Columnist dissects the films that defined his high school experience.


There are only so many times one could watch “Ratatoullie” (2007, dir. Brad Bird) during the COVID-19 lockdown. I spent the majority of my sophomore year in my house watching movies, a habit that turned me into a cinephile who obsessively reviews films on Letterboxd. High school was not exactly easy, so movies were crucial to keeping me alive throughout. To reflect on my time in high school, I wanted to highlight a few films that have defined me as both a person and a cinephile and got me through high school. 


I often jokingly say that these films “made me trans” because without these films, I’m not sure how I would have realized that it was acceptable to present and identify however I was comfortable. While both films have issues regarding the dissonance between their representation of transgender and/or non-traditional gender roles and the anti-trans vitriol of today (something I dissected in my film studies), these films made me fall in love with movies and better understand myself. Both are amazing films with modern themes and great performances.“Some Like It Hot” also has a new musical adaptation on Broadway that I can say from personal experience is an amazing update on the film (plus it has a killer soundtrack and cast!).


First introduced to me in IB Film, this movie is an essential for ambitious people obsessed with the notion of success. As part of that group, this film has sparked both a love of film and an understanding of myself that I didn’t even know existed. The film itself, including potentially the best film score ever, is perfection, but the relationship I’ve developed with this film, both in the fictional world of the characters and the all-too-real world we live in, has motivated me and made me look at art in a completely new lense.


This film is infamous for many reasons, and if you have never heard of it, you’re probably not the target audience. The cultural context surrounding this cult classic could fill several books, but the first time I saw the film, I had no idea how to interpret it. The film speaks openly about sex, queer identities, including characters who fall outside the traditional cisgender binary, and makes jokes that would be considered offensive to traditional morals. 

After I saw the film, I later saw the stage musical it was adapted from, “The Rocky Horror Show,” at Short North Stage and loved it so much that I became an intern there. 

I once heard this film described as both transgender and transgressive, and that might be a perfect description. So if you’ve never seen it, go to a midnight showing and watch your life change forever.


This Wes Anderson film is one of my ultimate comfort films, especially in the fall and winter. Friends and family have mentioned the similarities between this film’s protagionist and me, such as high involvement in extracurriculars and annoying levels of curiousity (and in a strange coincidence, we’ve both written, directed and acted in plays about the Vietnam War). I relate to this film to an uncomfortable extreme, but at the end of the film, the protagonist turns out fine and that’s proof enough for me that I will as well.