Boyhood

Not rated yet!
Director
Richard Linklater
Runtime
2 h 44 min
Release Date
5 June 2014
Genres
Drama
Overview
The film tells a story of a divorced couple trying to raise their young son. The story follows the boy for twelve years, from first grade at age 6 through 12th grade at age 17-18, and examines his relationship with his parents as he grows.
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The American Conservative Staff4
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Boy Is the Father of Whatever: Richard Linklater's "Boyhood"
    Film About an hour and a half into Richard Linklater’s memorable new film, my notes say, “This is RIVETING.” Exactly one hour later, as the movie finally ceased (“ended” is too strong, too decisive), I breathed a sigh of relief. What went wrong to turn the movie from startling, luminous journey into boring, platitudinous slog? Linklater’s movie has gained a lot of press for one of those gimmicks which hide deep meaning under their showy surface, like the delays in Hamlet. Linklater shot the movie over the course of 12 years, so that as Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) grows from age five to freshman year of college, Coltrane grows with him. So does sister Sam and her actress Lorelei Linklater. The device offers a fresh, striking way to show continuity and discontinuity in our lives: No matter how many homes, friends, even family members we shed, our faces are very hard to entirely leave behind. The movie’s strongest scenes come early, when Mason Jr. is still a little boy. His parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, both terrific) have already split up. He rambles through the neighborhood in the company of a slightly older boy who takes him graffiti-painting. He listens to his mom fighting with her new boyfriend; he suffers the injustices of a Britney-singing, fake-crying sister. These short sequences swing perfectly from painful to hilarious and back. Throughout the movie the adults in Mason Jr.’s life will try so hard to educate and discipline him–to teach him to bowl, to win girls, to clean up after himself, to express his emotions, to share his father’s politics–but he keeps escaping them. This portrayal of the goodness and normality of the unsupervised parts of childhood has become sadly countercultural. The theme of leaving the past behind surfaces immediately, as the mother announces that the whole family is moving to Houston. Sam’s response is perfect: “No, mother!”, punctuated with these bizarre little-kid popping noises she makes with her lips. Every second is believable, and difficult–from Mason Jr.’s quiet question, “What if [my dad] wants to find us, and he can’t?”, to Sam’s run-on declaration, “Goodbye house we’ll never see again and I’ll never like Mommy as much again for making us move!” Nearly the only thread of continuity (outside the film’s central family unit of the mom and her two biological children) is Mason Sr. The kids’ dad is a blowhard and a jackass, and it’s easy to see why a woman would leave him–but it’s easy to see why a woman might love him, too. He’s a “man’s man” who is never cruel; he offers what I think is the only explicit apology in the movie, after badgering his son for getting frustrated at a bowling alley. By the end of the movie he was probably my favorite character, just because he endures quite a bit of humiliation for the sake of his family. With so much going right in this movie, how does it all go so wrong? There are slight missteps, like the political pandering (Democrats can be silly, but Republicans are Confederates who threaten children) and the Nice White Lady moment between Mason’s mom and a Latino laborer, but the major mistakes are three. First and most basically, Mason the teen is just kind of boring. The movie slams to a halt when he hits about tenth grade and never recovers. We get acres of teen philosophy (“I just want to be able to do anything I want, just because it makes me feel alive, not because it gives me the appearance of normality”) and the stakes suddenly feel very low. That’s because of the second problem, which is that Mason never does anything really wrong. He’s a prototypical good-but-aimless kid. We see his foibles–he’s a bit surly and a tad whiny, he smokes some pot if you consider that a foible, he comes home late at least once which possibly makes his mom cry, he sometimes fails to do his homework–but no real sins. He’s bullied but never bullies back. His sister at least gets to be snotty about her grades, which makes her seem like a real person. Where’s the casual cruelty of childhood, the hurtful rather than just boring narcissism of adolescence, the misdeeds which will only be acknowledged and regretted years later? I mean, I get that “Boyhood” isn’t “Carrie,” but must it be “Annie”? This failure of realism has knock-on effects, like the way the other characters all rush to praise Mason and his mom. “Your mom is so smart, and so caring”; “You’ve got a good heart”; “You have a real talent.” A small portion of that is adults trying clumsy manipulation techniques, hoping to soften Mason up, but far too much of it is sincere. Mason Sr tells his son, “I wasn’t the least bit concerned with the state of your soul,” and for the audience, that’s the problem right there. Mason and his mom seem to fade and become generic as they grow older and nicer, as if every compliment wears off another layer of specificity. And the final problem is that as Mason nears college age, the Meaning of Life begins to rear its horrid head. And the meaning of life, it turns out, is that we feel stuff. Parents are just as confused as children, which is true but not wildly interesting (and the ways in which it’s false are often more interesting than the ways in which it’s true). There’s no actual arc: no “Sunrise, Sunset” tale of taking one’s place in the chain of generations; no tale of surviving and recovering from parental mistakes; and not even a tale of how these two stories interweave, so the apple always falls, against the laws of physics, simultaneously far from the tree and too close. And so the movie feels weirdly static, despite its emphasis on the one-way arrow of time. Follow @evetushnet// ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Boy Is the Father of Whatever: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”
    The director took 12 years to film it, giving his movie time to grow up into a bore.
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    (Review Source)
  • Oscar Predictions (Now Don't Be Grouchy)
    I’m going to start with an overarching statement about this year’s contest: the most important category this year is Best Editing. Why? Because the two most interesting films nominated this year are “Boyhood” and “Birdman,” and both are overwhelmingly editing-dependent films. With “Boyhood,” you have footage compiled over the course of a dozen years, and a story which, presumably, was structured initially to hedge against the possibility that something might happen over the course of time that would necessitate massive changes. What if Patricia Arquette got hit by a bus? What if Ethan Hawke got really fat? What if one or both of the kids grew into lousy actors? What if Richard Linklater went through a messy divorce, and it changed his view of the kind of story he wanted to tell? No chance for re-shoots here; you’ve got to take the footage compiled over this long period, and assemble it into a story that is tonally consistent and narratively compelling. However much one feels that Sandra Adair succeeded in this effort, the challenge itself is honor-worthy. Meanwhile: with “Birdman” you have a story that depends, substantially, on constant, consistent forward motion, on the sense that we are stumbling down a flight of stairs, trying not to trip and fall and break our skulls, but unable to stop to regain our balance. Now add that the entire film is supposed to feel like a single shot. The unqualified success on the technical side was absolutely instrumental in the success of the film as a whole. But there was no margin for error. Both “Boyhood” and “Birdman” deserve nominations for Best Original Screenplay and for various acting slots. But in each case, the real stars of the show were in the editing room. So: my overarching prediction is that the winner of Best Picture will also win Best Editing. Predictions listed in descending order of personal confidence. That confidence is based on very little; it’s not like I’m a Hollywood hairstylist, who might actually know something. BEST PICTURE: “Boyhood” “Birdman” “The Imitation Game” “The Theory of Everything” “Gone Girl” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “Selma” “American Sniper” “Nightcrawler” “Foxcatcher” Everybody expects “Boyhood,” “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game” to be nominated, and for one of them to win, and I agree with the consensus. Behind them come four films that have obvious Oscar cachet, none of which I really see being snubbed. After that it gets tougher. I think “Nightcrawler” has enough enthusiastic support to get through (though I didn’t love it); that “Foxcatcher” will get a nomination because of the trio of really interesting performances (even though many people didn’t exactly like the film); and that “American Sniper” was directed by Clint Eastwood (and will do great box office). But I could be wildly off – it could turn out that this year we have only six or seven nominees. My understanding is that to get onto the list of nominees you need a certain percentage of voters to place you first or close to it on their ballots. So the more consensus there is at the top in the initial balloting, the shorter the list of nominees will be. And this feels like a year where there could be a lot of consensus at the top. Or perhaps I’m right, and the people who like “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” hated “Nightcrawler” and “Gone Girl” and vice versa, so that we have ten nominees. In which case my list above feels about right to me. BEST DIRECTOR Richard Linklater – “Boyhood” Alejandro González Iñárritu – “Birdman” Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Ava DuVernay, “Selma” Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game” I haven’t seen “The Imitation Game” yet, hence my low level of confidence in that final slot. I’m also aware that “Selma” has not set the world on fire, though I still think it has a constituency solid enough to get nominated. In any event, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a perennial like David Fincher or a young upstart like Damien Chazelle take one of those two slots. BEST ACTOR Michael Keaton – “Birdman” Eddie Redmayne – “Theory of Everything” Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game” Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher” David Oyelowo – “Selma” Again, I haven’t seen three of these films (I only saw “Birdman” and “Foxcatcher”), so take that list with a grain of salt. There are a lot of other plausible contenders. But I think the Academy will want to reward Carell for doing excellent work way outside his usual box, and the Academy frequently likes actors who play historical figures. From the films I have seen that have an actual shot, I’d be very happy for Ralph Fiennes to get a nomination. I thought Jake Gyllenhaal did a fine job in “Nightcrawler” but I have some kind of grudge against that movie so I didn’t put him on the list, though he’s probably got at least as good a shot as Fiennes. BEST ACTRESS Julianne Moore – “Still Alice” Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl” Reese Witherspoon – “Wild” Amy Adams – “Big Eyes” Jennifer Aniston – “Cake” I haven’t seen and don’t plan to see “Cake,” but people seem very eager to show how pleased they are with Aniston’s stretch. As for the win, everyone is saying Moore has this in the bag. