SIFF Double Feature – Most Likely to Succeed and Cub

Most Likely to Succeed: Director Greg Whiteley’s new documentary takes a looks at the formation of our current school system (which took place over 100 years ago) and asks if it is still the right model for a new age. Memorizing facts is no longer needed now that most people have Internet access, so what are the skills that will ensure tomorrow’s college graduates a place in the work force? Whiteley takes a look at San Diego’s High Tech High, a charter school that emphasizes project-based learning instead of testing. Rote memorization and compartmentalized classes don’t exist there. Students engage in Socratic dialogue and work together to solve problems while learning how different subjects interrelate. Rather than having finals, they present their projects to their teachers, fellow students, parents, and anyone from the community who wants to come by and check things out. If Whiteley’s position is correct, this model of education may not only be more engaging for the students, it may be more likely to prepare students for a world where more and more low-level tasks are being automated. The changing workforce needs people who can think creatively, not just do what they are told.

This film succeeds at being both informative and entertaining. I don’t think documentaries need to be fun, but they have to engage the viewer in some way to get their point of view across. This one actually is fun, which is kind of nice after watching a bunch of serial killer crap. (Not really crap, just harrowing.) I’m not a particularly sappy person, but I like a good human-interest story where nice people work hard and do something cool. And that’s what I saw here. I don’t know what the right answer is for this situation, but I really can’t see how more testing is going to create people who can thrive in ambiguous, open-ended work situations. The students at High Tech High seem interested in their education in a way that I did not feel until college. I have an art degree – which is project-based learning – and it really did a good job of preparing me to work. But this review really isn’t about what I think about education reform, it’s about the efficacy of this film. And considering that I’m still thinking about what I saw and improvements I would make, I’d say it did its job pretty well. Recommended not only for parents and educators, but also for people who just like a good story.

Final Grade: A-

Most Likely to Succeed is playing June 1 and 2 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown.

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Cub: And now for a completely different kind of story about young people. Directed by Belgian filmmaker Jonas Govaerts, Cub tells the tale of a scouting trip gone very, very bad. Scout leaders Kris (Titus De Voogdt) and Peter (Stef Aerts) take their group out camping, including Sam (Maurice Luijten), a troubled boy with a traumatic and violent past. They run into some jerks at their designated campsite, so they go further into the woods to find a spot to stay. Engaging in the usual scouting activities, they liven things up with the story of Kai, a werewolf boy that is supposedly killing people in the woods. Sam is sure he sees Kai, but since everyone thinks he is a little weird (and it’s just a story) they accusing him of lying. But there is something in the woods, and as time passes, the safety of the scouts becomes more and more precarious.

This is a fun little film, but is surprisingly nasty in parts. I recently learned while reading reviews of books on Goodreads, that there are A LOT of people who get really mad when animals are endangered or hurt in fiction. Just as an fyi, there is a particularly brutal scene involving an animal in this movie. And it goes to a couple of other places I didn’t think it would. Which is not a bad thing. There are different kinds of horror movie violence. I myself prefer the art of the crazy kill. My husband can tell from the other room if I am enjoying a film (and what kind of movie it is) by the number of times he hears “Ouch!” I’m not so much into the torture stuff. There’s a little bit of both here, along with some Rube Goldberg-type contraptions that make its derivativeness obvious. But once again, not a bad thing when done right. One of the strengths of horror is that it is constantly building on what went before to create new things. It’s one of the reasons why it’s is a great playground for new directors to learn their craft. I had a good time with this and would recommend this for horror fans.

Final Grade: B

Cub plays on May 29 at SIFF Cinema Egyptian and June 3 at Pacific Place.



Adelaide enjoys watching all kinds of movies, but is never going to see Titanic unless there is a sizable amount of money involved.

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