Monday, May 4, 2015

Boyhood (2014)

Writer/Director: Richard Linklater

Notable Cast Members:

Mason- Ellar Coltrane
Samantha, Mason's sister- Lorelei Linklater
Olivia, the mom- Patricia Arquette
Mason Sr., the dad- Ethan Hawke
Bill, Olivia's professor-turned-ex-husband- Marco Perella
Sheena, Mason's girlfriend in high school- Zoe Graham
Jim, Olivia's student-turned-boyfriend- Brad Hawkins

Awards and Nominations:
OSCAR- Best Supporting Actress- Patricia Arquette
Nomination-OSCAR- Best Picture
Nomination-OSCAR- Best Director- Richard Linklater
Nomination-OSCAR- Best Original Screenplay- Richard Linklater
Nomination-OSCAR- Best Film Editing
Nomination-OSCAR- Best Supporting Actor- Ethan Hawke
Golden Globe- Best Picture- Drama
Golden Globe- Best Director- Richard Linklater
Golden Globe- Best Supporting Actress- Patricia Arquette
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Supporting Actor- Ethan Hawke
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Screenplay


Some Awards Talk

I picked this movie to win more awards at the Oscars than it actually won. How it lost Film Editing, I have no idea... I mean, this was filmed and edited over 12 years. That's gotta count for something, right?

Patricia Arquette, on the other hand, she won the award for supporting actress every time she was nominated. But overall, the different award shows were so boring last year because everyone picked the same people.
Originally, I was just grateful that it didn't go to Meryl Streep... again. She was good as the witch "Into The Woods" but she was no Bernadette Peters.
Everyone was talking afterwards about her speech where she preached pay equality for men and women.
Meanwhile, CBS was putting the final touches on their promos for their new CSI spin-off, Cyber. Everytime I see those commercials, I couldn't help scoffing a little bit. "They must LOVE touting Patricia Arquette as their 'Oscar winning' star."

It's funny. I'm not a huge CSI or Law & Order fan. I think I'd only watched them when they had a famous guest star. Saw CSI when Taylor Swift guest starred and Law & Order: SVU with Hilary Duff (I still remember it really well... and ever since have been furious at anyone who says they are anti-vaccination).
Why I decided to see "CSI: Cyber," I can't say. I only really knew Patricia Arquette as the star of "Medium" (another show I never watched). It's an interesting premise.

It creeps my mom out sometimes, but we both really enjoy it. The other week, they had two shows on two days. One was a cyberbullying case (a girl almost killed herself over it and the initiator of the bullying was her teacher- all because her dad "chose his own daughter over her) and another was a serial kidnapper of girls who targeted them through dating sites (my favorite one yet- SO good).

So yeah, Patricia Arquette is so amazing in that series. She has this strong female role with so much to chew on... absolute respect. And this particular film of hers isn't too shabby either.

The Experience of 'Boyhood'

Before the movie even came out, there was a lot of praise in its direction. People saying it would be one of the best films of the year and also one of the best ever made. Personally, I was still trying to make sense of its premise. Was this real life? Was it based on real life? How is it that this movie took 12 years to make?

According to Wikipedia, Richard Linklater had this "lightbulb" idea to do a film about growing up. And supposedly as he worked with the actors, spending a couple days each year filming, he incorporated changes in them as well as their own experiences into the characters.

I knew after seeing it once, I had to do a write-up, but I wanted to see it twice to know it well enough to write.

If anyone's looking for a story, they're not likely to get one. You kinda have to see it and judge for yourself. It's really about the experience of growing up in Texas with divorced parents, their various significant others and each other.

Spoilers aheadThere isn't much of a plot, so saying this is a character-driven movie is an understatement. But over time, you really do start to care about these characters. They grow on you, if you're not already in love with them to begin with.

For me, Samantha needed to grow on me. Mason is the main protagonist (because it is called BOYhood), so the fact she was annoying him endlessly in the first 10 minutes of the movie was annoying me. She was a brat. She was an overachiever. But then, she is the older sister in the scenario.
I read a headline saying Lorelei Linklater (the daughter of the director/actress who played her) was one of this movie's weakest points.
I get that in certain scenes... particularly in one where the family has to suddenly go to a new school. And all she as a teenager can do is complain that she doesn't know anybody... but unlike Jena Malone's "That's your job [to her dad about walking out on her mom]" moment in "Step-Mom," Lorelei just came off super whinny and insensitive.
As the movie progresses and Mason starts to define himself as a person, she starts to fade into the background a little bit.

