ASU faculty discuss movie suggestions

ASU faculty list their favorite films, important movies and suggestions for students to watch

Whether a student is interested in the intricacies of film, or simply looking for a new movie to watch once they are done with finals, ASU faculty have a few suggestions.  

Amanda Prahl, a graduate student studying theatre who teaches an introduction to screenwriting course, offered some of her favorite movies and ones she talks about in her class. 

“I like to emphasize the classics a little bit,” Prahl said. “I think they’re classics for a reason.”

Film, theater and television are a reflection of society at the time they were made, according to Prahl, and it bothers her how these art forms are trivialized in today’s society.

“Film and TV aren’t just frivolous entertainment,” she said. “If a movie makes one person think a little differently about something, or makes someone happy for a couple of hours, then it’s important.”

Her first pick was “Star Wars” (1977).

Prahl said that even though most of her students have seen it, she shows clips from the movie every semester because it is “classically structured and beautifully done,” and a great example of character development.

Prahl also suggested “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) and “Roman Holiday” (1953).

Two of Audrey Hepburn’s most well-known films, Prahl said the movies are two of her favorite and both are aesthetically attractive films.

Lastly, she discussed “The Social Network” (2010) and “The King’s Speech” (2010).

In 2011, it was largely debated which film deserved to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Prahl said both movies are very different. “The Social Network”, although not perfect, accurately presents society’s relationship with social media, and “The King’s Speech” was a well-made, heartfelt movie about internal struggle.

She likes to teach both movies back-to-back and compare them as “the perfect encapsulation of where we are in film right now.”

Justin Winters, an English instructor who teaches a class on screenwriting for television, shared some of his favorite films and ones that inspired him to get into the entertainment industry.

Winters said he worries that films are starting to be left out of the world of entertainment and encourages students to go to the theater and actually experience movies instead of streaming them on their phones.

The first movie on Winter's list was “Pulp Fiction” (1994).

Winters said he snuck into the theater to see this movie when he was 13 years old and “entirely too young to see it." The movie changed his life.

“It literally blew my mind, it was the most amazing film I had seen up to that point,” he said.

He said the movie, with its amazing cast, graphic nature and witty dialogue, inspired him to become a screenwriter, and he would highly recommend it to anyone.

 A playlist of trailers for the films discussed. 

Then he talked about “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004).

The movie is directed by Michel Gondry, who Winters calls a “visionary when it comes to directing,” and the screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman, who Winter deemed “one of the most innovative screenwriters in the business.”

Winters said that because Kaufman knows all the technical rules of screenwriting, he is able to write a story that effectively breaks those rules.

Winters also suggested “Some Like it Hot” (1959).

Winters said the classic cross-dressing story starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and the iconic Marilyn Monroe was ahead of its time for the 1950s and is one of his favorite movies.

Next, he discussed the cult-classic “Harold and Maude” (1971).

The film is a dark yet romantic comedy about a young boy who is obsessed with death. The boy falls in love with an elderly woman who shares his fixation with the end of life.

Winters said it is a must see film that, although unconventional, is “one of the best and truest love stories of all time.”

And lastly, Winters lists “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001).

Directed by Wes Anderson — who Winters says everyone should be obsessed with — and featuring an all-star cast, this comedy-drama contains intelligent, witty dialogue and is, “visually unique, stunning, and such a fun ride,” according to Winters.  

Esther Almazan, who is also a graduate student studying theatre and teaches an introduction to screenwriting course, suggested a few classic films for students to watch.

Almazan's top suggestion was “Citizen Kane” (1941).

Almazan said every film student has analyzed this classic mystery drama by Orson Welles at some point in their academic career, and it’s necessary for anyone looking to learn about film.

“To have intelligent discourse with other people in their field, this is definitely one of the movies they would have to have seen,” she said.

She also suggested many movies based on classic and newer literature works such as “Great Expectations,” “Don Quixote,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and "Sophie’s Choice.”

She said films based on classic books are great for all students to watch because it gives them a visual for words and concepts that we use in everyday life but may not know the origin of, such as the word quixotic.

“It’s important for film students to know their history and know their predecessors,” she said. “Then they can move out from there and go on to do extraordinary things.”


Reach the reporter at abpotter@asu.edu and follow @abpotter4 on Twitter. 

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