We’re busy at Epigram preparing for the academic year, and adjusting to a socially distanced world. This month, we’ve been looking at how university life is presented onscreen! Here’s our editors’ picks for essential university films to watch.
Starter for Ten (2006), dir. Tom Vaughan
Maddy Raven, Film & TV Editor
Starter for Ten is an underrated gem. The soundtrack may be eighty percent The Cure (which in my opinion isn’t a bad thing), but it includes powerhouse performances from many actors you’ll recognise from Hollywood success.
This is James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Dominic Cooper and James Corden in a time capsule, surrounded by the beautiful buildings of Bristol. If you live in Clifton, you’ll recognise Royal York Terrace as the location of Brian’s (James McAvoy) first year flat.
Starter for Ten is the blueprint for shows like Sex Education and Fresh Meat – it explores the awkwardness of leaving home, first love and social mobility, and it does it with a smile.
The Riot Club (2014), dir. Lone Scherfig
Sam Vickers, Deputy Editor
Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club is an engaging social study that looks at the wealthiest students at the University of Oxford. Based on a play of the same name by Laura Wade, the film satirises the Bullingdon club - an elite dining society at Oxford famous for its debauched nights of drink, drugs and property damage – of which the former chancellor George Osborne, former prime minister David Cameron and current prime minister Boris Johnson were all members.
With two strong lead performances from Max Irons and Sam Claflin, The Riot Club blends social criticism with some moments of humour.
Despite the selfish and criminal way in which these young men behave, at times the viewer can’t help but envy their confidence and opportunity – at the end of the film, the boy who was kicked out of the University takes a meeting with an uncle of another member and it becomes horrifyingly clear that he is one with the best prospects of all.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) dir. Richard Linklater
Katya Spiers, Digital Editor
Everybody Wants Some!! follows three days in the life of Jake (Blake Jenner), the newest recruit of a college baseball team, as he moves into his frat house and makes the tough transition from high-school heartthrob to college small fry.
Directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise (1995), Dazed and Confused (1993), Boyhood (2014)), the master of dialogue-driven coming-of-age films that have attained cult status amongst the various subcultures they each depict, from stoners to cigarette-wielding and turtle neck-sporting English literature types. At first glance, Everybody Wants Some!! looks different; it's all frat boys, hedonistic drinking games, and the unsolicited pursuit of babes – you can almost smell the fresh sweat of jockstraps and never-washed letterman jackets diffusing from the screen. But rather than being a cliché of machismo, Linklater's eccentric and parodical characters portray a nuanced and nostalgic depiction of what I can only imagine it was like to be a college freshman in 80s America.
Kill Your Darlings (2013), dir. John Krokidas
Layla Nathan, Sub-editor
While your first year at university probably didn’t involve obsession, murder and starting a literary revolution, for Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), it was a year to change his life. Kill Your Darlings is a dramatic retelling of a pivotal moment of the early beat poet Ginsberg’s life.
It’s as pretentious as only a movie about poetry can be, but whilst self-indulgent, it’s thrilling and provocative.
One thing I loved about this film was the concept of entering university and being introduced to so many wild and wonderful things and people, but also the flip side: sometimes those things aren’t as wonderful as they might first seem. If you want passion, betrayal, complex gay relationships, drugs, sex and visionaries I would definitely recommend giving Kill Your Darlings a watch.
Featured: Clay Enos / Sony Pictures Classics, Van Redin / Paramount Pictures (2016), IMDb / IFC Films (2015)
How have you been preparing for the new semester? Let us know!