Film for Fodder: Your Ultimate Film and TV Freshers Guide

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Delphie Bond and Tanika Lake

Here is your go-to list for whatever emotion you may feel through Freshers! We are taking candid to the next level, guiding you on your journey through some indie delights, Nigerian cinema, and straight-up animated, heartfelt classics.

‘What I Call – Such Fun!’

As cliche as it may sound, get ready to grapple with some of the ‘happiest days of your life,’ whether it be being thrown into a cosmopolitan mosh-pit to cuddling up with mates and turning to your screens for a laugh. With curt, sarcastic and frankly fantastic British humour, the eponymous protagonist of Miranda tackles the mishaps of her daily life and the staunch conservatism of her mother! Classic Outnumbered is always worth a revisit as profound 6-year-old Karen beckons both under-your-breath sniggers and laugh-out-loud reactions. 

BBC America’s Killing Eve balances the disturbing with the wonderful as it sends you on a murderous culture trip around the world. If you seek a more enduring kind of happiness, ‘just keep swimming’ with Finding Nemo, which reigned as a breakthrough in computer animation back in 2003 and explores the unrelenting pursuit of a father in search of his child. It is a story more emotionally sophisticated in hindsight, tear jerking at times, but with enough happy interludes to keep you feeling fine. Kabhi Khushi Khabi Gham (Through Smiles or Through Tears) then exists in the same vein, the vibrant saga concerning the consequences between choosing love over family duty touching on everything that can be felt on the emotional spectrum. Forrest Gump persists as pure cinematic brilliance, following the titular character as he manoeuvres his way through perpetual misfortune, yet optimistically preaching that ‘life is a like box of chocolates (and) you never know what you’re going to get.’ It also wouldn’t be right to talk about film without mentioning the explosive universe of Anime. Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) stands as the second highest-grossing Anime film ever and straddles with the boundaries of identity, gender and the body – a must-see that at no point lets go of it’s feel-good vibe. For a voice of Bollywood feminism embark on a journey through Dil Dhadakne Do or explore the world of Nollywood with Mr & Mrs – completely untouched by western influences and a film which will have you on the floor in a laughing frenzy!

Going through the blues

Whilst moving to university is undoubtedly exciting and many will want to throw themselves into the thick of things, it is important for one to acknowledge the more niggling emotions freshers can experience during this crucial transition phase. From anxieties surrounding making friends, starting your studies and missing dear old mum and dad more than you care to admit, experiencing bouts of depression and loneliness is completely normal. There are many movies then that can help with digesting the sadness and moving through the motions rather than trying to force happiness, these suggestions providing a possibly satisfying sense of catharsis. Animated features are particularly prone to pulling at the heartstrings, such as Bambi with it’s beautiful scores and animation, and the Toy Story franchise with it’s sensitive insights into the perils of growing up. 

Nobody would blame you if you cried for the entire duration of Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) – this underrated story concerning that of an isolated teenage boy who grows to befriend a deaf girl – whom he used to bully! – offering one of the most powerful displays of pathos that may have ever been seen in cinematic history. Inside Out is perfect for exploring ranges of conflicting emotions and trying to find ways in which to feel validated and understood – the same being applicable to cult classic The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the fresh faced Beautiful Boy. In the same vein of combining the harrowing with the beautiful, Devdas’ story of the titular character’s descent into alcoholism when his family refuses to let him marry his childhood sweetheart proves a longstanding feast for the eyes and emotions – an empathetic insight into addiction and emotional deterioration that will keep you reeling way after the final destination.

Needing a push?

Discovering the limitations of one’s self-motivation can be quite terrifying, but that’s completely okay! For a dose of comedy to help you push on, the surreal and cartoonish The Good Place is a colourful afterlife of clowns, djing monks and humongous bees – using escapism to explore personal and political catastrophe as it’s never been done before. The Blind Side, despite being critiqued for its oversimplification in terms of characterisation and lack of nuance, it is powerfully inspiring; especially when considering Sandra Bullock’s staggering performance. Many of the aforementioned movies/tv shows have seen a kind of plot-centred motivation, however, in many cinematic adaptations of novels or plays one can be inspired through the words, which can outshine any-inspirational plots. If you want to be taken back by philosophy, ethics and psychology, but equally never lose track, watch Equus. The dark storyline relentlessly seeks the importance of passion making you question what you really worship. Schafer’s play reincarnated on the cinematic screen with a glistening cast (Richard Burton, Peter Firth, Colin Blakely) brims with homoeroticism, frustration and exploration of mental illness. The story may disturb you, but the language will inspire. 

Switching to the more conventional, we of course cannot leave behind The Pursuit of Happiness, and the Avatar series. For a movie which will guide you to success through its musical score alone, follow the life of Mozart in Amadeus, or other period dramas such as The Madness of King George. And sometimes, the core of demotivation is the fear of letting go – in which case watch The Life of Pi, which modestly portrays the relationship between human and animal as fallible. Lastly, indulge in Fleabag for some female excellence and relatable motivation, as we can all empathise with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her snarky snippets on life in each of her sides to the camera!

 Love in the time of scholar-a

There is much ado about romance whilst at university, from exploring new relationships to only just discovering elements of one’s sexuality, and there is many a movie to fit the flirtatious mood. Some typical emotional dramas include the likes of Titanic, The Notebook and Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, for regardless of whether you love or hate this marmite selection, one has to agree that any romantic movie list would be amiss if these classics failed to make an appearance. Period dramas often follow in the same vein of swelling passions from Wright’s continuously popular Pride and Prejudice to The Duchess and Becoming Jane. Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart and Howl’s Moving Castle prove incredible choices both due to the subliminal animation alongside how the heroines become open to love only when they are allowed to become more open with themselves. Similar shreds of self-exploration reside in 10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty Woman and British Rom-Coms the likes of Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Love, Rosie – all of which sport a lot of heart but also encourage much room for a laugh. 

For some exceptional LGBTQ+ content, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (How I Felt When I Saw That Girl) is incredibly moving in light of how it is the first Bollywood picture to depict a lesbian relationship; involving the music and grandeur anticipated in Bollywood in tandem with the gravity and scrutiny evoked by the Indian community. Indeed, the seams of Bollywood are bursting with romantic fervour – love and music basically being what these movies are living for. You can indulge in millennial childhood favourites like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something’s Happened to Me) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Big-Hearted Will Take the Bride Away), the more heart-wrenching and insightful Kal Ho Naa Ho (Tomorrow Might Not Be) and Hasee toh Phasee (She Smiles, She’s Snared), as well as the predominantly arduous Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (A Play of Bullets: Ram-Leela) – arguably the most seductive and intense Romeo and Juliet adaption of all time, where if this doesn’t give you f***y flutters, nothing will!      

Image Credit: The Verge