Time Moves Slowly (Boyhood review)

It can be tough to overcome a traumatic childhood. We are slow to realize when things have gone wrong and can even normalize recurring behaviour that we shouldn’t. Closure can be difficult, especially when we have to remember the past and our brains can easily alter our chemistry in order to “protect” us.

That said, the human brain and soul is resilient, and when we consider matters concerning love and emotion, those tragedies of life can become lessons and turn the ugly into something far more beautiful.

 

 

 

Boyhood (2014)

Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater
released on blu-ray January 6, 2015
********** 10/10

emreunayli_boyhood700

IMDB: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Audience Score 81%
The Guardian: *****/*****

 

I’ve already told you about Richard Linklater once before. He’s one of the greatest directors of all-time in my personal opinion and he has inspired my imagination in more than one instance. I had originally planned on writing about this new movie Don’t Think Twice this week, but then I found out that it wasn’t available on blu-ray, and I was super bummed. So I decided to pick up Boyhood instead, because I still hadn’t seen it, and boy am I glad that I did. I’ve yet to be disappointed by Linklater, and this movie is no exception.

I’m going to go over the plot as best I can, just to give you a taste for it, but please, please, please do me a solid dear readers, and check this movie out for yourselves. This is a unique movie in the scope of movies in that it takes place over a twelve year period inside the film and was literally filmed with the same actors over a twelve year period in oder to demonstrate the rate of change as one grows up.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited somewhat…

In 2002, eight-year-old Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), and his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their single mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and watch her fight with her boyfriend. In 2003, Olivia moves the family to Houston, to get a degree and better job. Mason’s father, Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), visits them and promises to be more involved in their lives. Mason Sr. and Olivia argue about the kids. Olivia takes Mason to class, where Mason sees her flirt with professor Bill.

In 2004, Olivia and Bill have married and blended their two families, including Bill’s children from a previous marriage. They share experiences and learn to get along. In 2005, Mason and Samantha bond with their father. Olivia continues school and is initially supportive of Bill’s strict parenting style, up until the forced cutting of Mason’s long hair. Bill becomes an abusive alcoholic. In 2006, Bill assaults Olivia and endangers the kids, Olivia leaves him and takes her kids.

In 2007, Mason Sr. learns that Samantha has a boyfriend and talks to her and Mason about contraception. He and Mason go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. In 2008, Mason is bullied by other students at school and teased on a camping trip but starts receiving attention from girls. Olivia teaches psychology at college and moves in with Jim, a student and Bosnian/Iraq War veteran.

By 2009, 15-year-old Mason has experimented with marijuana and alcohol. Mason Sr., who has remarried and now has a baby, takes Mason and Samantha to visit his wife’s parents. In 2010, Mason is lectured by his photography teacher, who sees his potential but a lack of ambition. Mason meets Sheena, who becomes his girlfriend. After a late night, a drunk Jim confronts Mason about partying. Olivia and Jim eventually split up.

In 2011, Mason and Sheena visit Samantha at the UofT, where they share their hopes and fears about college. Samantha’s roommate discovers them asleep together in her dorm room.

In 2012, Mason breaks up with Sheena, wins the silver medal in a state photography contest, and is awarded college scholarship money. Mason Sr. gives him advice about his breakup. In 2013, as Mason prepares to leave his mother’s new apartment for college, Olivia breaks down, disillusioned by how fast life’s milestones seem to have passed by.

At Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Mason moves into his dorm room and meets his new roommate Dalton, Dalton’s girlfriend Barb, and Barb’s roommate Nicole. Mason eats a marijuana brownie given to him by Barb and the group goes hiking at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Nicole shares with Mason her belief that, rather than people seizing moments, moments seize us, to which Mason agrees.

Pros: It is amazing to think that something which is a series of footage taken over a twelve year period has the ability to tell a cohesive story and resonate so strongly what it feels like to grow up. It is ambitious and successful in its aspirations.

Cons: You may struggle to find a tight narrative, and on that account you’d be right. Overall it functions as a series of reflective experiences, it’s only in the credits that we begin to see the connections. The runtime could also potentially take you out of it.

Runtime:  2 hours 45 minutes

Points of Interest: If Richard Linklater died at any point during the shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties. The film was shot over 45 days but because it happened between May 2002 and August 2013, it works out to over 4000 days. Each year of Mason’s life gets approximately 14 minutes of screen time.

It manages to capture several intersecting ideas all at once, the moments in time from the perspective of an estranged father, the string of stepfathers and odd relationships the children and mother endure as she struggles with her responsibilities, the half-remembered experiences of a youth looking back on his life, the highlights of childhood. The time-lapse method is incredibly well served here and could easily be applied to another other member of the family if you seriously spend the time with each character.

