It's finally here -- the movie everyone has been waiting for -- Bohemian Rhapsody.
And it's as good as you've hoped. We got your spoiler-free review here. In a nutshell -- go see it. Go see it now and in a theater, preferably one with the best sound system possible, and prepare to rock out!
The Reel Deal: Jonah Hill’s seminal skateboarding coming-of-age story ‘Mid90s’ pays tribute to a simpler time
By Madison Rutherford, Guest Writer, College Times editor
The mid-1990s were a pivotal time for skateboarding. Street skating was just starting to move into the mainstream, iconic Spike Jonze videos like Mouse and Video Days were inspiring a new generation of young skaters and the L.A. Courthouse was a gritty, illegal skate mecca.
Four years ago, Jonah Hill started writing the script for a movie about growing up during this golden era, aptly titled Mid90s. Because he’s known for his comedic acting roles in early-aught classics like Accepted and Superbad, Hill’s directing chops and knowledge of skateboarding were both called into question. But his directorial debut, which hit theaters on October 26, is an earnest portrayal of pre-Millennium skate culture in Southern California. More importantly, it’s a poignant coming-of-age tale about a wide-eyed kid trying to find his place in the world. It’s an important story that will ring true for anyone who’s ever craved a sense of belonging, even if they’ve never set foot on a skateboard.
The story is brought to life by the film’s young cast of real-life skaters, Ryder McLaughlin, Olan Prenatt and Na-kel Smith, who are members of L.A.-based skate collective Illegal Civilization; the film’s precocious protagonist, Sunny Soljic, who at only 13 years old, has already been skating for nearly a decade; and Gio Galicia, who was scouted for the film at L.A.’s famed Stoner Skate Plaza.
The kids portray a motley crew of rebellious misfits from broken homes that spend their days scoping spots and hanging out at the local skate shop, Motor Avenue. Stevie (Suljic) is seeking solace from his tumultuous home life, which includes the absence of his father, an abusive older brother and aloof single mother. Suljic says an underlying theme of the film explores Stevie’s desire to find a family outside of his home. “He’s just trying to find friends that are cool and supportive,” he explains.
Those friends come in the form of Ray (Smith), the skate squad’s de facto authority figure with aspirations of going pro, charming but aimless F*cksh*t, so called for the characteristic expletives he shouts when someone lands a difficult trick, quiet filmer Fourth Grade (McLaughlin), nicknamed for his grade-school IQ, and try-hard tagalong, Ruben (Galicia). Stevie pines for the camaraderie and “cool factor” the skate crew possesses and they quickly take him under their wing, showing him the ropes of skating and the rough-and-tumble lifestyle that comes with it. Stevie then embarks on a series of firsts — cigarettes, swigs of malt liquor and awkward sexual encounters — that draw close comparisons to Larry Clark’s harrowing 1995 film Kids. Both paint an unflinchingly realistic portrait of how the often recklessly hedonistic impulses of young skateboarders can spiral out of control.
With the exception of Suljic, who proved his acting prowess in The House with a Clock in Its Walls and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, none of the main characters had any previous acting experience. Authenticity was one of Hill’s biggest priorities throughout the film; he thought coaching seasoned skateboarders how to memorize a script would feel more real than teaching actors how to heelflip.
“You have to be such a talented director to do that,” Suljic says. “Casting everybody that has never acted before and making it look so real and feel so natural, like they were professional actors, you have to be so talented to do that. The script was super well-written and Jonah is just a really, really good director.”
Though it’s easy to forget that they’re acting at all, Prenatt says it was a challenge for them to adopt a different persona.
“My approach to acting, since it’s my first time, is just try as hard as possible to present yourself as an actor and my character was the exact opposite, which is ‘Don’t try hard. Trying hard is corny,’” he says. “It was very hard to have two states of mind.”
It wasn’t hard to fake the funk, however, when it came to the boys’ familial bond. McLaughlin, Prenatt and Smith already knew each other through Illegal Civ and instantly bonded with Galicia and Suljic. “We’re all friends. Throughout that whole process, everybody got a lot closer through filming and being around each other all day,” McLaughlin says.
The boys agree that not only is a skateboard a bonding tool, but a form of therapy. “You forget about everything else you’re doing and you’re not really under any restrictions,” Suljic says.
