Tag Archives: Richard Linklater

SXSW: Blaze

Ugh. You know how they say opposites attract? Well, I wish that was more true. I mean, Sean and I are opposites in some ways: he’s quiet, I’m loud; he’s analytical, I’m passionate and creative. But our flaws are all the same, which is deeply unfortunate. We’re both slobs (Sean will no doubt want to argue this, so I will amend: he’s a slob, I’m just too lazy to clean). We’re both argumentative. We both have poor memory. We’re both procrastinators.

When we saw this movie at SXSW, I’m not even sure we’d gone a full block before I’d declared “not it.” I did not not not want to review this movie. Sean acquiesed, and to be fair, I wrote 27 SXSW reviews, and he wrote 5, so he kinda owed me. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a month. As you may have guessed, we’re also both Assholes, and we’re both deathly stubborn. We occasionally bring up this review with much throat-clearing, and then we discuss it in that overly-polite way that couples who have been married a long time have in order not to divorce over literally every third conversation they have. Still no review.

So fuck, white flag, here it is:

There once was a Texan singer-songwriter who went by the name of Blaze Foley. He was a good musician but not a super successful one; in fact, he wasn’t very successful at life. He struggled with addictions and pushed away the woman who tried to love him. He MV5BNTAxZWU4MjktYmNkNC00NGRiLTk2MDMtNDhhMjkwMWIwYTUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzM1MTEwMTE@._V1_accessorized his western wear with duct tape and lived in a tree house with no plumbing or electricity. He was mentally unstable, volatile, poor every damn day of his life, and then he got shot in the gut and died. Lucinda Williams called him “a genius and a beautiful loser.” Townes Van Zandt suggested “He’s only gone crazy once. Decided to stay.” The only hits he ever had were when his songs were recorded by other people, and even then lots were posthumous (Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, John Prine). And for some reason Ethan Hawke just really, really wanted to make a movie about the guy. So, using Blaze’s ex-lover Sybil Rosen’s book Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze as his guide, he did.

If you’re a music nerd who knows the likes of Van Zandt, Gurf Morlix, Guy Schwartz, and Billy Block, then this film is the perfect way to worship your duct tape messiah. Ben Dickey in the title role and Alia Shawkat as his bride are both wonderful. But I found the movie sluggish, the content unremarkable. I think Sean enjoyed the film more than I did (at the very least he could argue as to why anyone would want to make a film about this particular life) but he wouldn’t write the damn review so this is what you get: meh.

Of course, screening the movie on Blaze’s old stomping grounds means having a lot of his musician friends in the audience, and later on stage, which was cool. But I didn’t know the man and I don’t think I’d have wanted to. And if Julia Roberts can’t get me to listen to Lyle Lovett then no one can. So this was a lost cause for me, a bore and a chore.  Sorry, Blaze. I hope you’re resting in peace.

 

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Everybody Wants Some !!

I was totally fucking bored by this movie. Nothing happened. To call it meandering is to try to put a positive spin on something that was downright pointless. I didn’t crack a smile once, and my only reaction to the film was to cringe at the various combinations of knee socks and wispy mustaches.

Maybe I was just watching this with my vagina, ie: Richard Linklater has made yet another testament to boyhood, with only gross caricatures of women adorning the periphery of his movie. No, not women. The boys aren’t chasing women. They’re chasing pussy. The woman is incidental to the hole she can provide for a moment’s worth of pleasure. Is this something to glorify? Be nostalgic about?

And I’m not just offended on behalf of women. I’m offended on behalf of men, the many men in my life who are not gross or one-dimensional. Who manage to like sex  AND treat women with respect. Who think beyond the tips of their penises. They deserve better than this.

And mostly I’m offended on behalf of my $12 and 2 hours. Those I will never get back. I thanks-but-no-thx-300x192could have spent those on a dime bag and a make-out sesh in the backseat of my car to a rockin 80s soundtrack and had a much better time.

