Ben Nyce | Via Latina
The subject of Ricard Linklater’s superb Boyhood is the passage of time in all its precious evanescence. Filmed over twelve years using the same actors, the film shows the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from a six-year-old child to an 18 -ear-old college student. Linklater’s strategy was to make 12 short films, gathering his actors for four or five day shoots and then editing them into a seamless whole. He had a script for the whole film but had the actors make their own contributions, though he kept these carefully under control, unlike in his first feature Slacker. Boyhood is three hours long but it is an engrossing three hours, filled with spontaneous life. It was made for the very modest budget of two and one half million dollars, the major actors Arquette and Hawke working under scale.
Mason’s passage is not an easy one. His mom (Patricia Arquette) makes a series of unfortunate relationships with difficult men (a professor she admires, a prison guard) as she struggles to educate herself and become a professor herself. She does the best she can in her stress-filled life, giving Mason the love and support largely missing from his father (Ethan Hawke from Linklater’s “Sunrise/ Before Sunset/ Midnight” series). Dad is flakey and irresponsible but full of love and playfulness – when he’s around. As a result Mason has to do a lot of growing up by himself. He doesn’t have a mentor. We see him navigate by instinct and luckily his instincts are sound; they haven’t been warped by the traumas, for instance, of poverty or abuse. When we see him at the end he’s lost the gangliness of adolescence and is full of calm strength and humor. I don’t know of any film which dramatizes the life force with such deep-breathing naturalness. It’s one for the ages.
For an evening of laughs get The Loved One – a riotous satire of Forest Lawn and American funeral practices with a script by Terry Southern (script for Doctor Strangelove) from the Evelyn Waugh novel, directed by Tony Richardson. Stars are Jonathan Winters as the Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy, John Gielgud, Liberace, Tab Hunter, Robert Morley, Robert Morse and Rod Steiger as Mr. Joyboy. Need I say more?
Nyce taught literature and film at USD. He authored “Satyajit Ray” and “Scorcese Up Close.”