Heading into a new year and my final semester of high school, I wanted to try things a little differently with a bucket list. It is tentative, but here are some hopefuls. Study good coffee. Learn how to surf. Visit Pier 23's "Legends and Friends.” Hike more often. Go on that Adam Richman-inspired road trip.
A number of these likely won't happen in the next five months. The lattermost item will certainly have to wait until after graduation. But there is one that I've designated a semester-long project. It has been penciled in simply as "Watch These.”
Effectively a bucket list within a bucket list, "Watch These” consists of older movies that various people have strongly recommended that I watch. And looking over the titles, the process of accumulating them was an edifying experience in and of itself. At the Daily Journal, when I expressed a desire to learn how to surf, members of the editorial staff suggested films like "Endless Summer” and "Point Break.” As the list grew in scope to include "The Gods Must Be Crazy,” "Road House,” and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,” I realized I had not ever heard of most of these films. What's more, in discussing classics with a family friend, I found that I recognized few of the movies he mentioned — "La Cage aux Folles”?
Ultimately, I came away with a sense that these titles, while undoubtedly sources of timeless entertainment, carry far greater weight today as parts of our cultural heritage. Although academic classes enable students to limitedly partake through films integrated into our curriculum, high school once offered cinematography classes which demanded interpretation, rhetorical analysis and discussion. Much like an English class, actually. But not anymore.
Just this past semester, as part of studying existentialism, our English class watched "Cool Hand Luke,” and thereafter, we read Camus' "The Stranger.” Strangely enough, though both illustrated the philosophy admirably in its own right, I felt I better appreciated and understood such an abstract concept through the former.
In similar sense, I wonder as to whether an emphasis on "cultural education” could serve a more holistic learning process. Musicians develop their own technical personality by studying the compositions or recordings of preceding masters. English students read and analyze the styles of various authors. Visual artists derive their influences in a comparable fashion. Yet what of film?
Most of my peers and I are consumers of this media, but only a select few seem knowledgeable about its rich history beyond "Die Hard” or Daniel Craig to a substantive extent. Two of my friends, for instance, frequent Cine/Club, a weekly, free screening of classic movies for high school students at San Francisco's Randall Museum. Looking over their site, I was surprised to learn that attendance ranged from 50 to 100 individuals.
And amusingly, their motto simply read, "We give you what school can't.”
Heading into my final semester of high school, I want to try things a little differently, and although this attempt at immersion is tentative, I have no doubt it will not prove fruitless. Because even if this ends with the wish I had never started, that realization will be an inherently valuable one: I tried, and I now know. So to kick off the new year, here's to the spirit of discovery. "Watch These” is only the tip of the icebergs that has been growing across continents and decades.
Sangwon Yun is a senior at Aragon High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.