File under: “Things We Make New Interns Do.”
May has been a very transitional month for us here at Film School Rejects. You may have heard about our recent migration across platforms. But there’s even more going on behind the scenes than you may have expected, including the selection and onboarding of a whole new group of interns for our Internship Program. Normally you’d think we’d be sad to be losing our previous group of interns, but we’re not. They’re staying on as contributors and will continue to write for the site (look for them on Sundays starting in June). Also starting in June are 12 new interns selected from the hundreds of applicants who responded to our call last month.
We’re still getting to know these fresh new faces — future people in charge, every one of them — and we thought you might want to meet them, as well. So we’re here with a thought experiment, FSR-style. The thought: if you were a movie, which movie would you be?
I’ve spent the morning thinking about what my own answer to this question might be. Perhaps something like High Fidelity, filled with highs, lows, good music, plenty of arguments about important culture, and ultimately a little neurotic. Plus, I’ve got a few Charlie Nicholson’s in my past and they are not in the fucking phone book.
Enough about me. Let’s meet these new interns. We’re very excited to have them on our team and more than anything, proud to be able to share their work and help them develop their skills over the next 6-months. Here are their answers to today’s big question.
American History X, yup the movie about the Nazi that curb stomps a Crip gang member over a stolen car. Being that I’m a twenty-year-old, black girl living in Inglewood, most people look at me a little wild when I tell them this is my favorite film but let me extract things for a second. Derek Vineyard, the main character of the flick, and the flick itself revolves around the beauty of transformation and the enlightenment that comes along with knowledge and understanding. The 1998 drama directed by Tony Kaye captures endless silent shots of Venice Beach and the people residing in it; these shots reflect the wondrous colors and movements existing in the world that often times go unnoticed. Through the storyline of Derek and his downfall, many questions are posed at society, the universe, and oneself. A quote I remember so vividly from American History X is “Has anything you’ve done made your life better?” When this question was directed at Derek it was after he had finally hit rock bottom, after all his destructive behavior, and radical decisions left him with nearly nothing. That mere question lubricated the ignitions in Derek’s mind, plunging the plot into new waters as we see the main character make a change from resentful to remorseful. I feel that this story of coming to find one’s truth amongst anger is something I identify with. The complication that comes along with being grateful for living through a time of erratic behavior, but also the guilt that follows from all the pain inflicted on others; and the burden of possibly changing the course of your loved ones’ lives. In this enormous world, it’s easy to convince yourself that your selfish actions only effect you but experience, and this film, preach a different tale. American History X is a dark, controversial film with never-ending examinations. The main themes in my perspective are about family, forgiveness, and anger with glints of humor. Although some viewers have called select scenes graphic and borderline repulsive, I find the gritty approach to cinema and storytelling marvelous. There’s no point in telling a story if it’s not going to include the good, the bad, and the ugly and I feel the same rings true in the characteristics of a proper human being.
If I were a movie, I would definitely be Almost Famous. The first time I saw the movie as a quiet, reserved, and music-obsessed 15-year-old, I could not believe how much I could relate to something I didn’t create myself. I felt like my soul was being projected onto the screen and playing back for me to watch. The soundtrack was entirely songs I had grown up hearing and loving, and everything William Miller ever says and does is almost disturbingly similar to my own manner of being. As time passes, though, and the more I watch the movie, I see myself reflected in every single character—both good and bad. It’s incendiary! Incendiary.
Although we’re not of Punjabi heritage, Bend It Like Beckham has always reminded me of my family for the generous way it centers its characters’ diverse experiences as members of a diaspora in Britain. As a film, it never feels like a political sermon on the boons of assimilation and is less a static representation of culture than it is a beautifully fluid, compassionate look at the unique inner struggles of second-generation migrants like me – something I’ve definitely noticed the lack of as I’ve grown. Not to mention that for central character Jess, football is the interval in which her cultural self-consciousness falls away – and while I’m no prodigal right-forward like her, cinema has played a similar role in my life, uniting parts of myself that might otherwise have felt disconnected as I grew up.
Let me preface this by stating that I’m not going to kill myself, nor have I thought about it ever. The title of this movie, to the unacquainted viewer, might be a tad misleading. In fact, I try not to take anything too seriously for the most part. However, this question sent me on a temporary voyage of self-discovery where I started questioning what my purpose in life is, where I was going, and if I would ever find love again. However, if life has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you find what you’re looking for in the unlikeliest of places, and eventually, the good stuff falls into place when you least expect it. Being a dateless loser and the occasional existential crisis aside, my outlook on life is mostly a positive one, and Wristcutters: A Love Story teaches us that, no matter how sucky things might seem at the time, it’s only temporary.
After countless Buzzfeed quizzes and looking through the entire criterion collection archive, I have chosen the film that best represents me. Well, the two films: All That Jazz and The Double Life of Veronique. Yes, they’re completely different films. Veronique is slow and sentimental, All That Jazz is fast and furious. However, they share a preoccupation with mortality and a commitment to representing their subjects’ inner worlds (and deaths). All That Jazz, a behind-the-scenes musical, does it through intricate dance sequences and dream-like spectacles, oh and a whole lotta prescription drugs. It also arguably has the best (and longest) death scene of all time. On the other hand, Veronique is an intimate supernatural film with little dialogue and a lot of Irene Jacob. Its transcendent cinematography and emotional honesty contrast well with the dazzling choreographies and witty dialogue of All That Jazz.