Boyhood is experienced predominantly from the perspective of Mason Jr. but I found myself observing MJ’s relationship with his mother and how they interacted with each other quite often as the film progressed. Suffice to say, I think that is intentional on the part of Linklater, asking us to consider the effect that we have on others in our lives no just our own impact upon the world at large. But that’s just a theory.

Tim!

Roll Your R’s (Green Day, Revolution Radio review)

Experience will teach you a lot. For instance, I couldn’t roll my r’s until someone taught me how. And granted it’s probably a useless skill, but I hear that some chicks enjoy it when you kiss ’em with that level of dedication.

Just something to think about, you creative cuties.

Green Day – Revolution Radio
released October 7, 2016
******** 8/10

unnamed-111

Green Day is an American punk band that formed in 1986, the year after I was born. They’ve released twelve studio albums to date, starting with the Lookout! produced 39/Smooth. This was followed up by Kerplunk in 1992, the year my baby brother was born. But in 1994 they released the album that caught my attention and introduced it all for me, Dookie. I must’ve listened to that cassette over a 100 times with my BFF.

9 year old’s listening to 22 years play punk rock. Everything about that statement just makes me smile.

Green Day have made twelve studio albums over their career, one of them a rock opera that went on to become a broadway play, another three that were released in the same year, and they’ve got a movie in the works too. Let me just put it to rest right quick, Revolution Radio is a return to form for Green Day, and while I love him, Meanthony Jerktano is wrong in his review of this record.

These guys are making punk rock which is self-referential and intimate, focused on the fact that they lived a fast life, but are finally in the throws of middle age. I suspect they thought the might burn out first. What do you do when the genre you helped define is turning into a dirty word? Keep doing you.

Revolution Radio takes from the missteps that were Uno! Dos! and Tre! and presents an idea, protest.

It’s not the kind of music that has profound or beautiful effects, but I don’t think we should be looking for that from these guys. Somewhere Now pulls from The Who, while Bang Bang assumes the identity of a murderer who wants to be internet famous. The next single (and title track) Revolution Radio is catchy and maturely constructed, referencing the Black Lives Matter movement at one point, and followed up by Say Goodbye another song which looks outward to challenge the issues of the day.

Surprisingly enough I find the album gets even better once we get into the middle of it. Outlaws is reminiscent of American Idiot days, and I think is probably the reason why so many critics are saying Revolution Radio is the spiritual third in the real trilogy of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Also, Bouncing Off the Wall is great, fun and loud – It’s a call back to older Green Day sounds.

Still Breathing takes up back to the political injustices and tells a story through the eyes of three separate protagonists, tying it with Youngblood for my essential tracks of the record.

The remaining songs are great too, Too Dumb To Die features that nostalgia I mentioned earlier, while Troubled Times pairs well sonically. Forever Now is another American Idiot callback, and the closing track Ordinary World is by far the most interesting and up there for me in value – it asks the question of what life would look like if Green Day were in an ordinary world, and it’s clever.

 

 

 

Green Day have a wealth of experience at this point in their lives, and despite having some concerns about what they should be doing with their lives, I think they are on the right path. After all, they symbolically burned the music carrier which got their name out there in the first place.

These guys can take a seemingly useless talent and turn it into a sweet melody, so I say let them play. But hey, that’s just a theory.

Tim!

 

A Room With A View (Room review)

Perspective is everything when it comes to communication. One person’s experience is unique compared to another, but factor in variables like age, gender, ethnicity, and education, and things become that much more nuanced.

Today’s film review features a story that addresses exactly that idea. Shall we?

 

 

 

Room (2015)

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, Tom McCamus, William H. Macy
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
released on blu-ray March 1, 2016
********** 10/10

room_poster

IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Audience Score 94%
The Guardian: *****/*****

Leonad “Lenny” Abrahamson is an Irish film and television director. He has 5 feature films under his belt and now one Academy Award nomination for Best Director. And I’ll be the first to admit I knew absolutely nothing about him before looking into this review of Room. Which I only decided to watch after sitting down for the 88th Annual Academy Awards.

But I’m sure glad I did, because this movie packs an incredible emotional punch and hits you right in the ethics too. But let’s take a quick peek at the plot (I’ll refrain from spoiling the end).

Taken from Wikipedia and edited,

 

In Akron, Ohio, 24-year-old Joy (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) live in a shed they call Room. They share a bed, toilet, bathtub, television, and kitchen; the only window is a skylight. They are captives of Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), Jack’s biological father, who abducted Joy seven years prior, and routinely rapes her while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe. Joy deals with depression and malnutrition. She allows Jack to believe that only Room is “real,” that the world on television is dreams.

