Entertainment

Back to School Watch List

Summer is unofficially over. On one hand it’s going to be great to stop the influx of summer vacation FOMO but on the other hand it means focusing on school (and pumpkin spice latte Instagrams). There’s really only one place to turn to when it’s time head back to school: teen movies.

Teen movies are great for a few reasons. First, once you’re out of high school you see them in a completely new light. Were the kids in my high school rich snobs like in Clueless? Would I have been the subject of Laney Boggs/Zack Siler situation? These movies become even better as an adult not only for nostalgia sake, but because they are absolutely insane concepts. You see things you don’t realize as a teenager and how illogical or implausible they are. Another reason they are great is they help you survive the years you are stuck in high school. See the characters are just like you (albeit played by twenty-something actors), living in towns just like yours, and engrossed in situations (a bit more farfetched) like yours. They are somewhat of an escape to places and people we wish we could be rather than the even crappier teenage situations we were in at the time. I mean there isn’t always a swift, romantic resolution or choreographed dance sequence at the prom.

So these are a few of my favorite teen movies for back to school season. I consider myself a lover of the teen movies so truly this is just a jumping off point.

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10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

10 Things I Hate About You is essentially The Taming of the Shrew for teenagers. There are two approaches to high school: you either embrace it and take all it has to offer or you shun it completely as ritualistic nonsense. Thankfully with 10 Things I Hate About You I was able to enjoy both sides equally (in real life I was much more of a Kat than a Bianca). Plus Joseph Gordon Levitt is quite the babe.

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Bring It On (2000)

Bring It On fed into my middle school cheerleading ways and made me optimistic about high school. Torrence was cool and looked like every model in a Seventeen magazine. Plus her love interest Cliff is literally everything athletic boys aren’t. He’s charming, witty, and has some serious air guitar skills. He’s everything I wanted in a high school boyfriend. The movie is funny and so ridiculous. Competitive cheerleading is SERIOUS business.

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The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club is essential teen movie viewing. It encompasses the high school experience from every perspective there is. 5 people from different walks of high school life forced to spend the day together where they unrealistically bond and act as though once detention ends they could ever continue this facade. The end is absolutely perfect and one of my favorite movie endings of all time. Real detention was not at all like this.

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Clueless (1995)

Clueless is probably the least relatable high school on this mini list. Not because regular teenage situations weren’t involved but because rarely does a high school like theirs exist. Sure in gym we played tennis, but not with a machine where balls flew at our faces. But also we couldn’t get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree for Arbor Day either (he was a distinguished actor by the time I entered high school). I grew up wanting to live in this movie for lack of a better reason to choose it. It’s a true classic and everything about it is perfect. I’m still really disappointed I didn’t get a white Jeep for my 16th birthday..but that’s a different blog post.

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She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That is literally a high school nightmare. Any group of popular kids who place a bet to make a nerdy outcast popular are just horrible. And that’s probably because I very easily could have been Laney, you know, if people actually did that in real life. There’s so much I love about this movie now. It has everything: a makeover, beach volleyball, a girl showing popular girls whose boss, an almost dated MTV Real World reference, and above all a choreographed prom dance sequence. Brilliant.

 

 

What to Watch on Netflix

Netflix is a way of life. Between their original programming and the streaming of hundreds of television shows and movies there’s always something new and interesting to watch. Of course, with that many options how do you know just what to watch?

If I’m honest, my watch list is filled with 80s/90s teen movies (Teen Witch forever!) and the entire series of The Twilight Zone (I’ve never finished the whole thing). Still I’m always on the hunt for new and interesting things to watch. Netflix is great because of the wide variety of selections they have. Everything from one of the first motion pictures ever made, A Trip to the Moon (it’s actually not bad for the record), to modern-day classics like Almost Famous and Clueless.

I’m a little sad because of Criterion’s deal with Hulu most of their selections have been removed from the service. Another selection that has since been removed was the quintessential 90s teen movie, She’s All That. Thank goodness the overrated comedy Mean Girls still exists in its place. 

If you’re stuck on what to watch or just looking for something interesting and new, here’s a few of my current selections available on Netflix at the moment.

StrangerThings

Stranger Things

I’ve mentioned this one before but it’s everything that is great about 70s and 80s pop culture all wrapped into one. It’s like if the Goonies and Stand By Me had a baby who made best friends with ET. They decided to visit Aliens and any Stanley Kubrick flick while a John Carpenter synth horror score played in the background. That doesn’t even begin to do it justice. When Will goes missing his mother and friends must take down mysterious, creepy forces in order to get him back. Of course, there’s a little government mystery in there too.

ET

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

Once you’ve loaded on the pure nostalgia Stranger Things brings, why not look for some similarities with one of its influences: ET! Just kidding, I mean you can find the similarities if you want. They are pretty obvious. But ET is a classic. It still makes me cry today as an adult. I don’t think I need to run down the plot of ET, if you haven’t seen it..I’m just not even sure where to begin with you.

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table

Chef’s Table is a documentary which explores the kitchen, lives, and influences of famous chefs from around the world. It’s visually beautiful as you can see from this screenshot. Despite my feeling everyone deserves more than 6 tortellini, but that’s a whole other subject. The chefs stories are so interesting and paired with the music and visuals it’s just something everyone needs to watch. I mean the plating of the meals in itself is something soothing I could watch all day.

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The Get Down

I was apprehensive about this show for a few reasons: it’s made by Baz Luhrmann and the first episode along is the length of a movie. Baz Luhrmann creates a sensory overload for my brain sometimes so I try to keep my distance, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. It takes place in the 1970s during the rise of hip-hop. Once the movie of a first episode is complete it becomes much more tolerable to continue. The combination of music and visuals is enticing and it sucks you in. Another cool thing that is mixed in the episodes is archival footage from the 1970s so it appears your watching a documentary or are part of the action living in the moment while watching.

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Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier is another documentary, but this time a film about a nanny with a talent for photography she kept secret. Over the span of her life she took over 100,000 photos and never showed them to anyone. Her life’s work was purchased during an auction a few years ago and this documentary follows the journey to finding out who she was through her art. It’s fascinating to hear the stories of Vivian from the people she knew who end up being mostly the kids she was a nanny for and their parents. She took over 100,000 street photos with a great eye for every detail and emotion that comes with the human experience.