Weekend Watchlist | Nostalgia

By The Pitt News Staff

Before we head off onto a well-deserved break, The Pitt News Staff is going to take a moment to recommend their favorite old-school films.

The Empire Strikes Back (Disney Plus) // Patrick Swain, Staff Writer

The sound of soaring spaceships over John Williams’ swelling symphony transports me back to my childhood faster than the Millenium Falcon made the Kessel Run — less than 12 parsecs, to be precise.

“Star Wars” is universally adored to the point that having never seen it has become a character trait among a few cultural contrarians. I’m not one of them — second-rate Chewbacca impressions and Lego sets defined my youth. Somewhere in the galaxy, there’s a birthday party invitation with 7-year-old me holding a plastic lightsaber, photoshopped to glow blue like the real thing. That was the closest I ever got to embodying the cosmic escapism of “Star Wars.”

I consider “The Empire Strikes Back,” the 1980 sequel to the original, a formative film in my life. It evokes the same nostalgia as its predecessor, with blaster shootouts and lightsaber duels galore, but introduces a tinge of bittersweetness and maturity. This was the movie that taught me that the good guys don’t always triumph — that sometimes our expectations are subverted, that there isn’t always a medal ceremony before the credits. Sometimes it takes a block of carbonite, daddy issues or a bottomless pit to make us love the story even more. Years later, it still finds a way to make me sentimental.

Matilda (Hulu) // Jamie Sheppard, For The Pitt News

The late ‘90s film “Matilda” incited both fright and laughter in me as a child. It’s a story about a little girl, Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), who uses love, courage and her powers of telekinesis to stand up to the deplorable authority figures in her life.

Matilda’s school, Crunchem Hall Elementary, is a scary place. The notorious evil principal, Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), punishes students by stuffing them into the “Chokey,” a dank cupboard scattered with broken glass where nails jut from the doors. She catapults kids out of the windows, swings a girl into the air by her pigtails and forces a boy to eat a massive chocolate cake — though I wouldn’t have minded that one so much.

At home, the torment continues for Matilda due to neglectful parents and a bully of a brother. Yet with a bit of magic and adventure, the brave girl defeats Miss Trunchbull and confronts her uncaring family. She finds acceptance in her school teacher Miss Honey (Embeth Davidtz), who gives her the supportive home that she needed all along.

If one thing could sum up Matilda’s spirit, it would be her never-ending curiosity. At the age of six, she walks by herself to the library across town to check out books. In her, I found comfort in our mutual passion for reading, and I remember being fascinated by her independence. I suppose you could say this film was successful, as I can look at it today and still reminisce about the wonder it brought me as a child. 

Clueless (Hulu) // Katelyn Kruszewski, Staff Writer

The coming of age comedy “Clueless” combines ‘90s nostalgic fashion and the iconic teen movie in a story of a girl who is more than a little clueless about love.

A loosely based adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Emma,” “Clueless” follows popular but shallow Cher Horowitz as she attempts to navigate love and friendships within her highschool. The self-proclaimed matchmaker embarks on a variety of shenanigans, such as setting up two of her teachers to achieve better grades and giving her friend a full-blown makeover. The plot thickens when Cher accidentally falls for an unlikely match, causing her to question what it means to be in love and confirming that each of us was more than a little clueless in highschool.

This satirical movie features iconic fashion trends from the ‘90s that we know and love today, including blazers, mini skirts, sweater vests and other apparel. The film is truly a blast from the past, as seen through the costumes and soundtrack, including an iconic ‘90s teen movie makeover scene that blasts the song “Supermodel” as the school geek turns chic. “Clueless” is truly a hilarious and lighthearted film transporting you back in time.