Category Film

It’s Life, Just Life: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”

Nothing much happens in Richard Linklater’s finely wrought film, Boyhood. No stabbings or shootings, no kidnaps or car wrecks designed to set the protagonists’ lives on a post-crisis course and get audience members’ guts churning. Linklater disdains virtually every conventional narrative technique out of Film 101’s playbook, going light on the trauma and minimalist on conflict.

And what he winds up with is one of the most absorbing movies in years.

Boyhood’s two hours and forty-four minutes of running time effortlessly depicts multiple lives as they play out over an actual nearly 12-year-span in various Texas locales. Meaning Linklater followed a real-life rather than movie calendar in assembling his main actors on an intermittent shooting schedule between the years 2002 and 2013.

It’s a daring and brilliant device, allowing us to watch the actors literally age in front of our eyes, sans elaborate ...

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Perfection or Oppression? Chasing Happiness With Epicurus and “The Giver”

So we heard from Kierkegaard a couple of posts ago, and his prescription for happiness, at least as it existed in his own mind. Kierkegaard largely turned his back on the pleasures and joys of this world (other than philosophy and religion), putting all his faith as well as his formidable intellectual capital into a vision of an afterlife that would ultimately reward the denial or disinterest in pedestrian earthly pleasures.

His philosophy is far more nuanced and rich with rhetoric than that brief summary suggests, but at base, Kierkegaard and a segment of Christianity that has at least partially mirrored his views aren’t overly enamored with this fallen world, regarding it as mere waystation and proving ground for the eternal joy to come.

Google tells me it’s about 1,725 miles from Copenhagen to Athens, but it’s a lot farther than that philosophically from Kierkegaard to another subject of this post, the ...

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Noah: The Movie, the Fable, and the Issue of Belief

I’d like it known that I read the book first.

Which, as all literarily inclined people know, is the right and proper order of things in a modern media age when Hollywood regularly absconds with your favorite tales and more often than not turns them into something  shallow and alien. This inevitably causes you to exhort those who reversed the natural order of things by walking in blind to see the movie: “Oh, you just have to read the book!”

In the case of Noah and its film iteration from director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount Studios, we have the good fortune that most everyone grows up at least hearing about this strange tale involving a very ticked-off God telling his obedient servant to build a humongous ark that will literally save the last living things on the planet.

Still, it had been a while since I visited the real story, which, for all its epic grandeur, plays out in a compact 2,300 words ...

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The Human Connection: “Her” and “Twenty Feet From Stardom”

A slew of almost electrically talented backup singers grappling with never quite breaking the stardom barrier and a lonely man with his new girlfriend-the-operating system filled up a dreary weather Saturday last weekend, reminiscent of the “double bill” presentations that were de rigueur in the movie houses of my boyhood.

Oh, what a filmy weekend it was.

Synopses of the movies in question: Twenty Feet From Stardom and Her, can be gleaned from the trailers below, so what will concern us here is but one thread that works its way through both films, dominantly in Her and as an interesting side story in Twenty Feet.

Boiled down to its essence, the issue is: Are other people all that necessary?

Late in Twenty Feet, one of the fabulous, magnetic backup singers the film so lovingly depicts is reflecting that at some point in recent years “the phone stopped ringing” as much as it used to...

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That “Hope” Stuff: Inside Llewyn Davis and the Boston Bombing Survivors

Few filmmakers convey the desolation of the physical landscape and its various reflections in the human heart as well as the Coen brothers. Their current film, Inside Llewyn Davis, takes this desolation to new (and cold!) heights in its portrayal of a marginalized, barely surviving folk singer wandering the unforgiving winter streets of Greenwich Village and Chicago in the early ’60s. Davis is homeless, which requires him to spend inordinate amounts of energy searching for a couch where he and his guitar can flop for a not-overly-imposing night or two while he awaits some kind of break or affirmation that his hope of making it in the music world isn’t completely misguided.

Among his many problems, though, is that even hope itself seems to have been beaten down in him by the time the film picks him up as a sad-eyed, occasionally mendacious soloist, pushing into his 30s with nary an asset nor credential to...

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