Ryan Murphy Proves, Once Again, How It Is Possible To Be Both Gay And Homophobic

Review of The Prom, a Netflix film

Written by Teen Writer Anna Martin and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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The Prom opens with a musical number sung by Meryl Streep and James Corden. Streep grins and sings with generous help from autotune, while Corden twirls around the screen, in a limp-wristed impression of a gay man. This is one of the best scenes in the movie—it only gets worse from here.

The Prom is based on the Tony-nominated musical of the same name. It follows four washed-up Broadway actors (two of whom are played by Streep and Corden) in a misguided attempt to restore their reputations by forcing themselves into the life of a teenage lesbian, Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), whose prom was canceled after she tried to take her girlfriend (Ariana Debose) as her date.

The musical numbers are over the top and colorful, Murphy, at the very least, understands how to do a musical. That being said, he does lean too much into it at certain key points. “Campy and fun” is a weird energy to bring to a scene where Emma is being bullied for her sexuality. The goofy acting choices and bright colors may work for some of the more upbeat musical numbers, but for scenes trying to address the trauma of homophobia, it felt offensive and in bad taste. I was left once again wondering if Murphy has ever even met a lesbian and if he thinks this is a normal reaction to death threats.

I have no doubt Pellman is a fine actor, but her constant smiling is unnerving. Her introductory song is about being out as a lesbian in a small, intolerant town, but she never once breaks from a cheerful grin. The only emotions she shows throughout the whole movie are just happy or sad, making her performance feel stiff and robotic.

Her girlfriend showed more emotion in her practically nonexistent screen time than Pellman did the whole movie. Dubose’s performance is by far the best acting in this movie. The couple's chemistry was excellent, but the lack of screen time made every scene with the two girls together feel like dropping in on a much better romcom halfway through. In a movie that was 20 minutes too long, Murphy somehow didn’t spend enough time with the main couple.

Instead, that time is devoted to James Corden’s impression of a gay best friend from a ‘90s sitcom, and Meryl Streep’s aforementioned singing. It felt clueless at best and mocking at worst. Both of their performances were playing to the back row, making these characters seem campy and ridiculous in moments that were supposed to feel sincere.

Not only were Murphy’s edits from the original plot in bad taste, but they also made the writing worse. He cut most of the screentime from the gay couple and gave it to the Broadway actors, making the plot make less sense while also feeling insufferably long.

The only redeeming parts of this movie are Nicole Kidman and Andrew Rannells. If you are going to, watch The Prom for Rannells’ character following a group of teenagers around a mall, trying to sing the homophobia out of them, and Kidman’s character trying to Fosse dance the fear of being the victim of a hate crime out of a traumatized seventeen-year-old lesbian. Both of these instances work and are the best parts of this movie.

On the flip side, the worst part about all of the terrible casting and directing choices was that all the Broadway actor characters, and Emma to some extent, were based on real people, who played themselves in the Broadway show. Murphy took a show that was one of the first positive, lesbian-centered musicals and shifted the focus away from the main characters. Not only was this movie badly directed and acted, it grossly misunderstood its own source material, ruining everything that made it great.

Netflix, next time save us all the trouble and just film the musical.

Lead photo credit: Tracey Ullman, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, Jo Ellen Pellman, Ariana DeBose, Nico Greetham, Logan Riley, and Sofia Deler in The Prom (2020). Photo by MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX/MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX - © 2020 Netflix, Inc.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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2021… A New Beginning?

Teen Editorial Staff January 2021 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Eleanor Cenname

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For many of us, 2021 has been the light at the end of the tunnel as we begin to envision a pandemic-free future. We do not see a return to normal on the horizon — and maybe that is a good thing— but we can see the inklings of hope. As we continue to social distance and meet with each other over Zoom, we can let art fuel this desire for a better future.

Maybe you will find hope in the future leaders and art creators… if so, be sure to look into KEXP’s 90.Teen, a radio program created by Seattle teens. (For those interested in audio-based storytelling, be sure to check out our next TeenTix Arts Podcast!) Or you may want to learn about history’s arts activists through Jeffrey Jackson’s livestream, The Artists Who Risked Their Lives Using Art to Defy the Nazis, hosted by Town Hall Seattle.

