5 + 1 British indie films you should see

Today I am going to offer some films for you to watch that will be educational both for your understanding of the English language (especially listening) as well as your knowledge of British culture as a whole. They might not be easy, so subtitles will be a must and at least an upper-intermediate level of English.

These might not be the most famous Hollywood films that everyone has heard of, but I promise you that they are great films that you will enjoy if you like anything outside of mainstream movies. I am going to limit myself to films made in the last 10-15 years so that these will all be modern films.

  1. Submarine

This film is a very English comedy. Dark and pessimistic. In 2010 Richard Ayoade (who you might know from IT Crowd) directed this film and you can see his style of sarcastic, witty and ironic comedy in every moment. It tells quite a sad story of a teenager with a difficult home situation and his relationship wish a girl. It’s very funny, if you like the English sense of humour, and full of northern accents and colloquial language. The music was also all made by Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys.

  1. Fish Tank

Another very English film, set in the council estates of East London. The story is hard and this is not an easy film or a film for younger viewers, but it is excellent. It features Michael Fassbender as the bad step-father to the main character, Mia. The actress who plays Mia actually had no acting experience and was ‘discovered’ when the casting assistant saw her arguing with her boyfriend at a train station. Andrea Arnold specialises in showing the experience of the under-class and this film and especially American Honey have made her a world-class director.

  1. This is England

Well, it’s in the name. This Shane Meadows film concerns 1980s England when punk and indie rock were in fashion and people were still a little ignorant towards immigrants. The film is quite violent, and sad, but it is also a lot of fun for the most part. You will learn about the recent history of England that is in most adults’ living memory. It features some famous actors and great music.

  1. 28 Days Later

This is quite a famous zombie film; possibly one of the best ever made. Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Christopher Eccleston feature in this Danny Boyle apocalyptic horror and it has one of the best scenes in film ever towards the end of the movie, but I won’t spoil that for you. This film shows England without all the people, but manages to demonstrate some of the little things that persist in our culture even at the end of the world.

  1. Four Lions

This film is hilarious. It is about Islamic terrorism. Only the English could make this dark subject so funny. Follow the story of four English muslims as they go on a journey to commit a terrorist attack on the London Marathon. Chris Morris is the master of British satire and you might know some of the actors. I can’t recommend this film enough if you are looking for a comedy that will also show you a very real picture of modern England.

BONUS. A Field in England

This one is weird, okay. If you don’t like unusual films then don’t even consider it. If you can’t find subtitles then don’t even bother. Watch the trailer first please. I am warning you.

Having said that, this is an absolute masterpiece of modern cinema. A tour de force by the director Ben Wheatley, he made this film with only £300,000. It probably did not cost a lot because it does literally take place in a field in England. This is a twisted trip into magic and madness that will leave you wondering what the hell you just watched. But there is something deep down in this film that digs into the English historical consciousness. Funny, disgusting, horrifying and beautiful all at the same time. Only watch if you have a real interest in film in all its forms.

Written by James R. McCance for Aston School

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