Tracker Pixel for Entry

Hill Looks Back at the “Mid90s”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | November 7th, 2018

Jonah Hill’s feature directorial debut, which he also wrote, is a textbook bildungsroman of the hetero-masculine variety, a finely tuned throwback to the “Mid90s” of its title smart enough to locate the universal experiences that everyone -- regardless of generation -- recognizes. Shot on gorgeous Super 16mm in a 4:3 aspect ratio by ace photographer and regular Kelly Reichardt collaborator Christopher Blauvelt, Hill’s lean slice of life, which runs a fleet 84 minutes, is as earnest and heartfelt as it is unapologetic about its racially-charged and homophobic milieu. Hill’s own experience as an actor pays dividends in the confident way he makes space for complete characterizations across the entire impressive ensemble.

Protagonist Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a barely pubescent 13-year-old who lives with sullen, abusive older brother Ian (Lucas Hedges) and often absent single mom Dabney (Katherine Waterston), focuses his attention on a group of mostly older skaters. Introduced to the collective by mascot Ruben (Gio Galicia), who will soon express jealousy at Stevie’s easy rapport with the others, the new kid yearns to be noticed by quiet videographer Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), easygoing joker Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), and steady leader Ray (Na-kel Smith). Hill comments more than once on the ways in which teenagers can look years older or younger than their chronological ages, and some of the thrills of “Mid90s” are delivered via the shocking sight of angel-faced Suljic rapidly discarding his childhood.

Hill is at ease with the repartee, camaraderie, and bonhomie of bonded male groups, but in one fascinating interlude, the gang attends a mixed-gender house party. Stevie, affectionately dubbed Sunburn by the fellows, is attracted to Alexa Demie’s Estee. Nearly a head taller than Stevie, Estee takes on the lead/dominant role in the rapid seduction, remarking, “You’re, like, at the age before guys become dicks.” Later, Hill alternates, “Trainspotting”-style, between the boys comparing notes with the boys and the girls comparing notes with the girls. The gender exploration, however, pretty much ends there as the film’s raison d’etre belongs to the carefully observed patterns of gender-specific behavior enacted through the fraternal.

Alongside Hill’s careful ear for dialogue, which pinballs from vulgar braggadocio to sincere reflection (Smith nails it in one particularly wise observational exchange), the two-decade nostalgia span is at a perfect remove to get heads nodding in recognition of Jahmin Assa’s production design, Heidi Bivens’ costumes, and the soundtrack selections that drop the needle on ideal period signifiers ranging from Pixies, Nirvana, and Cypress Hill to the Pharcyde, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Jeru the Damaja.

“Mid90s” has drawn some comparisons to Harmony Korine (who makes a cameo in Hill’s film) and Larry Clark’s “Kids,” but Hill’s worldview is far less toxic and dangerous than the grimmest territory explored in the 1995 movie. Certain viewers will undoubtedly detect something approaching sweetness, especially in the film’s unlikely denouement. By contrast, Elizabeth Weitzman pegs the final scene as “either wish fulfillment or a cop-out,” but I suspect many will have carved out enough room to see is as something else altogether. Hill, who would have been Stevie’s age in 1996, can also be glimpsed in composite through the artistic aspirations of Fourth Grade, the clowning defense mechanisms of Fuckshit, and the determination and enterprise of Ray. I look forward to his next outing behind the camera.

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Backed by police and educators, state legislators hope to curb violent crime and rising suicide rates by proposing bipartisan legislation that would allow police to temporarily confiscate firearms from those deemed…

It is no secret that our world is becoming more and more computerized. Over the course of a few decades, computers and the Internet have transformed from being solely objects of luxury or business to a ubiquitous part of 21st…

Wednesday, January 23, at 6-8 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. N, FargoMeet featured artists and learn about the Human Rights Arts Festival. The North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival is a traveling juried exhibition that…

A couple of days before Christmas, a video of “Virgin Island Vicky,” went viral. Her real name is irrelevant, but she’s a Minot native. The video shows her going on multiple public racist rants while she and her beau were on…

The Epic Battle Between Milk And WaterI didn’t realize our neighbor state Wisconsin had over 15,000 lakes until I Googled. Well, it might depend on how you count them according to size and acreage. We know that Minnesota has…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Curry in a Hurry

by HPR Contributor

By Nataly Routledgenatalyroutledge@googlemail.com My least favorite thing about being a college student is the limited selection of food that I am comfortable making with minimal ingredients and minimal effort. Plus, I liked to try…

Music

To Broadway and back

by HPR Contributor

By Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comCelebration of Women and Their Music kicks off this Thursday at the Spirit Room in Fargo, and Nina Grollman will be back in town to light up the stage with a brand-new sound. High Plains Reader…

Compared to the Betsy West and Julie Cohen documentary “RBG,” Mimi Leder’s period biographical slice “On the Basis of Sex” is nowhere near as notorious as one might hope, but the hagiographic reverence for Ruth Bader…

By Nataly Routledgenatalyroutledge@googlemail.com"Snowgeese" for Charles BeckBy Timothy MurphyThe flock is whorled like a translucent shelland intricate as the tubing of a horn,its embouchure, the soft foot of a snaillighting on…

by Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comFargo-Moorhead Community Theatre presents “A Christmas Story: The Musical” which is underway at the Stage at Island Park and will run through December 22. It has been promoted as a show both…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comphotography by Logan MacraeEver wish you could go to your favorite brewery without leaving your house? Finally, you can (sort of). Kilstone Brewing is now doing limited can releases of some…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu"People spend so much time mocking Trump or waiting for him to be impeached. And the danger with this kind of obsession with a single person is that you don’t see the system that produced him."—…