My 2015 Oscar Predictions

Oscar season is always a time of year I look forward to. A bunch of my asshole friends and I get together and eat some food, have some drinks, make some bets, shit on some actors and generally have a great time.

In the spirit of competition and fun I thought I would post my Oscar picks in order to get the other assholes talking.  Let the games begin!

 

Best Picture: Boyhood

Best Director: Richard Linklater

Best Actor: Michael Keaton

Best Actress: Julianne Moore

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation game

Best Animated Feature: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Film: Ida

Best Documentary: CitizenFour

Best Cinematography: Birdman

Best Film Editing: Boyhood

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Song: Glory

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar

Best Hair & Makeup: The Grand Budapest hotel

Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper

Best Live Action Short: Aya

Best Animated Short: Feast

Best Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Boyhood

Boyhood is a really cool concept for a movie. You have to admire the film makers who set out to film a movie over the course of twelve years. Twelve years! That’s a long time to be committed to a project but it really pays off. Ellar Coltrane, who plays the titular boy Mason, was 7 when they started, and 18 when they wrapped. Imagine signing that kind of contract at such a young age. You can’t, because such a thing would be illegal in the US. The producers would have just had to cross boyhoodtheir fingers, but everyone kept showing up, year after year. I’ve heard the kids maybe regretted their involvement at times, and who can blame them – hello, awkward years and teenage rebellion!. I’ve never had the same job that long, and few people of my generation ever will. Amazing. Richard Linklater, the director, was known for making movies that took place all in one day. This one, obviously, blows that right up. He even made a pact with Ethan Hawke that if he died during filming, Hawke would take over.

The time lapse is not the only naturlistic aspect of the movie. The family exchanges feel authentic; some of the footage feels almost home-movie-ish, like when the kids are lined up to get the most recent edition of the Harry Potter series. These kids went through everything that normal kids their age did – they experience Britney Spears, the Bush administration, and skinny jeans. Patricia Arquette really elevates her game as a struggling, single mother who raises her son and daughter and works to make better lives for them. Ethan Hawke, aging visibly o camera, plays the deadbeat father with a lot of growing up to do himself. Their lives feel real, like they could be your neighbours. Their cars and their sneakers are not mysteriously above their station. Real life happens to them, they repeat clothing, grow ill-advised mustaches, date the wrong guy, take up and then discard hobbies.

The script must have had to evolve as they filmed because a family is dynamic. It reacts and is influenced by the world around it. Politics and trends are woven deftly and interestingly into the story. Linklater was directing his own daughter for these twelve years and watching her grow in front of his lens. The kid actors are quite good, fortunately; they’re not hammy or too old for their age. I was beginning to think that for whatever reason only British kids could manage not to be annoying on film, but these two may have turned things around for the Americans, and it must have been difficult to cast someone who’s not just right for the part now, but will continue to be for years to come.

So we know the span is quite large (12 years!) but the scope is actually pretty tiny. We just stay focused on this little family, following this kid during those formative years of his life, all those little things that will eventually add up to the man. There’s not a lot happening. Yes, childhood is tumultuous, but these are pretty normal lives. Nobody adopted a pet dragon, or got adopted by a dog, or took home a giant inflatable robot. He just went to school, watched his mom divorce and remarry, learned to tolerate his sister, tried beer, masturbated to the Sears catalogue. Regular kid stuff that’s only interesting when you add it all up and realize that this is it. This is childhood. And at the end, it spits out an adult that we hope will go off and do well. This movie was the scrapbook of his life, and a running time of nearly three hours doesn’t cover more than an episode or two at each age, but even at that, this movie can feel a bit draggy. It’s not an action-packed movie, but I was moved by it. It’s not depressing by any means, but I guess I felt a bit sentimental about it, probably because I truly felt like I was given the chance to really get to know these people. In fact, it was hard to remember that this is fiction, it feels that much like just watching through someone’s window.

This is an experiment of a movie that needs to be seen. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it. Will anyone attempt it again? The door’s open now, but it’s such an undertaking, and such a risk, that I believe this movie is one of a kind.