Some last praise for Patricia Arquette: her character was well-written and nobody else could have played her part. She plays the part of the protective single mom that only wants the best for her kids. She decides to go back to school to get her teaching degree, which prompts them to move a couple of times throughout the movie. She works to hold things together and knows when a change is needed.

Initially, her first source of conflict was dealing with her first ex, Samantha and Mason's dad. From what I gather, they married and had kids young and fell out of love. He wasn't quite together in his professional life and wasn't wholly responsible. I mean, he's driving that vintage GTO with no seatbelts.

But then she finds love... just not in the best places.
Strangely, both of the relationships Olivia finds in this movie happen in the classroom. First, she marries her teacher when she's a college student. Then later she dates one of her students... is this a Texas thing or just coincidence?

The first marriage with her teacher comes with two kids of his own- a boy and girl roughly the same age as Samantha and Mason. Olivia's a good authority figure and he's the same way... or so it seems at first. Little hints are dropped throughout the next 15-20 minutes of the movie that things aren't quite perfect.
Then it accelerates very quickly and thankfully ends just as fast.
It would have easily turned into a cliché- husband becomes abusive and the wife is afraid to leave him and repercussions ensue... I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that Olivia not only had a friend back her up when she got her kids out of the house, but we never saw that jerk of a husband again.

I was starting to REALLY dislike him and luckily Patricia Arquette had the guts to do the right thing in the situation... otherwise it could turned into a really bad Lifetime movie.

While it may take a few years for their biological father to get himself together, I loved Ethan Hawke's performance of this character. He's the cool parent and is very passionate about topical issues.
Around the time this movie began, our invasion of Iraq had just happened... and he's very liberal. My dad would have HATED him. As much as he hated the invasion.
It reminded me of when I was in college and the vibe was that we should pull out.

The scene where the kids were putting Obama signs on lawns was freaking hilarious. They asked one dude, not noticing he had a Confederate flag in his backyard.
Considering they lived in Texas, I was surprised by the Obama fans they came across- well, one besides their dad.
And there was no more political talk after that.

But my favorite scene with him and the kids (besides all the scenes with them in the bowling alley) was when they were talking about stuff, catching up, and they were giving one word answers. He pulls the car over and tries to get them to elaborate. Samantha says it's a hard question to answer, explaining her sculpture because it's abstract. Then he relaxes a bit.
He always has a good sense of humor about things.
And anyone who saw the movie knows his Beatles Black Album where he put together all the band's solo stuff into one album-- pretty cool.

As is the movie's soundtrack. There's no original music and all the music used came from the years the film was shot. Like the first opening features "Yellow" by Coldplay. Then when they move the first time, "Soak up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow.
Later on, Samantha is listening to Lady Gaga and watching one of her videos.

After one of the heated step-dad scenes, Mason is watching a video I remember one of my friends showing me. It's called "The Landlord" where Will Ferrell argues with a talking baby... freaking hilarious...

The other relationship she has is with a former Iraq veteran. He's a good guy, definitely better than the step-dad, but he also goes away after a certain point. There's no real falling-out between her and him, but he does kinda have a tough talk with Mason. He's a teenager at this point and comes home a little late for curfew and the guy's just the latest person riding his ass.
This is before he finds his love for photography. Something he really falls in love with and is very good at.

All of the characters come into their own eventually... except for maybe Samantha. We just see her at parties with her college friends, nothing really about what kind of career she has. [Who I am to complain? I really haven't either, but I still have writing as a primary focus]. Even Mason Sr. reaches a level of maturity none of us really saw coming. He said something like he became the person their mom always hoped he'd be, but it happened too late. But then, he does trade his GTO for a mini-van when he marries and has kids with his next wife.

As can be expected, the movie ends with him going off to college. In his last scene with his mom, Patricia Arquette embodies what all moms probably went through in this part of their lives. Although maybe not to the point where your own funeral is the next milestone that comes to mind... but another great real Oscar-worthy moment from her.

The final sentiment Mason has with his roommate's friend's roommate, Nicole: they say seize the moment, but really, the moment seizes us... and movies like these are exactly that... if you're willing to open yourselves up to them. At a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes, it does run long in places, but it is absolutely worth it if you're open to it.

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