Wednesday, August 27, 2014

12 Years a Project

The story begins with Richard Linklater shooting a movie about a boy that follows him as he grows up, picking up bits and pieces, at his leisure, for 12 years.

After a 30 year career, Linklater has never surpassed the promise of his first two features--no sophomore slump for this dude: Slacker (1991) and Dazed and Confused (1993).

Boyhood (2014, Richard Linklater) feels like captured life, especially the nuances of the ordinary normally taken for granted. As a model of filmmaking this is the farthest from my own ideal--spiritual, melodrama, brutality, and subversive exploitation.

Boyhood feels like Bresson without the spiritualism, brutality, or economy (and with pop music).

However, after 2 and a half hours, Boyhood is astoundingly, the uhh stuff that memories are made of.

About 2 hours in it is also apparent how much time MASON (Ellar Coltrane) spends in school, listening to music, changing his hairstyle, and getting to know the various stepdads and stepmoms his divorced parents subsequently shack up with. That's real life. No frills. But, don't movies need frills? This movie stands apart because it's just trying to show life and 4 good people.

Mason, his sister SAMANTHA (Lorelei Linklater), and their parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, are all good people trying their best; but, for real, not like "The Brady Bunch," or "Step by Step."

The real life growth of the actor playing Mason hits you more if you've seen the film twice because it really is something for a character to age from 6-18 in a single narrative feature. Documentaries are different. When the fuzzy-headed little boy asks his dad questions like: "Dad, do you have a job?" or "Dad is magic actually a real thing?" it exhibits something acting alone cannot--the portrayal of innocence by a child whose own innocence is authentic.

The other items on the shopping list are: peer pressure, new religion, first shitty food service job, first truck, and first love. And there's a lot of pop culture references that offer that gimmick where the novelty lies in recognition and nothing more, but it's cute. "She didn't even like any of my favorite three movies of the summer: Tropic Thunder, The Dark Knight, or Pineapple Express!"

Boyhood opens with a shot of Mason laying in the grass as Coldplay's "Yellow," plays on the score. This is the exact time I stopped listening to music. When I was 12 my boyhood had something like "I Wanna Sex You Up," or "Gonna Make You Sweat," as its score. So it's weird, all of the music pop culture references are unfamiliar to me. But this is Linklater's movie and you know, he's sweet. There's gotta be some room for that.

Some Linklater flavor (his accumulated films display his personality) in Boyhood to point out is that the clerk at the gas station where the alcoholic first stepdad sends his kid in is the very same actor Wiley Wiggins buys from in Dazed and Confused, I reckon. And Mason's rant's like about how facebook isn't healthy or important or the NSA matching freshmen according to their private records is told in the subtly Texan accented, Alex Jones-like, Linklater diatribe. Watch Slacker again and you'll get what I mean.

To try not to completely contradict myself, I'm trying to say that I don't enjoy this movie, it's not entertaining, it's too long, and it lacks dramatic conflict; yet, I am impressed by it and even touched.


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