MOHAI’s Fabulous Footwear program will guide you in an exploration of the history and stories of shoes, one garment that we might be wearing less of from behind our computer screens. And if, during this gloomy month, you would like to stay inside and watch a movie, Northwest Film Forum’s screening of Film About a Father Who will transport you through three decades during which filmmaker Lynne Sachs researched, filmed, and explored the life of her father. On the flip side, for those who doubt whether any of this is even real, Whim W'Him’s Season 11 of their Choreographic Shindig is based on the idea that we are all living in simulated reality.

While we continue to live in this new normal, let art be your guiding light, helping you maintain your equilibrium amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic. And hopefully, we will be back to seeing artwork in-person soon.

Lead photo credit: Photo by Edwin Hooper for Unsplash.

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Revisiting Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels

Review of Fallen Angels

Written by Teen Writer Owen Chilcote and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

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Few filmmakers are able to highlight the longings of modern people as stylishly as Wong Kar-wai.

The Chinese-born director has made a name for himself with an exceptionally consistent filmography. Ranging from the hyperactive and kaleidoscopic Chungking Express to the internationally renowned In the Mood For Love, each of his films manages to accomplish the astonishing balancing act of being both stylistically unique and emotionally resonant. However, of all of his exceptional work (most of which are playing in a glorious new 4K restoration at SIFF), no film is a sharper distillation of his signature hyper-kinetic melancholy than his 1995 masterpiece, Fallen Angels.

Fallen Angels was originally conceived as the third part of 1994’s Chungking Express—a movie divided into two distinct stories linked together primarily through motifs—and an observant viewer could find the traces of that film in this one. The fragmented structure, based upon two different relationships, is certainly familiar, and symbols of blond hair and cans of expired pineapple (which feature prominently in Chungking Express) reappear and gain new meaning in Fallen Angels. But the movie really works much better as a darker foil to Chungking Express than as a direct sequel. Brigitte Lin and Faye Wong in Chungking Express (1994).

Take, for example, the brooding contract killer and his “partner,” whose character dynamic—along with some John Woo-style shootout sequences—make up the first half of the movie. While the primary conflict in Chungking Express was the characters’ inability to express their feelings to each other, in Fallen Angels it is their unwillingness to allow themselves to be emotionally connected to another person. The film lets us know this fact almost immediately during the opening monologue: “We’ve been business partners for 155 weeks now. We’re sitting next to each other for the first time today. We seldom see each other because it is hard to control one's emotions. Partners should never get emotionally involved.”

Interior monologues like the one quoted above appear regularly throughout the film. Along with well-placed pop song selections, they take up the majority of the soundtrack, replacing conventional dialogue. And for good reason, as they act as the glue that holds this film together, connecting each of the deeply atmospheric vignettes into a whole.

There’s really very little tangible narrative structure to Fallen Angels. Even as someone who’s seen the movie multiple times, it’s hard to pin down a concrete plot. Each scene gives way to the next at such a quick pace that all that’s left are images and snatches of dialogue. It’s hard to make a great argument for the overall value of these structural choices (or lack of such), but this high a density of memorable moments is incredibly hard to find in any other film.

Fallen Angels is ultimately defined by its late-night neon-soaked atmosphere, not its story. Much of the credit for this atmosphere is owed to Wong’s go-to cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, who assembles a stunning collage of seductive pop-art imagery. Shot primarily at night using only extreme wide-angle lenses, the film's visuals are kinetic and propulsive, each shot more exciting than the last.

The movie is a barrage of seductive images: a motorcycle ride, a woman's face reflecting onto a jukebox, a ride in an ice cream truck, a digital video ode to a father, the best shot of someone eating noodles I have ever seen on film. Each image gives way to the next in a rapid-fire montage of gleeful improvisation. Every moment, however mundane, manages to be funny or moving or cool or even all of those at once.

This is why Fallen Angels works so well. Even though the movie is loose, goofy, and sometimes more ambitious than it needs to be, Wong’s ultra-romantic sensibilities and clever writing add a surprising amount of emotional depth and technical savvy to an exhilarating romance movie destined to be a future cult classic.

Lead Photo Credit: Wong Kar-wai's Fallen Angels (1995).

