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StusBlues
08-30-2010, 02:21 PM
The only one I can think of right off is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, though The Paper Chase may count if you bring in law school; med school would probably be too much of a stretch.

Given the types of people who go to grad school and the life drama that ensues there, I'd think grad school days would be rich fodder for fiction/fictionalized memoir. What am I missing?

mcgato
08-30-2010, 02:27 PM
Pretty sure that Real Genius with Val Kilmer was grad school.

CalMeacham
08-30-2010, 02:48 PM
Creator with Peter O'Toole, Vincent Spano, Mariel Hemingway, and Virginia Madsen is definitely set in grad school. It feels more like grad school than any other film I've seen. It's also a witty effects-less science fiction film about cloning. And one of the few in which it's recognized that it takes clones a long time to grow up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creator_%28film%29

Chronos
08-30-2010, 02:52 PM
The main character in Proof (play and movie) is a grad student.

For other media, there's also the webcomic Piled Higher and Deeper (http://www.phdcomics.com/) (also collected into books), which often leaves me wondering where the hidden cameras are with which Jorge Cham is videotaping my life.

Hello Again
08-30-2010, 02:56 PM
Pretty sure that Real Genius with Val Kilmer was grad school.

Nope, they were undergrads. If you recall, "Chris Knight" was worried about "graduating" not "defending his dissertation/thesis." Oddly, the professors did not seem to have any grad students, only undergraduate assistants.

The Paperchase is about Law School. never mind!

Smeghead
08-30-2010, 03:47 PM
Neal Stephenson's book "The Big U" is at least partially about grad students, although in his usual style, it veers off into extreme weirdness pretty quickly.

capybara
08-30-2010, 05:40 PM
The first of Robertson Davies' "Cornish trilogy"-- The Rebel Angels-- takes place in that sort of setting. Very readable books.

Sampiro
08-30-2010, 06:14 PM
Creator with Peter O'Toole, Vincent Spano, Mariel Hemingway, and Virginia Madsen is definitely set in grad school. It feels more like grad school than any other film I've seen.

Ditto. Also loved the soundtrack and the O'Toole-Hemingway romance.

J.K. Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces (twice I've mentioned it today) has flashbacks to the protagonist's time in graduate school in philosophy at LSU and throughout the book he has an ongoing relationship by letter with a grad school friend, plus there's a sideplot involving a professor who's still there and remembers them both with less than fond memories.

Mrs. Garp in The World According to Garp teaches in a graduate program (English IIRC). The movie version has a joke in which their son asks "what's a gradual school?" and is told "It's where you go after college until you gradually realize you don't want to go to school anymore".

The forgettable movie With Honors in which Brendan Fraser adopts lovable homeless guy Joe Pesci is about either graduate students or law students, can't remember which. I believe it's graduate school as Fraser is working on a master's thesis for an arrogant stodgy old professor (Stock Academic Character #3) played by Gore Vidal.

asterion
08-30-2010, 06:23 PM
While not really about grad school, Igor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_%28film%29) can feel familiar to those in or recently out of grad school.

pseudotriton ruber ruber
08-30-2010, 06:30 PM
A Beautiful Mind is largely about grad school.

BrainGlutton
08-30-2010, 06:45 PM
Given the types of people who go to grad school and the life drama that ensues there, I'd think grad school days would be rich fodder for fiction/fictionalized memoir. What am I missing?

Audience appeal. If the subject the characters are studying is an important part of the drama -- and it is, to real-life grad students -- then the scenario is too intellectual for most people -- too intellectual for most intellectuals, in fact, if involves a grad program outside their own field of expertise. To make it accessible, you have to make it about a law school or med school, something that produces professionals whom the average person has to deal with, and who do things the average person understands at least in general principles. But they have to be the more dramatic kinds of professionals. Doctors, not dentists. Even doing it about MBA students would be a challenge -- MBAs are pretty important in our society, but how many people deal with them directly, or understand what they do? Maybe you have to deal with accountants -- but do you want to watch a movie about the educational experience that made your accountant the man he is today?

Social workers. That's a possibility. Maybe you could do something interesting about a social-work grad school, where the students have clinics where they actually practice helping disadvantaged people. But it could get pretty depressing.

BrainGlutton
08-30-2010, 06:51 PM
Of course, Peter Parker was in grad school for much of his Spider-Man career, and they sometimes got some plot points out of it -- but the comic was never about a grad student, it was about a superhero.

Elendil's Heir
08-30-2010, 07:42 PM
The movie The Reader, with Ralph Fiennes as a gloomy German lawyer, had an extended flashback about his days as an almost-as-gloomy German law student not too long after WWII. Don't think they gave the name of the school.

dalej42
08-30-2010, 10:30 PM
Gross Anatomy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097458/) was a comedy about medical school.

I only remember the movie since I was stuck at home for a couple of weeks during a semester break at college and must have watched this movie a dozen times.

BrainGlutton
08-30-2010, 10:49 PM
Gross Anatomy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097458/) was a comedy about medical school.

I only remember the movie since I was stuck at home for a couple of weeks during a semester break at college and must have watched this movie a dozen times.

Haven't seen it, but I've seen Young Doctors in Love. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084938/)

Elendil's Heir
08-30-2010, 11:36 PM
Gwyneth Paltrow plays an English Lit graduate student and researcher in the 2002 romance Possession.

msmith537
08-31-2010, 09:11 AM
Legally Blonde was about law school.

Patch Adams was about medical school

I think With Honors was undergrad at Harvard. It was supposed to be Brendon Frassier's senior thesis according to Wikipedia.


[QUOTE=StusBlues;12858206]
Even doing it about MBA students would be a challenge -- MBAs are pretty important in our society, but how many people deal with them directly, or understand what they do? Maybe you have to deal with accountants -- but do you want to watch a movie about the educational experience that made your accountant the man he is today?


