Vada Film Club #1: High-School

Michael Prescott
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Welcome to the first Film Club of Vada. The first rule of Film Club is you must talk about Film Club. That’s also rules two through five. Anyway, as your supply teacher – since Tyler Durden’s gone AWOL – I’ll be guiding you through the favourite films of Vada regulars for you to get to know them just a little bit better. And where more fitting to start than with high-school?

But though it sounds like a somewhat straightforward sub-genre -invoking Rebel Without a Cause, onto the John Hughes films of the 80s, through the likes of Dazed and Confused a decade later, and then more recently Mean Girls and co – it’s actually far from it.

Carl Eden goes teenage sci-fi with a modern cult classic, despite it also being a pretty big film in itself with bags of rewatchability. Frazer Lough – and apologies to him in advance – manages to pick one of the films I dislike the most, but others love it in abundance. Jack Sadler‘s picked several choices, but it’s a rather bleak and dystopian triple-bill.

Rakshita Patel, like Frazer, travels back to the mid-80s for her unanimously-lauded choice, whilst our final contributor Sam Gillson decides on one of the more modern and yet traditional choices, with the newer – but much better – Lindsay Lohan-esque leading lady.

But what about you guys? Is it Ferris Bueller that you adore, Juno that gets the tears flowing, or is it one of those mentioned below? Do let us know. But for now, with no further ado, Vada goes back to high-school…


Carl Eden

It’s easy to see why Donnie Darko appeals so much to teenagers – despite the unconventional elements of time-travel and Armageddon, it’s a movie hugely relatable for those of a certain age.

Whilst not directly a film about the high-school experience, it perfectly sums up the feelings of alienation, loneliness and social pressure which come during those years. Gyllenhaal is the epitome of the misunderstood teen, clashing with teachers, bullies and parents, and there’s a great sense of miscommunication between adults and teens throughout the movie.

The added kitsch factor of an 80s setting helps tie it in with the high school John Hughes classics of that era, and Kelly also uses the school setting to satirise censorship – with Beth Grant’s heavily conservative teacher clashing with newcomer Drew Barrymore over Graham Greene. These scenes parody the bureaucracy and misguided focus which can breed in the American high school system.

Frazer Lough

Five high school students with nothing in common spend Saturday detention together. I admit the 1985 classic that is The Breakfast Club may not have that imaginative a story line but it is a brilliant film.

Over the course of the film these five kids realise they all share a similar disdain for their parents and hope that they never end up like them. For me it is the breaking down of the different five different stereotypes that are most common in high school that is key to the film. The realisation that the stereotypes are only an outer layer is something that rings true no matter what decade you watched this film in.

That is what makes The Breakfast Club one of my favourite high school films. It mightn’t be the best film ever made but in this category it is by far one of my favourites.

Jack Sadler

Showing that Keira Knightley can act when she wants to, Never Let Me Go boasts an intriguing, harrowing concept with excellent performances from the leads as humans bred for organ donation, with the school as a façade. Neither the romance nor the sci-fi feels forced or undervalued; with an appropriately mellow pace, it’s heartfelt and filmed with graceful style.

We Need to Talk About Kevin has Ezra Miller on fine form as the emotionally disturbed teenager who targets his high school in a crime so shocking, his mother questions herself every day. As does everyone around her. Chilling and painfully real, WNTTAK was my favourite film of 2011.

And finally, in Battle Royale a class go on a school trip that they will never forget… if they survive. Bloody, brutal and an explosive comment on Japanese society. An honourable mention goes to the psychologically tense Confessions (Tetsuya  Nakashima, 2010) too.

Rakshita Patel

I have chosen as my favourite high school movie one of my top three films of all time – Back to the Future. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a teenager from 1985, travels back in time to 1955 and sees what his parents were like as teenagers and what his high school (Hill Valley High School) was like in 1955.

Marty has to bring his parents together which proves tricky when Marty’s mum develops the hots for Marty (describing him as a “dreamboat”) rather than his father! One of my favourite sequences is the Enchantment Under The Sea dance when Marty’s mum finally falls for his dad and Marty introduces the 1950s teenagers to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Back to the Future has everything – action and adventure, time travel, science fiction, comedy and romance – and is positive, upbeat and uplifting. No matter how many times I watch it, it always makes me happy.

Sam Gillson

Easy A is without a doubt my favourite high-school film and probably my favourite comedy ever. Forget your run-of-the mill apple pie-masturbation or period-blood-on-your-trousers gags; this film has a script that is sharper and wittier than Stephen Fry, dressed as a hedgehog, holding half a lemon.

After harmlessly lying about a particularly boring weekend at home, Emma Stone’s character, Olive, is given the reputation of the school whore and must come to terms with her new found notoriety. There’s a lot of heart under the hilarity of the proceedings, which is all down to the loveable main star.

It’s all played against an addictive soundtrack and will have everyone gleefully reminiscing about house parties and high school gossiping. It also has Amanda Byrnes playing an absolute loon in an eerie form of precognitive filmmaking. What’s not to like?

About Michael Prescott

24-year-old Welsh writer on all things film. Background in Philosophy. Accidentally in Sheffield for 6 years and counting. Addicted to Kevin Spacey. Tweetable: @M_S_Prescott

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