Movie Review: Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood
Written and Directed by Richard Linklater

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Growing up is hard and coming of age is never easy; first kisses, relationships, sexual experiences and the like never turn out the way it does in the movies. It’s never pretty, with acne, temper tantrums and trying to understand one’s parents that is all part of the process. In the film Boyhood, director Richard Linklater tells the story in real-time of one boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his journey into becoming an adult. Boyhood is like nothing I have ever seen and there has never been a movie quite like it. Before the audience’s eyes the boy grows up into a man and we see how the moments in his life shape who he is and the way he chooses to live his life.

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Just like they say in physics, every action causes a reaction, and the same can be said for Mason’s life. In the beginning he is 6 years old, his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) is a struggling single mom, trying to raise him and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). After a failed relationship with a boyfriend, she decides to pack the family and move to Houston so she can go back to college and get a degree in Psychology.

In Houston, their father Mason (Ethan Hawke) finally comes through and starts to see his kids. He does the usual weekend dad activities like bowling, camping and buying them cool gifts. At the bowling alley and in the car, he always tries to coerce them to talk and tell him about their lives, but they do the usual kid thing and give one or two word answers. Throughout out the film, this is his usual way of working with his kids, he gives them advice along the way about the opposite sex, dating, love and his life lessons as a struggling musician.

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Their mother is the rock of the family, even if she disagrees with her kids, she is always there for them and trying to make the best decisions possible with what she is given. She goes through husbands and failed relationships; all the time Mason is there to witness the rise and fall of her love connections. Always from a distant, as a young boy he sees the fights, the moments when his mom seems interested in someone new and the point in which he looks at her and knows that the relationship is doomed.

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I won’t go through the entire movie because I would be writing a novel and we could be here all day. In fact, you could record me writing it and watch me age right in front of your eyes. The film moves from Mason being a child, we see him throw temper tantrums and not want to wake up for school, then he moves into pre-teen mode and he is a bit rebellious and curious and from there we see him grow up into a young adult. With that comes acne, piercings, disobedience, wanting to hang out with friends and drink and smoke pot and his growing interest in girls.

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As Mason changes, so does his sister and their relationship. As kids, brothers and sisters always fight, but as they grow older, the bond is deeper and they help each other out through the tough situations.

With his mother he starts to realize she is just like him, she searches for a better life and aspires to goals, but all the while she doesn’t really know what she wants. Just because you are an adult, it doesn’t mean you have life figured out.

In his father, we see him grow up, in the beginning he is a hapless, cool, hip musician and in the end we see him tackle life with a different sense of vigor and maturity.

At the end of the movie, and I am not spoiling anything by saying this, he meets a girl who says “do people seize moments or do moments seize you?” This could be said for the entire movie, the moments in our lives make us who we are. Even moments that seem insignificant to one person are huge to the other. When parents spout off random things to their kids, we see that these notions stick with kids. This movie, to sum it up is about those stolen moments in life that are never filmed, they are simply memories, but ones that stay with us for the rest of our lives. They shape who we are, they guide our decisions and in the end we can choose to learn from them.

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The lessons that Mason’s father tells him in the car about music, how he teaches him what he considers to be good and bad music, reminded me a lot of my relationship with my own father. We bonded over the years with music as the pretense, but in reality he was teaching a lot of other life lessons in between that maybe I didn’t understand then, but I do now. I liked how those moments were shown and depicted in the film.

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Many times people will go out buy the most expensive camera on the market and think they will become awesome photographers, 9 times out of 10 it is not the case. It is not the camera that makes a great photo or movie; it’s the person behind the lens and their creative talent. Linklater reminds me of this point, give him any camera and he’ll make you a great movie. Linklater has never let cinematic conventions constrain him or box him into what Hollywood wants to create or produce.

From a cinematography standpoint, this movie was beautifully done. The images of Mason looking out the car window and letting his hand flow through the air are beautiful, yet very familiar.

Making this movie was a risky move and I commend Linklater for taking on this project. So many things could have gone wrong in the process, but over the course his risk proved beneficial as I believe this is one of the best movies I have seen this year.

One of the best parts of the film is that we as the audience never get jolted into seeing Mason grow. His maturation and the proof of it was fluid and it tied in seamlessly from scene to scene.

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The soundtrack was awesome as well. When Mason looks out the car window over the years, and even later when he drives, the music goes along with the way he seems to be ruminating about his life and current situation. I especially liked the scene when Mason Sr. and his roommate at the time sing a country-like song about his strained relationship with the children’s mom.