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Being Kazakh, Watching Borat 2, and Being Kazakh While Watching Borat 2

Review of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Written by Teen Writer Isabelle Nurzhanov and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla


From the Kazakh paper Karavan, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is "... certainly not anti-Kazakh, anti-Romani or anti-Semitic… It is a cruelly anti-American movie.”

Pardon the melodrama, but Borat has always been a bit of a specter hanging over my head. Thankfully, most people my age have not seen the film, or at least don’t recall it if I say my ethnicity. For a certain section of movie-goers aged around 25 to 50, however, the Kazakhstani character Borat is usually what first comes to their minds when I answer some variation of, “What are you?”

With the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, being released this past October, I was curious to see how exactly the Borat films portrayed Kazakhstan, and what the years of “my wife” jokes were all about. The sequel to the 2006 film, a mockumentary based upon a fictional Kazakhstani reporter visiting America, follows the same titular character as he attempts to give his daughter as a diplomatic gift to Vice President Mike Pence.

The movie is…fine. It fulfills its purpose of satirizing the American culture and, more specifically, a particular strain of American patriotism. But the political satire moments are not surprising, nor do they ever seem to go further than the same kind of humor that has propped up SNL for the past four years. This film isn’t doing anything groundbreaking by documenting bigotry or complacency, even if they are being expressed in absurd ways. Yes, we shouldn’t let ourselves get desensitized to that absurdity, but it’s what we’ve been seeing for a while now. The escalating absurdity of COVID and politics is the set-up and punchline to joke about 2020. And with the election already over and bigger systemic problems still existing and causing harm, the satire here feels insubstantial. Is this it? Do we really need scenes of Borat dressing as President Trump to go to the Republican National Convention, or convincing anti-maskers at a rally to sing a song about the “Wuhan Flu”?

As good as the intentions are in exposing the ugly racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and sexism (and tolerance of that discrimination) beneath the veneer of old-fashioned Americana, these issues seem obvious to anyone who is Jewish, nonwhite, female, LGBTQ+. Of course, it can be cathartic to see your experiences on screen, but it can also just be frustrating to have a movie be what validates your oppression as truthful. It’s exhausting to know that people will believe a movie over what minorities are actually telling them.

The comedy is a toss-up; since the film is so heavily reliant on uncomfortable scenarios, it’s truly dependent on whether you’re a fan of cringe comedy or not. I admittedly had to pause multiple times throughout the movie to catch a break. In addition, the emotional throughline of Borat and his daughter’s relationship falls flat, with the ridiculous and unscripted nature of the premise barring any kind of big character development between the two. Tulebaev Steet, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo by Nurgissa Ussen on Unsplash.

Beyond the content of the film, I question the usage of Kazakhstan, specifically. The screenwriters could’ve easily used a fictional country. But then again, it is darkly humorous to see American’s perceptions of “strange foreigners” from a real, albeit obscure, country. Even funnier is the idea that some people may think the country portrayed does not exist at all. (Note: True story. After I had told someone I was from Kazakhstan, they informed me that they “thought Borat had made it up.”) Despite this, the usage of Cyrillic and vague Slavic accents does make it seem as though Russian culture is all there is and all there ever was in Kazakhstan, which is slightly worrying with the context of Russian imperialism in Central Asia and the knowledge that most Westerners are unaware of the region.

The character of Borat didn’t intend to portray the real-life experiences of being Kazakh, but he has become a part of those real-life experiences. Despite Cohen’s intention of using Kazakhstan as a commentary on American’s ignorance of foreign nations, Borat seems to be the first thing Americans mention to any Central Asian person they meet. From the other Central Asian folks I know, online and in my family, most of them have had Borat references and jokes directed towards them. Do the films’ benefits outweigh those jokes towards Kazakhs and Central Asians? In the age of asking for more representation in American film and television, is it okay that this is what we get? I can’t speak on any kinds of anti-Semitism or anti-Romani sentiment, but I don’t think Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is anti-Kazakh, and I largely agree with the quotation from Karavan above. Despite these concessions, I’m still left wondering: is this the best filmmakers, comedians, and celebrities can do?

