Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I just thought there would be more…


I’ve been really nice today with my reviews and doting over certain movies that it’s time I go ahead and just even things out a little bit.

I feel like I’ve been hating on this movie for months, years even, but it’s really only been about a month since I saw it (maybe a touch longer) and it’s not that I’ve even said all that much about it, but because of all that undeserved love, affection, praise and accolades that it has been receiving, it feels longer, so much longer.  The thing is, I’ve been sitting on this review, trying to figure out the best way to express my feelings about this movie and it struck me as really odd that I just could never come up with anything.  I felt like I had nothing to say, really, and the bottom line that I drew was that I kind of had no feelings about this movie.

And that, my friends, kind of says it all.



‘Boyhood’ is, without question, the film of the year.  It’s the film that everyone is talking about, whether it be because they saw the movie or were told they needed to see the movie or were just bombarded by all the hype surrounding it’s uniquely creative construction.  YES, I will give it that (and, I’m warning you now, this is all I’ll give it); the idea behind the FILMMING of ‘Boyhood’ is clever.

But it ends there.

Really, I can’t even say that the idea behind the story is clever, just the way it was shot.  Taking the same actors and filming for one day every year for twelve years (or whatever) is wholly original and intriguing and should have produced a better movie.  I think many people were taken by the concept and the idea and forgot that those elements don’t make a good movie if that idea and that concept aren’t executed well.  I wanted to love this.  I feel like I am the demographic, the audience for this movie.  If anyone was going to laud this and champion this for awards and whatnot, it’s the family man who lavishes richly constructed stories about families, life and family life.  But this movie says absolutely nothing about families, life or family life, and it is because of that that I cannot with all this ‘Boyhood’ praise.

This movie is about as empty and hollow as they come.

Every time I say this someone has to bark at me about how ‘that was the point’ and that this movie was just ‘a series of moments’ or ‘snapshots of life’ and that it was supposed to show that ‘life isn’t always so dramatic’ or whatever, but life does have a point, life does have a beating heart, and ‘Boyhood’ expressed none of that.  Instead of actually developing something, anything, within the tapestry of half stories, ‘Boyhood’ lets every ball drop, every end stay loose, and pretty much resigns itself to rest within the ‘idea’ it sparked and expects that the audience respect it enough for what it pretended to bring to the table.  I like my ‘moments’ as much as the next guy, but I also like to feel my characters, know them, connect with them, and ‘Boyhood’ settles for giving us a name and, like, sometimes not even that.

To quote Patricia Arquette’s absolute nothing of a character; “I just thought there would be more.”

I’m so tired of people trying to say that this is epic filmmaking or something to change the way we make films and get all bent out of shape when anyone has a different opinion.  I hope this doesn’t change the way we make films.  I hope this doesn’t mean that people are going to start fighting over the next gimmicky storytelling narrative and forgetting that the most important part of any movie is THE STORY!  This script is, for lack of a better word, incomplete.  This isn’t a story.  People, ‘snapshots’ or ‘moments’ are only really impactful if they represent something, if they bring to our hearts something meaningful, and they can only carry that meaning if they tell us a story.


‘Boyhood’ is a revolving door of scenes that don’t mesh, moments that don’t matter and men who obviously don’t want to stay married to Patricia Arquette (but who would, since she’s so awfully boring).


We should be rewarding this?

D.  I want so badly to give this an F, but, like, I guess it isn't abysmal, although Linklater should have learned from Coppola that you don't ever cast your daughter in an important role in your film, because she gives one of the very worst performances I've ever seen anyone give, ever. 

28 comments:

  1. Excellent review! Though I'm not totally with you. As I've said before, I was quite moved by this movie...up until the last half hour or so. For me, it says a great deal about "family," especially to me, the son of divorced, fucked up parents. I loved the idea behind making this movie. I found that actually seeing the characters age for real was just plain original and cool. I found the performances from both Hawke and Arquette great.

    Linklater is a better director than this though. His camera just sort of sits there and the movie does not move well at all. I don't have a real qualm with the writing. It's adequate. And I loved the use of great soundtrack cuts to mark time.

    But that ending, the way that kid became such a boring, whiny twerp. That ticked me off and knocked a half star off my rating. It almost has The Return of the King beat for most false endings.

    I don't know what so many critics out there seem to worship about this movie. I loved, LOVED, many aspects of this thing. But the movie as a whole is just not "the best movie of the year" or "all-time" or "the millennium" or whatever.

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    1. I'll entertain the idea that my upbringing (in a very steady household with loving parents) could have detached me from some points in the film, but overall I just felt like SO MUCH MORE could have been done here, and so many balls were dropped.

