movies - right now i’d say being john malkovich, the savages, children of men, peggy sue got married, royal tenenbaums
musicians - stanley clarke, henry rollins, al cisneros, the kinsellas, matt sweeney, mark king, captain beefheart
comedy - tig notaro, tim & eric
Also on JerseyBeat.com, here.
Boyhood is the 12 year-long cinematic endeavor of director Richard Linklater, which involved him capturing actor Ellar Coltrane on film over the course of his youth. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette played the roles of his divorced parents, and Linklater’s daughter Lorelei portrayed Coltrane’s sister. Taking 12 years to create a fictional film, like Boyhood, sounds intriguing and seems like an extremely tough feat; it could go well, or end up being a bona fide shart.
I stumbled upon some reviews of Boyhood. 5/5 stars here. Grade A there. Any other variation of a perfect review score everywhere. The critics I came across loved and raved about the impeccability of Boyhood. New York Times donned the film “a model of cinematic realism,” and Huffington Post just called it “magic.”
All this worship reminded me of the response to another Linklater film: Before Sunrise. Like Boyhood, it got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and every critic adored it. Despite it being highly celebrated and revered, I found Before Sunrise to be a Niagara Falls of faux-philosophizing and navel-gazing. Plausibly, I was skeptical about Boyhood’s “flawlessness”.
Sure enough, Boyhood turned out to also be a deluge of agonizing mundaneness. For 2 hours and 40 minutes, I watched the meek Ellar Coltrane make his way through puberty. He got oilier and angstier, and went off to college. Along the way, Patricia Arquette kept marrying and splitting up with douchebags, Lorelei was an asshole sister, and Ethan Hawke - well he just had predictable conversations with his children. The storyline was structureless, and the characters were two-dimensional and cliche.
My boy Peter Travers knows that the plot is milquetoast, too; but he tries to flatter Linklater, excusing it as “deceptively simple.” It feels like Travers should counterbalance the premise’ simplicity, and follow with a statement that specifically describes Boyhood’s supposed exemplary traits. Instead, he calls Ellar remarkable, solely saying that he interacts with his fellow cast mates (as if actors/actresses never interact with each other in movies). He also says that the cast’s acting is of the highest rank. No examples specifically telling why/how he came to that conclusion. Just ambiguous gushing from a malleable twerp who loves something because all the other movie critics love it. How pathetic.
Besides its banality, Boyhood’s 12-year limit inhibits some of the characters from being more deeply explored. For example, Ellar’s character Mason got into photography later on in the film. That actually interested me. Wanted to have known where he went with that beyond high school. And at the end of the movie, Patricia Arquette threw an asinine tantrum because she felt her life was wasted. Does she seek a therapist? Discover meditation? Maybe it’ll all be explained in Manhood (which I’ll also be reviewing, and most likely panning).
And then there’s the classic “Linklater Gets Philosophical” crap. Like with the Before Sunrise screenplay, Linky serves up spiritual-sounding garbage that’s totally nonsensical. During the last scene of Boyhood (spoiler alert ahead), Ellar gets stoned in the mountains with his college buddies. Just before the film ends, he spits out the phrase, “It’s always now.” The statement’s minimalism makes it sound brilliant and inspirational. Honestly, though. What the hell does that even mean? ”It’s always now,” is the type of junk made into a gif on Tumblr and reblogged by teen users trying to achieve poignance.
Ok, I’ll loosen my grip around Boyhood’s neck, because the soundtrack was actually good. There’s The Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, Wilco, and Vampire Weekend. This is indie rock at its finest, people. Sadly, Linklater couldn’t even sustain the soundtrack’s decency, adding a guitar-heavy remix of “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” to the playlist. Yet another flaw of Boyhood.
When I watch a movie, I want to experience something aesthetically pleasing and moving. I don’t need to waste my time viewing a spiceless, monotonous attempt at encapsulating run-of-the-mill teenage life on screen. I respect your explorative and daring mind, Richard Linklater, but Boyhood is utterly terrible.
While some might compare Boyhood to aged cheese, connecting the two with the idea that quality improves over time, I think of it as aged milk - a gigantic carton full of it - left to steep under the gigantic, hot sun; for 12 years. Want a sip?
I love my facial hair. I’m gonna leave my beard part, but probs trim my neck hair l8r.
And high school…well, I get along with some ppl. I’m not part of clubs or anything. I tried clubs, but they were gross. I had great teachers last year. Idk wut to say rlly. High school is meh.