Monday, July 14, 2014

Boyhood (2014) - Movie Review

Afterschool daydreaming. Mom says to pay more attention in class. Rock collections. Crumpled homework. Watching Pokemon on TV. Being six years old and having that friend that introduces you to 'boobs'. Gameboys. That terrible experience of bowling without bumpers. Harry Potter. Star Wars. Camping. Petty arguments with a sibling. Bunk beds. Wii boxing. Awkward middle school conversations with girls (actually just awkward middle school). Supporting Obama in 2008. Parties. The 'talk'. 'Photography. High school football games. Are these my experiences, or Mason's?

Answer: both. For three hours, I watched most of my life's experiences flow back to me through Ellar Coltrane's Mason, a cute young boy that grows into a bold young man. From the opening shot of drifting clouds to a conclusion in the canyons, Boyhood shuttled me through a life so familiar and fantastic, once the credits rolled, I knew with teary eyes that this movie was a masterpiece for the books.

Alongside the fantastic Ellar Coltrane is Patricia Arquette as Mason's flawed but strong mother, Ethan Hawke as his fun-loving father, and the director's daughter Lorelei Linklater as Mason's endearing older sister. All four parts are played like people you would know, and all of it is superb. The movie should've been titled Boyhood 3D, because the main people involved are so complex and multi-layered, and yes, three-dimensional.

Is the movie perfect? In my eyes, it is. No, it's not perfect perfect. It's a little overlong and some supporting characters weave in and out aimlessly (especially Mason's friends), but the movie is like someone you know and love: imperfect, but their imperfections make them quite the opposite. It's not really a movie, but a compilation of memories.

Let's talk a little about me. I'm fifteen years old, and most of the movie was stuff I remembered so well about my life. What is ahead of me in life, I have no idea. I'm afraid. But watching Boyhood showed me what to expect, how to live in the moment. Mason was an excellent tour guide to the future. I love the movie all the more for it.

Richard Linklater, director of last year's Before Midnight, has made the sum of his career, possibly the sum of cinema history.  If you are a parent with children or a child with parents, or none of the above, Boyhood is a movie to remind you of what you once were, and how much you changed, and how that change has changed others. When Boyhood unfolds, you will laugh, you will cry, and you will love.

Also, the soundtrack, featuring Gnarls Barkley, Phoenix, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, and Soulja Boy is delightful.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Birdman (2014) to open the Venice Film Festival!

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has landed a spot on the Lido with his new film, Birdman, starring Michael Keaton and a boatload of other great people. The film premiers on the 27th, and word on the street is that the movie is very, very good, and it is screening in competition. Is this possible our future Golden Lion winner?

Wild (2014) - Trailer and poster!

Reese Witherspoon seems to be working with better material than the baity The Good Lie. The movie looks visually strong. This movie might do wonders for Jean Marc Vallee's career, proving Dallas Buyers Club was no fluke.

Unbroken (2014) - Trailer!

Okay, the trailer looks baity. But coming from second-time director Angelina Jolie, it looks like she has an admirable three-act setup.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Life Itself (2014) - Movie Review

I really got into movies and reviewing them only three and a half years ago, and looking back, I see I have come a long way. Spider-Man 3 used to be my favorite movie of all time, but exposure to some of the greatest movies of all time has changed that. My top lists aren't very original now, including On the Waterfront, Vertigo, and Once Upon a Time in America, but it would be even worse without the help of Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert lived an epic life of writing, seeing at least four movies on a workweek at a time. His reviews only took thirty minutes and were considered the best in the nation. Yet he suffered from alcoholism and potential loneliness. But that didn't stop him from changing as many lives as possible.

Steve James outdoes Hoop Dreams with a film about the man that made him big. Interviews with up-and-coming Ava Duvernay, Ramin Bahrani, and his widow Chaz Ebert are all very effective. The film is a little scattershot, but you're bound to be emotionally affected by the film. One of the year's best, for sure. I wholly expect to see this one nominated at the Oscars.