‘So What’s your Favourite Film then?’ – The inevitable question that sends Film Students into Panic mode- AKA My Top 5 Films list.

Every film student dreads the inevitable question that is bound to be asked by every friend, family member and acquaintance: what’s your favourite film? Or rather what would you recommend?

It is this moment that your brain goes into overdrive- running through the built in mental library of every film you’ve ever seen, the ones you studied due to their prestige, the films you felt obligated to see and the ones that are secretly you’re guilty pleasure despite a bashing from critics. However, at the end of the day, any art medium is subjective and you should take pride in the films that spoke to you on a personal level.

So without fear of judgement or in detail analysis – here are a few of my favourite films.

5. Atonement (2007) Dir.by Joe Wright


This was the first film I watched that made me feel incredibly adult and mature, as well as also being the first that made me fall in love with Joe Wright as a director. This adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award winning novel, expertly plays with time, perspective and as a romance sap at heart, complex and tragic love. I am a self- professed period film nerd and this movie captured my heart and mind as I loathed 13 year old Briony, despaired for Keira Knightly’s Cecilia and of course fell head over heels for James McAvoy’s incredible portrayal as innocently convicted Robbie. *sigh* so dreamy in that tux.

4. Carrie Pilby (2016) Dir. by Susan Johnson


one of my more recent additions to the list, again based on a novel of the same name (as an avid bibliophile I can sense a pattern here), the 2016 film Carrie Pilby starring Bel Powley has rightfully earned its place in my top five films. As a post grad in my early twenties, I found myself identifying with Carrie in almost every scene. Having grown up watching coming of age movies, I expected that this film would be like all the others – a girl in the big city lost at who she is and who she is meant to be. Yet Carrie Pilby’s story along with Powleys performance has created an emotive, witty and surprisingly fresh film- Proving that there is such a thing as intellectual romance.

3. Social Network (2010) Dir. By David Fincher

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Not only is this film wonderfully shot and edited- the constant back and forth between Mark Zuckerberg’s past and the various depositions, tell the narrative in a innovative and brilliantly suspenseful way- but the focus on conversation and authenticity is what makes ‘The Social Network’ number 2 on my list. Putting emphasis on performance here, the way in which Jesse Eisenburg can convey 100 different emotions in one eye roll or distant stare is impeccable. The opening is perhaps one my favourites, when mark is rightfully dumped by girlfriend Erica for being and I quote ‘an asshole’ to her. The speed at which this conversation happens can make your head spin, yet it is so authentic and makes you feel as if you are observing a real complex moment in these two characters lives. Plus JT as Sean Parker, a massive pest to the music industry, just shows how much thought Fincher puts into his ironic casting.

2. Breakfast Club (1985) Dir. by John Hughes (of course a classic had to make the list!!)

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What can I say about Breakfast Club that hasn’t already been said! It’s just fantastic- this is my go to lazy Sunday afternoon watch. My favourite thing about this 1985 classic is the way in which director John Hughes made the film, which essentially was with close to no script. Most of the film’s iconic scenes were largely improvised by the cast- for example due to Molly Ringwald’s shyness the rest of the cast joined her in a scene where Claire was meant to dance alone- Yes, you all know the scene! It is regarded as perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in film to date. Not bad for making it up on the spot.


Again, arguably the most emotive scene in the whole movie, when the group sit and discuss what they individually did to warrant a Saturday detention was improvised. John Hughes told the cast to ad-lib why they thought their character would be there. I mean… if that isn’t reason enough to make it into the top 5 then I don’t know what is.

And Finally….

  1. Chasing Amy (1997) Dir. by Kevin Smith

Honestly, my love for Kevin Smith as a filmmaker and writer all spun from watching this movie one night, alone in my bedroom. I had seen a poster for it in the staff room at work and vowed to go home and see who this Amy was and why Ben Affleck was chasing her. There is so much more to this movie than meets the eye, with each character overcoming preconceived notions as to what it means to love and be loved in return. Banky and Holden’s friendship is not only comical, but genuine and as the narrative progresses it is their relationship that I feel the film is ultimately about- the fine line between friendship and love. The majority of us swooned at Ben Affleck’s heart wrenching monologue about how his love for Alyssa (Not Amy as I previously thought) had changed his whole outlook on life. It’s not the dramatic downpour of rain and swelling emotions that make this scene for me but the honesty of the writing- the themes explored throughout the movie are dealt with honesty, humour but also sensitivity. Challenging expectations about gender roles, sexuality and friendships- It’s no wonder that Smith received critical acclaim, especially after two hipster stoner films (which I also loved.)

Many people think that ‘Chasing Amy’ is simply about a young man falling in love with a lesbian- but I think it’s so much more complicated than that. The film explores sexual fluidity in a way that was certainly ahead of its time, all three of the main characters evolve and discover more about their own deep internal desires and how it’s not necessarily about defining your sexual orientation but being open to evolving it as you grow and mature.

With a cameo from my favourite pothead duo, Jay and his ‘Hetero lifemate’ Silent Bob, a scene which in my opinion is the perfect summation of the entirety of the film’s plot, I fall more and more in love with this film every time I watch it.

How do ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Broad City’ engage with issues of contemporary female identity?

‘Fleabag’ and ‘Broad City’ are just two examples in the refreshing trend of female written and female driven TV comedy, however what both shows do with their protagonists is to unconventionally challenge and examine the complex elements that make up the ‘contemporary female identity’. I have noticed that both shows are enabling a discussion into key critical issues within society for women that perhaps have not been explored on the small screen before, certainly not with this explicit attitude. The two most poignant issues of identity that I want to look at, that feature heavily in both shows, are what being a feminist means today and the dynamics of female relationships.