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR J. K. Simmons – “Whiplash” Ethan Hawke – “Boyhood” Ed Norton – “Birdman” Mark Ruffalo – “Foxcatcher” Josh Brolin – “Inherent Vice” I’ll be truly surprised if Simmons doesn’t win this – so many people seem to want him to. Josh Brolin is my wild card pick here; there’s not an obvious contender for the fourth slot. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Patricia Arquette – “Boyhood” Emma Stone – “Birdman” Keira Knightley – “The Imitation Game” Meryl Streep – “Into the Woods” Jessica Chastain – “A Most Violent Year” Patricia Arquette may have been my favorite thing in “Boyhood” – I hope she wins this. The others I’m all quite uncertain about. I’m basically assuming you have to nominate Meryl Streep and Jessica Chastain if you are presented with a remotely plausible reason to do so. BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – “Birdman” Richard Linklater – “Boyhood” Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness – “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Mike Leigh – “Mr. Turner” JC Chandor – “A Most Violent Year” If I’m completely honest, I have to assume that “Nightcrawler” has a better shot than “Mr. Turner” or “A Most Violent Year.” But I did not much like that script, and I have great admiration for both Leigh and Chandor. So I’m voting my heart here rather than my head. BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Graham Moore – “The Imitation Game” Anthony McCarten – “The Theory of Everything” Gillian Flynn – “Gone Girl” Damien Chazelle – “Whiplash” Nick Hornby – “Wild” I’m really hoping I got this one completely right. I think I might have. Not sure going further down the list will be all that meaningful – I’m assuming “Citizenfour” is the most-likely winner in the Best Documentary category, that “The Lego Movie” is the most-likely winner in the Best Animated Feature category, that “Birdman” is the most-likely winner for Cinematography, and that “Force Majeure” is the leader in the Best Foreign Language Film category. But the main category to watch this year is Best Editing. ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • List, List, O List: a Premature 2014 Movie Rundown
    Any attempt on my part to assess the year in film is bound to be inadequate, because there are just too many films I know I ought to see that I haven’t seen yet. Moreover, that list of “oughts” has already been shaped by the reactions of other critics; it’s already too late for the joy of discovery that I felt, say, attending a screening of “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” back in January, before everyone had heralded Ana Lily Amirpour’s Persian vampire noir western as the hot new thing. And anyway, films are largely incomparable across genres. Which was a “better” film, “Boyhood” or “The LEGO Movie?” It’s kind of a silly question – they aren’t trying to do anything remotely comparable. Nonetheless: posts must be blogged. So: let’s start with the critical consensus. The nice folks at Metacritic have compiled a meta-list, combining the views of 137 different critics on what they think are the top ten films of the year, for a meta-list of 20 films. Herewith: 1. “Boyhood.” My feelings about the film tracked very closely with Eve Tushnet’s. I admire the experiment, and I was drawn in deeply during the first hour. But in the last hour I found myself far more interested in the parents than in the titular boy, which to me feels like the film didn’t achieve all that it set out to do. 2. “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I am a great admirer of Richard Linklater’s work, which is why I was surprised that I didn’t respond to “Boyhood” with raptures. Wes Anderson I am much more ambivalent about. But “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was for me a sheer delight from end to end, and may even have become my favorite Anderson film, because for once I felt his fussiness was fully justified by the film’s subject and setting. Leon Hadar’s thoughts on the film are also very worth reading. 3. “Under the Skin.” I posted my reactions to this creepy Scarlett Johansson sci-fi flick here. Its highly original vision has definitely stuck with me. Rent it. 4. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.” I posted my thoughts on “Birdman” here. I think it’s a tour-de-force. 5. “Selma.” A film I have not yet seen, and plan to, though I fear I won’t like it. I don’t tend to like pious movies, regardless of the object of piety, and I fear this will be one. 6. “Whiplash.” I wrote up my thoughts on Damien Chazelle’s film here, and then followed up with additional thoughts here, but I continue to chew on it. “Whiplash” is very worth seeing, but it irritated me, and I wonder whether that reaction says more about me than it does about the film. 7. “Ida.” Near the top of my list of films I need to see. 8. “Gone Girl.” Amazingly, I still haven’t seen this film. I begin to suspect I’m avoiding it, and I’m not entirely sure why. 8. “Inherent Vice.” I’m only falling more in love with P.T. Anderson with time, and am very eager to see his latest. 10. “Nightcrawler.” I find myself away from the pack on this one. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom seemed like he had dropped to earth from Mars in the first frame. What, I wondered, did he do the day before the film began? The month before that? The year before that? I found no really plausible answer to these sorts of questions. Nor did I buy this young man’s sudden transformation from bizarre recluse to a ruthlessly effective manipulator of other people. The film presents itself as a dark satire – I kept thinking it was trying to be a noir-esque, indie-scale “Network” – but I never felt like the satire connected with anything terribly specific. 11. “Mr. Turner.” Another one near the top of my list of films to see. Mike Leigh is a wonderful filmmaker, and I specifically adored his last foray into biopic. 12. “Force Majeure.” I haven’t seen it yet, but hope to do so. 13. “Goodbye to Language.” Haven’t seen it yet, clearly need to – it’s actually somewhat relevant to a script I’ve written. 14. “The Immigrant.” Jeepers, I haven’t seen this one yet either – and this one wasn’t even on my list of want-to-sees. From the description, the film sounds like an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel, which makes me want to see it to see if that’s how it plays on-screen. 14. “Foxcatcher.” I wrote up my thoughts here – definitely an intriguing film, worth seeing for three notable performances. 16. “Only Lovers Left Alive.” I described “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” as a “Jarmusch-esque” vampire flick without having seen Jim Jarmusch’s own vampire flick. I suppose I have to find out which is more Jarmusch-esque: the actual Jarmusch or the homage? In any event, Eve Tushnet’s always-worthwhile thoughts can be found here. 17. “Two Days, One Night.” I am extremely eager to see this film, largely because I read Eve Tushnet’s review. 17. “The LEGO Movie.” My thoughts on this interlocking brick system of a movie can be found here. A much, much better film than it needed  to be. 17. “Snowpiercer.” This extremely stylish and idiosyncratic action-flick-cum-allegory of global inequality was far darker than I had expected. Indeed, inasmuch as it has a clear politics, those politics are almost pure anarchist rage. Far from presenting a brief for revolution, the film paints a deeply bleak and pessimistic picture of the choices before humanity in an age of scarcity driven by ecological impoverishment. 20. “Citizenfour.” Another film I need to see, but that I expect not to be enraptured by as so many have been. So I’ve only seen 9 out of 20 of the films that comprise the aggregated “critics’ picks” list. Not a particularly impressive showing – though I expect to improve upon it substantially over the next month or so. Meanwhile, what’s missing from this meta-list in terms of my personal  faves of the year? And what else am I eager to see that I haven’t gotten to yet? Not necessarily films that I would put on any kind of “Top 10” list, but all worth renting, are: “Frank,” “Listen Up Philip,” (reviewed here), and “The One I Love.” All extremely well-written films, and all films that would work just fine on a small screen. Films about prickly, difficult male artists (a theme of the year), and about the cold war between the sexes. And two doses of Elizabeth Moss to boot. What am I eager to see? Apart from those mentioned above, I’d add “Wild,” “The Babadook,” “The Overnighters,” “Big Eyes,” “Leviathan,” and “A Most Violent Year,” plus (from stuff I missed from earlier in the year) “Gloria,” “Calvary,” “The Dog,” “The Blue Room,” and “Jodorowsky’s Dune.” ]]>
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    (Review Source)

John Nolte2
Daily Wire / Breitbart



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • ‘Boyhood’ Review: Impressive But Wildly Overrated
    Writer/director Richard Linklater certainly deserves credit for pulling off an audacious experiment. Filmed over 12 years using the same actors (child and adult), “Boyhood” is a coming-of-age drama unlike anything we’ve seen before. Respect all around. Hats off. The movie itself, though, has to be judged on the final product — and it’s good not great. “Boyhood” opens in 2002. Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is the six-year-old product of a broken home. Other than old wounds, his parents, Mason Sr. and Olivia (Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette), feel nothing for one another. Until now, Mason Sr. has been mostly absent from the lives of his children. He promises to do better. As a single mother working a dead end job, Olivia is barely holding on. She also promises to do better, and starts by dumping her jerk of a boyfriend, quitting her job, and moving in with family in order to attend college. As the years pass, over nearly 3 hours we watch Mason and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) grow into young adults before our very eyes. There is no over-arching story to “Boyhood.” This is a character study built with slice-of-life vignettes. Wisely, Linklater doesn’t point to
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    (Review Source)
  • 'Boyhood' Review: Impressive But Wildly Overrated
    Writer/director Richard Linklater certainly deserves credit for pulling off an audacious experiment. Filmed over 12 years using the same actors (child and adult), “Boyhood” is a coming-of-age drama unlike anything we’ve seen before. Respect all around. Hats off. The movie itself, though, has to be judged on the final product — and it’s good not great. “Boyhood” opens in 2002. Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is the six-year-old product of a broken home. Other than old wounds, his parents, Mason Sr. and Olivia (Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette), feel nothing for one another. Until now, Mason Sr. has been mostly absent from the lives of his children. He promises to do better. As a single mother working a dead end job, Olivia is barely holding on. She also promises to do better, and starts by dumping her jerk of a boyfriend, quitting her job, and moving in with family in order to attend college. As the years pass, over nearly 3 hours we watch Mason and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) grow into young adults before our very eyes. There is no over-arching story to “Boyhood.” This is a character study built with slice-of-life vignettes. Wisely, Linklater doesn’t point to
    ...