      And, Linklater is better than this. I'm not sure how much better, but I've never been a huge fan of his work. That said, his whole 'Before' trilogy said so much more about an entire relationship/family/life in ONE conversation than the whole 12 years in this film.

      The praise this has received, as one of the best films EVER...is just too much, way too much.

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  2. This really does seem to be a divisive movie. I haven't seen it yet, and I don't know whether I will. I appreciate your honest review. It kind of sounds like a great concept with weak storytelling.

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    1. It is very divisive...which surprises me since I kind of feel like everyone should see things my way :-P

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  3. Great review. You know I loved-then-liked it, but at this point, it's become just a footnote on a great year for film. It won't show up at the CinSpecs. Though, I would like to see Linklater win Best Director at the Oscars, if possible. Like, when is he EVER going to have a better chance? Still, I'll be the first one clapping for Inarritu if he wins.

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    1. A footnote or a skidmark?

      Hehe.

      I really hate the idea of Linklater winning for this, mainly because he did absolutely nothing with his 'idea' and produced a completely mediocre film.

      But I've never been a huge fan, so whatever.

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  4. Yes! This review is everything. I agree 100% The "series of moments" argument never sat well with me. I don't watch movies to see nothing, I watch them to see something interesting.

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    1. YAY! I was hoping you'd love this.

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  5. You are so amazingly prolific Drew, I don't know how you do it man, I could barely post 5 days a week as it is!

    I still haven't mustered enough interest to see this. Ahah you REALLY didn't like this one eh? "...men who obviously don’t want to stay married to Patricia Arquette (but who would, since she’s so awfully boring)." Ouch!!

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    1. I have my good days/weeks :-P

      You should see it, mainly because it's such a big Oscar contender, but don't expect much...

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  6. It's interesting - I enjoyed Boyhood while watching it, but it had very little staying power. I rank films of a given year as I see them, and at the time it placed very high, but I always go back at the end of the year before I actually construct my Top Ten, and I got to this and was like, "Huh. I liked it THAT much?" And while there's something to be said for a film not boring me over a three-hour run time, there's also something to be said for not producing a single memorable scene - other than the very first one, which was made iconic by the aggressive marketing and choice of song score. And frankly, it is being over-rewarded. I really liked Patricia Arquette's performance, but once she started getting all the awards, I started saying, "Hold on a second here. She wasn't THAT good." It's a great, intriguing concept for a film, but absolutely nothing that I haven't gotten before from watching old home movies, and I think that stems from the central character. He's more of a quiet, introspective observer - which is fine, but makes the center of the film a bit of a void. Something interesting COULD have been done with that, I suppose, but I don't really think they did. The whole "making it up as you go" thing means that the story's ultimate themes only became apparent at the end of filming, which means that in editing you have to attempt to create thematic throughlines wholesale from footage already shot, in they don't really exist. For me, they weren't successful in doing so. And while it may make for a good viewing experience (at least the first time around), this is something that should have tremendous lasting impact, and it doesn't. Bottom line for me is that yes, Boyhood is a wholly original film experiment, and might even be a good film, but it's not great cinema.

    I could just as easily have waxed rhapsodic about it, because I think it lives in cumulative impact and those lovely little moments that make life LIFE, but the truth is I'm surprised by how much the film has faded for me. And when you compare it to something like Under The Skin, which is willfully distant and hard but nonetheless sticks in the mind, Boyhood only comes out looking even worse.

    The best thing for Boyhood would be to lose the Best Picture Oscar. If it wins, it's going to be like Citizen Kane: for years to come, people will watch it and go "WTF. That's it?!? I thought this was supposed to be The Greatest Film EVER!?!"

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    1. I think that's a big issue here...all the praise...I mean...every single critic thinks this is the best movie? All of them? Arquette is really better than everyone else this year? EVERYONE? No, and the overload of #1 placements has this looking worse than it would had the critics said "this was nice" and tossed it in a few Top Tens and smiled at it and then awarded BETTER films.

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  7. YES! I'm really baffled as to why people love it. This film had no real emotions and absolutely nothing memorable about it. Arquette was terrible the love for her I get even less than the love for the movie

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    1. Yeah...I don't see how you can love this. Like it, maybe...but love it?

