Set against a backdrop of a sun-kissed San Fernando Valley, Mikey Alfred's North Hollywood acts as a heartfelt love letter both the neighborhood of North Hollywood, and the art form of skateboarding. Having followed Alfred's journey with the distribution of North Hollywood for over a year, I was ecstatic to finally see the end result, and I was not disappointed at all. For those who aren't aware, Mikey Alfred has been building quite an impressive resume for over a decade now. Most notably, starting the skate team, turned clothing line, now production company, Illegal Civilization at the age of twelve. Since then, Alfred has gone on to be the touring videographer for artists like Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator, Kendrick Lamar, just to name a few. He's directed countless music videos, short films, all while running Illegal Civilization. If he's not already a household name, he's going to be in the next five to ten years, I'm calling that now. Alfred's directorial debut, North Hollywood, follows Mikey (Ryder McLaughlin), a high school senior dead-set on becoming a pro skater, while his father, Oliver (Vince Vaughn), believes he wants what's best for Mikey; to go to college and follow the "traditional" route of life after adolescence. Mikey attempts to find a balance in spending time with his two best friends, Jay (Nico Hiraga) and Adolf (Aramis Hudson), pursue a career in skateboarding, build a relationship with his love interest, Rachel (Miranda Cosgrove), all while the father-son relationship between Oliver and Mikey is suffering as a result. Having been personally invested in Illegal Civilization and Mikey Alfred's creative endeavors for years now, it was clear how important it was for North Hollywood to be made, not only to those involved, but to the skateboarding community as a whole. The year leading up to this release, Alfred was not shy to talk about his deep appreciation for old hollywood. Commonly dropping names like Robert Evans, or Martin Scorsese, in interviews. Now having seen North Hollywood, all of those mentioned influences are extremely apparent, specifically in the cinematography. Throughout the film, you'll notice these beautifully wide, panoramic shots as they seamlessly flow down and around the scene setting. This ends up being a two-birds-one-stone situation, paying homage to the visual elegance and theatrical elements seen in the previously mentioned influences, as well as acting as a visual representation of skateboarding to an extent, it's all in the flow of a scene. There's something very different about the coloring and texture of North Hollywood as well. The only way I can accurately describe it, is rich. Not rich in the sense that it's overbearing or distracting, but in the sense that it's clear just how much love Alfred has for his town and skating. While this might come across as poetic, I interpreted the rich color palettes as a visual representation of the passion a filmmaker has for the subject matter. I could go on and on about North Hollywood, but the bottom line is that this being Mikey Alfred's feature length debut, he knocked it out of the park. The passion behind this project and the subject matter comes through crystal clear, which is all you can ask for as a filmmaker. I can't wait to see what Illegal Civilization has coming in the future, and can only hope they get to work with the same crew, because they struck lightning in a bottle with North Hollywood.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
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The first ever movie about becoming a pro skater.
May 15, 2021