    (Review Source)

The Federalist Staff6
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Richard Linklater On The Hope And Ennui Of 'Boyhood'
    Richard Linklater, the director of quintessential films that look deep into the souls of young adults, turns his camera on Millennials in his new film, “Boyhood.” The movie currently enjoys an almost-unheard-of 100 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, beloved by 103 of 103 critics weighing in. Novel in production and artistic in execution, the depiction of today’s young adults and the dreamy, sensitive, yet unfocused tone of the film paints a picture of a generation unburdened by ambition, devoid of passion, and drifting, with little in which to believe. Pajama Boy is ready for his close-up. In an interview, Linklater was engaging, insightful and jovial as he discussed his work, calling it “a period-piece film made in the present tense.” He filmed the two-hour, 45-minute movie over 12 years, using a cast who came to the set a few weeks each year. It features actual period clothes, technology, music, and vehicles, creating an unprecedented level of authenticity. The music, especially, will transport young adults back to their own childhoods. Injured by Adults, But Not Angry The loosely woven story follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he transitions from kid with peach fuzz to a young man in need of a shave. His older sister, Samantha (Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei), grows from a sharp-tongued bossypants to a sharp-tongued coed. Their mother (Patricia Arquette) and father (regular Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke) end the film with more pounds and wrinkles than they started. His parents are the kind of sensitive, Progressive adults whose greatest act of love is a frank conversation about birth control around adolescence. “That was the joy of doing this,” Linklater said, in the Washington DC interview. “With most movies, you’re so rushed during production. It’s great to be able to work like a sculptor: …edit the whole film again, all the years put together, watch it at home alone at two in the morning, …I never made a film that felt like it wanted to be itself so much.” For a coming-of-age film, it’s remarkably muted. There is a sense that the only difference between adults and children is that adults are aware they are adrift in a sea of meaninglessness while children haven’t yet figured that fact out. Like so many Millennials, Mason is shuttled from marriage home to single parent home to marriage home with a shrug of the shoulder and little explanation. His parents are the kind of sensitive, Progressive adults whose greatest act of love is a frank conversation about birth control around adolescence. Beyond that, they are too busy figuring themselves out to help the children make sense of the chaos. They are too busy chasing their own dreams, albeit small dreams, to care for the wounds they cause their kids. The both express self-pity, but never regret, for their actions that have brought pain to their children. The kids deserve an apology but never receive one. ‘Boyhood’ bothered me because I wanted Mason to be angry at this shortchanging, to become a rebel, maybe to shout a little, break a few things. He’s still talking about himself instead of learning to play the trombone, perfecting his layup, or mastering watercolor. Instead, Mason becomes a kind of introspective warrior, focused on examining his own navel. He spends one scene obsessing over his decision to abandon Facebook. Yet, his very dissection of this issue is in itself self-focused. He’s still talking about himself instead of learning to play the trombone, perfecting his layup, or mastering watercolor. Repeatedly, Mason talks about Mason instead of bringing value to the world. Aware, But Not Accomplished As he exits boyhood, he drifts into college as the necessary next step in a life of prescribed next steps. He has a slight talent and no drive, but is entitled, somehow by society, to another four or five years to seek the answer to the biggest question of all: himself. ‘There’s a lot of really great kids out there in this generation, they’re very, you know, sensitive, aware.’ I asked Linklater if he has an after-story for Mason in his mind, a concept of what his adult life would entail. He demurred: “Well, he’s got this wonderful four years of college if he completes that, but that’s a good little way station, I think, to find yourself at another level, and you know, bounce your ideas of life off not only students but teachers so you know that could be a good phase of his life. But after that, no I don’t know.” Llinklater went on: “But I think he’ll bring a thoughtful and sensitive thing to whatever he does. It’s a really amazing generation. There’s a lot of really great kids out there in this generation, they’re very, you know, sensitive, aware. I feel good about him.” This movie deftly captures the sensitive, aware ennui of white, affluent Millennials. However, there is another very minor character, a Hispanic worker who takes to heart the off-handed comment of Mason’s mother that he should go to community college. Years later, they bump into him again, a successful businessman grateful for the suggestion that led to his success. His story is also a Millennial story, and a more hopeful one. ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • The Case For Colorblind Casting
    The controversy over the lack of Latinos in the Oscar-nominated film “Boyhood” has put a spotlight on an issue that has long been simmering in the world of entertainment. For decades the question of colorblind casting has been debated. Even the term itself betrays the age of the question, as it was coined before “colorblind” became a dirty word. The basic dilemma is that many content creators believe the race of a character affects the story being told (and in some cases not the way they want), but at the same time almost everyone agrees that it is important to provide opportunities for minority actors and to reflect the diverse world in which we live. To bridge these ideas, we need to look carefully at how we tell stories and how we cast actors. We need a few guidelines to help us understand what race means when we are telling a story. Acting and modeling are two of the very few professions in which the color of a potential employee’s skin may be taken into account in hiring. This can sometimes be a shocking and visceral reality behind the scenes of dramatic and advertising content. Sometimes, Race Really Matters for Casting Years ago, an advertising company hired my theater company to develop some short scenes exploring the branding of a product. After the scripts were done, we sat with a few of the execs to look at headshots of potential actors. There was one black actor I really liked for the lead, but when I put his photo on the table I was quickly told he wasn’t what they were looking for. This black actor did not fit the target demographic of the brand. I was stunned, almost angry. But I came to understand that such decisions are not only commonplace, but that they can often make a lot of sense. Unlike almost every other line of work, there are times when taking the race of a performer into account is perfectly legitimate. For better or worse, advertisers, keen on securing any advantage they can to make their product stand out, target products to racial groups. This usually means hiring members of those groups to play the product’s consumers. Films and plays often do the same thing. The Urban Theater Circuit for example, once known as the Chitlin Circuit, produces religious-themed musicals for the black community with black actors and is wildly successful. Race is central to their product. One of the Urban Theater Circuit’s biggest success stories is Tyler Perry, and race is just as central to his storytelling in movies and television. The point is that, unlike almost every other line of work, there are times when taking the race of a performer into account is perfectly legitimate. However, this does not mean that a character or actor’s race must be considered in all instances. In fact, in most cases it is basically irrelevant. When Race Does and Doesn’t Matter in Casting In figuring out which situation is which, it is useful to break scripts into two basic types. The first is a script in which the race of the character is either specifically mentioned or which is set in a time or place that demands specific racial casting. These scripts we can call “contextually specific.” The second is a script in which no reference is made to race and the time and place set no specific demands. These we can call “contextually neutral.” When a film or play is specifically exploring issues of race, it is perfectly acceptable to cast on that basis, just as it is when advertisers are targeting a demographic. Scripts that are contextually specific are relatively rare. Most of our storytelling takes place in the present and is not focused on the issue of race. But there are still plenty of stories in which these conditions do exist. Each needs to be considered somewhat differently. In the case of historical period pieces, there is a lot of wiggle room in terms of racial casting. The hottest ticket in New York right now is “Hamilton” at the Public Theater, a musical in which a racially diverse cast plays many of the founding fathers. Likewise, the recent Broadway production of “The Best Man,” Gore Vidal’s drama set at a 1960s political convention, cast the black actor James Earl Jones as the sitting president. Obviously, these depictions are not historically accurate, but who cares? Audiences aren’t stymied by this disconnect, and actors deserve the right to embody historical figures even if they don’t exactly look like them. This also applies to the controversy surrounding “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Ridley Scott’s use of white actors to play ancient Egyptians, especially Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramesses II, caused consternation in cultural critics who saw it as a whitewashing, or a reinforcing of white privilege. But Scott cast the actor he thought was best for the role in his script. If artists choose to focus on questions of race and privilege in their work, that’s their prerogative. But it’s not what Scott was doing. Scott was telling a seminal, ancient story told by people of every race across the globe. He has no responsibility to make it a statement on modern racial politics, and nobody should try to force him into doing that. Contextually specific scripts in which race itself plays a significant role are a different story. In “Selma,” for example, it makes no sense for a non-black actor to play Martin Luther King Jr. or for a non-white actor to play Lyndon Johnson. Those racial identities are central to the story, and there is nothing wrong with that. When a film or play is specifically exploring issues of race, it is perfectly acceptable to cast on that basis, just as it is when advertisers are targeting a demographic. This is natural and to be expected. But the fact is such stories are very much the exception, not the rule. For Most Scripts, Race Doesn’t Matter The vast majority of scripts and stories fall into the contextually neutral category. Most dramas, thrillers, romantic comedies, etc., are set in the present and do not specifically deal with race. In these cases, race really has no business being considered at all. Directors should just be looking for the best performer for the part. When rumors surfaced that Idris Elba, a black actor, was being considered as the next James Bond, there were a few raised eyebrows. But there shouldn’t have been. There is nothing about the