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December 17, 2014



Boyhood – Timeline

Out of the three of us here on the site, I might be the most pessimistic when it comes to most things, Justin running a close second, and DJ bringing up the rear, as per usual. However, there are times when I watch a film, see a news nugget, or have a discussion with someone where my faith in people and humanity is slightly restored, if only for a moment. That moment came recently after watching “Boyhood;” boom, faith restored. While “Boyhood” might not be my number one film of the year, it’s right on the cusp of that designation, and only now after watching it do I understand why this film is so important to so many people, but also an important milestone for film-making. It’s a timeline of events that leads to something incredible and noteworthy and while the plot and storyline is something we’ve seen in several coming-of-age films, there is something special and endearing to behold about a film 12 years in the making, and in a landscape where everything is on Twitter and the Internet ruins everything, it’s even more a wonder to only discover that “Boyhood” was actually a thing only prior to it’s theatrical release.

The long and short of “Boyhood” is the journey of a boy named Mason, who we first see as a five year old kid in Texas, to a 18-year old man. On paper its a rather mundane story, but it’s something that everyone can relate to. It’s the small things in life that make you the person you grow into, no matter how important or how inconsequential. Along the way we also follow Mason’s older sister, Samantha, played by Lorelei Linklater, his mom, played by Patricia Arquette, and his dad, played by Ethan Hawke.

Trying to break this film down simply is an injustice to “Boyhood.” While the storyline isn’t life changing and at it’s base, the characters are simple to say the least…well…that’s life. That is exactly what life is for the most part; simple, mixed with complicated choices. The journey that we go on with Mason is probably not that all uncommon. Many of us have gone though the pain and confusion of a divorce, having their parent remarry, the first day of junior high, the first note passed to you in class, your first camping trip with your dad, the list can go on and on, and the beauty of “Boyhood” is that we’ve all had a moment in this film that we can look back and remember, and some of those moments have shaped our lives.

Aside from identifying with moments in the film, the biggest risk/accomplishment for “Boyhood” is the time it took to make this film a reality. My first reaction to the trailer was disbelief; I couldn’t believe the balls on Richard Linklater. Really, 12 years to make one film? This has to be a troll. How was this not on my radar, or pretty much anyone’s radar. Usually if a film is 13 years in the making, people would have heard or spoken about it at some point. The other major point is the risk of filming for over a decade. What if any of the actors died? What if Linklater died? The gumption and balls to film for so long when in life nothing is certain, is a testament to this film, and literally the whole point. Nothing is life is certain, and even the ending line of the film, “Maybe the day seizes you” is a much better way of looking at life that has been hijacked by the YOLO generation and people’s belief that you should seize the day.

“Boyhood” in my opinion, is the film of the decade. I dare there to be another film that not only captures childhood, adolescent, and early adulthood memories the way that this film does. While the film does clock in at nearly 3 hours, to be honest I could have watched a 7 hour cut and been fully engrossed. It’s like the times when I would watch home movies with my dad of the family trip we took to North Carolina in 1992, or when I graduated the 6th grade and won and award, or graduating college, and of course getting married. Your experiences and memories are all you have at the end of the day, and “Boyhood” is the film that should stay with you for a long time and help you remember those little things that make you the person you are today.

Fun Fact: Had Richard Linklater died during the 12-year shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties.

September 10, 2014



Frank – Scary

Don’t let the word above fool you; in no way is “Frank” scary, in that classical sense. It’s scary because of the fact that in the race to be cool and different there are so many pitfalls and things that can trip people up in their way to either being famous or noteworthy that it’s extremely easy to forgot that not everyone has to agree or be like you, but in a world ruled by social media and who yells the loudest or gets the last word in, it’s easy to lose your way and want to be the loudest, and pardon my language, be the biggest dickhead in the room. So I guess the scary part is how close Frank is lampooning the social media culture we live in right now. Other than trying to make a point, Frank is weird, charming, and all together great.

Frank is the story of Jon, a would-be musician with about 20 Twitter followers. As fate would have it, he meets the band Soronprfbs as the keyboardist attempts to drown himself. After discovering that Job can play a few chords on his keyboard, Don, the band’s manager invites Jon to play with the bad that night, which eventually turns into an invitation to help the band record their new album in Ireland. As time progresses, Jon records footage of the band’s daily routine which bolsters his Twitter account numbers and rewards him with an invitation for the band to play at SXSW. Upon arrival in Austin, Soronprfbs discovers that they might not get the reception they anticipated on the eve of their first big performance.

There is no doubt that Frank is a strange film. Every characters has an odd personality quirk and while that could run stale quickly, the manic performance of Michael Fassbender distracts you from a film that could get dull and a little too weird quick.

Speaking of the eccentric cast, aside from Fassbender, everyone else is able to hold their own, especially Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays pretty much every musical archetype that people probably hate. She’s moody, hateful, emotional, and best of all, real. While not all musicians are like this, one of my long-time friends is a musician and he is reasonably normal, but Gyllenhaal plays it up very well, and the reference made later in the film comparing her to Syd Barrett is perfect.

Of course what would be a film about a band be without music, while I have a love/hate relationship with mumble-core, noise-core, post-hardcore indie rock, I actually like all the music in the film. It’s as if Captain Beefheart and Mr. Bungle ran a music school and Soronprfbs were their prized pupil. The best comedic beats of the film feature montages of the band practice, but they are also some of the most heartbreaking looking back.

Frank is essentially a love it or hate it film, despite what you might see on Rotten Tomatoes or other film arrogate sites. While I found it quirky, fun, and distressing all at the same time, that is something that might turn off the average viewer expecting a film about a musician wearing a paper-mâché head and his weird band-mates. There are some funny moments in Frank, and the way that Jon, played by Domhnall Gleeson, is able to ground the film before it gets a little too weird is a nice touch, but there are also some very dark, and scary, moments that are jarring, especially when it comes to the third act.

All in all, Frank is an interesting take on fame, music, and social media-driven success. Grounded by some great acting and music, Frank might not be one of the most conventional films this year, in fact, it’s far from it, but it could very well be the “Her” of 2014.

Fun Fact: Frank’s head is based on the story of Frank Sidebottom.

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