American Promise still

The raves are flying thick around Boyhood, the long-time-in-the-making new film from director Richard Linklater which finally opens in theaters this weekend. Linklater and his crew shot the movie over the course of 12 years, so that they could capture the main character age in real time, from a young boy to a high school graduate. I can vouch for pretty much every good thing you’ve heard about the movie. It’s a fantastically moving, incredibly true-to-life piece of work, and an impressive accomplishment. It is not, however, a unique accomplishment, no matter how many critics may think it is. While the scope of Boyhood‘s production period may rival any completed fiction film, there are numerous documentary projects of equal or greater scale. An easy example is the Paradise Lost trilogy, which revisited the same legal case over a 17-year period. An even easier example is the Up series, which has been revisiting the same set of subjects every seven years for the last half century. But this week’s Doc Option is a film whose structure hews remarkably close to that of Boyhood. In fact, these two movies were trying to do almost the same thing – and with a significant overlap in the time during which they shot — but on opposite sides of the fiction/nonfiction coin. American Promise was shot over the course of 13 years instead of 12. It has two protagonists, not one (though with both movies, you can argue that the parents are just as important as the main characters are). And while Boyhood is concerned with a variety of subjects that have to do […]


IFC Films

There’s a conceit at the center of Richard Linklater‘s new film Boyhood that imbues it with a unique and wonderful power absolutely absent from any other movie. It’s usually hyperbole to say a film is unlike anything you’ve seen before, but in this case it’s very true. In order to tell the story of a boy’s life from age six to eighteen, the writer/director assembled a cast willing to film for a week or so each year… for twelve years. The result is a coming-of-age tale where the usually accepted norm — child actors being replaced with older child actors as the character ages — is itself replaced with the smoothly subtle and unexpectedly touching effect of actually watching a boy (and his family) age before our eyes. We drop into Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) life at six years old to find him in a small bit of trouble at school. His mom (Patricia Arquette) shares his teacher’s concerns on the drive home with the predominant one being Mason’s penchant for letting his mind wander to the world beyond the classroom. His curious and warm eyes — his only features to remain constant as his face and body age and mature around them over the years to come — carry that same casual inquisitiveness up into his eighteenth year when we leave him and his life just as unceremoniously as we arrived. There’s no doubt or debate that Boyhood is an unparalleled achievement, and if you grew up in America (or possibly other Western countries) […]


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

June ended with a blockbuster that encapsulated everything wrong with most summer movies. Bloated, thin, self-indulgent, mean-spirited, and incomprehensible are a few ways to describe Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Age of Extinction. It’s not the worst film of the series, but it’ll definitely go down as one of the worst films of the summer. Still, audiences love Bay’s brand and the film made more money domestically in its opening weekend than Edge of Tomorrow has thus far stateside, which is just heartbreaking. Thankfully, we have summer movies like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to remind us not all blockbusters are run-of-the-mill studio products. Besides Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or another viewing of Edge of Tomorrow there’s plenty of other movies to check out this month. Here are the must see movies of July 2014:


Moscow on the Hudson

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Jackie Sue Lynn - 49 UP

When Granada Television debuted the documentary special Seven Up! as an episode of World in Action on May 5, 1964, the primary point was to show a brief look at youth of varied social backgrounds around the UK. It was a study of sorts, but as original director Paul Almond told me last year, “All I wanted to do was to find out what little boys and little girls of different classes thought about. I didn’t have any intention other than trying to find out what in fact were the differences.” The show itself plainly states that the idea is to show viewers “the shop steward and the executive” of tomorrow, specifically that of the turn of the next century. Perhaps one follow-up in the year 2000 would have sufficed to update us on where those kids wound up. Instead, by that year there’d already been five installments, produced and released at seven-year intervals, and since then there have been two more. “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” says the Jesuit motto that inspired the program, and it implies that we don’t need to see anything beyond those kids at age 7. The men (and women) are all right there for us to know as children, apparently. That doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about and fascinated by the certainty of knowing more, of seeing how people turn out. We were the same species half a century ago as we are now in the age of “Where Are They Now” features all over the Internet.



Filmmaker Richard Linklater’s relationship with the Sundance Film Festival has so far proven to be a very fruitful one – Linklater memorably premiered both his Before Sunrise and Before Midnight at the festival (Before Sunset, the middle film in the current trilogy, bowed at Berlin), his Slacker won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival back in 1991, and the festival even honored the film with a special anniversary screening back in 2010 (similarly, this year’s “From the Collection” screening will honor the twentieth anniversary of Hoop Dreams) – so it’s not surprising that the festival will be the one to debut one of Linklater’s most talked about features. It is, however, (pleasantly, to be sure) surprising that it will be his long-promised (and long-filmed) Boyhood. Honestly, we sort of didn’t think it was real.

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