Wordy Wednesday October 15th.

This week I watched Richard Linklater's movie "Boyhood".

Loved loved loved this movie.  Let me elaborate.  Um, it took me awhile to finally get out and SEE this movie.  I had thought that it would very well be LONG and boring and have some offensive (ie explicitly sexual) content somewhere in it that would make me pissed to have spent money watching it in a theater.  So I put it off, tentatively planning to see it on a DVD, but there had been SO much talk about this movie; how cutting edge it was, and one movie reviewer, Chris Mancini, actually said that it was the best movie he's seen in a decade (or something like that) and I just felt like the momentum compelling me to go see this movie kept building and building and so finally I went out to see it.

And it did not let me down.  I did not once look at my watch during this movie!

Boyhood follows the story of a boy, Mason, from when he's in grade school until he's about 18 years old.  And it's the exact same actor; Linklater filmed the movie over 12 years.  The other main characters are his mother (Patricia Arquette), father (Ethan Hawke); who are divorced (or possibly never married?); and Mason's sister (Lorelei Linklater, Richard Linklater's daughter---this is her first major acting role and she's a pretty good actor!)

What I think that I liked about this movie is how much it's trying to paint life the way that it really is.  For example the conversations between Ethan Hawke and Arquette's mother (the kids grandma) are always awkward and filled with tension, conveying her underlying hatred for him for leaving her daughter to raise the children alone.

And to see how the Hawke character develops over 12 years; to see him go from a musician, GTO-driving punk into a (in his words) castrated, mini-van driving married man with a mustache and a Christian wife.

Oh, the cross section of Texas people in the movie fascinates me too (think it was filmed in Austin, where Linklater is from), since I know so little of Texas.  The main characters seem like extremely progressive, secular types; they encounter a Confederate when passing out Obama Literature and the family Hawke marries into are Christians with shotguns.  Kind of red-necks.  (Linklater said in his interview with Terri Gross that as a boy he had a red-neck Christmas where he received a shotgun and a Bible from some family memebers-by-marriage).  I noticed a similar cross-section when watching Dazed and Confused; for example none of the main actors had southern accents but they encountered people who did.  Texas feels a lot like Florida in this respect.

I loved how at the end Hawke said that he wished Arquette would have given him more of a chance; waited him out until he had matured.  That strikes me as so true of relationships.  I have a friend who's husband left her, and then when he wanted to come back she didn't want to put up with him (he'd been unfaithful), and she came to regret it.  It seemed to be much the same situation that Linklater was painting; the fed-up ex-wife with a 'worthless' ex-husband, and then to see how in some respects she was flawed in her inability to be more patient with him; to put up with his faults for awhile in order to (arguably, anyway) achieve a greater good of keeping the family together.  The Arquette character then proceeded to find two more worthelss husbands--both alcoholics, one violently so.  She has a great line in the movie; "I excell at making poor life decisions"

The movie has some throwaway lines; one that really struck me; "you find your people in college" ugh.  I'm so sick of this sentimentality and idealism towards college and the college experience.

Mason also has some great role models who give him tough-love; the photography teacher who tells him he has talent but needs to work if he wants to make anything of it, the restaruant owner who wants him to work harder at dishwashing and promises that he'll be the fry cook the next summer.  (And it's oh so sweet, he gives Mason a savings bond for high school graduation......)

Just a few weeks ago I also watched Dazed and Confused for the first time.  I can see how they'd be made by same director; kind of a lack of plot or storyline and a great soundtrack.  Linklater reminds me a little of Cameron Crowe, possibly only in the respect of creating great soundtracks for his movies.

I like Linklater.  A friend of mine & I were discussing Hitchcock and how he was the master of suspense, but how these heavily plot-dependant storylines can feel a bit formulaic after awhile, and they constantly need some sort of creative twist or upset to keep people interested (ahm, Gone Girl).  And he pointed out that Linklater might be the Hitchcock of 2014; in that what he's doing (creating stories without plot-driven narrative), is cutting edge.