The actors in this film all did a phenomenal job. Starting with Coltrane, virtually an actor we have never seen before stayed committed to the project by not taking on other movies. I think this helped the film because we never had any preconceived notions or biasness towards this actor. We watched him grow, we got to know him and he felt like someone new in our life. I look forward to seeing him take on more roles and grow as an actor, as I believe he has a lot of potential.

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Hawke gave an outstanding performance. Honestly, to me along with Coltrane he stole the movie. He was able to convey the sense that regardless of his lack of understanding on how to be a parent, he was always a caring confidant to his children. It shows that people make mistakes, there is no parenting book out there that can pave the correct road, but he tries and that is what is important.

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Arquette also delivered as both poignant and endearing. She is the epitome of the mother who wants the best for her children, yet she doesn’t always have the right answer. I don’t think our parents ever really know how to do it right and she shows that mothers are human too and not just robots who know it all.

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Overall this movie has so many messages weaved into it and they are never specifically called out and I enjoyed that about this film. Had the movie been narrated, we would have been guided as to what to think or make of it, instead we walk out of the theater with our own spin as to what everything that was shown really meant. I saw this movie a few weeks ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Life is hard, learning life’s lessons are equally troublesome and difficult, but they happen, they come in our face when we least expect it and they are the moments that make us grow up.

Boyhood is like looking down a microscope, in it we see the microcosm that is growing up and becoming an adult, we observe, we study and we come up with our own conclusions about it. For me personally, this is my favorite movie of 2014 thus far, I hope it gets some recognition when award season comes around. If you like movies that delve deep and are a little artsy, then you may enjoy this one. Linklater is like Wes Anderson, you are either a fan or you absolutely hate it, if you are in the Linklater camp, then you will most definitely love this film. And if you are not, take a risk and watch it, you might just be surprised.

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**PS this is probably my longest review thus far. I apologize for the lengthiness, but hopefully I helped you make a decision as to whether or not you should watch this film.

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}}Melissa

 

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 5, Episode 3: A Promise Is A Promise

The Walking Dead Recap
Season 5, Episode 3
**SPOILER ALERT

This week’s episode was fast paced and gave audiences plenty of answers. I feel like with many past seasons of TWD, we are given hints of what could or couldn’t be, but with this season they are coming right out and laying it on the table. Which I really enjoy because in the past they have dragged whole premises or issues out to the point where we are almost sick of hearing about the issue at hand. For example, when everyone was getting sick in the prison, that kept going on and on for episodes and it never really had that much value on the show. But this season, wow, the pacing is perfect, we are getting tidbits of information at the right time, not too much, not too little, just like Goldilocks and it is seamlessly working to make a pretty damn good season thus far.

Let’s discuss what went down with the good ol’ Grimes gang.

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 5, Episode 2: Happily Ever After…Well Sort of

The Walking Dead Recap
Season 5, Episode 2
**SPOILER ALERT

Last night’s episode was a good scene setter for what I think will be a lot of exciting episodes to come. With The Walking Dead, each season or two seem to centered around a specific place or getting to said location. They have visited the farm, the prison and traveled to and left like a bat out of hell from Terminus. I have always enjoyed Season 1 because they were not trying to get anywhere, they were just trying to survive. In last night’s episode they came upon a church and whether they will stay there or not I am not sure. I really hope that this doesn’t turn into the church season. I really would like to see them hit the road and to find Beth.

Is it just me or does it feel like no one cares that Beth is missing other than Daryl? Hello people  remember the little blonde chick, you know the one that drank moonshine in the woods, the one who had the coolest dad ever and before Tyrese was the best babysitter?

Enough with my ranting, let’s discuss the episode at hand.

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Upcoming Movies I Want to See Because…

Ever since Luke over at Oracle of Film did a post about upcoming movies, it got me thinking about all the new movies I want to see. I just went on a binge and watched a ton of trailers. I thought I would share the ones I am most excited for and the trailers so you could check them out too. Do tell, what movies are you excited for? Which movies just make you geek out with excitement? What movie do you want to see because….? You can be shameless no judgement here!

