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Movie Review: Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Is A Beautiful, Naturalistic 12-Year Journey

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BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE

Boyhood is a concept film, but it does not feel like one. Filmed over 12 consecutive years, using the same actors to portray the same characters as they age naturally, Richard Linklater’s newest feature is a structured journey through time. The best part about it, though, is that the nearly three hour, briskly paced film feels unstructured and unrestrained, a listless walk (and sometimes run) alongside Mason (Ellar Coltrane, bravely putting his most awkward years on display). 

Boyhood3The narrative of the film, befitting its sprawling time frame, is difficult to describe succinctly. It feels as though a great deal happens, and also as if nothing happens, a mirror held up to the swiftly moving complexity of lives that sometimes feel dull and plodding. We do get to know several characters well along the way, though. Mason’s single mom (Patricia Arquette) has bad luck choosing men and proves alternately caring and prickly toward her son and daughter, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter and a natural comedian). Their dad, (Ethan Hawke, who grows more handsome as the film progresses) when we first meet him, has been largely absent, but, when he decides to come around, figures as an exciting and likable savior from the mundanity of everyday life. 

As a child, Mason and his sister go bowling with dad; a neighborhood friend shows off a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and they ogle the women inside; mom remarries a psychology professor and goes back to school herself. In his early teenage years, Mason drinks his first beer and alludes to several girlfriends (“We have nothing in common,” he laments to his dad) and his mom undergoes yet another divorce. High school brings a focused interest in photography, first time employment, a serious girlfriend, and the beginnings of collegiate aspiration. Cultural artifacts, from Obama-Biden campaign signs to Harry Potter midnight release parties, fill in the nooks and crannies.

Boyhood4It is incredible, really, just how much life Linklater brings into focus, and how easily enjoyable the film remains throughout. He avoids ticking off easy categories of development, opting instead for intimate scenes of sometimes awkward dialogue between members of the family, their friends, and acquaintances. Mom bears the heaviest emotional load, dad remains aloof and carefree, and the kids seem to be doing exactly what they would be doing when they aren’t shooting a film. It is clear that Linklater collaborated with his actors on the screenplay, which never feels forced.

The film is shot in a naturalistic style as well, unconcerned with picturesque beauty--save for when the characters themselves notice it--and captivated by the constantly shifting faces of Mason, his parents, and his sister. Also changing is the soundtrack, an audible timeline for those who will recognize minute evolutions in popular music across the twelve-year progression. Linklater thankfully never keeps viewers guessing about Mason’s age, though, slyly editing between years in a way that never interrupts, and sometimes enhances, the narrative thrust. When mom meets the professor she will marry, for instance, he suggestively intones that their kids should have a play date while Mason looks on, seeing his mom blush perhaps for the first time; we cut at least one year into the future and Mason, Samantha, and two other children are bouncing on a trampoline in the backyard of a comparatively palatial residence. Mom and her new hubby are just returning from their honeymoon, and the audience is instantly aware of what sort of change has occurred.

Boyhood is a joyride, really, a pleasure cruise that left me smiling and feeling, well, alive. It resonates on such a deep level because it is so deeply personal, a collaboration between artists who spent over a decade developing characters and getting to know each other just as a family does. It has imperfections: the children’s acting in particular can feel wooden, we miss all the times that are left out, and there could be more moments of driving dramatic force. But after leaving the theater, I found myself forgiving those flaws entirely. Perhaps it is because of Linklater’s ambition and the relative aplomb with which he pulled off his vision, or perhaps it is because in life itself, flaws abound. 

Flaws and all, Boyhood is sure to be one of the most unique and fulfilling cinematic experiences you’ll experience anytime soon.

Boyhood is now open in theaters nationwide. 

Check out a trailer for the film, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Colombian Transgender Women Form Soccer Club To Combat Transphobia: VIDEO

Colombian trans football team

A group of trans women in Colombia have decided to combat transphobia by forming an all-trans football club.

Mariana, who was crowned Ms. Trans last year, says “with the World Cup, we are honouring and are proud of Colombia. We are trans, but we are still Colombians, and we want to be involved in Colombian society.”

Another team member adds, “We hope there will be acceptance from the community with our game. There is a tendency to fear what you don’t understand. This is a way for people to get to know us.”

Watch the Vocativ report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Madonna Dubs New Lyrics For DJ Diplo: VIDEO

Annie Mac and Diplo

LA-based DJ Diplo had a new dubplate from Madonna of her 1987 single "La Isla Bonita" that he brought on to the British documentary by Annie Mac Superstar DJs to play for the documentarian. It turns out that the pop legend snuck in some new lyrics as a surprise for the DJ, giving an explicit shoutout to his work-in-progress project "Major Lazer."

Mac's reaction to the surprise is priceless, and you can watch it AFTER THE JUMP...

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NewFest, NYC's Premier LGBT Film Festival, Opens: VIDEO

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The Film Society of Lincoln Center and OutFest combine forces this week to bring you NewFest, New York City's largest LGBT film festival.

NewFestFrom July 24th thru July 29th, NewFest will screen a series of wonderfully-curated narrative, documentary, and short films from a diverse array of directors. Nathaniel Rogers recently reviewed Futuro Beach and Gerontophilia, the opening and closing night selections, but there are many others to see in between.

Sure bets (based on other film fest's awards, including LA's OutFest) include: The Circle, a documentary about the Swiss underground gay movement post-WWII, Lilting, about a boyfriend and mother grieving the same death on very different terms, and The Way He Looks, a coming-of-age narrative about a blind teenager's affections for a new friend. 

Head over to the Film Society of Lincoln Center site to purchase tickets, and check out a trailer for the festival, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jimmy Kimmel Dupes People On The Street With $20 Casio 'Apple' iWatch: VIDEO

Apple Casio iTime Watch Jimmy Kimmel

"Do people love Apple products so much that they'll look beyond [the fake logo we placed on the back of a cheap watch]?" asks late night host Jimmy Kimmel. The answer, evidently, is yes.

Kimmel and his staff bought a cheap $20 Casio watch, stuck an Apple logo on the back, and then took to the streets claiming to have a prototype of Apple's rumored "iTime" smart watch to see what the reactions would be. The general consensus is that people liked how it looked affordable, as well as that it showed both the date and the time.

You can watch the full bit AFTER THE JUMP...

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Sleek, Sexy Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Has Finally Arrived: VIDEO

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The focus is all on Anastasia Steele and, of course, Mr. Christian Grey in the just-released first trailer for the highly anticipated film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The movie is sure to be a hit with the "housewife" demographic that initially made the book a best seller, but given Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan's brooding good looks, anyone could be enticed to see it.

While there are a few light-hearted moments in the trailer, the film seems to revel in the darkness of Grey's mysterious past and the lusty intrigue of his present. One thing's for certain: it all looks uber-sexy. 

Check out the trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

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