storylines could’ve had a little more time spent with them so they felt a little more complete (especially Allison Janney’s who mostly vanishes from the movie once her story is done in like the first half). Bad Education is just under an hour and 50 minutes, and while it’s generally paced well, I think an additional 5-10 minutes would’ve made it a little better. These are minor complaints however.

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The performances are great and really carry this movie, everyone brought their A game to their parts. Leading Bad Education is Hugh Jackman, who is truly outstanding in this movie. He was perfect for this sort of role as a beloved and likable superintendent of the school, and he actually sort of gets you to root for him even though he’s doing illegal things in the movie. You can really understand his perspective and why he does what he does. All in all, I’d say that it’s one of Jackman’s all time best performances, and given his career that is saying a lot. The supporting cast all perform greatly too, including Allison Janney, Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, and Rafael Casal.

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Bad Education is directed well by Cory Finley, with this and Thoroughbreds, he’s shown himself to be a more than capable filmmaker. His new movie isn’t quite as overtly stylised as his first movie, but it’s nonetheless filmed very well, especially considering that it is a TV movie. It’s shot very well, the visual presentation added a lot to the general feel of it. I liked the use of music too, especially the score from Michael Abels.

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Bad Education was a really solid and grounded crime drama. It’s directed well, the script is great, and there’s some great acting from its talented cast. Definitely watch it when you get a chance. I’m really looking forward to seeing more movies from Cory Finley, he’s shown himself to be a real talent to watch with his two films.

Blindspotting (2018) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Cast:
Daveed Diggs as Collin Hoskins
Rafael Casal as Miles
Janina Gavankar as Val
Jasmine Cephas Jones as Ashley
Ethan Embry as Officer Molina
Tisha Campbell-Martin as Mama Liz
Utkarsh Ambudkar as Rin
Wayne Knight as Patrick
Director: Carlos López Estrada

Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend (Rafael Casal) soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets.

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Blindspotting was a film that was slowly getting attention recently. Not many people have seen it and it hasn’t really been getting any awards attention, but those who have seen it gave it a lot of acclaim and considered it to be one of the best films of 2018. Naturally I had to check it out and I’m definitely with the group of people who love it, Blindspotting is one of the best films of 2018 and must be seen as soon as possible.

The script was written by lead actors Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal in the mid 2000s, and knowing that fact while watching just elevated both the story and the lead performances significantly as the story feels really personal, and it definitely comes across on screen as well. This screenplay is fantastically written. Now this movie has some prevalent themes and topics like race and policy brutality and despite the heavy subject matter, I think it handles everything really well, as it feels like a movie on its own as well as sending some strong messages and says what it wants to say. There is some great comedy in the movie sprinkled throughout, especially during some of the conversations between the two leads, and its very fitting and makes it a genuinely entertaining movie to watch. On top of that, the characters all feel real and genuine and not just one dimensional vessels for ideas and symbolism or anything like that. At the same time the movie really hits hard with the heavy scenes when it needs to and it gets its messages across really effectively. The ending of this movie is particularly great. On paper it sounds really silly but the way it was directed, written, acted and overall executed was so incredibly powerful and worked extremely well. Definitely one of the stand out movie endings from 2018.

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are fantastic in the lead roles. Both actors are childhood friends in real life and that definitely translated to the on screen chemistry. All their interactions from them hanging out and talking about random things to having full on intense arguments feel completely genuine and real. A stand out scene is a particular argument later in the movie between the two of them.

This is director Carlos López Estrada’s first feature film and this is a really great directorial debut. Oakland really feels like a big presence here, with the cinematography, environment and music all adding a lot to it all. In terms of some stand out directed scenes, there are also some nightmarish scenes where lead character Collin is haunted by from him seeing a killing by a cop early in the movie, and the film did a great job at portraying the paranoia, fear and anxiety that he feels. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his directing work.

Blindspotting is one of the best films of 2018. It’s a great directorial debut, written excellently and is all around a very personal and intimate story. The performances by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are some of the best of the year and deserve more acclaim than they have been receiving. Blindspotting is not a movie to be missed.