Lead photo credit: Sascha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Amazon Studios/TNS

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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Exploring the Italian Identity Through Food and Film

Review of Bread, Love, and Cinema: Italian History Through Film and Food presented by SIFF

Written by Teen Writer Lily Parker and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson


When someone says Italy, most people think of things like the Roman Empire, pizza, Catholicism, Mussolini, spaghetti, gelato, and pizza. Maybe I'm just hungry, but food is certainly a defining element of Italy. And so, argues Dr. Antonio Iannotta, is film, though that is an area fewer people consider. In his virtual SIFF class Bread, Love, and Cinema: Italian History Through Film and Food, Iannotta explores food scenes from nine Italian movies and connects them to the broad historical context in which they were created. Having visited Italy before, I have experience with Italian food and culture, but I have also seen exactly zero of these movies. With that said, looking at food through film was an eye-opening way to understand the Italian identity. I was especially impacted by the scenes from the films Bicycle Thieves, Rocco and His Brothers, and Big Night.

Ladri di biciclette, or Bicycle Thieves, is a 1948 movie that tells the story of Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani), a father who embarks on a wild goose chase with his son Bruno to find his stolen bike and save his job. The scene Iannotta played from this movie follows the pair at a restaurant. The dichotomy between Bruno and a rich girl at the other table is especially striking, as she continues getting dish after dish while the boy eats fried bread and mozzarella (a cheap peasant dish made from leftovers). After WWII, Italy was wracked by divisions and debt, as well as an unstable government and weak law enforcement. This made security uncertain, with life easy for thieves and difficult for decent people like Antonio as well as filmmakers. Director Vittorio De Sica funded the film out of his friends' pockets, shooting only on location and using amateur actors (Maggiorani was a factory worker). Despite this, the film was a huge success worldwide, and it had special meaning to Italians who saw Antonio's struggles mirrored in their own lives. Its appeal to all audiences comes through the compelling relationship between father and son who, like bread and mozzarella, are much better together.

Made and set in the sixties, Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and his Brothers) follows a family from southern Italy that moves to newly industrialized Milan. The story of moving North for opportunity related to many Italians at that time, as the country quickly gained economic power in the North while the agrarian South remained almost as poor as it had been during WWII. The core of this movie, however, is family. The selected scene focuses on their mother, clearly the glue of the household, feeding her boys coffee and bread before shoving them out the door to find work. Despite poor food and little means, the family works together to make life better, revealing the deep ties and perseverance of the Italian spirit.

Big Night is actually a 1996 American film starring Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci, but Iannotta included it because it accurately represents the experiences of Italian immigrants. The stars play two brothers, Primo and Secondo, who open a restaurant in New Jersey in the fifties. The problem? Americans have a very different idea of Italian food than Italians. One scene shows a customer who asks for spaghetti and is appalled when no meatballs come with it. This is because southern Italy was much poorer—meat was almost never available, and diets consisted mostly of breads and vegetables. Spaghetti and meatballs is an authentic Italian dish, but one that originated in America, where meat was much more commonly accessible. It is here Iannotta emphasizes the diversity in Italian food, both within Italy and throughout the world. From city to city you will find different dishes, but each is grounded in a strong Italian identity.

I have never truly looked at Italy from an Italian point of view, only from textbooks and tour guides. Iannotta’s depth of knowledge and passion for the subject area revealed a side to Italian culture I had not seen before. The flow of the class worked well for an online setting. Iannotta would briefly introduce the movie, play a clip, and then dissect it, allowing people to first draw their own conclusions before adding his take. Though the films weren't played in exact chronological order, it was still easy to grasp the general arch of the stories and how they fit with one another. Zoom’s chat and Q&A functions are no replacement for in-person relations between teacher and student, but Iannotta made the content accessible and answered every question posed with grace and depth. Through this class, my eyes were opened to the Italian identity, capturing perfectly how food is inexplicably tied to culture, and to family. One thing is for certain. I am going to buy a vat of gelato and watch every single one of those movies.

Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) | 1948, dir. Vittorio De Sica

Poverty and Nobility (Miseria e nobiltà) | 1954, dir. Mario Mattoli

An American in Rome (Un americano a Roma) | 1954, dir. Steno

The Gold of Naples (L’oro di Napoli) | 1954, dir. Vittorio De Sica

Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) | 1960, dir. Luchino Visconti

The Big Feast (La grande abbuffata) | 1973, dir. Marco Ferreri

We All Loved Each Other So Much (C’eravamo tanto amati) | 1974, dir. Ettore Scola

Big Night | 1996, dir. Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci

Facing Windows (La finestra di fronte) | 2003, dir. Ferzan ÖzpetekLead photo credit: Courtesy of SIFF

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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NEWCOMER: The Best Thing

Review of NEWCOMER at NWFF

Written by Teen Writer Lauren Rohde and edited by Teen Editor Triona Suiter

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The week before we officially went into lockdown, I had one last hurrah at a Saint Motel concert. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I was in an enclosed space with so many people as a pandemic loomed on the horizon. Nine months in, loud throbs of music, air-sharing with strangers, and general feelings of exuberance are nowhere to be found, at least not in person. Enter NEWCOMER: A Seattle Hip-Hop Mixtape: a virtual look at Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop scene.

In a tour around Seattle’s small venues, NEWCOMER guides the viewer through black-and-white footage of various hip-hop concerts. Artists rap, sing, DJ, and in the case of Chong the Nomad, play the harmonica while beatboxing. Each clip is both fully immersive and beautifully shot; if it weren’t for the lack of sweaty crowds in my room, I’d believe I was actually there. The footage feels like a concert clip on your phone, but better, and the black-and-white cinematography serves to both clearly contrast the artist and audience as well as evoke a feeling of nostalgia. The past nine months have felt like a lifetime, and indeed, the cinematography emphasizes the fact that these events happened in the past. The presence of crowds is a shocking reminder of our pre-pandemic memories, when seeing live music wasn’t dangerous. Seeing people be able to be together and share an artistic experience is sad, yes, but a thought-provoking time capsule into the lives we once lived. In this sense, NEWCOMER is a perfect film for our time in that it allows us to immerse ourselves in the one thing there is no good online alternative for: the live concert experience. Film still from NEWCOMER. Shot and edited by filmmaker Gary Campbell.

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December, a Time For Expression

Teen Editorial Staff December 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Lucia McLaren and Mila Borowski

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When the weather outside is frightful, it’s the best time of the year to curl up with a hot drink and watch some socially-distanced entertainment! This December, we hope this wide variety of arts programs will have a treat for just about anyone.

To explore the realms of dance, Written in Water by the Ragamala Dance Company and presented by Meany Center for the Performing Arts, takes a refreshing, multimedia take on one’s journey to connect themself with their emotions and spirituality. If you’ve been craving a more comedic escape, take a look at Jet City Improv’s Twisted Flicks. Their improv-dialogue over classic movies of the past is sure to give you the laughter you need. When it comes to missing the experience of your favorite local restaurant, SIFF presents Bread, Love, and Cinema, a class on Italian food and how it’s interconnected with Italian film history.

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Is LGBTQ+ A Genre?

Written by Teen Writers Kyle Gerstel and Anna Martin and edited by Teen Editor Lucia McLaren

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Well, what makes a film a western: the tone, or the cowboys? There is a specific procedure followed by most cowboy movies to effectively portray the (glorified) joys and hardships of cowboy life, with subject and style aligning to form the western genre. However, LGBTQ+ cinema has much broader potential, since a character’s gender and sexuality can be explored in multitudes of ways and don’t dictate every aspect of a story. This suggests that LGBTQ+ should not be considered a genre, but rather a categorization.

However, is that useful to queer people? Due to the inaccessibility of arthouse films, many young LGBTQ+ folks are forced to navigate mainstream entertainment giants like Netflix for crumbs of representation, which can be exhausting. According to GLAAD, a media organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ coverage, less than 20% of films from major studios in 2019 had a character that explicitly identified as LGBTQ+. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in popular media, so streaming platforms having a category to make finding such stories easier can make the experience much less isolating. One Day at a Time cast. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer - © 2018 Getty Images

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Spontaneous Starts Off With a Bang and Ends With A Letdown

Review of Spontaneous

Written by Teen Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson


Paramount Pictures’ Spontaneous (2020), directed by Brian Duffield, starts off with a bang. Mara Carlyle (Katherine Langford), a high school senior, is in class when the girl sitting in front of her explodes. Not like a bomb, but “like a balloon,” Mara explains later to her friend Tess McNulty (Hayley Law). Soon, more and more students begin exploding out of nowhere and the phenomenon is dubbed, after the high school where it occurred, “the Covington curse.”

