Student Special - Cult Classics in Film

The Social Network

Depending on how you look at it, David Fincher’s modern classic about the birth of Facebook is either a glowing advertisement for dropping out of college, or a savage indictment. On the one hand, it shows how Mark Zuckerberg becomes the world’s youngest ever billionaire, via the creation of a social media platform that alters the global media landscape as we know it. On the other, Zuckerberg becomes embroiled in two lawsuits, loses the friends he makes along the way, and still ends up pining for the woman he wanted to impress in the first place. Either way, it’s one of the most immaculately directed, scripted and acted films of the 2010s.

Dead Poet’s Society

For all you young students struggling through exam stress or trying to make that essay deadline, this is the film to teach you that life itself is the real test. No doubt the carpe diem mentality the film promotes is a little hoary, and isn’t exactly going to secure you that grade you might desperately need. But if you’re in the right mood, Robin Williams’ impassioned English teacher and personification of a motivational poster, John Keating, can sweep you off your feet – and help you realise that the C- you got in Romantic poetry isn’t the end of the world.

Dazed And Confused

Richard Linklater’s cult flick may be centred one raucous night for a bunch of American high school students, but there’s a universal relatability to the scenes that unfold. The director wonderfully captures the sense of abandon, freewheeling fun and social bonding that are the hallmarks of teen friendship, while also providing some top-notch laughs along the way.

The Big Lebowski

Met with the classic mixed reviews at the time of its release in 1998, the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski has gone on to become the very definition of cult viewing. A favourite in dorm rooms across the world, it stars Jeff Bridges as the iconic, laidback Dude – a character who’s gone on to inspire a (sort of) religion in his own right. Certainly, his philosophy of ‘taking it easy’ in face of adversity is an attractive prospect for students the world over.

A Ghost Story

David Lowery’s intimate and strange arthouse effort isn’t exactly the typical student film, but the haunting meditation on grief – which stars Casey Affleck in a bedsheet – can help put things in perspective. Affleck’s character is killed in a car accident and subsequently left to haunt the home he lived in for all eternity. There’s little-to-no dialogue, the shots are slow as snails, and there’s a five-minute take of star Rooney Mara stress-eating an entire pie in one sitting (no, really). Ultimately, though, A Ghost Story will have you so fixated on the sheer endless void that is time itself, it’ll result in a full-blown existential crisis. The good news is that exams suddenly won’t seem like such hassle.

Blade Runner

A rite-of-passage film for every student, and a staple of film society screenings, this groundbreaking flick had a profound effect on the sci-fi genre – and indeed culture generally. Blade Runner’s futuristic, dystopian LA was a stunning slum, neon-lit paradise, and shadowy society all at the same time. Director Ridley Scott proved that sci-fi could be taken seriously courtesy of a dense, ambiguous plot that incorporated elements of film noir.

Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn basically invented the arthouse action drama, and gained instant cult status among millennials when Drive was released in 2011. Ryan Gosling may have about as much dialogue as the car he drives, but his steely charisma as the unnamed getaway driver more than makes up for it. A surreal fairytale with a violent edge, Drive boasts a killer soundtrack and grade-A chase scenes to boot.

Everybody Wants Some!!

While Dazed And Confused was a sincere document of a high school crew’s final summer blow-out, Everybody’s Wants Some!! saw director Richard Linklater tackle the college experience. True to the filmaker’s form, this is an a authentic look at what it’s like to be in the outside world on your own for the first time. In the best Linklater tradition, the movie is insightful and often uproariously funny.

Donnie Darko

Another film that enjoyed a second life thank to its dorm room popularity, Donnie Darko’s deft mix of alienation, humour and surrealism have made for perfect cult viewing. Also boasting a brilliant soundtrack of ’80s classics, the movie remains a huge favourite with students.

 

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