character of James Bond in the twenty-first century that demands he be of any certain race. In contextually neutral scripts such as the Bond series, an actor’s race should be irrelevant in casting. There is nothing about the character of James Bond in the twenty-first century that demands he be of any certain race. Now, some would argue that race is such an essential and incendiary element of our society that its effect can never be neutral. It can be argued that Elba as Bond imbues the story with specific and different elements for audiences. Likewise, casting an interracial couple in a RomCom could have an impact on the way in which audiences consider them, even if race in never mentioned in the story. This is probably true. But it is not a legitimate reason for directors to consider race in hiring, for the simple reason that the impact in unknowable. For every audience member whose view of the work is profoundly affected (positively or negatively) by an actor’s race, there are audience members who don’t give it a second thought. So, since it is impossible to know what effect race is having on different observers, it is irrational to make decisions on that basis. Another, and perhaps more important reason to disregard the potential impact of a performer’s race on audiences is that such considerations are entirely dependent on the mores of the production’s time. In 1924 when Eugene O’Neill premiered “All God’s Chillun” starring Paul Robeson, there was outrage over a scene where his white co-star kissed the black Robeson’s hand. Some contemporary writers and critics suggested recasting Robeson as a white man in blackface simply to avoid offending the sensibilities of the time. O’Neill refused. It wasn’t the story he was telling. Give Artists Latitude to Tell Their Stories Modern Progressive critics of “Boyhood” and film and drama in general would be wise to remember that. Our own rules about such things may be more enlightened than those of the 1920s, but they are by no means etched in un-erodable stone. Today’s artists must be given latitude, just as O’Neill was, to tell their stories as they see fit. Today’s social-justice warriors bristling at the fact that our screens and stages do not reflect the world as they wish it to be may not be as different from O’Neil’s racist critics as they imagine themselves to be. Unless there is an obvious, compelling interest for racially biased casting, it should never be done. As is so often the case with the question of race, our society ties itself in knots over issues that should be rather simple. Most of the time, there is no reason to consider the race of a performer in a film or a play. But sometimes there is a reason. In far too many cases, marketing research and focus groups have the perverse effect of making content creators, who should be innovating, hew to the status quo. But unless there is an obvious, compelling interest for racially biased casting, it should never be done. Rather, we should trust in the power of talented performers of every race to reach out through the screen or stage and tell us stories of our world and ourselves. ]]>
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  • How To Talk About Oscar Nominees At Cocktail Parties (Without Having To Watch Them)
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Once again, the voters of the Academy, God bless them, have nominated films you haven’t seen and generally don’t want to see for Best Picture. This won’t affect your life until your next cocktail party when someone asks you about the brilliance of “Boyhood” and you think they’re talking about your kids. Don’t be that person. Your boss will know what a cultural Cretan you are, not having darkened a theater since “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Your husband’s twenty-something hipster assistant will sniff at you in a particularly superior manner and talk about camera angles. You can be better. You can fake this. We are here to help. ‘Boyhood’  “Boyhood” is basically a three hour-long version of those wedding videos that weepy dads put together for their kids’ reception. Here’s Mason (Ellar Coltrane) on Halloween. Here’s Mason standing in line for Harry Potter books. Here’s Mason being too cool and above it all for Facebook. Isn’t he adorable? This is why weddings have open bars. There is no plot in the film, unless the plot is “boy grows bigger every year.” It’s long and boring, unless you’re a white male who grew up mildly disaffected in the 1990s. Eighty-seven percent of current movie critics are white males who grew up mildly disaffected in the 1990s. It will win the Oscar. You must never admit you haven’t watched it or have no desire to watch it. You must always speak of it in glowing terms. Happily, since there’s not much to say about the movie, you can choose any adjective you like and it will fit. Film criticism of “Boyhood” is like a game of Mad Libs where all the words are superlative. We’ve suggested some below. Wrong: Why would I want to spend three hours of my life watching a nonstory about a white male who grew up mildly disaffected in the 1990s? Right: Wow. “Boyhood” is so (blisteringly/lyrically/fantastically) (kaleidoscopic/lyrical/dreamlike) and (daringly/courageously/conspicuously) (non-linear/lyrical/enigmatic). It’s clearly the masterpiece of our time.  ‘Birdman’ “Birdman” is a movie of the (Hollywood) people, by the (Hollywood) people, for the (Hollywood) people. It stars Michael Keaton, a former superhero actor whose glory has faded, as Riggan, a former superhero actor whose glory has very much faded. It’s super artsy (Oooh, one extended shot, look at that!) and chock-full of themes of fame and art. Seriously, the film uses a wayward wife who no longer loves her husband as a metaphor for the audience who used to idolize a person who was famous but is now no longer really famous, only sort of semi-famous. Repeatedly. Do you struggle with issues of fading fame, self-worth as expressed through ticket sales, and a legacy in which your lucrative role overshadows your less-popular art? To the point of suicide? No, you say? Then you’ll be bored to tears by “Birdman.” One must never say this at cocktail parties, of course. Luckily, you can escape having to talk about the movie by diving into its deep existential crisis themes. Wrong: “Birdman” strikes me as merely an extended mass therapy session for Los Angeles. Right: When you get down to it, do any of us have any true impact on the world around us? Really makes you think. ‘Whiplash’ “Whiplash,” starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, is another film about art, obsession, music, obsession with music, and scary teachers. Like last year’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” or 2010’s “Black Swan,” it is all about the grief artists (in this case an aspiring jazz drummer) go to perfect or create their art and the mentors who drive them. It’s no surprise the creative class loves it because they love to remind themselves how they suffer as compared to ordinary people. Like, say, the guy who restrings fallen power lines during ice storms or the inner-city mom who buses 45 minutes every day to take her kid to a good charter school. Those people just don’t get suffering. You must never compare this type of mentoring relationship film to movies you actually like and that are also about mentors, specifically a kind of mentor called a football coaches. Wrong: I feel like I saw this movie before but the student wore pads and a helmet and the teacher was gruff coach, except he ended up being nice underneath and this guy is just mean. Right: Being an artist is only one step away from torture. If only we supported them more. We should fully fund NPR. ‘Selma’ The main impact, so far, of the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma” is that suddenly every American has an honorary PhD in Civil Rights History with an emphasis on the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. If there’s anything black and white Americans have in common, it’s the freedom—nay, the right—to opine forcefully on subjects of which we were blissfully unaware ten minutes before. It’s a shame because the film is excellent, nuanced, and doesn’t fit into any set talking points. You must never express any nuance about this film at cocktail parties. There are only two tracks to take and you must adhere to your side despite all logic or reason and to a degree that would make Michael Moore blush. Wrong: With its fine acting, great story, and fantastic direction, “Selma” is a chance to come together over shared history, find healing together, and look to the future of America. Right: a) Lyndon B. Johnson was wronged and that only goes to show that African-Americans today are only interested in bending truth to fit their agenda. b) Ava DuVernay should have been nominated as Best Director and David Oyelowo should have been nominated for Best Actor, and it only goes to show that the black man or woman gets no justice in America today. Bonus points if you punctuate your point by setting something on fire, as MLK’s memory deserves.     ‘The Theory of Everything’ This closeup of the marriage between Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones) is an amazingly acted and beautifully told story. Furthermore, it has a powerful message: even if a man’s body is withered, even if his frame is confined to a wheelchair, and even his voice taken away, it does not rob him of his ability to rise above his disability and be a complete turd to his wife. I mean, hello? Does nobody notice that he refuses to let her get help with his demanding physical needs, or even to verbally admit they’re not a normal family, forces her to wait on him hand and foot, to care for their children alone, drives her into the arms of another man whom she then sacrifices for her marriage, and then after all that, ditches her for another woman? Never let it be said disability held Stephen Hawking back. All eyes are on Eddie Redmayne, who takes his impossibly pretty body and adorable face and somehow distracts us from how beautiful he is by twisting his godlike body into a wheelchair. As the film goes on, he has less and less to work with. The legs go, then the arms, finally the voice. Eventually, his acting comes down entirely to his cheeks. They go up, they go down, they crinkle his lovely eyes. They dance like a sugar plum fairy. There is an entire universe in his cheeks. If there were any justice in the world, his cheeks would get an acting award. You must never speak of your obsession with Redmayne’s cheeks. That won’t do for cocktail parties. Wrong: Wow. Did you see his cheeks? I mean, did you see them? I see them in my sleep. Please help me. Right: Wow. Redmayne really used everything available to him to create a character that shone despite his physical limitations. ‘The Imitation Game’ Like “The Theory of Everything,” “The Imitation Game” has everything going for it, Oscar-wise: It’s an obscure, depressing story, it has an actor (Benedict Cumberbatch) you enjoy in mainstream roles in a decidedly not mainstream role, and the main character is a weirdo who you’re not sure you’d like if you met in real life. Oscar voters eat that stuff up. Audiences tend not to. But you must not admit you have no desire to see this movie either. The cocktail party would tsk-tsk at that. Wrong: Who is Alan Turing, again? Right: Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. And brave! Brave also! Also wonderful. So brilliantly bravely wonderful! He absolutely became Alan Turing, whoever Alan Turing is. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Every Wes Anderson film has basically the same components: Intricate sets and costumes expressing a high level of what scientists call “twee,” innocent-seeming nostalgia masking some frankly disturbing content, and Bill Murray. This film is no different. You must never admit that you find the idea of the film exhausting, that you feel vaguely guilty because you think you should be having a better time than you are, or that you tried to watch it but fell asleep. Luckily, there’s Rotten Tomatoes to help. Wrong: Doesn’t all that pastel and oddly cheerful yet somber activity make you want to crawl under the covers and not come out until the next “Transformers?” Right: I found it typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful. Furthermore, the ornate visual environments explore deeply emotional ideas. (h/t Rotten Tomatoes) ‘American Sniper’ “American Sniper,” which has been dominating the box office after a limited opening to qualify for Oscars, is the one movie nominated for Best Picture that has a chance of actually being seen by the majority of the movie-going public (as opposed to by a majority of the movie-making public). About Iraq War sniper Chris Kyle, the film respects both the war he fought and the red-state Texas culture from which he came. You must not admit that you like red-state America or that you agree with the ethos of the film. You must treat this unusual tinseltown foray into red-state America much as you would a rare safari or a trip to the zoo. Wrong: This film was exciting and uplifting. It inspired me and made me appreciate our armed forces. Plus, it kicked serious heiny! Also Wrong: Looks like Clint Eastwood was right when he talked to that chair, but he’s not talking to chairs anymore, he’s making great movies, amiright? Hahahaha! Very, Very Wrong: I think Chris Kyle was a hero and agree with him that terrorists and thugs are bad and need to be stopped, by killing them if necessary, and I appreciate a film that unapologetically makes that point. Right: Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job of becoming that strange, strange character. I, myself, have never met a “rodeo bronco rider” or someone who enjoys shooting “rifles,” or a “soldier,” but I was impressed by the work Cooper did in that role. He must have really done a lot of research into the character. How do you think he managed without Kobacha soup and buckwheat salad while researching in “Texas?” ]]>
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  • Your Handy-Dandy Guide To Oscar Movie Controversies
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    It wouldn’t be Oscar season without artsy film-type people arguing passionately about movies you haven’t seen. Here’s a crib sheet of brewing controversy. ‘Selma’: Oscar Chances Good “Selma” is a very good, very focused biopic of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. By all accounts, it sits near the top of the list of Best Picture nominees. To the ring! On one side, we have historian Mark Updegrove. He faces off against formidable “Selma” director Ava DuVernay in the Historical Accuracy Championship (medium weight). In a Politico article, Updegrove came out swinging, objecting to the depiction of President Johnson as obstructing civil rights. DuVernay hit back on Twitter: I can argue, @HitFixGregory. Notion that Selma was LBJ’s idea is jaw dropping and offensive to SNCC, SCLC and black citizens who made it so. — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) December 28, 2014 Bottom line is folks should interrogate history. Don’t take my word for it or LBJ rep’s word for it. Let it come alive for yourself. #Selma — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) December 28, 2014 Here, she responded to me: RT @Rebecca_Cusey: .@AVAETC throws down on LBJ mini controversy. (Trying to squash it because it’s so mini. Moving on! Happy holidays all!) — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) December 28, 2014 It’s a delightful little controversy because, really, how many people have firm or resolved concepts of LBJ and MLK’s respective effects on civil rights? What a wonderful thing that people are discussing such thing, using energy that otherwise would have been wasted on selfies and Words With Friends. Furthermore, in the movie, Johnson makes a fairly heroic moral choice to put his pragmatism aside and do what he knows is right. In my book, it makes him look good at the end. See the movie and decide for yourself! Prediction: Because the movie is so good, the match will go to DuVernay, making her the reigning world champion of popular civil rights history. ‘American Sniper’: Oscar Unlikely This story of America’s best Iraq War sniper Chris Kyle is directed by Clint Eastwood and pushes all the cultural buttons. As Armond White points out, Bradley Cooper does an amazing job embodying the ethos of red-state America. He’s a rodeo cowboy, a career soldier, a lethal killer, and unapologetic. Hollywood does not usually do red state well. This is the understatement of the year. Unapologetic Iraq War heroism does not go over well in the anti-war, anti-American-involvement crowd. Vulture’s David Edelstein calls the film “propaganda” and “a Republican platform movie.” Max Blumenthal, who can always be relied upon for far-left histrionics, repeatedly attacked Kyle and the film on Twitter. @LoveFor714 @rpgirl27 John Lee Malvo, another mass murdering sniper, would not be glorified on prime time. — Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 26, 2014 @ArabVoicesSpeak the whole film’s appeal seems to derive from the latent racism that led America into Iraq. — Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 25, 2014 Other usual suspects joined him: “Kill every male you see”: American psycho sniper Chris Kyle and the role of US snipers in Iraq https://t.co/BzzEt70T64 — Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) December 30, 2014 The movie appears to be gaining ground, however. Not only did it break records for sales in its limited release on Christmas Day, it’s also generating respect from mainstream Hollywood: I just watched American Sniper. You have to see what Bradley Cooper does in this movie. His performance is next level. — Jonah Hill (@JonahHill) December 30, 2014 American Sniper: best Eastwood pic since Unforgiven over 20 years ago. — Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) December 27, 2014 Post got it right . American sniper is a great movie. I just watchied it and i had to tell someone. no, I’m not getting paid dickhead. — Howard Stern (@HowardStern) December 24, 2014 Bradley Cooper is awesome in #AmericanSniper Should be nominated. — Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 29, 2014 #AmericanSniper is Clint Eastwood’s “strongest” effort in the last 8 years http://t.co/M2YG1mL66z pic.twitter.com/uuoJVUm1ys — Variety (@Variety) December 28, 2014 Prediction: Look for this battle to heat up as the movie moves into wide release. The quality of the acting and directing is hardly debatable, which makes this film a proxy for Americans’ feelings about the Iraq War. And those are hotly debatable. ‘Unbroken’: Oscar Unlikely, Despite Success “Unbroken,” a PG-13 rated story of human spirit, doesn’t have a cynical moment from title sequence to credit roll. This does not please critics or awards voters, who mostly suffer from a clinical-level addiction to cynicism. The big question about “Unbroken” is whether its massive popularity or goodwill for director Angelina Jolie will earn it a spot in the Best Picture list. If you think, “Hey, I’ve actually have seen ‘Unbroken’ and I liked it. I think it is one of the best pictures of the year and, thus, should be nominated as one of the best pictures of the year,” well, you’ve just encapsulated why Hollywood is so out of touch with the audience it tries to reach. The main battle over “Unbroken” isn’t about awards, though. It revolves around Jolie’s decision to leave Louis Zamperini’s Christian conversion and acts of forgiveness to epilogue comments in the credits. Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote that the decision might disappoint Christians. Jolie clarified that Zamperini himself approved of a broad, universal portrayal of faith in the film. Bailey was right. Christian reviewers seem to be disappointed: #Unbroken is the wrong tale of triumph http://t.co/SgTBAQO5T3 — CT Movies (@ct_movies) December 30, 2014 Anyone see this yesterday? // The Uneven Inspiration of ‘Unbroken’ http://t.co/a5IOTVlDel via @RELEVANT — Greenlight Exchange (@OpGreenlight) December 26, 2014 It hasn’t stopped audiences, however, from making the film a shocking success: Angelina Jolie’s #Unbroken pulled off a Christmas box office miracle http://t.co/SfMBsEy4X9 pic.twitter.com/RrpJRXjxHb — Variety (@Variety) December 30, 2014 Prediction: “Unbroken” will become a beloved classic and make piles of money, cementing Jolie’s new role as respected director. The controversy over the ending will fade away. It will not, however, be nominated for awards. ‘Foxcatcher’: Best Actor Oscar Likely Channing Tatum’s portrayal of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz is considered a lock for a Best Actor nomination, especially since the story of wrestling, wealth, elite sports, and murder has such a delicious and ambiguous love triangle aspect. Steve Carell plays heir John du Pont, who lures Schultz and his brother David (Mark Ruffalo) into his would-be wrestling empire. The ambiguous nature of the triangle exploded in threats and rage New Year’s Day when Schultz took to Twitter and Facebook to denounce the movie he had previously endorsed. He specifically called out “Foxcatcher” director Bennett Miller. He said he was angry about the implication there was a sexual relationship between himself and du Pont. In tweets that have since been deleted, Schultz said: Schultz responded more calmly this morning, but did not back down, saying in a Facebook post: Prediction: Hollywood loves a good scandal, especially one possibly but not certainly involving sex. This can only boost the film’s chances of awards success. However, Schultz is not Hollywood and remains an unpredictable wild card. Who knows what he will do next? It’s like a real-life sequel to the movie onscreen. ‘Boyhood’: Oscar Unfortunately Likely Unfortunately, there is no controversy for “Boyhood.” It sits firmly atop the predicted list of winners across the board. While the film is not terrible, just long and boring, it is nowhere near the best picture of the year, in my opinion. If a film ever needed a controversy to shake it up, it’s this one. But it’s a favorite for Best Picture. It just goes to show that those who write about movies and vote for film awards are far less diverse—ethnically, socio-economically, by gender, and by overall philosophy of life—than the masses who go to the theater. ]]>
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  • Why I Didn't See 'Fifty Shades Of Grey,' As Told To My Therapist