Old Nick tells Joy he’s lost his job and cannot  afford supplies. When Joy reacts badly, he cuts their heat and power. Joy tells Jack about the outside world; which he rejects initially. She has Jack fake a fever, hoping that Old Nick will take him to a hospital where he can escape, but Old Nick decides to return the next day with antibiotics.

Joy wraps Jack in the carpet and has him play dead so Old Nick will remove him from Room. Falling for the ruse, Old Nick places Jack in the back of his pickup and drives through the neighborhood. Awed at first, Jack then jumps from the truck and attracts the attention of a passer-by. Police arrive and rescue Jack. Based on his recollections of Room and what Joy told him, the police find Joy and rescue her. Old Nick is arrested, and Joy and Jack are taken to a hospital.

Reunited with family, Joy learns her parents (Joan Allen, William H. Macy) have divorced and her mother has a new partner, Leo (Tom McCamus). They stay at her childhood home where her mother and Leo reside. Her father cannot accept Jack and leaves. Jack struggles to adjust to life in the larger world, speaking only to his mother and expressing a desire to return to Room. Joy struggles with anger and depression, lashing out at her mother and ignoring doctor’s appointments. She agrees to a television interview, but becomes angry when the interviewer questions her decision to keep Jack with her in the room after his birth, rather than asking Old Nick to leave Jack some place that he could be found.

It is an intimate and emotional story that continues an incredible arc.

Pros: Though an incredibly dark topic, the narrative never feels without hope or promise. Brie Larson does a fantastic turn as the mother and breakout young actor Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well.

Cons: The second half is quite difficult to digest and as a result it feels like it could have been given more of same treatment, looking through Jack’s eyes as the first half.

Runtime: 118 minutes

Points of Interest: Brie Larson spent a month in isolation without phone or internet and maintained a strict diet to prepare for the role, it caused her to become depressed in the last week. Old Nick is another name for the Devil in Christianity.

This is an incredibly powerful film depicting a very intimate and traumatic mother-and-child story. It is handled in such a way that you get to experience it from two perspectives simultaneously, with many of the objects, people and events often being fun or scary for Jack whereas they are painful and torturous for Joy.

I highly recommend you go see this film, because whether you’ve read the book or not, the story is unique and the characters are well acted.

And that’s all I’ve got for today, dear readers! Come back tomorrow for some wisdom, and please leave some comments as well as subscribing to the blog if you want to see more!

Tim!

Road Map (Find Your Mentors)

One of my favourite things about film is the great associations films can have with words and ideas (spoiler alert for today’s wisdom). For instance, whenever I think of taking a road trip, I can’t help but remember 2000’s road sex comedy movie of the same name, Road Trip.

That movie is chock full of references for me.

For instance, I can’t help but think of Austin whenever someone mentions Boston and vice-versa. Clip conveniently included if you don’t get the reference.

On the other side of levity, the consequences of absorbing this content meant that I had weird ideas about what a new adult should be and could be, and as I mentioned in a previous post, it created some strange ideas of what post-secondary (and in the larger picture, adult life) would probably be like. But that doesn’t mean Road Trip has no redeeming qualities. In fact, the eccentricities of it’s lead characters demonstrate reality far better than most college themed films, that and an amazing idea tucked into pop culture sensibilities towards the end of the film, is super important.

Specifically, the scene where one of the characters is able to teach the lead character Josh the ancient philosophy course material needed to pass a class and stay in university. This is achieved by using analogies of wrestlers from WWF (WWFE or WWE as it is known today).

Rubin: What class is that again?
Rubin: Ancient philosophy.
Rubin: Well I can teach you ancient philosophy in 46 hours.
Josh: Really?
Rubin: Yeah, I can teach Japanese to a monkey in 46 hours. The key is just finding a way to relate to the material. Like, OK… You like pro wrestling, don’t you?
Josh: Who doesn’t?
Rubin: OK. Socrates was like the Vince McMahon of philosophy. He started it all.

This might seem dumb on the surface, and just feel-good filler but it is incredibly profound – perception is reality. What this means is that if you believe something, no matter how untrue, you won’t be able to get past it unless you come at it from a place of understanding. Rubin was able to “teach” Josh about philosophy using a subject he loved and cared about.

That’s the first step to growth, moving forward in a way that you can understand, which means making the content relational to your current interests and understanding and engaging with enthusiasm.

On that note, I want to continue the self-improvement concepts we’ve been examining, by focusing on a fairly important point, one which I’ve avoided in previous weeks because I wanted you to be as prepared as possible for the inevitable. How sneaky of me.