Firstly looking at the issue of Feminism. Both shows incorporate feminist qualities as part of the protagonist(s)’ characterisation in different ways. ‘Broad City’ has been praised for its representation of real women, and the fact that the program’s viewership feels a relatable connection with Abbi and Ilana is what makes the show a refreshing change within the comedy genre. In an interview conducted by Amy Poehler (executive producer of Broad City), show creators Jacobson and Glazer discuss the show’s title. “Broad,” Glazer explains, “is like this full woman. [She] knows what she wants, knows who she is, and is doing the best can.”(2016)

This appears to be a new form of feminism, one that is unapologetic yet presents itself as a normalised concept that doesn’t require attention being drawn to it. After all, Jacobson and Glazer based their on screen counterparts  on themselves saying that they “without a doubt, are feminists, so the show is seen in that way. And maybe that’s part of feminism—showing real women versus what we had seen on TV for so long.” (Priscilla, 2016)

‘Fleabag’ is part of a new wave of outrageous, anti-hero comedy written by/about women and through the nameless main character we are offered a bleak view on feminism and it’s double standards within society. Fleabag’s characterisation lies within feminism or rather her opinion that she’s not a “very good feminist”. In the first episode Fleabag and her sister Claire attend a lecture entitled ‘Women Speak’ whereby the question is asked “would you trade five years of your life for the so-called perfect body.” Fleabag and Claire shoot their arms up without a moment’s hesitation. The rest of the room looks on, appalled. “We’re bad feminists,” Fleabag whispers with a smile. There is a suggestion within the show that the earlier feminist generation is no longer relevant or perhaps applicable in today’s more contemporary world- and it instead is yet another standard that the lead feels she fails to meet. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, writer and lead actor of Fleabag, once said in an interview with the Guardian: “Am I still a feminist if I watch porn, or if I want to change my body to make me feel more sexually attractive?”- It is this concept that a lot of ‘Fourth-wave feminists’ question and conclude that ‘watching porn certainly doesn’t contradict feminist values; unabashedly embracing one’s sexuality is a key facet of contemporary feminism’ (Sancto, 2016).

The issue of female relationships play a key part in the female identity that ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Broad City’ depict. With ‘Fleabag’ the relationships between women, whether we see Fleabag with her sister, her dead friend Boo or her smiling, horrible stepmother. Throughout the series we see Fleabag ‘out to find physical validation from men when, in reality, the only validation she really seeks are from the female figures in her life, namely Claire and the Godmother’ (Miller, 2015) . For ‘Broad City’, the friendship of Ilana and Abbi is the core of the narrative and although the characters are exaggerated versions of Jacobson and Glazer’s real life friendship this  offers a realistic portrayal of how women communicate with one another. The essential notion of the series is that friendship comes above all else and their closeness, their love for each other transcends all else.


• Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. 2013. Broad city: Smart girls w/ Amy Poehler, YouTube ([n.p.]: YouTube

• Frank, Priscilla. 2016. ‘TV’s darkest new show depicts an imperfect feminism, and that’s A good thing’, Huffington Post, 5 October

• Sancto, Roxanne.  2016. Fleabag and the female power struggle, pastemagazine.com (pastemagazine.com)

• Miller, Bridgette. 2015. Broad city talks friendship, feminism, and F*ck/marry/kill, BUST (BUST Magazine)

Understanding Why I love Film

Ever since I was a kid, sitting in my bunk bed surrounded by all my teddies and toys, I have loved sitting there in the dark and watching the same VHS tapes on my little TV. I have loved being whisked away for an hour and a half to another world, a world that I could join and be a part of. I often placed myself in this cinematic world, which as an aspiring actor from the age of 6, I found intoxicating- I could be whoever I wanted: a hard boiled detective, an underdog changing their fate, even the leading lady who gets her happily ever after- before I became a proud female warrior and learnt that being the love interest was way less fun then being the hero- but I never gave much thought as to why I loved film so much, I just knew I did.
Then, recently when watching a particular scene in 2016’s ‘Their Finest’ I found myself becoming suddenly emotional. And this was not due to the tragically ill-fated romance of Catrin and Tom, or the depiction of war time London (although incredibly resonant) but because of a scene that managed to reveal to me why it is exactly that I love film. In one line of dialogue I had an answer that I had never really considered before; when discussing their profession, Sam Clafin’s character explains his own philosophy on why we need films, stating that ‘People like films because stories are a structure, and when things turn bad it’s still part of a plan. There’s a point to it.’ That train of thought hit me like a ton of bricks, as I started to realise the truth behind the statement.
As someone who doesn’t handle uncontrollable variables in life well, I began to find an incredible amount of joy within this discovery. No matter how unexpected and often cruel life can be, for a few hours we can all escape to a fictional world that functions in a way we can predict, in a way that we can root for, in a way that I, as a filmmaker, can write and decide myself. I’ve always wanted to tell stories that mean something to those that watch them, to portray the struggles and complications of being alive on this planet and a part of human society, but in a way that allows for a happy resolution, something not everybody is lucky enough to get in the real world. That no matter how hard and difficult things may seem, the protagonist will learn and grow and most importantly; end up where they belong.
There are many things in my own personal story that have seemed pointless or have had me screaming into my pillow ‘WHY ME!? WHY UNIVERSE WHY?’ (In a typical teenager melodramatic tone) Events that for the life of me I couldn’t understand why they had to happen at all- but this scene, this line of dialogue, this revelation made me realise that Film has enabled me to find ways to deal with this issue. To look at mistakes made or times that I regret as something more than an embarrassing or upsetting situation, but part of a plan. The part of my own movie where I learn a bit more about myself and get back up before going to conquer the world.