And not only are they cutting edge; this lack of plot is actually way more true to life.  (You can't say about Boyhood what you CAN say about pretty much every heavily plot dependent movies, "that's just the movies.  it's not real life.")  What I mean to say is that with a movie like Boyhood, Linklater is saying a lot about people and how they grow and life changes.  Take a character like Arquette; how many sensible, likable, hard working people go through life making extremely flawed decisions?  Over and over again?

It's a very character-focused movie.  And I found that I liked almost all of the characters!  Or the main ones anyway.  I don't think that Linklater was taking sides, for example, in the failed marriage between Hawke and Arquette.  Or on Christianity vs. secularism in the red-neck birthday scene.  He seemed to be saying that everyone's perspective has validity.  Maybe he could have made Arquette's 2nd and 3rd husbands a little more 3-dimensional; I didn't understand where their alcoholism and despair-like state (particularly the 3rd husband) really came from.

k, I could ramble more about this, but I guess that I will move on.

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I also saw Gone Girl this week.  k, and no movie reviewer has even mentioned this but for me it was a major turn off--I did not like the explicit, over the top sex--almost like light porn--and it really took away from the entire movie for me.  This actress seems to have zero qualms about baring it all.  After Robin Thicke's video and now this, she in fact seems to have a billboard across her chest that says "I want you to see these!  Please put a camera on them please!"  K, yeah and I have a few things to say about this sexual content; it reminds me of the comedian who can't make a joke so resorts to talking extensively and explicitly about pubic hair.  People laugh not b/c it's funny but b/c it's taboo.  And so yeah, including this kind of stuff is a sign of a weak movie--the director includes it to make sure his movie it edgy.  But it would take some actual skill to make an edgy movie without including oral-sex scenes.  Notice that Boyhood does none of this.  And a second comment; this sexual content seems to be becoming more and more over the top, more and more explicit, as though it needs to top what's come before.  I've noticed this from scenes in Breaking Bad and The Americans too.  Kind of the same way violence has progressed; compare a show like Remington Steel (the violent scene consists of pulling a knife then going behind a curtain or something) to Luther (the violent scenes are sick, and creative, and almost make you want to hurl).  K, so the same thing is happening with sex and violence as it also happening with these plot-dependant storylines; they are having to scintillate more and more, to the point that watching a "R" movie is akin to watching light-porn.

OMG, when Affleck proposes to Pike he tells her one of his criteria for being attracted to her is that she has a world-class vagina.  What woman would find a statement like that attractive and endearing for a marriage proposal?  And yet it's been written into the screenplay to scintillate--and in doing to totally departs from any semblance of reality.

And let's go into the plot of Gone Girl.  Yes, as the title suggests, she was 'gone' but did not get killed, as happens in many suspense-thrillers.

I liked the ending WAY more than I expected.  See, I read 1/3 of the book, got bored, and so skipped to the ending and read the last page, in which the main character talks about how she's pregnant and having a baby.  And made the assumption that it was a sort of 'happily ever after' ending, so became disgusted and decided not to read the book at all.

But it did not exactly end happily ever after, and the movie in fact made some sort of a metaphor about marriage; that the seemingly-perfect couple can be miserably trapped and unhappy.

Dunno.  maybe that's about all I have to say about GG.  I'd give it a B/B-, which is exactly what I thought I'd give it going in.  Looked at my watch once.  It would drag, then pick up, then drag, then pick up.  I liked seeing Fugit, the Almost Famous star, about 10 years older, and Afflecks sister, Carrie Coon, was awesome.

Just didn't really like any of these characters at all however--Affleck, Amy (Roamund Pike), her stalker (Neil Patrick Harris).  So maybe I had a hard time caring about how anything turned out for any of them.  And the predicaments in which they find themselves, if not unrealstic, are SO outlandish that I found them totally un-relatable.  Take the house that NPH lived in---now that's seriously upper crest, as in top .1%-ish.  What are the chances that Amy would have had a fan who was so affluent?  And Amazing Amy and her trust-fund money----the whole Amy character seemed too one-of-a-kind, in a very sophisticated, upper-crest kind of a way.  I didn't 'get' her at all.  And her parents--super-afflueant people who over spent themselves into debt......I can't stand that kind of person.

Wow, I am writing myself out of liking this movie.  Maybe now I'll give it more like a C/C+.

And on this point I'll be leaving you until.....NEXT week!!!!

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