Category Archives: Richard Linklater

#Boyhood – First Time Ever!

Every impossible phenomenon is only impossible, till someone who has the conviction to bend the limits and change the rules.

Boyhood! One can go on and on about this film and yet not touch the slightest glimpse of what it has achieved in itself. Shot over the period of 12 years, Boyhood is a cinematic experiment that has yielded unbelievable results. The movie being made, itself is a legend and worthy of a nomination. But for everyone remotely interested in enjoying the film, keep aside this fact when you go to the theatres and just let it flow through you.

“I have never been in a helicopter crash, but my life from my perspective has been an adventure” – Jesse (Before Sunset)

Boyhood is a bundle of moments that encompass 12 years of the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the age of 5 to 18. The theme of the film is growing up. We are introduced to three most important characters in Mason’s life – His mother ( Patricia Arquette), his sister (Lorelei Linklater) and his father (Ethan Hawke) and a lot of important yet temporary characters.

“Do you consider your book autobiographical?”

“Well, it is hard to say. Isn’t everything autobiographical? We see things through one keyhole!”

It is one whole story from one perspective. We don’t see anything that Mason does not witness. The film is terribly honest in that sense. Of course it takes really minor liberties in a couple of scenes, but nothing largely related to the plot of the film. The director Richard Linklater said, “Boyhood is a memory. It’s about how time passes and how that informs the way in which we process the world.”

Speaking of the plot of the film, I wonder if there is any plot to the film. The film starts abruptly and it ends abruptly. We simply wish to see more of Mason after the film is over. To me, the protagonist of the film is time and Mason is the point of view character. Time goes by and we are mere observers. There are hard times and there are times when we are completely lost. But no time lasts forever. It is constantly changing. And at the end of the day, we are just in the perfect place to say, that we did alright.

The music in the film, needs an honourable mention at least. I am hoping to find the entire OST of the film as a playlist somewhere. The change in the mood of the track can let us track the change in the mood of the characters. We learn a lot, not only about Mason, but also about his father through the songs that he writes for his kids. And apart from that, songs provide the necessary transition between different vignettes in the film. Something the Contemporary Indian Cinema very generously lends its distant cousins.

If someone is familiar with the technique of timelapses; then I can certainly consider this 2 hr. 45 min. epic as a humungous timelapse. Apart from the technicalities, the two most important aspects of a timelapse are change and consistency. In the film, as the characters actually grow up, change in the physical form is a part of the parcel. But the script really maintains the pace of behavioural changes. On the other hand, the director acts as a tripod and holds the consistency. So that the movie does not become a tedious collection of moments, or as Celine says in Before Sunrise “A National Geographic program about people.”

Speaking more about change and consistency, some of the characters change. Some of them stay the same. Or to put this in better words, the goals of all these characters evolve from time to time. Mason’s Father graduates from being a manchild to a well settled man. As he puts forward himself in the film, he becomes everything Mason’s mother wanted him to become 20 years ago. On the other hand, Mason’s sister remains the same throughout. We are talking about the basics. How one person deals with a problem and what is that person’s first reaction to it.

When I watched School of Rock, I didn’t even know about Richard Linklater or the Before Series. When I first watched Boyhood, my initial reaction was burdened by the so called “gimmick” of the film 12 years in the making. Mainly because, if I have to make the film right now, I would make it in a different manner. I stay in a different part of the globe and the culture is vastly different over here. And the film relies on the simple moments shared by everyone while growing up. On watching it for the third time, by some alterations I could easily find my impressions in Mason. I could find my mother’s sacrifices for me and my younger brother and I could see my father’s inability to express his love for us in the film. And I feel that is the biggest achievement of the film. To generalize something as simple and as universal as growing up!

After this one, I am expecting at least the Academy Award for Best Director. And I am eagerly waiting for Linklater’s next. This is what he has to say about it:

“I think the word ‘spiritual’ gets me off the hook. I just shot it and wrapped it recently, and it has nothing to do with Dazed and Confused other than it would be set four years later, when one of the younger characters went off to college. It’s a party film. It’s really about the beginning of school, not the end of the school year. I guess personally or autobiographically it’s kind of in that realm, but it’s also a continuation of Boyhood, believe it or not. I don’t know if one film can be a sequel to two different movies, but it begins right where Boyhood ends, with a guy showing up at college and meeting his new roommates and a girl. It overlaps with the end of Boyhood.”

#1 Richard Linklater – Before Sunrise

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
– Aristotle 

Isn’t romance the most common, yet strikingly difficult way to connect with people? The common misconception is linking romance with love. Well, in most cases, it is true. But romance is much more than just love. It is the excitement and mystery, the sudden urge of pushing yourself beyond reason and indulging outside the boundaries of your body. And I feel romantic these days.

Before Sunrise takes place as an American youngster meets a French girl on a train, and they decide to spend the evening together in Vienna. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), asks Céline (Julie Delpy) to get down with him at Vienna, just after a few minutes of conversation. And she agrees. And they explore the city, as they share a few of their random and intimate thoughts about, everything. They fall in love with each other. And in the end, promise to meet at the same place after 6 months and resume their respective lives. That’s all.

The basic idea of having just a few hours with someone interesting is extremely fascinating. You see, all of our friends, love interests are interesting people. We like something about them, that’s why we choose to interact with them. But over the period of time, we run out of interest in them. The freshness fades away. But what if we had only about 12 hours with them. Wouldn’t we talk about absolutely everything? And the best part is, even if we screw up, even if our honest opinions contradict with their opinions, it is alright. Because after some time, we don’t have to bear the burden of being with them.

As our characters explore, the camera moves with them. Literally moves with them. The idea of the film is being realistic, without the drama of choppy editing. We indulge into simple, tracking shots, only adding subtle highlights when required with a close up. The whole film is a conversation. Contradicts to the convention that a film is a visual medium and dialogue must be kept to its minimum. If it is interesting and well crafted, anything goes.

Our life is a reflection of ourselves. We see others, but we can never see how we look like, what we are. The movie revolves around the discovery of one’s self through a significant other. The characters converse with each other, which essentially creates an impact on their own lives. The film refers to someone you might know. Someone whose name will suffice and add more meaning to the unique writing style the film has adopted. The film takes place on Bloomsday and the person I am talking about is James Joyce.