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In 2002, writer-director Richard Linklater made what I believe to be a decision driven purely by madness. In his mind he must have thought “How can I make filmmaking a real challenge. What constraints can I lower upon myself that would ensure one single slip up would cause me to lose days, months, and possibly years worth of work?”

The answer, apparently, was to spend the next 12 years filming Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and his own daughter Lorelei Linklater living out what I now think is the truest ever paradigm of the “coming of age” movie.

For one or two weeks every year between 2002 and 2013, Linklater, cast, and crew would gather and literally film a day in the life of these characters. The sheer audacity of this can’t be overstated. So much could have gone wrong . I don’t think I have ever seen a braver, ballsier effort from a director. The cast could not be signed to contracts because of a California labor law that prevents contracts of longer than 7 years. The script was not complete when shooting began and Linklater actually would rewrite entire sections of script based on the real lives of the players as well as the footage shot from the previous years filming installment. What if somebody was hurt or injured and couldn’t complete their part? What if somebody was horribly disfigured? What if Ellar Coltrane, 7 years old when filming began, just decided he didn’t want to act anymore?

What if somebody died?

Apparently Linklater told Ethan Hawke to finish the film for him if he died during production. How many movies have to make plans for something like that happening?

Oh and by the way, it’s an incredible film. While so much of the buzz around it is, rightfully, placed on the production, the film itself is nothing short of a masterpiece for Linklater and Co. The “day in the life” storytelling style perfectly fits the narrative. The performances are rock solid across the board. Particularly Hawke and Arquette in somewhat thankless roles as parents who can’t always seem to get their shit together. Y’know, just like real life.

I won’t spoil too much of the story as I think it’s best to go into Boyhood with as little advance knowledge as possible and just let the subtle and well told narrative take you where it may. The film and cast always give us exactly what we need, never too much. When Arquette’s character remarries partway through the film and then divorces later on, it’s never spelled out for us, there’s no offhand remark about that character that isn’t around any more. We as the audience are expected to extrapolate all we need from the information given. It is immensely refreshing not to be handheld through a story.

I completely love the representation of the modern American family. As a single child of an adopted single mother, I’m not always interested in the traditional movie ideal that boy has to meet girl and they must be in love and stay together forever. A lot of times life doesn’t work that way. People grow up, people grow apart. Parents divorce and remarry and then sometimes do it all over again. The really strong families find a way to thrive and succeed despite all that shit and Boyhood succeeds at depicting this in a way I don’t think any other film ever has.

Boyhood was stuck in my brain for days after watching it. Even writing about it now has me wanting to experience it all over again. I think “experience” is a perfect term for Boyhood. Love it or hate it I think it’s important that everybody experience this film. Hopefully you’ll grow a little bit along with it. I know I did.

@movingpicpod

Hi folks!

Welcome to March. Spring is almost here and I personally can’t wait for the icy weather to let up. Today’s movie takes place somewhere with much nicer weather. Hollywood, where movies are made. I like The Player a lot and I’m glad Vinny chose this one to talk about. It’s a trippy yet fun pseudo-murder mystery that takes place in around Hollywood film lots, studios, and celebrity cameo filled soirees. Tim Robbins is great and there’s a particularly entertaining turn by Lyle Lovett that we’ll talk about on the track. I hope you all enjoy it.

OttoNVinny

If you’d like to watch along with us, The Player is available on Amazon.

@movingpicpod

Hey all. This will be a new semi-regular piece on Moving Pictures where Zach and I have a bit of back and forth about whatever topic has gotten stuck in our heads recently. This is a bit of a longer article than you’re probably used to on this site but I hope you all like it.

P.S. I don’t have a name for these recurring pieces yet so please feel free to give me some suggestions.

DARK KNIGHT RISES

Mike: Over complexity is something you and I have talked about a lot. It seems more and more I’m drawn towards movies with a concise, straight forward story but really interesting and well written characters.

Big budget and genre fair especially recently feels like it’s bogged down with over complicated, pace ruining plot points that don’t really add anything to the experience. What’s up with that?
Zach: I completely agree with your sentiment, so many filmmakers seem to not trust us to follow their plots without having a character stop, face the camera, and give us 5 minutes of bland exposition. It’s either they don’t trust us, or they write themselves into a plot that they think demands it. We don’t need it. We can typically follow what’s going on.
I recently saw Horns and almost groaned when I saw a similar scene set up, but then found myself elated when they didn’t do it. There was no exposition, no dumb pseudo-science techno-babble explanations, we didn’t need to know why Harry Potter was turning into a demon, we were along for the ride and we could piece it together from other dialogue and hints in the story.

I wish more writers and directors had the confidence to do that. I hate to blame current movies for everything, but this really does feel like a recent phenomenon. When did you first start noticing this trend?

M: It feels like the trend recently has been complexity = quality. What boggles my mind is that it’s happening in exactly the type of movies that you don’t want to be over-complicated. Big budget, event type fare that used to be a good excuse to turn your brain off for 90 -100 minutes and watch shit blow up has become bloated and almost unwatchable due to screenwriting by committee and just cramming plot into places where it doesn’t belong.

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Hey folks!

The day is finally here. The last entry of our Batman retrospective has arrived. And boy is it bad. This movie is widely reviled and rightfully so. There’s really nothing redeeming about it and it seems to be a series of misfires at every level of production from conception all the way to execution. It’s bad, you know this already. Now you get to listen to Zach and myself suffer through this monstrosity and revel in our pain.

Big thanks to Zach once again for taking this journey with me. I t was pretty excruciating by the end of it but it was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do another project like this.

ZachnOtto

If, for some insane reason,  you’d like to watch along with us, Batman and Robin is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

@movingpicpod