Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The first semester I was a college teacher I began receiving treatments for films that went a little like this:

Two hit men, one black and one white, in black suits travel around the city.


A man with a band aid on the back of his neck opens a briefcase and a light glows on his face.


A woman overdoses on heroin and a man brings her back to life with a needle of adrenaline to the heart.

That spring vacation I finally had some time off and caught up on some movies. So I am in the theater and John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson hit the screen and I'm thinking this is familiar. Then Uma Thurman gets a shot of adrenaline and I start getting annoyed. Finally when a band-aided Ving Rhames opened a briefcase and a light shines on his face, I swore out loud, mid-movie, "Those sons of bitches!"

When class resumed after the break I read them the riot act and tried to introduce the idea of original thought to the class. Since then I have been on the lookout for the popular student film. The following is a brief list of films important to my students and what they tried to do with it.

1) Fight Club. For a while every student film had to be green and film students started throwing around the processing phrase "bleach bypass."

2) The Usual Suspects. Student films are often confusing on their own. When they intentionally try to be confusing watch out.

3) Being John Malkovich. Not the plot so much but how many times can you use the half-floor trick.

4) Trainspotting. There was about a three semester stretch where every student film had to have strung out heroin addicts and music by Iggy Pop.


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