Movie I want to shamelessly watch because I just need to see Christian Gray’s butt: 50 Shades of Grey

Movie I want to see because I love Jake G. and because he is uber hot and because it actually looks really good too: Nightcrawler

Movie I want to see because Eva Green and girl of the moment Shailene Woodley is in it and looks like a mind bending weird movie: White Bird in a Blizzard

Movie I want to see because I think Miles Teller will finally shine as an actor: Whiplash

Movie I want to see for fun and I don’t care if it totally sucks: Horrible Bosses 2

Movie I want to see because it is one of those coming of age flicks with an indie twist: Very Good Girls

Movie I want to see because I like the name lol: Dear White People

Movie I want to see because we finally get to see Sansa Stark not be her usual GOT character: Another Me

Movie I want to see because it could total be a Shiftfest contender and it is Eric’s worst nightmare: Bad Johnson

Movie I do not want to see because I hate JLO, anyone who calls themselves by 3 letters should just never be allowed to make movies: Boy Next Door

}}Melissa

The Walking Dead Recap: Season Premiere, Season 5, Episode 1: Eat Your Heart Out Terminus

The Walking Dead Recap
Season 5, Episode 1
**SPOILER ALERT

I have been missing doing my recaps since Game of Thrones ended a while ago, but thank goodness The Walking Dead is back and this is a perfect one to get the conversation going again. So what happened last season? Let’s do a quick recap, the gang was last seen in Terminus, that sanctuary that was supposed to be joyful and safe, turned out to be pretty scary and was starting to look like a camp for cannibals instead. Rick and the whole gang  minus Carol, Tyrese and baby Judith, were stuck inside a storage container and locked up from the world. All of the TWD fans have been waiting patiently and seeing so many clips about what was upcoming and the excitement to start the season was intense. The producers and writers of the show are so smart and really know how to build that drama and get the world talking about their show.

Let’s get started and talk about all the fun stuff that went down.

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SDFF 2014: Bad Country (2014)

Bad Country
Directed by Chris Brinker
Written by Jonathan Hirschbein

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**I saw this film on Day 2 of the San Diego Film Festival, after Project-M. It was fun to watch it with my fellow bloggers/writers Ana and Courtney, check them out, they both have great sites. The movie was interesting, but I think I had more fun with them than anything else. Has anyone else seen this? Curious to hear your thoughts!

The crime drama Bad Country was directed by Chris Brinker, famously known for producing the Boondock Saints films, who died suddenly when the film was in post-production. He was never able to see the fruits of his labor, but his work was honored last year at the San Diego Film Festival and this year they were able to bring it to the festival as a special showing. They also held a Q&A session moderated by Jeffery Lyons after the film was shown with the producer and one of the stars of the film Tom Berenger. It was heartwarming to hear that his family has kept his legacy alive; they started a charity in his name whereby they give scholarships out to local San Diego students who are interested in pursuing their dreams of becoming film makers. Regardless of whether or not it was a great film, making a film is a feat in of itself, and I am glad that they chose to recognize him and honor his memory by bringing it to audiences.

Set in 1980’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bad Country is about police detective Bud Carter (Willem Defoe), he is a tough, hard-edged guy who is relentless in his pursuit of justice and bringing down the bad guys.

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Carter follows contract killer Jesse Weiland (Matt Dillon) on a string of theft and murders and coerces him into becoming an informant to give up his crime boss, Lutin (Tom Berenger). Weiland at this point really has no option; he just had a newborn baby with his wife (Amy Smart) and despite being a hardened criminal he does want to be there for his family, so he acquiesces.

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Weiland faces a lot of issues with trying to get Lutin captured. Crime bosses can always smell a rat and Lutin definitely begins to question Weiland’s motives.

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The movie has a lot of action packed sequences and shoot-outs, but overall the story fell flat. There were times where I felt a bit bored with what was going on and it may have been that the story was not properly told. The sequences were fun to watch, but overall they did not add any significant, impactful moments to the story.

Dillon and Defoe both did well with what they were given. Those actors can always give spot on performances, but it didn’t really push them in any way or really show us what they were made of in regards to their craft. Defoe had a tiny role in The Grand Budapest Hotel and in it; he shined, so to correlate screen time to a good script is immeasurable.

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The type of story presented was almost reminiscent of Mud and The Paperboy, it had that gritty, back woods kind of feel to it, but it lacked depth to make it more interesting. I believe this film had a lot of potential and maybe some of that was lost due to the unfortunate circumstances that were behind it. Had they been able to polish the story up a bit more and develop the characters in the editing room floor that could have tremendously helped the film.

If you like action movies and you want to sit back and watch a little gun slinging, then you may find this one fun to watch. Honestly, this movie was just not for me. Other than that, I would suggest checking it out when it comes on cable for free.

}}Melissa

SDFF 2014: Project-M (2014)

Project-M
Directed by Eric Piccoli
Written by Eric Piccoli, Julien Deschamps Jolin, Mario J. Ramos

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**I had the pleasure of seeing this on Day 2 of the San Diego Film Festival. I used to love watching foreign films and it has been a while since I seen one, so this one was quite a treat. Check it out and let me know what you think!