Prenatt also finds it important to mention the skate scene’s non-discriminatory characteristics: “Skateboarding is what it is in the movie, which is a community of no-judgment.”
It’s also a community that can be fiercely protective of its portrayal in the media. There are more than a handful of stereotypical skate films that are hollow and ham-handed, but Mid90s never feels overwrought or one-dimensional.
“There’s not one thing that was misrepresented in skateboarding through this film,” Prenatt says.
That sentiment of authenticity is present in all parts of the movie, from the soundtrack to the clothes to the dialogue. The beginning of the movie subtly creates a sense of time, as it follows Stevie — clad in an era-appropriate Street Fighter II shirt — as he sneaks into his brother’s room to snoop through his CD collection, which is rife with titles from Eric B. & Rakim, E-40 and Gang Starr. The first few minutes of the film are a hypnotizing sequence of ‘90s nostalgia, while the rest of the movie feels like a vivid flashback hand-plucked from a film reel of real memories. The characters will linger in audiences’ minds long after the credits roll.
The film was scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, whose band, Nine Inch Nails, rose to prominence in the mid-‘90s. The soundtrack, which includes decade-defining tracks from A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J and Wu-Tang Clan, are an homage to Hill’s affinity for ‘90s hip-hop — which served as the soundtrack for his own adolescence.
Each character’s style looks like they walked right off the page of an issue of now defunct skateboard magazine Big Brother in 1995. Ray, F*cksh*t, Stevie, Ruben and Fourth Grade all rock branded beanies, baggy pants, puffy shoes and oversized T-shirts. Both ‘90s kids and skate buffs will recognize old-school logos from iconic brands like Blind, Chocolate, Girl, Droors (Now DC) and Shorty’s. Of course, it helped that the film’s wardrobe supervisor was illustrious professional skater Jerry Hsu’s wife, Katina Danabassis.
To further set the scene, Hill doled out a playlist of music from the mid-‘90s and wouldn’t allow the actors to use their phones on set.
“He made us leave our phones in our trailers, so even during breaks and when cameras were being set up, we would just have to stay in that world,” McLaughlin says. “I think that really helped all of us connect and create that bond and just put us in that period without technology where we can’t get distracted.”
The majority of the stars in Mid90s weren’t alive during a time that wasn’t ruled by technology. Prenatt insists, however, that the movie is made up of universal truths and lessons that transcend time and place.
“I feel like this is a very universal movie for every single person on this planet and it’s shown through skateboarding,” he says. “This is literally a movie about life. It’s something that every single human goes through. There are so many lessons in life and there are so many lessons that get shown through the movie.”
And though skateboarding is a prominent part of the movie, it ultimately serves as a symbol for the greater picture.
“The movie teaches more than just one lesson… and it’s not just for skaters, it’s for the whole community,” Galicia adds.
There's no better film to kick off our first ever horror film review than the new "Halloween" movie. This film is terrifyingly good, but our new horror host is even better. Take a listen to our spoiler-free review and give some love to our newest host!
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By Tuesday Mahrle
Scottsdale varies dramatically depending on where you land within its boundary. From high-end shopping to historical museums to bar-hopping in Old Town Scottsdale, culture and diversity are thriving in this ever-growing city. The Scottsdale International Film Festival weaves together stories of love and laughter, war, religion and history as distinct as where it’s hosted.
Founded in 2001, Scottsdale International Film Festival celebrates its 18th year by expanding from its usual five day run to 10 days with over 50 films, Q & A’s with directors and actors and an LGBT movie series.
The festival begins Friday, November 2 and runs through November 11. The opening night celebration that Friday evening is hosted at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with Emmy Award-winning TV personality Tara Hitchcock who will serve as emcee. Mix and mingle while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and the premier of Netflix’s award winning film, Roma.
“The film has been the subject of much attention since its triumphant premieres in Toronto, Venice and Telluride Film Festivals,” dotes Amy Ettinger, Founder and Director of the Scottsdale International Film Festival. Roma is Alfanso Cuarón’s intimate account of his childhood in early 1970s Mexico City. The black-and-white, Spanish-language drama follows a year in the life of a live-in maid named Cleo who works for an upper-middle-class family while the patriarch of the family is away for an extended period of time.