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The following is a transcript of my recent session with Dr. Hans von Trottenbaten, therapist. VonT: What brings you into my office today? Your abiding passion for cheese and cheese products? Me: No, I’ve accepted that as part of my life. VonT: Your paranoia that ducks are out to get you? Me: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real. VonT: It’s your mother, isn’t it? Tell me about your mother. Me: No. My mother is fine. It’s my job, doc. I have a problem. VonT: Go on. Me: You see, I’m a movie critic. VonT: Ah, I see. That is very serious indeed. But don’t despair. There is an experimental drug that, while it can’t cure, has shown some promise of relieving the symptoms. Let me write you a prescription. Me: No, doc. I like being a movie critic. VonT: Really? [scribbles secretively on his yellow pad for a suspiciously long time] Me: You see, it’s this movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” VonT: The one with all the leather and whips? I couldn’t face ‘Fifty Shades.’ It’s all just so loud and hyper, you know? Me: That’s the one. VonT: [scribbling, scribbling] Me: At least, that’s what I hear. I couldn’t bring myself to watch or review it. I had to hand it off to a colleague to review. I’ve never done that before. VonT: No? Me: I sat through “Paul Blart, Mall Cop” AND “Here Comes the Boom.” I made it through “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which has way, way, way more sex than “Fifty Shades,” from what I hear. I even sat through all 12 years of “Boyhood,” even though I’m pretty sure I aged myself. VonT: So you are accustomed to suffering. Me: Exactly. But I couldn’t face “Fifty Shades.” It’s all just so loud and hyper, you know? All the loudness and hyperness. I just couldn’t. ‘Fifty Shades’ Is Boring VonT: Go on. Me: And boring. I mean, there are only two responses to this film. One is to write breathless listcicles appealing to the basest nature of your readers. “The 9 Most Popular Safe Words,” for instance. Or “The 12 Best Knots to Tie Up Your Lover.” There are only two responses to this film. VonT: Twelve? I only know four. Me: Or you can go full hot take… VonT: Slipknot, half-hitch, figure eight…The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree… Me: Doc, focus! VonT: Right, right… you were saying hot take. Me: Yes. Full outrage hot take. Clutch your morally superior pearls on your horrified chest and denounce it. It’s necessary that someone does, I suppose, but so boring for me to write. VonT: You crave excitement. Me: No. That’s just the thing. I don’t. Not that type. I don’t want to see movies that push the sexual envelope or shock or titillate. I sit out most of them already and can usually get away with it. VonT: Because you’re a prude. [writes PRUDE very plainly on his yellow pad] Me: I sincerely doubt that. No. I’m reminded of Roger Ebert’s excellent takedown of a movie called “Kick-Ass” which like “Fifty Shades” pushed envelopes, but unlike “Fifty Shades” had some artistic merit. Ebert basically objected to the whole thing, to the pressure to like it primarily because it was edgy. He wrote: “Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point?” VonT: So you are a prude. As Ebert said, ‘You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in.’ Me: Not at all. At least I don’t think so. I don’t mind talking about sex. But I am not interested in talking about this sex. It’s like the whole world was talking about S&M all of a sudden. Is it right, is it abuse, is it fun, what’s fun about it, here’s how to do it.VonT: It is true. It was everywhere. Even Al Roker. Me: It’s just not interesting. As Ebert said, “You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in.” Here’s What’s Not Boring VonT: What are you interested in? Me: Beauty. The mystery and endurance of love. How lovers hurt each other and heal each other. How love echoes to something beyond ourselves, especially beyond our bodies. How sex can trap you. How it can set you free. Did you see “Anna Karenina” a few years back? VonT: Uh, no. Uh, I was very, um, busy that year. All I hear about ‘Fifty Shades’ is that there is nothing of that kind of risk, the kind that risks your heart and not your body. ME: There’s this great part where someone asks Koysta…this guy who’s loved a princess named Kitty practically forever….he asks what made him love her, out of all the women in Russia. Why her? VonT: Uh, yeah. Me: He has no answer except that he just does. It’s mystical, it’s uncontrollable. It’s beyond our minds and our bodies. Like Arthur Brooks wrote in The New York Times, it’s scary. That’s what I want to talk about. All I hear about “Fifty Shades” is that there is nothing of that kind of risk, the kind that risks your heart and not your body. VonT: So your problem is you prefer Tolstoy to erotic chick-lit? Me: I suppose it is. VonT: We have medication for that, too. ]]>
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  • Boyhood, a Unique Film 12 Years in the Making
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'Boyhood - International Trailer (Universal Pictures) HD', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); The true star of Richard Linklater's new movie Boyhood is time. Written and directed by Linklater and filmed in his home city of Houston in spurts over a 12-year period, less a slice of life than the whole cake, it's groundbreaking in technique yet deceptively modest in approach. Virtually everyone who has seen it has loved it (though some conservatives have qualms). Everyone is basically right. Even if you don't think you want to see it, and I wasn't sure, you do.Like Dazed and Confused, his 1993 cult classic, Boyhood mines the Texas landscape of Linklater's youth. The film gods certainly blessed Linklater with his lead actor. Ellar Coltrane started filming the role of Mason Jr. at the age of seven. Before our eyes, Mason grows up under an older sister (played by Linklater's daughter Lorelei), a shifting series of step-dads, and a rock-like mother (Patricia Arquette). Watching Coltrane, as Mason, evolve from a slightly dramatic child actor to an assured 19-year-old Bieberesque heartthrob is fascinating on several levels, like a dramatized version of a YouTube time-lapse photo collage of kids. But Linklater's gimmick is not episodic or jarring.While Boyhood is immersive, it's not really a character study: We only glimpse Mason Jr.'s interior life as others see him. Yet Linklater has said that Ellar's developing personality shaped the evolution of the movie. Linklater has tied plenty of knots in his script's timeline – presidential elections, new school years, Star Wars rumors, the 6th Harry Potter book – making it a fascinating time capsule while also keeping viewers from being lost in the 12-year time span.Poignant but not sentimental, Boyhood lopes along like life, with all its missed opportunities and sheer happenstance. Devout grandparents, prodding teachers, and school bullies come, and then go. Scenes that feel like foreshadowing fade into ephemera. Only occasionally does the melodrama seem goaded or forced along. You might suspect one drunken temper tantrum too many, but even that just demonstrates that destructive behavior patterns are part of the warp and woof of human existence, obvious only in retrospect. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/7/20/boyhood-a-unique-film-12-years-in-the-making/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
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  • Boyhood
    Drama We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewMason is 6 years old and a starry-eyed dreamer. He's the kind of kid who does his homework—at his single mom's prompting—but then leaves it forgotten and stuffed in the bottom of his backpack because, well, the teacher never asked for it. Besides, he was kinda busy staring out the classroom window. Mason's sister, Sam, is nothing like her distracted younger brother. She's a troublemaking spitball who's ready to pounce on her sibling—punching, pillow fighting, tickling and teasing. And then she spouts a fountain of fake tears if Mom happens to walk in. Mom (Olivia) takes their squabbles in stride. But she has some issues of her own that she needs to work through. For one thing, she needs to get a better foothold on life. Maybe take a college class or two. The bills are eating her alive. And for another, she's got horrible taste in men. Or maybe I should put things this way: She has the horrible habit of choosing nasty guys who hop in and out of her bed while masquerading as men. That goes for the kids' dad, too. He's up working somewhere in Alaska, she thinks. But since she's had no communication and no alimony payments sent her way for a while, well … Maybe if she and the kids move to Houston, they can get something going. Maybe a year from now they'll have gotten a new start as a family. They'll be a little older. A little wiser. Maybe? But what about the year after that? And the year after that? What will time bring as the years unfold? She'll just have to wait and see. And so will we.Positive ElementsAs people come and go in Mason's and Sam's lives—from stepdads to teachers to neighborhood friends—the one relationship that remains positive for them is the one with their otherwise deadbeat dad, Mason Sr. He and their mother can't seem to remain in the same room together for long, but he consistently tries to stay connected and be a loving dad. He gives them advice based on his own experiences and stumbles, plays with them, creates bonding experiences and repeatedly voices his love for them. That kind of attention changes them. And Dad also appears changed by their interactions. He totally realigns his vagabond life, eventually remarrying and starting a new family. Divorce and remarriage aren't in life's positive column, of course, but he's only half joking when he says to his son, "[I've turned into the] boring, castrated guy that your mom probably wanted 15 or 20 years ago." He thanks his former wife for working so hard to raise the kids. Olivia has her moments of bootstrap pulling as well. She takes college courses and eventually earns the teaching degree she's coveted. And her own self-betterment inspires her to encourage a Mexican immigrant worker to go to school, get a degree and make something of himself. Years later, that same young man—now a restaurant manager—comes over to thank her for the push.Spiritual ContentThe only Christians we meet—the parents of Mason Sr.'s second wife—are depicted as a cartoonish joke of a pair who mindlessly cling to their Bibles and guns. In fact, for Mason's 15th birthday they give him a Holy Bible and the family shotgun. That Sunday Mason and Sam are forced to "suffer" through a church service with them (where we hear the pastor preach, "Blessed are they who can believe without seeing"). After all this "church stuff," Sam asks her dad, "You're not becoming one of those God people, are you?" Dad assures her he's not. A younger Mason, who's a big fan of the Harry Potter books, asks his father if there is any real magic, like elves, in the world. Dad says no, but suggests that describing a whale to someone who's never seen one would sound just as magical. School kids are told to write an essay on "gods and goddesses."Sexual ContentBoth Olivia and Mason Sr. have very casual attitudes about their out-of-wedlock sex lives. We don't see either of them in bed with a partner, but neither of them keep their multiple relationships from their kids. Dad does talk to both Sam and Mason about avoiding the "mistake" he and their mom fell into when their teen "make-up" sex turned into pregnancy. He tells Sam (in a lengthy discussion) to avoid pregnancy through either abstinence or the use of condoms. Years later, though, Mason Sr. and his brother crudely joke with 18-year-old Mason about the sexual adventures college life will provide. At age 8, Mason and his friend (and the camera) ogle the partially clothed breasts of models in a lingerie catalogue. And a little later we see the boys, older now, checking out an online porn site. (We don't see the screen.) Several high school girls talk about one of their teachers being a lesbian. Some senior boys accuse an 8th grader of being gay because he hasn't yet had sex. They go on to crudely recount the story of a girl having a night of sex with them and a string of other guys. Mason and a girl joke about going on a date—and she promises him oral sex. Sam's college roommate catches an older Mason and his girlfriend naked in Sam's dorm room bed. (They're covered by a sheet.) Mason and a couple of different girls kiss. Several women, including Olivia, display quantities of cleavage.Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent ContentBill, Olivia's second husband, is an angry drunk who lashes out and smashes glasses at the dinner table. He's an abusive brute, beating Olivia (we see her crying afterward, lying on the garage floor) and (it's implied) manhandling his cowering kids. The man puts Mason, Sam and their two stepsiblings in extreme danger while recklessly driving under the influence. Olivia's third husband is a heavy drinker too. He moves threateningly toward Mason after the teen boy comes home after curfew. Drunken teen boys break boards and throw saw blades at a construction site. Two bullies approach Mason and shove him around in a school bathroom.Crude or Profane LanguageAbout 40 f-words and 20 s-words join a half-dozen or so uses each of "h---," "a--," "d--n" and "b--ch." God's and Jesus' names are misused close to 10 times, God's getting combined with "d--n" nearly half the time. Teen boys make crude comments about vaginas and "p---."Drug and Alcohol ContentWine, beer and hard liquor flow freely at every party and gathering—from graduation celebrations to casual get-togethers. All of Olivia's husbands or boyfriends generally have an open beer or a mixed drink in hand whenever we see them. Closet drunk Bill hides his booze away for most of their short marriage. He sends a young Mason into a liquor store to cash a check for him. That easygoing tone toward alcohol quickly carries over to both Mason and Sam. Mason drinks beer with some older boys when he's in 8th grade. And from there he and his partying friends graduate to regularly downing beer and the harder stuff too. Jell-O shots and marijuana soon follow. Mason comes home on his 15th birthday after smoking a joint and drinking, and his tipsy mom laughs the substance abuse off as youthful indiscretion. A college girl gives 18-year-old Mason some kind of drug-laced confection that he pops in his mouth and swallows. Later, his stoned friends start yelling at the top of their lungs on the lip of a mountain canyon. Mason's dad reports that he's trying to quit smoking. We never see him light up, but there are overflowing ashtrays alongside the empty beer bottles in his apartment.Other Negative ElementsNot only are Christians sneered at in this story, conservatives in general are deemed dense and/or racist. One such bloke has a Confederate flag in his garage and threatens to shoot the kids just for walking up to his front door.ConclusionThere is no question that respected indie director Richard Linklater's film is an ambitious, groundbreaking work of art. It was shot over the course of 12 years, with the cast growing up and growing older in real life as they gathered for a few weeks of filming each year. Thus, we watch as a boy of 6 matures from a button-nosed little tyke into a gangly, scruffy-faced teen as he meanders through a story loosely tracing the formative years of his life. His elders, meanwhile, bulge a bit and get a little more lined and gray. To see such an authentic physical transformation in a single cast in a single film is a unique moviegoing experience, to be sure. But even though that ambling forward progress has been seen by some as this film's greatest artistic strength, it's also its most annoying entertainment weakness. Boyhood never really feels like it has anywhere to go or anything in particular it wants us to see—other than that slow passage of time. There's no real story here, no narrative other than that of time slipping by. Young Mason's coming of age tale, then, becomes a long, seemingly directionless collection of … situations. Finding a dead bird. Facing bullies in the school bathroom. Leaving a stepbrother and stepsister behind in an ugly divorce. Drinking a beer with a group of lust-obsessed older teens. These are all disconnected, rather flat, unfinished storyline bits that pop up and bob around Mason as hair begins to spurt from his upper lip. It all feels very much like the starts and stops, spits and spurts of real life. And since that's obviously what the director wanted, well, then he should be congratulated. Unfortunately, real life can be incredibly boring. Which also seems to be a point Linklater wants to drive home. He shows us long scenes centered on bad choices and bland conversations. And he shows us an 18-year-old Mason pulling together his things to head off for college as his weepy mom worries over all the disappointing "milestones" of her life. "I just thought there would be more," she cries. And the film relentlessly carries that thought on, wanting us to come to grips with the idea that life's not about reaching for milestones or grabbing big moments, but about living in every moment. Choosing to live to your fullest. That's a solid cinematic statement. It's even a biblical one so far as it goes. (Not forgetting how the movie treats those who subscribe to such scriptural teachings.) But after sitting through almost three hours of foul language, crude capers, bad behavior and a multitude of scenes that play out as the dramatic equivalent of watching paint dry, it seems to me that the moments people might spend watching this film could be more fully lived somewhere else.Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
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  • Great Art and Great Messages Make Great Films
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    “I have a dream!” Of course you know I just borrowed those four famous words from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., during this, the anniversary month of his birth. But it’s true, I do have a dream. As a film critic, I have aspirations of a day in which filmmakers in Hollywood would only release movies that would make our country better. Motion pictures that would inspire a deeper desire for us to grow in greatness and the service of others. A few of this year’s Oscar-nominated films do just that. Selma‘s one of them. American Sniper‘s another. But why not all? For that dream to become a reality, Tinseltown will have to quit giving itself accolades for films that promote hopelessness and glamorize behaviors that are counterproductive for living a successful and fruitful life. Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put out its 2015 list of “bests” (for the films released in 2014), and it’s painfully clear that encouraging us to be better people is not a determining factor in their selection. I can hear members of the Academy declaring that it should be all about the art. While important, I’d argue that art without positivity can never be truly excellent. For instance, not surprisingly but certainly disappointingly, Golden Globe winner Boyhood makes the list of Best Picture nominees. By film’s end, Boyhood would have us believe that every American child will need to experiment with drugs, alcohol and porn, lose his virginity during the teen years, and have no real reason to live outside of the world of video games. Mason, the main character, sums up the film’s entire premise with, “What’s the point?” Contrast that message to the ones in Unbroken, a film that didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. Angelina Jolie’s flick reminds us that service to country is noble while concluding that perseverance and the forgiveness of one’s enemies are healing forces. I have a dream that someday Hollywood would take themes such as this into account. On one hand, you have a dreary, demoralizing film that wallows in hopelessness. On the other, you have a truly uplifting film that inspires viewers to contemplate how to be more heroic. Really, can there be any doubt as to which film is superior? Birdman is another Oscar contender that has me shaking my head. Story center Riggan believes his life is of no value unless others applaud him. Is he a tragic example of what we shouldn’t aspire to? Or will throngs of moviegoers just take him at face value? I hope it’s not the latter, because that’s about the last thing we—especially teenagers—need to hear these days when Facebook likes (or the lack thereof) and YouTube views define our self-esteem. Compare Birdman to Selma, which clearly inspires us to take a stand for what’s right even when naysayers disapprove. The latter is the kind of film that should be the rule come awards season, not the exception. One more example. While The Theory of Everything is a certainly a mixture of inspiration and frustration, the overall point might be summed up when Stephen Hawking boils life down to this: We’re just advanced primates circling a minor star in a backwater part of the universe. My hat’s off to Time magazine for recently designating the Ebola fighters as its annual Person(s) of the Year. People like Katie Meyler and Dr. Kent Brantly motivate me to look for ways to make a difference. And films should do the same! What’s more, they can do the same. And sometimes, they already do the same. But my point is that they should always do the same. Hollywood can be on the front lines fighting for a better world. Its filmmakers just need a dream of their own. ]]>
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  • All of Oscar's Top Picks Are on a (Spiritual) Journey
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Late last year, Ridley Scott unveiled his ambitious, controversial epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, with Christian Bale as Moses. It was the story of a man who had it all, lost it all, found something better and dragged a whole nation to a strange land promised to them by God. It was not nominated for an Academy Award. Not even for Best Performance by Locusts. But Exodus: Gods and Kings oddly shares a bit in common with all of the year’s Best Picture nominees: The idea of a journey, sometimes even a spiritual one. Sure, only one of the year’s nominees includes a literal trip to the Middle East, and what Chris Kyle found in American Sniper was far from a land of milk and honey. Some of these Best Picture protagonists don’t travel much at all, and one—Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything—ends the movie barely able to move. None of our protagonists are explicitly searching for the Promised Land, and few seek God’s guidance. Lots of missteps are made by them and by the directors of their movies, loading up most if not all of them with roadblocks and detours in the form of negative content (outlined in our reviews, which are linked here). But in each movie, people leave the comfort of home (or a manifestation thereof) for the promise of something greater. They’re looking for many of the same things that Moses and his people were: Freedom. Truth. Happiness. Redemption. Each feels the tug of something bigger than themselves, pulling them in new, unexpected and sometimes frightening directions. Each of Oscar protagonist is on a pilgrimage—a spiritual journey of discovery and meaning. Let me show you what I mean. The walk taken by Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers in Selma is not a long one compared to that of the Israelite’s Exodus—just 54 miles to Montgomery. But these Civil Rights protesters, like the Hebrews, believed it was a walk toward freedom—specifically the freedom to vote. King, like Scott’s Moses, left the comfort of home and risked everything because he felt that’s what God wanted him to do. The journey is not without risk: The established powers in Selma, Ala., don’t want to let their people go, and they’ll literally beat them to keep them exactly where they are. But those forces are eventually swept away, not by the Red Sea, but by waves of God-inspired racial progress. M. Gustave, legendary concierge for The Grand Budapest Hotel, is also on a quest for