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick gave audiences a film like no other, one that breeches the idea that human beings are not alone and in the infinite vastness of the universe, anything is possible. Alonso Cuaron most recently gave us Gravity, a beautiful film that shows majestic nature of the galaxy and space travel, mixed with the harsh realities of being an astronaut. The French-Canadian film, Project-M, gives audiences something that feels like a combination of the two movies I just mentioned, mixed with the feel that we are watching a documentary or newsreel of the incidents that occur in space.

Project-M is directed and co-written by Eric Piccoli, which features four astronauts who are chosen to lead a unique space mission; it encompasses living on board the space station for three years while doing research. Only the best and the brightest are chosen and it is felt that whoever can withstand three years in space and come out successful, will most likely have a bright future ahead of them. The mission has been funded by Quebec in hopes that they will find fresh water on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

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The President announces it to the world and everyone is excited about this new venture into space. The four chosen astronauts are Vincent Kohler (Jean-Nicolas Verreault), he will command the mission and has notoriety as the second person to stand on Mars, Dr. Andrea Sakedaris (Julie Perreault) who is both the doctor on board and second in command, engineer Justine Roberval (Nadia Essadiqi) and the scientist Jonathan Laforest (Julien Deschamps Jolin).

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Throughout the film, we get both the viewpoints from each astronaut in space, along with news footage and interviews of people who are on Earth and also part of the mission. Each one talking about their role in the process and how they all know each other and have worked hard together to put this mission into place.

On board the space station, there are moments of revelry as when one of the crew sneaks in a bottle of champagne, they get a little drunk and let loose. We also start to find out who each person is and what kind of life they left behind, which are depicted with flashbacks of their life on Earth. On the mission, their lives seem so separated and far removed from what they used to be, they left behind relationships, both broken and good with family members and significant others and they left the pleasures of life to forge new territories in space.

900 days into the mission, suddenly the screens on board the station start to stream live footage of Earth being pummeled with bombs. From their viewpoint, Earth is lighting up like a Christmas tree all over the world. Their connections are being lost and they have no insight into what is going on and if the people they love are still alive.

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From here the entire movie feels almost like a reality show, we are watching how they react to this problem, both mentally and physically how it takes its toll on them. There are a limited number of supplies on board and how the astronauts choose to handle situations is enlightening.

The movie feels fresh in a sea of films that always seem to reiterate the same ideas and perspectives. Throughout the film, the scientist Jonathan plays his piano on board the station; the classical music gives the film an almost haunting feeling. Being up in space can feel perilous and daunting and the music chosen works perfectly to produce those feelings.

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A lot of the shots make Earth look far away, distant, like a world that they have not ever encompassed or know anything about since they are so far removed from it now. I like that it was shown in that way and the special effects worked well and didn’t feel cheesy or fake.

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The space station looked beautiful and the lighting that was chosen for different parts of the station made sense in conveying the nature of where they were and their feelings. The control station was darker with muted undertones, considering they had the reflection of dark space outside of the window, in other areas like the medical room and in some hallways; it was bright and stark and showed the sterility and orderliness of being in an enclosed vessel.

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Not only is this film a look at being an astronaut and scientist in space, it is also a postcard for humanity. How do humans react to one another when they know their lives are on the line? How do they feel when they realize that they are not alone in the world and they are only a speck of oxygen in the vastness of the world? And are they alone in space? These questions are posed and we see the scientists try to answer them and come to terms with themselves and their lives.

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Not having ever seen any of the actors before, helped me in not having any preconceived notions about them. I think they all did great in the film and I would love to see more of them in American films, so they could be shown to a larger audience. One of my faves had to be Jolin, he was able to present emotion on a deep level and convey that without being too heavy handed. By the way he also co-wrote the film, so bravo to him for being able to pull both feats off.

I wouldn’t say this movie is absolutely perfect, in no way shape or form, but it is unique and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed watching it. At points, it has lulls in the pacing and it felt a bit slow, but I think those moments can be overlooked.

I would love to see this movie again and maybe even dig deeper into what I saw. This one may be harder to come by, but if you get the chance and can find it I would suggest watching it. Especially if you like sci-fi and anything related to space travel, then I think you would enjoy it. What do you guys think of the premise of this film? Does it interest you and would you want to go to space for 3 years?!

imagesEQY5NYVZ  (Just another day in space)

}}Melissa