The rest of the curated programing is showcased at Harkins Shea 14 Theatres. After opening night, a full schedule of films will screen through Sunday, November 4. The festival will showcase one film each weeknight beginning Monday, November 5 through Friday, November 9, and then continues full scheduling through the closing night film on Sunday, November 11.
This year’s films feature compelling characters and storylines.
“The stories told in the films we have selected beautifully address a number of cross-cultural issues facing both men and women today, including sexuality, religious conflict, cultural expectations, and a fair amount of comic relief,” said Amy Ettinger. “We have always prided ourselves on our ability to offer audiences a wide-screen view of the world through the art of cinema, and this season’s slate is is extraordinary.”
A panel of eight decide the fate of every movie submission into the Scottsdale International Film Festival. All submissions are thoroughly vetted and while the eight panelists remain similar every year, guests are regularly welcome. This year, Enrico Minardi, a professor from ASU, helped with the Italian Spotlight Series and will assist with the moderation for several of those films.
Since its inception in 2006, the Scottsdale International Film Festival has feature an LGBT series of films continuing it’s goal of inclusion and diversity.
“I had been aspiring from the jump to keep LGBT movies in the theater, whether it be one movie or three. This year, we have six films and I feel strongly that that is part of the core programming,” states Amy.
While the interest and viewership for gay-centered films has continued an upward trajectory, Amy doesn’t see a future that will need to be divided between the LGBT film world and the later.
“Interestingly, as time has gone by and culture has evolved, so many of the films I like and want to program into the festival - be it any LGBTQ theme that’s in it, is becoming more an organic part of the story line rather than a ‘made by gay, for gay’ concept. Gay is much more mainstream in movies and everyday TV watching.”
NR|95 minutes|Drama, Biopic
Robert Mapplethorpe has been hailed one of the most important, yet controversial artists of the 20th century. His portrait-style photography featuring the underground BDSM scene of New York continues to be celebrated three decades after his untimely death due to complications with HIV/AIDS. This biopic follows his early days experimenting with his photography and embracing his sexuality in the gay buros of New York and follows his career through the height of his craft and his self-destruction through the emerging AIDS crisis.
Wild Nights with Emily
NR|84 minutes|Comedy, Biopic
Starring Molly Shannon as Emily Dickinson, Wild Nights with Emily is a fictional comedy that goffs at the “spinster” portrayal of the late Dickinson and harrolds her as a woman ahead of her time in both intellect and sexuality. Her rebel mentality is stifled only when flirting with women and writing poems on napkins and scraps of paper.
Every Act of Life
Every Act tells the story of the life and work of four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally. Follow his personal journey through theatre, the fight for LGBT rights, addiction and ultimate recovery, his closeted relationships and the power his work has on generations.
Inspired by Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko's 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story "Jambula Tree", Rafiki is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women, Kena and Ziki, amidst family and political pressures. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
NR|135 minutes|Horror, Science Fiction
Clara is a young woman living on the outskirts of São Paulo. She is hired to be a live-in nanny to a mysterious and wealthy single woman, Ana. The two form an unusual friendship but something is lurking in the background. One evening, things change from odd to frightful as Ana’s strange behaviours reveal uncovered secrets.
The Heiresses (Las Herederas)
Chela and Chiquita have been a loving couple for over 30 years. Financial difficulties force them to sell some of their inherited furniture, each piece of which is a beloved article of memorabilia. When Chiquita is sent to prison for fraud, Chela is suddenly left on her own. Chela, the homebody, must venture out for work and beings providing local taxi services for a group of elderly ladies. She meets a young woman, Angy and is forced to break out her shell and rediscover her desires.
A full lineup of films can be viewed at the Scottsdale International Film Festival website.
Dark and twisty, Drew Goddard doesn't disappoint with his latest film Bad Times at the El Royale. The star power packs a punch in this deliciously noir crime thriller. No spoilers! But definitely worth a watch. Listen to our review to find out why!
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If you see any movie this fall in theaters then make it 'A Star Is Born.' For a directorial debut, Bradley Cooper amazes as director, star, singer, and guitarist. Lady Gaga lights up the screen not only with her voice but with her acting as well.
Perhaps one of the most evocative films of the fall film season thus far, Emma Thompson delivers an evocative performance as Judge Fiona Maye in a story about life and death and one's right to choose.