Boyhood (2014)

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Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke

Screenplay: Richard Linklater

165 mins. Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Patricia Arquette)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Ethan Hawke)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Directing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Film Editing

 

In 2002, director Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Bernie) began shooting a film, one that would keep him busy for the next twelve years. That film was Boyhood, a tale surrounding the adolescence of Mason (Ellar Coltrane, Fast Food Nation, Lone Star State of Mind), his mother (Patricia Arquette, TV’s Medium, Holes), his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), and his absent father (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca, Predestination). It covers the hurdles that young people encounter in their lives and the many challenged in adjusting to the world. It may appear simple, but this isn’t a simple film by any means. Its assembly, too, was a difficult one, as Linklater gathered his cast and crew together every year for twelve years to film sections of the movie as the actors aged alongside it.

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What a film! Boyhood constantly flips back and forth in my mind for the best film of 2014 (the other possibility being Birdman). I love how the film analyzes those major steps on the way to adulthood. Mason’s journey, aided by powerhouse performances by Arquette and Hawke, is a heartfelt one, one that many others have been on and can completely connect to. Coltrane’s performance improves as the film moves on, but it isn’t anything to mess up the film.

Linklater’s perfectly helmed camera gives us some gorgeous (and somehow unaged) cinematography. His camera elevates the vision to a true art form.

Linklater understood his audience would want to place the film on the timeline. He placed clues to guide the film, like song choices and events like discussions about a seventh Star Wars film.

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Boyhood is a visually stunning, emotionally resonant film that continues to impress and overwhelm each viewing. Linklater’s careful planning (he was to sign over directorial duties to Ethan Hawke if he died during production) led to an incredible film that will be known for its uniqueness as much as for its universality.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 12 – Daybreakers (2009)

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Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Sam Neill, Vince Colosimo, Isabel Lucas

Screenplay: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

98 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity.

 

There are so many great ideas in filmmaking today. Ideas for completely new stories and ideas for imagining old stories in a completely new way. Most of these ideas get muddled by poor direction, cheap performances, and no subtlety. Daybreakers is one of those films that takes its idea, a reworking of the vampire myth, and brings it all the way through to fruition.

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Daybreakers exists in a world where the undead have taken over the planet. Vampires have a lifestyle all their own. Humans are on the run, the few that are left, that is. The others have been contained and are being bled dry to feed the ever-weakening population that can’t be regularly fed. Blood prices are up and the world is on the brink. It’s the story of Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke, Training Day, Boyhood), a vampire scientist trying to discover how to deal with the global catastrophe in the making. He is trying to solve the blood shortage crisis as Charles Bromley (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, Escape Plan), a vampire business leader, hordes the blood for the wealthy. As the blood runs thin, normal walking vampires turn into horrific creatures (more like your were-vampires with tones of Nosferatu) who uncontrollably attack others to get their fix. Edward gets kidnapped by Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man, John Wick), an ex-vampire who has found the cure to become human again. Together, they must, under cover of daylight, discover how to cure the general population and solve the blood crisis before the vampires morph out into monstrosities.

This was just a really cool idea. I was so excited to see how it played out, and not only was I not disappointed, but I was shocked to see such political undertones in a January release horror film. There is so much ingrained about the wealthy 1% versus the other 99, the Occupy Wall Street movement (which hadn’t even really happened yet), unemployment, gas prices, and now more than ever, our fear of an outbreak that we can’t even begin to understand. In today’s world of Ebola outbreaks in the United States, this film has a lot more to say for something essentially skipped over during its general release.

The cinematography is beautiful here, as it complements the art direction of playing off an alternate version of Earth. The changes in lifestyle are so paramount and yet subtle enough to make us look inwards at our lifestyle and how so easily it sits on the brink of societal collapse. These vampires live each day thinking their lives are okay and that someone is working to help them. They live in denial, like so many of us today.

I don’t really want to get political with this movie, which boils down to being a lot of fun at the core. The vampire mythos needed to get turned over with this. We had too much Twilight in our lore at this point and needed something with a bit of bite.

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Daybreakers is a lot of fun for the casual moviegoer and for the viewer looking for a bit more of substance to his gore. Check this film out for the interesting take of the myth, a cadre of well-performed characters, and some actual thought.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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