I’ve just recently unlocked the university and adult life achievements, so I guess I should be feeling like The Graduate or even a little Adventureland. But young adulthood crisis aside, I think that if I were a film, I would probably be something more along the lines of What We Do in the Shadows. Although I wasn’t bitten when I was 16, I look younger than I actually am (come on, take a guess) and have a foreign accent. Don’t let the seeming seriousness of the format fool you, I am full of deadpan humor and obscure references.
As a huge fan of the classic style, I definitely belong in the black and white modern world of Frances Ha. Who wouldn’t want to run around the streets of New York with Greta Gerwig to the tune of “L’ecole buissoniere” from The 400 Blows score or “Modern Love” by David Bowie? It’s a quirky, sincere look at the period between your teens and adulthood that I’m going through right now. I adore this story where friendship love, and the struggles that come with it, are given the importance of romantic love. The line where I realized I am Frances is: “I’m sorry, I’m not a real person yet.”
If I were a movie, I would be Shrek 2. Not the first Shrek, but Shrek 2. Even though the first film is a delightful story that I enjoy very much, the exciting part of a fairytale to me has never been the happily ever after, but rather the curiosity of what happens next. Sure an ogre marries a princess and they can live together forever in the swamp, but he has to deal with her royal parents at some point. I could sit and watch reaction shots and confrontation between characters all day long. Actually, two characters going back at forth at a dinner table is much more appealing to me than an action-heavy scene any day. Going a little deeper though, Shrek’s self-exploration in this film resonates with me more than his journey in the first because I can relate to this notion of trying to figure out where he fits into the lives of others. When Shrek comes across Fiona’s childhood diary, which has Prince Charming written all over it, he begins to question if he is good enough for her. It’s heartbreaking, but honest in its portrayal of life after the fairy tale ends and the marriage begins. How Shrek chooses to handle this situation though, and the sacrifices he is willing to make for the people he has grown to love, allow him to fully form as a character. His challenge to find the right balance between staying true to himself and altering his life to better suit his loved ones, I find to be quite relatable to my own everyday life. The movie as a whole, with all of its wit and charm, gives me a sense of belonging that I can only experience through the eyes of a cartoon ogre.
The film that encapsulates me, at my core, has to be Brooklyn. Like Eilis Lacey, I spent a long time away from my hometown and put down roots elsewhere. (Although, I did not fall in love with an Emory Cohen doppelganger during my years abroad. Shame.) The film masterfully navigates Eilis’ conflicted feelings over two places that have their own charms and problems – that both inexplicably feel like home in different ways. To me, that’s what makes the film’s ending truly romantic; not her choice between two partners but her ultimate assertion to live on her own terms and do what brings her accomplishment and joy. My own story may be amorphous and incomplete, but Eilis’ odyssey of independence and resilience draws me in and gives me hope.
If I were a movie I would be The Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton. The movie can’t really decide what it wants to be, and neither can I. At points, the film is truly creepy, while at other times it is insufferably camp. Viewers can interpret the film either as a botched attempt at a straightforward thriller or as a skillfully nuanced journey into the mind of the main character. With anything I create, I try to take the same risks Laughton took when he made this film. Additionally, virtually every aspect of the film can be taken as sincere and ironic at the same time. The metamodern paradigm is a quality that is present in my life and work.
When The Secret Life of Walter Mitty came to theaters, I was told by people to not watch it because it was too boring. They said that I should avoid it all costs, this dreadful film. I, of course, waited until it came out on DVD, purchased it and watched it from the comfort of my living room. And people were right. There I sat, agreeing with them that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was one of the most lifeless stories, but not for the reasons I imagined. I believe they thought the film was boring because on the screen was a man so frightened and petrified to live that he preferred the solitude and comfort of standing in the background. What bored me about the film was the familiarity. I had seen it all before, that nothingness. The dullness of living in one’s mind. That was what my life was like. Just like Walter Mitty, sitting back in the safety of “what if’s?” But not because I was lazy or because I lacked passion and determination. I had the passion, I had the determination. I had the dreams but I was too scared to do anything with them. Life always seemed better in my head. Only up there was I the type of person that could succeed. Up there I was funnier, I was cooler, I was smarter. Up there I could stand up to my bullies, smack them around, look them straight in the eyes and say “hey, bucko… why don’t you leave me alone.” Up in my head, I had won every elementary school spelling bee. Up in my head, I wasn’t afraid to say I love you. This film resonated with me (and the person I believe to be in my mind) for the way anxiety was portrayed. A character so in love with life he refuses to live it over the fear of ruining everything. I am Walter Mitty. Life terrifies me. There is much too much of it to live. But I have lost its quintessence, and now I must go find it.
If I’m going to be honest with myself, Wayne’s World best describes me for two reasons. Reason number one is I am in fact, in Delaware, though I work at Dunder-Mifflin Paper during the school year. Reason number two is if I don’t like the way things are going, I will rewrite my own ending and make everything work out in my favor. I don’t like settling, I like to make sure things are my standard. Gets me into trouble sometimes, but it’s the troublemakers who get stuff done. Also, Wayne’s World is still the best Saturday Night Live movie to date and who doesn’t want to be associated with SNL?
Related Topics: Q&A