The Sights and Sounds of 'BOYHOOD' {a Review of the Film}

~I do not resort to plot spoilers as I merely seek to put words to my experience of the film while giving nods to the technique of some the individuals involved.~

~HARK! I have seen RICHARD LINKLATER'S "BOYHOOD" and I agree that this lingering ghost of a film is unlike anything else I have ever experienced in the Cinema... for better and worse. It is a film with a gimmick to be sure except that this is probably the GREATEST GIMMICK in CINEMATIC HISTORY. The passage of time in the story translates visually for the audience as the loss of innocence gradually being tattooed on the face of it's aging lead, ELLAR COLTRANE RIGHT BEFORE OUR VERY EYES {the actor was 6 when he was cast, 7 when filming began and 18 when filming wrapped}. It is a spell-binding meditation on those seemingly ephemeral and capricious relationships which makes a boy randomly become a young man: GIRLS and FATHERS and Father-FIGURES and our Beloved and Befuddling MOTHER. To be sure, ANYONE could have shot a film over TWELVE YEARS but a number of things could have seriously gone astray and sent this patient spectre of history-making measure far off into the ethers. When ye think about how WATCHABLE and ENTERTAINING Linklater managed to make it, it is impressive if not MIRACULOUS.

And then there is ETHAN HAWKE and PATRICIA ARQUETTE who are wondrously natural, making the dialogue sound all their own. Especially Hawke. He sounds so familiar. It isn't until many of the other actors come in and more or less blow their chance in some wae or another, making dialogue sound cheesy or 'plotty' that one actually realizes Hawke's magic trick. I now completely believe Linklater's claims that the 'Before Trilogy' was in fact SCRIPTED and NOT IMPROVISED and that his actors really WERE that good as to make it sound natural. Because HERE I saw so many-well- lesser actors NOT doing that. But the film WORKS. And Ellar Coltrane has done a fine werk growing himself into a worthy lead to hold this brittle narrative together. Ye shall see him achieve such sensitivity and nuance amid ADOLESCENSE that ye may not have expected whence ye first beheld him at all of SEVEN years of age a mere HOUR ago! It is beguiling in the wae it makes you look back at your own parallel life and think something like "What is more ABSURD than all those lessons that were thrown my wae in order for me to grow up?" I admit I'm spit-balling hither but-well- SOMETHING like that- which I think is profound.

Our fearless Director, Mr.Linklater has effectively marked the passage of time with the evolution of pop culture {Usually through Music} and technology. From the bulky assorted colored Imac's to the Jetsons-esque advent of 'Facetime' via the SMARTULAR Phone. While the Music choices are nowhere near the iconic and eventful scope of say 'Forrest Gump', they- at the very least underscore the beguiling sketch-book spirit of this love-letter to the format of feature films which have in the wake of TV's umteenth Golden Age now been rendered 'Short-Form' story-telling. So now that I have invoked the 1994 Tom Hanks starrer there is bound to be more contrasting gold afoot betwixt BOYHOOD and FORREST GUMP no?  Please humor my odd comparison of these two 'heroes',  just a mite further...

*ahem!* We have two humble young men surrounded by forces of a mysteriously benevolent nature. And the humanity of these situations is partly communicated through MUSICS. But there is something more INTROSPECTIVE about Mason's world as opposed to Forrest's for Mason is a deep thinker, full of dis-jointed innocent questions- who finds inspiration and catalyst in a myriad of events ranging from the everydae mundane to the extraordinary in places like Suburban Houston, TX surrounded by the sounds of second rate pop cultural artists such as Coldplay and The Hives. VERSUS the endearing 'stupid' Hero memorably created by Mr.Hanks all those years ago who innocently existed within the context of the Johns, Kennedy and Lennon and toured Vietnam and never gave a second thought to what his oddly amazing life was about while inhabiting a background of the exquisite sonic company of The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix and the list runneth over and over.

