Thursday, June 5, 2014

Almost a True Story

PILED HIGHER AND DEEPER (2011)

Produced by: Meg Rosenburg
Director: Vahe Gabuchian
Starring: Raj Katti, Alexandra Lockwood, Zachary Abbott, Evans Boney and others
Pros: Easily connects with any PhD students in the world
Cons: A little exaggerated
Rating: *** of 5 (3 of 5) and ***** of 5 (5 of 5) if you're a grad student

As the trailer says - they grade your papers and do your research and are right at the bottom of the ladder of higher education. Grad students - those funny people on college campuses that seem so uncomfortable around everyone else, possibly even scared to graduate for fear of looking for a 'real job.' But the life of a grad student can be very vibrant indeed and Piled Higher and Deeper, based on the hit comic strip, opens you up to just that world.

For the general public, this movie might seem a little exaggerated. After all, which professor is going to constantly threaten his students with being fired unless they come up with a miracle every other day? And indeed, that is probably just a very extreme condition that few experience. But then, this is satire and it is supposed to pick on these conditions. For a grad student though, most of the movie feels like their own story - from the impossible TA hours with undergrads who are only concerned with passing the exam to those spectacular moments of inspiration when a once-intractable problem is solved by what seems to be pure common sense.

In the end though, the movie has a message for everyone, no matter what they're doing, who hate their jobs but don't want to leave it: would you rather be doing anything else? That captures the essence of grad school. Together with some hilarious gags from the comic strips and the shock of finding out that our nameless hero is named Winston, this movie is worth watching, especially with other grad students! (OTFS)

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