Well here it is – the realization that change is difficult and sometimes feels impossible, is only one step of many steps you need to take in order to stick with whatever creative purpose you have in your heart. You have to do this in order to make something and offer it up to the world.

I struggle with it myself, dear readers.

But that’s why it’s so rewarding once you begin to see results, because these are hard won battles, and a lot of the time they are with old beliefs you didn’t realize you were nursing so hard. That means taking baby steps and slowly changing a little by little, and to always keep in mind the power of reinvention.

By moving forward and focusing on what is in front of you, you can begin to dissolve the past. But guess what? You can’t just figure it out on your own, that’s how you got to where you are right now. By simply sleep-walking through life and absorbing things in your dream state. And we all know how fucked up dream state can be.

And then you aren’t making your art, you’re struggling to figure out what it’s in front of you.

Which means you need to find a teacher; this can be accomplished with a person who already has done what you want to (quickest, most emotional), through resources like books and films (longer, how you get 3/4 of the info), and lastly through a change in perception. Ever heard the expression, when the student is ready, the teacher appears? That’s largely a mental thing, because everything around you is capable of demonstrating the ideology and passion you are striving for. Rocks can represent hidden art for instance, or tree roots can represent learned knowledge.

So please find a mentor. This can be challenging for sure, as covered already, but  there are levels of mentorship and you will need all of them.

But don’t take my word for it, read this article to get yourself started.

And that’s all the theories I have for today, my friends. Please leave some comments below, subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already, and I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

 

Real Talk (Bridging The Talent VS Vision Gap)

What if you only had a few more months left to live? How would YOU spend YOUR time? Would you stay at the shitty job you took to get your career started or because you didn’t know what to do with yourself, or would you restructure pretty much everything so that you could finally do the things you’ve been saying you’ll do for years? And that probably means travelling, time with family, and projects that might not work out.

Seriously think about that for a minute.

Think about the dreams you have in the back of your mind and which ones (yes plural) you are not pursuing right now. I’m sure you’re scared about them too, right?

But that’s not gonna cut the mustard anymore!

I’m going to share a list of ten things you likely haven’t considered simultaneously but seriously need to if you want to get out of your funk and start contributing to society proper. That means you need to take a good hard look at your life and what it is made up of and start dissecting many things and nurturing other less obvious things.

This is real talk! And not the creepy kind from R Kelly.

Shitjustgotreal

10 Sentences That Can Change Your Perspective On Life

  1. People aren’t against you; they are for themselves.
  2. Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.
  3. You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.
  4. The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.
  5. Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated.
  6. The person that you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so better try to make yourself as interesting as possible.
  7. If you accept your limitations you go beyond them.
  8. People often say that motivation doesn’t last, Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.
  9. Everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
  10. Comfort is the enemy of achievement.

I originally found this list from imgur a few years back, so I can’t properly source it, other than the link itself, but here is the link if you want to do some investigating.

Today’s post dear readers is about this theory I have that most people are only willing to do the bare minimum to get through life.

You, yes you, as a creative person have a choice though – decide if you are willing to accept this as reality, or if you are going to fight with everything you have to stay passionate, to burn to produce something real, and to keep doing it until the day you die.

You see my friends, nobody is going to tell you the most obvious thing, they expect you to figure it out yourself.

We all have a reach that it is much longer than our grasp, in terms of asethetics/ability and our vision of what we will accomplish. We will always have this vision, from youth to our old age; but you have to work through potentially years of work in order for your talent to reach your vision.

Admittedly that last point is not my own idea, it comes from Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life. I paraphrased it, but here is the quote I took the idea from.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.

But there is this gap.

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.

We all go through this.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap. And your work will be as good as your ambitions.

And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Ira is right though. And I am gonna expand on his idea –  when we have nothing to lose AND we are physically able, we finally hunker down and start making beautiful things. And that’s when we start to close the gap.

Take for instance this song Clouds about a young man who was an incredibly talented musician.

As delicately as I can say it, the point I am making with Zach Sobiech is not that he FINALLY started to make art and follow his passion because of his cancer (though that is true), my point is that many of us finish school or enter the workforce and give up on our dreams. That was not Zach’s story, but look how much he accomplished in 4 years because he had a purpose and committed to it.

As I mentioned, most of us wait.

But if we wait until we get sick or when we retire and show signs of age, then decide to take up “hobbies” and finally start to share our unique visions with the world, we might not close that gap.

And that’s my theory for the day. Leave some comments or reach out to me with your thoughts! I’ll see you tomorrow with a Melodic Monday review.

Tim!