Only a few days after the explosion, a boy named Dylan Hovemeyer (Charlie Plummer) suddenly confesses that he has a crush on Mara, and just as spontaneously as children began exploding, the movie takes a jarring shift from a blend of dark comedy, horror, and mystery into coming-of-age rom-com territory. This isn’t the first shift in genres, as the movie swings between horror movie, science fiction, action, and teen drama in a truly bizarre mashup that doesn’t work with the plot.

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This November, Let’s Give Thanks to Art

Teen Editorial Staff November 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Eleanor Cenname and Mila Borowski

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We’ve made it to November, and we’ll need thirty more chicken scratches drawn on the wall before we can say we’ve made it to December. Between now and then, our calendar is full of activities—all of which will be happening in the confines of our own homes. If you, like us, need an escape from the same, familiar backdrop of wherever you Zoom from, we suggest going on some audio adventures.

This month, as we brace ourselves for the election, check out It Can't Happen Here, a satirical audio drama written in 1935 about a president promising to return the country to greatness; can it get any more relevant than that? Mustard Seeds, part of Pork Filled Production’s Unleashed Festival of pulp stories, explores the Underground Railroad through a staged reading. Explore a different underground phenomenon through Northwest Film Forum’s Newcomer, described as “A Seattle Hip-Hop Mixtape.” Newcomer packs in hundreds of local performances from Seattle’s vibrant hip-hop underground into 82 minutes.

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Art as Activism Fall Workshop Lineup

Join TeenTix for a series of workshops on how art can be an act of activism.

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Join us for a series of FREE online TeenTix workshops exploring how art is a powerful tool for activism and the fight for racial justice. Each workshop will focus on a different genre of art including film, music, visual and performing arts. You’ll learn about the history of social justice movements and how art has played a role in both the past and present movements.

Use the links below to sign up for individual workshops, or all three! Arts Collaboration For Social Change: Using The Visual & Performing Arts as Tools For Cultural Resistance with David Rue

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Getting Into Good Trouble

Review of John Lewis: Good Trouble at SIFF

Written by Teen Writer Carolyn Davis and edited by Teen Editor Lucia McLaren

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The documentary Good Trouble, hosted by SIFF, is a skillfully told biography of the iconic civil and human rights activist John Lewis. With a heart of gold and the courage to stand up for his nation, Lewis urges us not to stay quiet, but to get in “good trouble, necessary trouble,” which he says will “redeem the soul of America.” The cinematography in this documentary is unique in that it shows both footage from the current day and the 1960s. Lewis himself said he was seeing footage he had never seen before. The film was an excellent representation of the Civil Rights era, as well as the heroes of that time. It was focused on Lewis’ life, but also incorporated the lives of others who impacted him and the change we see today.

The way the film highlights non-violence is very impactful to me because it is about getting into “good trouble.” The fact that peaceful marches and sit-ins get the most screen-time shows how the movement for the lives and rights of Black people has always been peaceful—whether it was the March on Washington in 1963 or the Black Lives Matter marches today. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

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Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!

Review of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Disha Cattamanchi and edited by Teen Editor Mila Borowski

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It’s a dark night—so dark that the clouds seem to eat the stars. Yet, you stumble forward until you are in front of a scarlet windmill and a towering elephant. It’s a place where the bohemians revel in their ways of truth, beauty, freedom and love. Where men gaze upon the layers of frills and ruffles that dress the can-can dancers. You can hear the singing of “Sparkling Diamonds” and a heartfelt love ballad echoing throughout the night. Welcome to the glamorous Moulin Rouge!, a romantic drama that follows the poet Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Moulin Rouge courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) in their attempt to conceal their love from Satine’s suitor, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh). Directed and written by Baz Luhrmann, this jukebox musical exceeded expectations when it came to the production of movie musicals.