Yeah, the actual study of business doesn't exactly make compelling drama. Most business related movies tend to be abour corporate fraud.

StusBlues
08-31-2010, 09:20 AM
Given the types of people who go to grad school and the life drama that ensues there, I'd think grad school days would be rich fodder for fiction/fictionalized memoir. What am I missing?

Audience appeal. If the subject the characters are studying is an important part of the drama -- and it is, to real-life grad students -- then the scenario is too intellectual for most people -- too intellectual for most intellectuals, in fact, if involves a grad program outside their own field of expertise. To make it accessible, you have to make it about a law school or med school, something that produces professionals whom the average person has to deal with, and who do things the average person understands at least in general principles. But they have to be the more dramatic kinds of professionals. Doctors, not dentists. Even doing it about MBA students would be a challenge -- MBAs are pretty important in our society, but how many people deal with them directly, or understand what they do? Maybe you have to deal with accountants -- but do you want to watch a movie about the educational experience that made your accountant the man he is today?

Social workers. That's a possibility. Maybe you could do something interesting about a social-work grad school, where the students have clinics where they actually practice helping disadvantaged people. But it could get pretty depressing.

Good points. I thought of another one - The Addiction with Lili Taylor as a vampire philosophy grad student. I liked the film, but it's depiction of grad school, with students taking survey courses and writing their dissertations at the same time, wasn't realistic if you know anything about the process. That said, the film was probably above the heads of most viewers as it was.

The Scrivener
08-31-2010, 10:55 AM
The Last Supper [1995] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113613/) is a black comedy about five liberal grad students renting a house together in rural Iowa, who poison a number of conservative dinner guests whose views they disagree with. While it's not about grad school per se (the film is set almost entirely on the grounds of the house, IIRC), there's certain aspects of liberal-arts grad student life (and smug groupthink) which it basically nails. OTOH, you might have some difficulty buying into the concept of Cameron Diaz and Ron Eldard being grad students. ;)

CalMeacham
08-31-2010, 10:58 AM
It also features Ron Perlman in one of the few roles where his unique physiognomy isn't critical to the role. The film lets him show that he can act, and has more than is needed for hanging exotic latex appliances on.

Fried Dough Ho
08-31-2010, 11:23 AM
Oleanna (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110722/) is less about the education process -- or is it? -- than about the social interaction between student and college professor.

The Scrivener
08-31-2010, 12:11 PM
It also features Ron Perlman in one of the few roles where his unique physiognomy isn't critical to the role. The film lets him show that he can act, and has more than is needed for hanging exotic latex appliances on.

Are you saying you found his Soviet WWII sniper in Enemy at the Gates unrealistic? That's the role that announced to the world: "look out, Richard Kiel, there's another 'Jaws' in town!".

:D (This one's with regular chompers, not a mouthful of metal.)

Chronos
08-31-2010, 12:23 PM
Nope, they were undergrads. If you recall, "Chris Knight" was worried about "graduating" not "defending his dissertation/thesis." Oddly, the professors did not seem to have any grad students, only undergraduate assistants. Probably just to try to make the movie a little more accessible. But in terms of what they're actually doing and how they're behaving, it's actually a pretty good portrait of grad school (though obviously sensationalized).

CalMeacham
08-31-2010, 12:38 PM
Are you saying you found his Soviet WWII sniper in Enemy at the Gates unrealistic?

Haven't seen it. But The Last Supper predates it.

Indistinguishable
08-31-2010, 01:22 PM
I think the canonical work in the "life of a young academic" genre is "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis, although I suppose the protagonist technically isn't a graduate student.

Tom Scud
08-31-2010, 03:22 PM
Gwyneth Paltrow plays an English Lit graduate student and researcher in the 2002 romance Possession.

You did that on purpose, to hurt me, didn't you?

Though come to think, in the novel, all the primary characters are post-docs or professors.

Chronos
08-31-2010, 03:52 PM
Come to think of it, Gwyneth Paltrow was also the lead in Proof. She did a decent job, I guess, but she really wouldn't have been my first choice for casting.

Freudian Slit
08-31-2010, 04:03 PM
Oleanna (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110722/) is less about the education process -- or is it? -- than about the social interaction between student and college professor.

The student character in Oleanna, Carol, is an undergrad, though, isn't she?

LC Strawhouse
08-31-2010, 04:03 PM
Kate Beckinsale plays a grad student of genetics in Laurel Canyon (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0298408/)

There is some talk about her ongoing thesis, but it's not really a movie about the grad school setting.

guizot
08-31-2010, 05:00 PM
...Even doing it about MBA students would be a challenge -- MBAs are pretty important in our society, but how many people deal with them directly, or understand what they do?..Or understand that most of them are people who simply partied a lot as undergrads, and now just want to walk directly into a guaranteed, highly-paid corporate job. I can't imagine a less interesting milieu for a movie.

Icerigger
08-31-2010, 05:14 PM
The Paper Chase, is law school considered grad school?

UTejas
09-02-2010, 01:54 PM
I realize the OP mentions fiction specifically, but Naturally Obsessed (http://naturallyobsessed.com/) is a documentary about graduate students pursuing PhDs in the molecular biology lab of Dr. Richard Shapiro at Columbia. It was filmed over the course of three years (!) tracking the progress of the students.

GilaB
09-02-2010, 01:58 PM
Intuition, by Allegra Goodman, is set in an academic biology lab, and focuses mostly on the postdocs. Technically, they're past grad school, but I found that they reflected my own bio-lab grad student existential despair pretty well.

Maserschmidt
09-02-2010, 10:07 PM
Scott Turow's One L (http://www.amazon.com/One-L-Scott-Turow/dp/0374226474) is an enjoyable book.