By Doug Cummings
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Throughout the Eighties, TV film critics Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, and Spot the Wonder Dog inspired a flurry of imitators who realized that bantering film talk, on the TV and spoken in layman's terms, could be entertaining and popular with moviegoing audiences.
In Tucson every Friday night, KXCI broadcasts "Movie Friday," a half hour call-in radio show hosted by spirited UA students, John Santo, John "Schu" Schuster, and graduate student Gabe Hoyos.
Tuning in, the first thing one is liable to hear is their raucous laughter, which erupts frequently throughout the broadcast. While their cumulative knowledge of film history and contemporary cinema is formidable, they enthusiastically embrace movies as entertainment.
"We don't talk about 'Cinema' with a capital 'c', or 'trash' with a little 't'," Gabe explains. Later he quotes art film director Bernardo Bertolucci and, virtually in the same breath, enthusiastically discusses his plans to attend a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" costume convention.
"Movie Friday" is the new version of KXCI's earlier show, "The Two Bob's," which was hosted by Robert Cauthorn (a film reviewer for The Arizona Daily Star) and Bob Ritter (a UA Media Arts instructor).
The two Bob's eventually moved on and KXCI approached John Santo, who works at The Loft Cinema, to continue the show as "Movie Friday." John enlisted the aid of Schu and Gabe after meeting them in a class at the UA. John says the main reason he asked Schu to help was "because he has a lot of wind in him" and Gabe "because he has a lot of knowledge," and both "out of sheer fear of having to do the show myself."
Each week, the "Movie Friday" cinephiles give their reactions to new releases and banter back and forth.
"For instance," Schu begins, "Gabe says 'The Mask' is incredible. John and I have... shall I say... a different opinion: it sucked. We all basically think the summer sucked outside of 'Forrest Gump', 'Speed' and maybe 'Clear & Present Danger'."
Gabe quips, "Schu likes to wax poetically." Accordingly, a discussion of "Natural Born Killers" allows Schu to carefully fashion a vivid metaphor involving someone stepping their foot into a puddle that looks deep but really isn't. He compares the puddle's shallowness to "NBK"'s thematic content. Gabe shrugs, "I don't know what he means by that." The trio often humorously undercut their own insights.
Along with movie reviews, "Movie Friday" also provides industry news, information on upcoming films, and local production news. They maintain an open phoneline and encourage listeners to call and comment on their topics, which range from "Generation X" to "Violence in the Movies." They like to joke about the small number of calls they get per show, but "Movie Friday" has developed a regular audience, who periodically call, often just to say hello.
When the "Movie Friday" hosts are asked if they entertain the possibility of targeting a larger platform like television, they shake their heads, fearing it would require a more structured agenda that would ruin their improvisatory style and the show's spontaneity.
However, Gabe considers, "It would be fun to go commercial, we could reach a larger audience."
Schu feigns shock, "It would be fun to get calls!" For Tucson moviegoers, it's simply fun to listen to.
"Movie Friday" can be heard on KXCI, 91.3 FM, every Friday at 6:30 PM.
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