Those who have watched Moulin Rouge! fall into one of two groups; they either love it or hate it. Ever since I first watched this whimsical drama, I fell in love with the costumes and characters. But above all, this movie’s use of editing and cinematography is what makes it great. Jump cuts and fast panning shots are frequent throughout the first act. These shots feel psychedelic with their haphazard movement through velvet curtains, waves of ornate dresses, and drunk men. The cinematography captures the Moulin Rouge’s eccentricity, an aspect that contrasts with newcomer Christian’s lifestyle; the Moulin Rouge is truly unlike anything the aspiring poet from England has ever seen. During his arrival, we see the Moulin Rouge as Christian sees it: a flamboyant dreamland of vivid colors. The jarring cuts that capture his experience ease up as the film progresses and Christian gets used to the Moulin Rouge’s outlandishness, though the eccentricity does not lessen. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! (2001) Photo by Sue Adler, 2001 - 20th Century Fox - All Rights Reserved

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An Ode to Childhood, Memory, and Fatherhood

Review of Our Time Machine at NW Film Forum

Written by TeenTix Newsroom writer Yoon Lee and edited by Teen Editor Mila Borowski

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The first scenes when watching Our Time Machine are of shadow puppets, held up to a light against a translucent screen. The warm, gentle light filtering through the yellowing paper; the lifelike, flowing movements of the son puppet pedalling on a bicycle as his aging father chases after him; the soft glow highlighting the son in bed; the tinkling of toys and bikes; this whole opening oozes of nostalgia, the memories of being a child. Much like Papa’s Time Machine, the play this scene is taken from, this movie is an ode to a child’s memories of his father.

Directed by Yang Sun, S. Leo Chiang, and Shuang Liang, (and produced by Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang), Our Time Machine follows an artistic photographer, Ma Liang (Maleonn) on a journey to create, fund, and ultimately perform his play Papa’s Time Machine, a tribute to his father who is ailing from Alzheimer’s disease. Our Time Machine is a phenomenal movie. Most documentaries are built on going from one idea or fact to the next. In the context of the genre this is not a bad thing, documentaries are meant to convey information in an understandable manner to an audience. However, Our Time Machine is unique in how it is built like a true movie. It has unique pacing and plot points that keep you interested in the story of Maleonn as he struggles to create and fund his project as a tribute to his father. The sampling of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage are deliberate and well-used. Not a single scene is unnecessary. For example, there is a scene in the latter half of the movie where Maleonn's parents are moving to a retirement home. This is payoff to an earlier scene with Maleonn wishing to buy a house for them, but his mother expressing how she is being overwhelmed by his father’s deteriorating state. There is a scene where the mother and father are in a car, and the mother is declaring their moving to the home. Although short and without explicit dialogue, one can feel the emotion behind the scene. In addition, there are many scenes without explicit emotional reconciliation, and are upsetting emotionally; these examples demonstrate how reality is unkind, and oftentimes unforgiving. Maleonn with bird puppet. Photo credit: Maleonn Studio

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Don’t F**k With Cats Is a Brilliant Documentary That Never Should Have Been Made

Review of the Netflix documentary Don't F**k With Cats

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Valentine Wulf, and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname


Content Warning: This review contains description of murder and animal violence. Not recommended for younger readers.

2010. A video appears on Youtube titled “1 boy 2 kittens.” In the video, a man in a blue jacket, the hood obscuring his face, places two kittens on the ugliest wolf blanket you ever did see. He pets them briefly, before placing them in a vacuum bag. He attaches the vacuum to the bag. He turns the vacuum on. The internet loses its mind. After all, as internet sleuth Baudi Moovan said herself, “There’s one unwritten rule on the internet. Don’t f**k with cats.” The Netflix documentary, aptly named Don’t F**k With Cats, covers the story of the kitten killer and the scramble to catch him before he makes the leap from killing cats to killing humans.

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A NFFTY Artist Feature

Interview with filmmakers from the 2020 NFFTY Film Festival

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Kyle Gerstel and edited by Teen Editor Eleanor Cenname

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Barb Hoffman just wanted to draw on clouds. Now, her film, What We See in the Clouds, is up for a jury nomination at NFFTY, the largest youth film festival in the world. This week, I had the privilege to speak with her (virtually) as well as the young artistes behind God is a Lobster, another film debuting at the festival, to discuss their experience making films safely in the age of COVID-19. Let’s see what they’ve been up to:

In Hoffman’s What We See in the Clouds, she has her friends describe what they see in various pictures of—you guessed it—clouds. Then, Hoffman expresses the descriptions visually by drawing on top of the images, blurring the line between reality and imagination. Essentially, she crafted a cloud-centric Rorschach Test and conveyed her results through mixed-media animation. She chose this technique because “telling stories with actual imagery that we’re used to, plus images on top of it gives [the film] a sense of magical realism that I’m very intrigued in seeing.”

