Leslie Schock unveils her top five favorite films
February 8, 2019
Social studies teacher, Leslie Schock, is one of the co-sponsors of PHS’s new Cinema Club, and with she and the club already having hosted multiple screenings of movies like “Back To The Future” and “Psycho,” I sat down with Ms. Schock to discuss her five favorite films, historical accuracy in film, and the movies she hopes Cinema Club will share with students in the future.
Adventures in Babysitting
It’s too hard for me to just pick movies at random, so I decided to break them up into my favorite movies by genre.
My first favorite genre I picked was 80s movies, because I just feel like growing up in the 80s, with stuff from directors like John Hughes, those movies became what pretty much everybody saw. I went back and forth about this, and I wanted to put “The Goonies” on the list, because that’s a phenomenal movie, and when I was a kid, I always hoped I would have some sort of Goonies-esque adventure with my friends, but instead, I decided to go with “Adventures In Babysitting.”
It’s about a high school girl who goes into the city of Chicago, which resonated with me, because was she lived in the suburbs and had to drive into the big, bad city and pick her friend up from a bus station, and all of the hijinks that ensue because of that, and it just makes me laugh. It’s just a hysterical movie; really, really well done.
For action movies I picked a superhero movie, specifically I picked “Wonder Woman.” Growing up, I did watch the Lynda Carter series on rerun. I was Wonder Woman for Halloween, I want to say like seven straight years, I was just obsessed with her. And, obviously, being a girl growing up, finding a superhero that is a woman doesn’t happen every day.
Plus, there was such a big struggle that came with getting this movie made because studios were afraid that a woman couldn’t carry a superhero franchise on her back, and it turned out to be one of the most successful superhero movies of all time. I can say when I saw that movie, the feeling that it gave me watching that movie was very powerful to me.
SP: You mentioned “Wonder Woman” being a really significant movie for you. With the Oscar nominations just coming out just recently, “Black Panther” became the first movie to be nominated as a superhero movie for Best Picture. I know there was a lot of buzz for “Wonder Woman” possibly being that first movie. You also mentioned “The Dark Knight”, which also had buzz for possibly being that movie, so with all of that considered, do you think “Wonder Woman” should have gotten a Best Picture nomination?
LS: I’ve not seen every superhero movie ever by any stretch, like I’m not like “Avengers” aficionado, I just pick and choose which ones I want to see. But I thought, if I’m looking at both completely objectively as movies, I would say that “Black Panther” was a more impressive movie from start to finish, with the plot, the acting, and the visuals, you know, just what went into making that movie.
I would say that “Wonder Woman” was just a more powerful movie for me personally, but I don’t see any arguments for it being an Oscar contender over “Black Panther.”
“Black Panther” was a phenomenal movie, and it definitely meant to other people what “Wonder Woman” meant to me.
SP: That’s what I thought too. Both of them had the same aspect of cultural impact. Of course, “Black Panther” made over a billion dollars, “Wonder Woman” didn’t necessarily get that far, but they both had that whole following around them before they even came out and even after.
LS: And, with “Wonder Woman,” on the DC side of things, the movies have been, I think, two star movies, at best. Sorry for all you “Batman v. Superman” fans out there, but it’s not good. “Wonder Woman” is the only DC movie that I think has been worth anything, to be honest.
Hopefully they get that side of the franchise in line, because I love those characters; I grew up with Superman and Batman, but they haven’t been doing them justice lately.
The next movie that I picked was that kind of unconventional, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan movie. Nolan, way before you guys saw his Batman trilogy, made a movie on a very low budget called “Memento.”
That movie has just stuck with me because it was a way of telling a story that you had never ever seen before in a movie, starting with the middle of the story, and then filling in all the gaps. I felt like it took so much courage for him to make that movie because you’re literally watching the first half and you’re completely frustrated because you don’t know where it’s all going and what’s happening.
And, of course, the way that he ties it all together is incredibly rewarding, but that’s a big gamble to take. Like, are people going to stick it out and watch this movie where they’re very, very confused by everything that’s going on for the first hour, or are they just going to give up on it?
For comedy, I just wanted to do a straight, slapstick comedy choice, which I have to go with “Tommy Boy” because I just laugh every time I see it. I have a really soft place in my heart for Chris Farley, but unfortunately, addiction took him right at the beginning of his comedic genius career that he could have had.
His interaction and chemistry with David Spade, with David Spade being the straight guy and Chris Farley being the funny man, I just thought that whole movie was fantastic. I mean, I can still say lines and giggle to myself after watching it. It’s a movie that’ll never not make me laugh out loud. A lot of companies don’t hold up that well over time, and this one, to me, definitely did.
That’s just a movie that to me, has everything, you know? Lessons about who you want to be, a love story, the quest for independence against the big, bad British, the speeches, it was just a great three hour immersion, which is everything you want in a movie. I’m not going to bring up Mel Gibson, because he’s pretty problematic, but regardless of that, it’s a great movie.
SP: As a history teacher, do you think you tend to gravitate towards historical epics or movies based on true stories?
LS: Yes, but I think I have to go into them realizing that they’re just movies, because I think people who get too high and mighty with their historical accuracy lose the fact that they’re also trying to tell like a very complex story in an hour and a half, two hours, and so things are going to have to be cut.
Historical figures are going to have to be mashed into one character that portrays a bunch of people. You’re never going to have a true historical telling of a big, complex event in an hour and a half or two hour movie that people are going to want to go and see.
Our average, daily lives are actually really boring, so you have to cut out a lot of things to make it good and interesting. So, I like movies based on a true story, but I always know that they aren’t, I’m not gonna go in there expecting like a history book telling of what happened.
SP: So if you were making this list only with movies with some basis in history, like those based on a true story, what five movies would you put on this list?
LS: That’s a bit of a curveball you’re throwing at me here, but one of my favorite movies that isn’t based on a true story, but is like a historical epic, I would say is, “Dances with Wolves.”
Maybe that exact character didn’t exist. I thought it was just a beautifully told story about being human and not worrying about one culture being better than the other, and a guy who learns that a culture that he did not understand might have been better suited for who he was then the culture that he came from. I thought that was a really powerful message.
The next one isn’t very historically accurate because it really takes away from the Polish contributions to the computer, but I love “The Imitation Game,” and Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job in that movie, but it has a lot of historical problems. The Polish basically handed him the plans that were 75 percent done for Christopher, then the movie makes it look like he came up with it all himself, but it’s a great movie and another beautiful message about tolerance.
I don’t really like modern 20th century war movies, and I think that that cuts out a big part of the genre. Like, “Saving Private Ryan” I know is phenomenal, “Dunkirk” was quite close to a masterpiece but those are just not things I personally enjoy. I like the human-centered story more than the big war epic so there’s nothing else really coming right to mind.
SP: I guess my final question is, as a Cinema Club sponsor, what are some movies that you hope the club watches in the future?
LS: Oh, it’s so hard because I don’t know what’s rated PG-13 off the top of my head. There’s so many good movies, but unfortunately, a lot of them are rated R.
The movies that actually just popped into my head, that I would love for kids to see but are rated R, are “Dead Poets Society,” which I’m now regretting not putting in my top five, now that it came to mind, and “Schindler’s List.” They’re, I think, the most beautiful movies made in the last 30 years about resiliency and life and acceptance, and “Dead Poets Society” is part of what inspired me to become a teacher, so those would be two I would want to be okay-ed for us to watch.
Especially for “Dead Poets Society” because, again, I just don’t think that would be rated R now. I mean there there is obviously a problematic storyline to it for it to show high school kids, but with I think that now, that movie would not be a bad choice for our students to watch.