Who do you wanna be, Mason?


Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has been lauded more than any film in the last three decades according to Metacritic.  It’s almost a little bit ridiculous to read the things that people have written about this film.  It seemed like every day from the film’s premiere at Sundance to the theatrical release a few days ago that I saw a new post by some film critic calling this three hour epic a masterpiece.  I started to hate this movie.

Of course, when I finally saw Boyhood, I understood exactly what everyone else was talking about.  While everyone seems to rave about the towering achievement of the 12 year production and the brilliance of the actors, I found so many things to fall in love with in Boyhood that I wasn’t expecting at all.  

The magic of Mason’s journey is in the little moments.  The painfully relatable and beautifully detailed 12 year journey is worthy of every word of its seemingly impossible praise.   Boyhood is a film that holds something different for every viewer, but the overwhelming response seems to be that everyone who sees this film sees themselves in this story.  I know that Boyhood is a film I will hold dear as a reminder of my youth, and one that I will return to for the rest of my life to remind myself of the kind of man the boy I was always wanted to be.  

Boyhood (2014)


When was the last time you were alone?


The difficult journey that Bong Joon Ho’s latest film went through to reach American cinemas was as almost as epic and lengthy as the journey of the film’s characters themselves.  For some reason, it seemed as though Snowpiercer would never see the light of day on this side of the Pacific.

Of course, amid all the controversy is an actual film.  The Chris Evans led ensemble thriller is unlike any other blockbuster you’ll see this summer.  The real miracle of the film is that it manages to overcome its silly premise and actually make it work.  The level of devotion put into this film by every one of its actors and the incredible direction of Bong Joon Ho is what keeps this train ride interesting.

I imagine that just as every door our heroes pass through in the film brings them into a new world, every new viewing of this film will bring its own new perspective and a new level of relatability to story and its themes of social injustice and classism.  Snowpiercer may not be the amazing antidote to the summer blockbuster that many critics have claimed it to be, but it sure is one hell of a special ride.

Snowpiercer (2014)


I know what it feels like to be lost and lonely and invisible.


Richard Ayoade’s Submarine was an endlessly quirky, hilarious look at what it feels like to be a teenager.  It’s a film that’s easily rewatchable and a stunning debut feature.  It seemed like a strange departure for me then, when I saw the bleak, humorless first trailer for The Double.

The Double is dark and bleak, but only because it’s one of the best black comedies I have ever seen.  Ayoade’s take on the Dostoyevsky novel is a brilliant reinvention.  Not only does the film function as a great thriller, but it becomes a surprisingly poignant look at what it means to be alone.

Jesse Eisenberg heads a brilliant cast that includes almost every player from Submarine and a wealth of fantastic cameos.  The Double draws obvious influence from the likes of David Lynch and Orson Welles, but Ayoade’s indelible signature is unbelievably original here.  

Without question, The Double is a film that need to be viewed multiple times to be truly appreciated or even to be understood, but even upon the first viewing it becomes apparent what a special film this is.

The Double (2014)


Chasing the music.

I first saw Jersey Boys a few years ago at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, and I was completely blown away.  The musical was slick, hilarious and every song was a pitch perfect rendition of a timeless classic. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is a richly entertaining and moving one, which makes it all the more curious that this film version of Jersey Boys could be so dull.

With a cast pulled straight from the stage and a fascinating story that’s been popular on and off Broadway for over a year, it would seem that this film was destined to be great and to be an Oscar contender.  The fact that a legend of Clint Eastwood’s caliber was at the helm of the picture should have been the icing on the cake.  

Instead, Jersey Boys devolves into a sloppy, hollow adaptation that couldn’t hold a candle to the stage production.  Of course, the musical numbers remain the highlight of the experience and as someone who has seen the musical, I couldn’t say that this film is a completely joyless experience.  In fact, with everything this adaptation seemingly has going for it, Jersey Boys is simply a middling disappointment.

Jersey Boys (2014)


Remember from before when we did sex to each other?

In recent years it seems that the Romantic Comedy has descended into a dire state of self-parody.  It’s seems like its been a long time since a pure romantic comedy of any significance has been released.  With Obvious Child, director Gillian Robespierre finally found a way to make this genre good again.

The story of Donna Stern is a seemingly familiar one; she’s in her late twenties and she still can’t seem to get her life together.  Frances Ha, Girls and Broad City have given us a variety of similar characters and stories in the last few years alone, but this film is the only one to take the story into pure romantic comedy territory.

As the genre seemingly requires, this film is filled with laughs, dysfunctional parents, supportive best friends and a prince charming as the love interest. Unlike the mold of romantic comedy though, this film touches on something raw and relatable. 

I’ve gotten some interesting looks when I describe this film to people as “that abortion comedy,”  but that’s what it really is.  It doesn’t make much of statement on the morality of abortion, but better than anything I have read or seen, Obvious Child humanizes this dreaded procedure.  The fact that such a poignant statement can be made in such good, funny film only further proves the importance of this film.

Obvious Child (2014)


Don’t Read and Eat!


Chantal Akerman’s seminal work of feminist expression is by all accounts a masterpiece.  Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles takes a look at what it really means to a woman and tries to uncover the truth of what life is all about.  

This experimental marathon covers the life of one woman over a period of three days.  Jeanne is a widow and mother to a teenaged son.  Her lonely existence is filled with cooking, cleaning, caring for her son and prostituting herself to local men.  The film, much like Jeanne’s routine, is intensely focused and ritualized process that turns every minute action of the protagonist’s day into an important moment in this woman’s life.  

Truly, this film is an immersive, transcendental experience that leads the viewer into this world that Akerman has created. It’s an almost unbearable experience on first viewing.  The monotony and the goliath length are massively intimidating factors in this film.  I don’t know how I managed to stay awake and focused for the entire 3 hour and 21 minute runtime, but by the time the credits rolled, I was glad I did.

Akerman’s environment is one of the dullest subject matters of anything I have ever seen, but once I was immersed in to the world of Jeanne Dielman, my entire outlook on the film had changed.  Not only was I anticipating the inevitable break in the routine that is a key element of transcendental film, but I was on edge as she went about her routine.  Every interaction she has with another human, and every new moment of her routine was exciting.  Whether it was her interactions with her son and her clients or even the moment in the kitchen when she dropped a potato, I was always acutely aware of any moment that be significant to the film as a whole.

Of course, when the moment of disparity finally comes about, we see Dielman’s orgasm which in turn leads to a terribly beautiful moment of true stasis.  This moment is truly absorbing.  More than any other stasis moment in films that I would classify as transcendental, this moment made me really understand the power of Akerman’s film, and gave me a real appreciation for Jeanne Dielman

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)



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