BUT! To say that one is superior here would be an incorrect interpretation of this Author's agenda; for'BOYHOOD', like 'FORREST GUMP' can only be done ONCE and all like films hither after shall be rendered, copycats. I say Linklater has completed the other side of the story in a unique genre: Nostalgia as a Narrative or that of a FICTIONAL LIFE MADE 'NON-FICTIONAL' through the marking of time with FAMILIAR MUSICS. I would say Watchmen attempted this but floundered in it's almost 'Fratty' obsession with the aesthetics probably due to it's vision lacking the feminine refrain found in it's wondrous source material but adding the Music choices elevated it to at least some visceral redemption for it were the Nostalgia within the songs that gave it's audience a much-needed gravitas.

But back our Time Machine docks to Nineteen Hundred and Ninety- Four... is just necessary- stay with me. As Zemeckis sought to exhalt the character of Forrest immediately into the stratosphere of real time BOOMER Mythos, he bypassed our intellect and disbelief by GROUNDING US IN POP MUSICS on the recognizable historic level thus making his a character TANGIBLY related to iconic events {so much so that he appears to inspire them at times}- Linklater on the other hand simply wants to identify Mason with the current unproven generation and to put forth someone you KNOW, or ARE or HAVE BEEN or HAVE MET. He has drawn you into this very real story made utterly fantastic with real AGINGS and SONGS albeit these songs {Unlike Forrest Gump} seem to remind us how truly uneventful 'Rock'N'Roll' music has become in the HISTORICAL context and it's magnificence is more than ever in the EAR of the BEHOLDER; for upon listening to these hymns I am immediately reminded of better things I was listening to during those years and subconsciously one is wisked awae to the rolling hills of the INDEPENDENT MUSIQUE scenes of the preceding decade plus two trips around our great Sun... That is but ONE of the MANY MANY PLACES IN TIME AND SPACE to which I seem to have been transported.

And hither lies the rub! I see but one outcome for my fellow viewers of this film: This will NOT be merely Mason's Journey or Linklater's Journey... this journey shall be YOURS as well. IT IS A TRUE FILM in that regard. This is a film about a boy of few words. IT IS ABOUT THE SPACES BETWIXT THOSE WORDS for it is WITHIN these spaces we can see and hear his VERY THOUGHTS for they are OUR thoughts and we SEE him GROW from a sprout to a trunk. And we see the aging of OURSELVES! And, Gimmicks aside, this Director shows that he knows his wae around a good piece of Drama. He has grounded us in a human story to the point where- at times-it can be MORE SUSPENSEFUL than the latest Paranormal Activity outing and MORE FUNNY than anything from 'Blended'. And unlike in Forrest Gump, HERE our Director sparingly mentions events on the world stage occurring in this realistic world except to add pepper to characterizations.

Indeed if the youth of today are looking for an anti-hero with whom to identify as they fight the shadows cast upon them by Generations, 'BOOMER' , and 'X', they may possibly find some kinship hither with this courageous Boy caught somewhere betwixt Generations, 'MILLENIAL' and 'SELFIE' as he hurdles toward his Manhood fighting grown-up labels and imposed technology itself every step of the wae. Though it is not lost on me that whilst I have just theorized this Character as a nieuw role model for youthful independence- I am aware that this 'unassuming' film is very much the voice of Mr. Linklater- a Man born of the year Nineteen Hundred and Sixty who- at times is asserting his own dreams and warnings upon our budding youth with this nieuw actuality of his. For he is a man who went into an unstable art form to make his living and chose the path within it of an Iconoclast of Independent Film no less. The parallels are telling. Whilst Linklater seeks a dialogue with the men of tomorrow he does so by telling his own story to them. But This is all the more FORGIVABLE after all because his is a story well told and his MESSAGE, timeless:

"Follow Thy Heart, anything less makes little sense."

There are times the writing comes off as filler but every scene feels relatable and akin to one's own strikingly similar memories. This is a film every Boy and Man ought to see as well as the Girls dating them, The Women Marrying them and the Saintly Mothers who raise them. I have talked enough- THIS COMES WITH RECOMMENDATIONS of the HIGHEST ORDER not because it is a perfect film- that it is NOT but because ye shall never experience anything quite like this again. And to be with a cinema-going audience is part of the fun!  I shall now leave ye to that which ye know you must do {which is to see the film for yourself}. I shall resume my Listening to THE BLACK ALBUM {...The Beatles version}.