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  8. Writing is key! If the written word brings life to the story and envelops you into the people and the life they are leading then it is a good film. This director was all about himself just like James Cameron. "Look what I did!" I am so cool to make a movie over 12 years with the same actors and you get to see 2 grow up" Isn't that cool?" NO!!! Boring, snail paced blah blah blah piece of crappola. People went over the moon with Titanic and Avatar because of the special effects which are cool but when one strips off that glitter what does one have? Characters you actually want to see get pummeled. I have seen films where a woman falls in love with an abusive alcoholic or a man who has issues with his wife supporting him. I have seen films where the kids are the centre and wish their parents would get together, be disappointed and deal with their changing bodies and minds. This sounds all so enticing but , for this film, I was bored! BORED!! I found most of the characters annoying. It is a sad film because it could have been done so much better if the director wasn't thinking about how cool his gimmick is and concentrated on the story and the writing. I have to admit that I did like the daughter even though she wants to be Morticia Adams

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    1. I was with you all the way up until that last part, because Linklater's daughter was an atrocity of acting.

      :-D

      And I like Titanic.

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    2. hahahaaaaa- I didn't mind her and titanic was the Love Boat sinking...I was wondering where Doc and Gopher were

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    3. But it's so damn watchable!

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  9. I agree. And although I thought the filming was clever and unique, I don't feel like it added anything to the movie that you couldn't have done with different actors showing the time progression, actors who would have been better (Mason). I really didn't feel anything either. Great review.
    Amanda (Speak's wife)

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    1. Hey Amanda! Thanks for stopping by! Glad we agree. This was such an interesting idea that was handled in such an uninteresting way.

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  10. I'm late commenting on this but I just had an opportunity to see it over the weekend and all I can say is what the hell was that? Almost three hours to say nothing in a structure that reminded me of a poorly constructed Lifetime movie. A pretentious Lifetime movie that was stealing ideas from other better films! Near the end when he stops and takes pictures in the desert of inanimate objects it reminded me of the scene in American Beauty where Wes Bentley had filmed the bag blowing in the wind. If I'm not mistaken that scene is now considered with derision as being subconsciously arty. Which makes me think that in a decade this extended home movie is going to be looked at with the same disdain.

    As far as the performances. I have to admit that Patricia Arquette and Hawke are among my least favorite performers but I don't think their blah work is completely their fault. There's no real character arc there and I can't believe that she is being awarded for this piece of nothing. She has one scene that is even about anything and that's near the end otherwise she shows up parents poorly and is gone again.

    You can't blame Linklater for choosing an child actor that grew up to be such a charisma free dull lump of nothing but it is his fault that he made the character such an irritating drag. We've invested 12 years in this selfish little bastard's life and by the end he wasn't worth the effort at all.

    With regards to the filming the picture over time Michael Apted has been doing that for the last 49 years with the Up series, any ten minutes of which is better than this lemon of a movie.

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    1. YES! YES! YES!

      I have a feeling that, like you said, in a decade or so, this will be seen as a joke and a completely ridiculous Oscar vehicle that dupped a group of critics into falling for a gimmick...a poorly conceived and constructed one at that.

      12 years! Revolutionary filmmaking! Who else would have done this?!?! The 12 years were a dud, the filmmaking is bland and thankfully better directors were smart enough NOT to do this.

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  11. I too was looking for something more with this film. I kept thinking SOMETHING would happen and bring clarity to this mess, but when the credits rolled, I knew it was really over. I think this film summarizes this year for movies...pretty weak. It's been a dull year. I'm hoping Birdman trumps Boyhood at the Oscars!!! Glad we both let it rip on this film ;)

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    1. Loved your review, as you know. You pretty much summed this up...hoping and wishing and then...nope.

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  12. I remember loving it the first time I saw it, then after watching it a few more times, I simply liked it. Wasn't as in awe over it as the first time, but I didn't dislike it by any means. I do think the Academy made the right choice for Best Picture, though.

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    1. I'm with you on that later point. I've very glad that the Academy went the way they went with their BP choice.

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  13. I was alright with this and then hated it and now I think it's good. At the same time a lot of the moments in Boyhood happened to me that I can relate to and the acting isn't bad, it's quite good. Linklater had a point in casting his own daughter, he was sure that she won't leave the film for another project.
    But at the same time if I would take a selfie once a year for 12 years then I should be nominated for an Oscar 'cause that is Boyhood. And there were bad actors that were there for one scene, that's unforgivable. But to hate a movie, any movie is simply unhealthy. I would just forget it. This film is sadly more of an achievement than a good solid film. I'm glad that Birdman won. That film is almost perfect and not just an achievement but very enjoyable too.
    But I would totally hate if that Linklater will make a sequel. The sequel is most unforgivable thing.

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    1. Oh God, please don't let there be a sequel.

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