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A Socially Distant September

Teen Editorial Staff September 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Triona Suiter

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This is a strange time for the arts world. Art is a community effort, a group-bonding experience… yet right now, we’re all watching these pieces in separate locations, isolated and alone. We hope our reviews provide the connective tissue between your viewing experiences and someone else’s—a chance for you to reflect on artwork alongside our writers. If nothing else, we’ll offer you arts recommendations to brighten your socially distant September.

If you want to get dressed up, grab some snacks, and make the most of your at-home viewing with pieces that would have been shown physically in any other year, then sit down to watch Pacific Science Center’s online footage of Laser Dome 360, Whim Whim’s XALT, or NFFTY 2020. Extra points if you bring $5 and your TeenTix pass!

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Am I Totally Buggin’?

Review of Clueless

Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff

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This year's Teen Editorial Staff spent an evening watching the film Clueless, and brushing up on their review writing as they prepared for the launch of the 2020/2021 TeenTix Newsroom. Read on to hear what today's teens think of the '90's teen classic! ANYA

One could argue that the film’s haphazard plot structure serves to emulate Cher’s ditziness. Unfortunately, her character also confuses me. Near the beginning of the movie, Cher holds up a test to a picture of her mother, who died during a routine liposuction, and cheerfully says, “98 in geometry; pretty groovy, huh?” Cher is smart enough to get 98% of her answers correct… and she uses words like “impotent” and “capricious” in her everyday speech. But, at the same time, her logic leaves much to be desired in her other classes; she thinks her El Salvadorian housekeeper speaks Mexican. There’s a distinct disconnect here that is left unexplained. How can Cher be a brainiac but at the same time be so utterly clueless? How can she be logical enough to write proofs in geometry, but fail to structure a coherent argument in debate??

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Tangerine: A Powerful Picture of Black Trans Lives

Review of Tangerine at Northwest Film Forum

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Taylar Christianson and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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The world of Tangerine starts in a donut shop. It’s Christmas Eve in L.A., and Sin-Dee Rella has just been released from a month in prison, only to discover her boyfriend, Chester, has been cheating on her in the short time she’s been gone. Sin-Dee and her best friend, Alexandra, set off on a vibrant and emotional journey through West Hollywood, looking for revenge on Chester and his side piece—if they can find them.

Directed by Sean Baker (most recently known for The Florida Project), Tangerine is a hilarious and emotionally resonant buddy comedy about the lives of two Black transgender sex workers. Famously filmed on an iPhone 5S, the film creates a beautiful, saturated world populated by an authentic and talented cast, including first-time actors Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor as Sin-Dee and Alexandra. Both Rodriguez and Taylor contributed hugely to the story and tone of Tangerine, informing the film with their experiences as Black trans women and their knowledge of L.A.’s sex work community. Tangerine’s main plot is inspired by a conversation overheard by Rodriguez about a trans woman whose boyfriend cheated on her with a cisgender woman, or a “fish”, while she was in prison. During the movie’s development, Rodriguez made a particular request of Baker: to “show the harsh reality of what goes on out here… I want you to make it hilarious and entertaining for us and the women who are actually working the corner.” Baker credited Rodriguez for changing his original vision of a bleak drama into something “that would present these characters to mainstream audiences in a pop culture way, so that they could identify with them.” Mickey O’Hagan and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez in Tangerine, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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2040: An Accessible and Hopeful Look Into the Future

Review of 2040 screened virtually by The Grand Cinema
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes


Climate change is scary. There’s no way to mince words with this one. We’re constantly being bludgeoned with articles and news headlines and cynical documentaries about how the end is nigh. It’s overwhelming—but there’s still hope.

Award winning Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau shares his hope with us in the optimistic, but not unrealistic documentary 2040. It’s rare to find climate-focused films that aren’t completely devoid of hope, but those that do often propose hypothetical solutions that would cost billions of dollars and require outlandish inventions. What sets 2040 apart from the myriad of other doomsday documentaries is that Gameau’s proposed solutions are ideas and inventions that already exist in the world today. No false promises or far fetched ideas. He calls it “fact-based dreaming.”

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