freedom. Thrown in the clink for a murder he didn’t commit, Gustave busts out and, with the help of his loyal bellboy, Zero, goes on a zany but ultimately successful journey to clear his name and redeem his reputation. You could say he even finds the Promised Land—ownership of a priceless painting and the deed to the hotel itself. But he and Zero find an even greater treasure: a loyal, enduring friendship. Their adventure turned out to be a spiritual journey of discovery as much as a physical one. But as it was for the Hebrews, Gustave’s own postscript fell short of happily ever after. Mason makes quite the journey in Boyhood, too, but his pilgrimage is not as much through space as time. He, too, seeks freedom—the sort of freedom that all children seek and most eventually claim: the freedom to make his own decisions and to live his own life. Growing up isn’t just a physical and mental trek to maturity. It’s an inherently spiritual one, too—a journey of self-discovery. We, like Mason, begin to wonder who we are and, more importantly, who we want to be. Again, like Scott’s Moses, none of us really have a choice about leaving the relatively comfortable confines of our immature “home.” We’re kicked out of Egypt. We know the walk toward adulthood will be difficult and sometimes dangerous. No getting around that. But we also have a choice on which directions we’ll go. And while Mason, like Moses, takes some bad turns here and there, there’s still hope that he’ll find a new and hopeful future. Sometimes a spiritual trek isn’t a journey through space or time, but through our own brains and souls. In two movies, the Promised Land isn’t a place as much as a goal—a tireless quest for excellence and understanding. In The Imitation Game, Alan Turing isn’t just out to understand Nazi codes, but explore the boundaries of synthetic intelligence—a journey that eventually leads him to become what many scientists and techie types call the intellectual father of the modern computer. The Theory of Everything, meanwhile, shows how Stephen Hawking, even while his physical body was slowly imploding, sent his mind on the deepest, most exciting of journeys—through black holes and across the universe and brushing against the boundaries of space and time. Both of these brilliant men are a little like Moses: They have access to insights that the rest of us simply can’t understand—revelations that can feel even preposterous to doubters. And to follow such men (particularly in The Imitation Game) becomes a matter of faith. Turing’s team follows him because they believe in his insights and ideals, even when proof is frustratingly elusive. And eventually that faith pays off. But sometimes, faith—blind faith—can lead us astray. Whiplash gives us Andrew, another protagonist diving deep inside himself to find truth and understanding—in his case, to grasp the ethereal, near spiritual elements of music and become a truly great jazz drummer. It gives us another enigmatic leader in Fletcher, who drives his followers with sadistic verve. But even though Andrew definitely meets the criteria of going on a spiritual quest, Whiplash may be the trickiest of the Oscar’s films to view through this particular lens we’re using. Just who is Fletcher? Is he a Moses, who drags his people through pain and misery because he knows it’s the only way to reach the Promised Land? Or is he more like a false prophet or Pharaoh, more liable to lead his followers to destruction? Or is he a bit of both? In Birdman, Riggan makes both a physical journey—from the West to the East Coast—and a deeply spiritual one when he tries to find success and redemption on Broadway. Riggan’s a lot like Moses. He found a home and comfort in Hollywood. And yet something led him to return to the Great White Way—to dive into the spiritual essence of acting and, somehow, find the key to his own professional and personal salvation. He, like Moses, risked everything on this journey. And he, like at least Scott’s Moses, had a strange spirit visible to only him, giving him whispered advice. It’s hard to know whether Riggan’s pilgrimage was successful, but I’d like to think so: He realized that salvation doesn’t lie in onstage success, but through love and relationship. The same could be said of Chris Kyle in American Sniper. His physical journey led him into the hot sands of Iraq, but his spiritual journey pointed the opposite way—and it, if anything, was a harder one to take. He, like Moses, wandered in the wilderness for years. Even as the sharpshooter SEAL did his military duty, he knew that eventually he had to find his way home. But as time went on, it became more and more difficult to stop his wanderings. It’s telling, I think, that right before he decides to return, Kyle’s caught in a wicked sandstorm—where it’s almost impossible to see or hear or have any sense of direction. In that moment, Kyle’s lost—physically and spiritually. And while it doesn’t take him 40 years to find his way back to his wife and family, it’s a frustratingly long journey. Eventually he finds his Promised Land—a place that he knew once before but had lost along the way. He found his way not just to a land of milk and honey, but home. Note: Paul first published a version of this post on his personal (Patheos) blog under the headline “All the Best Picture Nominees Have Something in Common.” ]]>
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John Hanlon4
John Hanlon Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Boyhood
    To call Boyhood audacious is an understatement. Many who call it that are referring to the twelve years it took to make the movie. Not twelve years of paperwork and bureaucracy and getting the rights to the story but twelve years of actual...
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  • Oscar Nominations 2015
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The second trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron arrived last night during the championship game and it was even better than the original one. Check it out below. The highly-anticipated sequel arrives in theaters May 1st.. Best motion picture of the year “American...
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  • The 10 Best Movies of 2014
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Looking back at the year in cinema in 2014, pills it’s easy to get excited about film-making. Although many argue that television is offering up some of the year’s best entertainment, thumb movies can still be as exhilarating and exciting as they ever were. My two...
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  • Kenneth Branagh talks Cinderella & Shakespeare
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Want to know who is cleaning up at the 2015 Academy Awards. I’ll be live-tweeting the show @johnhanlon and keeping score of the winners below. All of the winners will be in bold as the night progresses. Best motion picture of the year “American Sniper” “Birdman or...
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Michael Medved1



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Boyhood
    ...
    (Review Source)

Debbie Schlussel1
The New York Post



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Wknd Box Office: Guardians of the Galaxy, Get On Up, Magic in the Moonlight, Boyhood, Third Person
    Blog Posts Movie Reviews Third Person“: The feel-good incest movie of the year, complete with scenes of a character (Olivia Wilde) having sex with her father. Paul Haggis brings you quality cinema! This is yet another one of the long, boring, “interlocking plots” movies brought to you by Director Haggis. This one is long, boring, and depressing throughout. And pointless. An ensemble cast of stars, including Mila Kunis, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Wilde, Adrien Brody, and Kim Basinger, are in interlocking stories about heartbreak and loss, all of ’em sad, depressing, and worse. And they are supposed to take place in Paris, Rome, and New York, though the Paris and New York stories seem to take place in the same city, as the hotel maid who lives in New York cleans in the Paris hotel. Yes, it’s supposed to be that way because in the end, all of these pointless stories are supposed to be the same story . . . or something. I didn’t care, and if you waste your time and money at this bore, you won’t either. This was so stupid and so overwrought with hyperbolic melodrama, it was enough for a lifetime of soap operas (and a lot more boring). The stories: Neeson is a washed up author who left his wife Basinger for his mistress Wilde, who is also having an affair with her father. Neeson is trying to finish his next “big” novel and Wilde is a fashion writer who also wants to become a successful fiction writer. Kunis is a former soap opera star who now has no money and is a hotel maid. She’s fighting to see her son with Franco, a rich and famous artist, after she allegedly hurt her child. And she is struggling to make a meeting with her lawyer and a social worker to get to see her son. Brody is a mysterious American businessman in Rome who rips off men’s fashion designs. He meets a Roma woman in a bar who has “lost” a large amount of money she’s saved up to buy her daughter back from some slave trade thugs. He tries to help her but soon wonders if he’s a patsy in a con. Again, who cares? So what? Save your time and money and skip this. FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS PLUS FOUR OBAMAS ]]>
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Tim Markatos2
The American Conservative



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • The Tim Markatos Oscars
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Honoring the actual best in movie quality since 2015. Best Picture Boyhood · The Grand Budapest Hotel · Force Majeure · Foxcatcher · Only Lovers Left Alive · Selma · The Tale of the Princess Kaguya · Two Days, One Night · Under the Skin · Whiplash * Best Director * Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel * Damien Chazelle, Whiplash * Xavier Dolan, Mommy * Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin * Richard Linklater, Boyhood
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  • Will the Real Film Lovers Please Stand Up?
    (”Boyhood” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    It would seem nowadays as though anyone over the age of 30 with a vested interest in the movies will proudly flaunt their membership in the "Cinema is Dead and/or Dying" club. The refrains are common: sequelitis has ruined Hollywood for original projects; even the biggest-name auteurs have to beg tooth and nail outside of every Starbucks in LA for funding; and if you're a minority group, good luck seeing yourself realistically represented on the big screen. Film may be an art form, but the movies are a business, and in the absence of studio executives who know how (or simply care) to reconcile these two halves of the same coin, the most exciting, visionary, and boundary-pushing works are pushed to the sidelines at best and kept out of existence at worst. Naturally, one might think that the solution to the lack of creativity and representation in Hollywood would be to look to foreign markets and venues. Indeed, there's plenty of exciting cinema happening in the rest of the world, and this year alone has given us gems as accessible as Ida and as obtuse as Winter Sleep. In the same breath that they condemn the Hollywood studio system for the apparently irreparable damage its left on their beloved medium, your friendly neighborhood film critic will find the room to praise one or two of these foreign imports in the hopes of expanding their readership's cinematic purview.
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