[Editor’s note: Flavorwire is counting down our most popular features of 2010. This post comes in at position number 2. It was originally published July 1, 2010.] There are great films, there are horrible films, and there are hipster films. These aren’t movies about hipsters — your (500) Days of Summer — or movies calculated to appeal to them (Garden State) that end up finding their true audience in middle America. These are the flicks (often from the ’80s or ’90s) that people of the well-educated, alternative-leaning, cosmopolitan, 20-something demographic actively embrace… and often quote ad nauseam. We’re not saying we don’t enjoy these movies — some of them are our very own sacred cows, and it hurts us deeply to sacrifice them. We’re just saying they’ve become as overplayed as Animal Collective’s “My Girls,” and we’re sick to death of hearing about them.
Hipsters and John Cusack go together like peas and carrots. From Better Off Dead (which, like, don’t mess with, okay?) to High Fidelity to Hot Tub Time Machine, he’s emo narcissism and nostalgic irony all rolled into one. While we enjoyed Say Anything…, the first time around, the fact that it’s inspired two indie bands and a million T-shirts means it’s seriously overplayed. And ladies: I think we know what it means to date a guy who sees Lloyd Dobler as some kind of perma-teen role model. If we see one more dude hoist a boom box over his head…
Top image via Mez Love on Flickr
This 21st-century summer-camp comedy is all ’80s nostalgia — and, okay, a lot of laughs. It’s got everyone from the Stella/The State ensemble, as well as more hipster faves including Janeane Garofalo and Amy Poehler. Let’s be clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. We’re just sick of hearing it quoted and evangelized as though it is the sine qua non of filmic comedy. Oh, and we feel it deserves partial blame for all of the horrible ’80s-inspired summer fashion we were seeing in mid-’00s Williamsburg.
Ah, the Coen brothers. Who wouldn’t love these Indiewood auteurs, who put out a great movie almost every year? While we prefer their dramas, hipster consensus has solidified around The Big Lebowski. Imitation of the film’s central Dude has graduated from a hobby to a lifestyle, with fans embracing bowling, White Russians, and the various philosophies of said stoner-slacker icon. For the past eight years, enthusiasts around the world have gathered for an annual Lebowski Fest. We don’t begrudge these people their fun. We like bowling, too! (White Russians, however, make us nauseous.) As with Wet Hot American Summer, we simply want to reiterate: It is a good movie; it just isn’t the only good movie.
We’ve already covered ’80s nostalgia, but these days hipsters have graduated to missing the ’90s — years they can actually reasonably recall. Forget that uncool Ben Stiller directed and co-starred, because the movie’s real highlight is the dream trifecta of Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, and Janeane Garofalo. Also, despite the fact that Reality Bites is the height of post-college Gen-X angst, today’s underemployed 20-something can, like, totally relate to its aimless characters.
It just doesn’t get more hipster than The White Stripes bantering about Nikola Tesla in a movie that also includes an awkward meeting between Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, along with a scene in which RZA and GZA think deep thoughts with Bill Murray. But really, this nod is a symbolic honor, bestowed on behalf of the entire Jim Jarmusch oeuvre. Like the Coen brothers, he’s a wonderful filmmaker. But we’re sorry, watching his movies doesn’t make you smart and constantly quoting them only make you sound like a pseudointellectual.
Back to the ’80s! Ferris Bueller, with its obligatory slacker protagonist, classic soundtrack, and demigod director, John Hughes, presents something of a dilemma for hipsters. In the film, Matthew Broderick is a figure of pure awe. But in real life, in 2010, he’s married to the terminally un-hip Sarah Jessica Parker, who won’t stop making those horrible Sex and the City movies. The solution is to discuss Bueller solely in the context of the past and to drop that “life moves pretty fast” line like it’s going out of style. (Would that it was!)
This is another lifetime achievement award, for Wes Anderson, who may be the ultimate hipster auteur. He’s got everything: the quirky characters, the obsession with father-son relationships, the ’60s-sourced soundtracks designed to make cool kids think Anderson’s moving are speaking, like, directly to them. Rushmore gets a special nod for featuring a high school-aged protagonist (which, as you might have begun to notice, is a lightning rod for infantilized hipsters’ aging-related psychodrama) alongside the one and only Bill Murray.
It’s a movie based on a Hunter S. Thompson book, starring none other than Johnny Depp as the gonzo journalist himself. Every hipster dreams of taking a drug-fueled odyssey for a lost however-long in Vegas, but these days we’re too busy updating our Facebook statuses and RTing pictures of cats in funny costumes to unplug from our computers, much less our sanity, for that long. So, instead, we smoke joints and watch Fear and Loathing, convincing ourselves that us and Hunter are two of a kind.
A Clockwork Orange is another perfect storm of hipster reference points: It’s based on a dystopian novel about the dangers of authority and conformity that you most certainly underlined like crazy as teenager. It contains Russian-inspired jargon insiders can integrate into everyday conversation. There are the over-the-top stylized sets and costumes. And finally, it’s directed by Stanley Kubrick, whose other hipster-approved classics include Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Here we must make a confession: Richard Linklater’s Waking Life came out early in our college career, and, as exuberant, young pseudo-philosophers, we saw it twice. In the theater. Although these days it sounds like self-important babble to us, we were entranced by the pomo kvetching and the rotoscoping and implication that we should rethink the bourgeois lives we’ve been living. See also: Linklater’s Dazed and Confused and Slacker.
A film made by a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Like much of Miranda July’s whimsical, participatory art, it is full of quirky characters with bizarre but adorable preoccupations. Some of the character’s, like July’s own Christine, actually are hipsters. But others are exactly the kind of slightly askew normal folks that hipsters love to romanticize. To cut the snark for a second, July’s dialog and direction were spot on. But from its twee title to its so-gross-it’s-sweet “pooping back and forth” interludes, Me and You and Everyone We Know is exactly the kind of hipster bait that gets old fast.