Welcome to our eighth installment of Sunday Streaming Suggestions!
Writers Ralph James, Evan Linden, Jack Martin, and Evan Northrup have delivered another round of classics to stream on your lazy Sunday:
Mid90s (2018) - Amazon Prime Video
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a beautifully-executed time capsule that evokes a spectrum of emotions.
Mid90s follows a 13-year-old misfit named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) as he ventures through early adolescence in 1990s LA. Aside from his bully of an older brother (Lucas Hedges) and his single mother (Katherine Waterston), Stevie has no one else in his life until coming across a group of older skaters to idolize. After following them around like a lost puppy, the group of raunchy high schoolers eventually take Stevie under their wing.
The leader of the pack is Ray (Na-Kel Smith)—the oldest and most genuine of the group who has the potential to go pro. Ray is complemented by the affectionately-named “Fuckshit” (Olan Prenatt), a carefree skater whose main priority is getting plastered. The crew’s daily antics are documented by “Fourth Grade” (Ryder McLaughlin), whose name is an attack on his perceived intelligence. Lastly, there’s Ruben (Gio Galicia)—a foul-mouthed skater closer to Stevie’s age who grows to resent Stevie after the rest of the group gravitates toward him.
SIDE NOTE: It's worth noting that all of these "actors" are actually real skateboarders who had little-to-no acting experience prior to this film, yet they all managed to have phenomenal performances.
Mid90s appears light on the surface, but the film tactfully tackles heavy topics such as addiction, abuse, self-harm, underage sex, trauma, poverty, and broken homes. It is a coming-of-age comedy at heart, but it is also an 85-minute emotional rollercoaster that strongly resonates with anyone who had similar experiences in their formative years.
Jonah Hill received plenty of praise for the film—especially for its powerful use of nostalgia and historical/cultural accuracy. The film was scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and the rest of the soundtrack is absolutely stellar—headlined by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, The Pixies, Nirvana, Souls of Mischief, The Pharcyde, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep, and Morrissey.
As we wait for Hill’s next directorial outing, Mid90s and its rewatch value should hold us over until we get to taste another Jonah Hill classic.
Stevie (2002) - Amazon Prime Video
Coming off a recommendation from my friend Sweese, I decided to start Stevie a few nights ago when I was having trouble falling asleep. It didn't do my insomnia any favors.
Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) travels to southern Illinois to reconnect with Stevie Fielding, who he was a "Big Brother" for 10 years prior. Upon arrival, he meets an older, traumatized, alcoholic, uncontrollable Stevie, but still sees hope for him to make something of his life. When Stevie commits a horrible crime, the documentary shifts, following Stevie and his family as he awaits prison sentencing.
Stevie is an intimate, shocking, and heartbreakingly tragic film that I haven't been able to get off my mind since finishing it. It's one of those documentaries that makes you say, "No way this is real."
I don't want to give away too many details; this is truly a film that you have to experience for yourself. It's heavy, so maybe don't watch it after a bowl or right before bed. It's truly one of the wildest things I've ever seen.
Pixar shorts - Disney+
For my pick this week, I’m going in an entirely different direction—much like the company that catapulted animation to the forefront of culture: Pixar. Everybody has seen a Pixar movie in theaters. It’s the most comforting experience in cinema—settling into your couch with a blanket, ripping a bowl or two of some spectacular kush, caressing a loved one or some snacks, and just witnessing pure genius through colorful moving pictures.
Disney+ has a catalog of every Pixar short that’s ever preluded one of their movies. My personal favorites are Auntie Edna and Piper. The digital animation is absolutely mind-bottling and I’m rarely, if ever, not absolutely floored by the, “How fuck did they pull this off and how long did it take?” reflection that rattles through my head while watching movies. Each one is about five minutes long and is the perfect dose of comfort television during these odd times.
Casablanca (1942) - HBO Max
If you don’t like black and white movies; if you instantly write off any film made before 1970; if you think that all old movies are boring, overrated, and generally not worth your time—watch Casablanca. It will change your opinion. I promise.
Set in the coastal African town of Casablanca, a safe haven for any European fleeing from the growing threat of Nazi Germany, the film begins by wandering lazily into Rick Blaine’s (Humphrey Bogart) low-lit club, Rick’s Cafe. Rick is an ex-American who looks out for one person and one person only—himself. However, everything changes when Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman)—a flame from Rick’s past—floats into his gin joint one night and turns his life upside down. Filled with smoky rooms, soft melodies, clinking glasses and kisses goodbye, Casablanca has a sleepy and seductive aura that will stick with you long after its characters have faded into the night. Even 80 years after its release, Casablanca’s somber and lost romantic spirit feels original and unique every time it's on the screen and continues to live up to its own illustrious reputation.