Film Friday #189

Boyhood (2014)

Attempting to describe Richard Linklater’s epic coming of age “project” Boyhood in terms of plot will never be satisfactory as essentially, like with most Linklater films, it doesn’t really have one. By now I think most are familiar with the background of this film but I’ll elaborate just in case. Boyhood follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family over twelve years as he transitions from boy to man. Doesn’t sound particularly special? Well rather than using a series of actors to portray Mason over the years Linklater spent twelve years filming the same  actors, to tell his story. Although Mason’s trials and tribulations are sometimes intense – dealing with his parents divorce and his mother’s (Patricia Arquette) subsequent and occasionally abusive marriages and his own search for meaning – there isn’t anything particularly special about his life. This doesn’t matter though as his experiences are so relateable and the use of the same actors creates a connection that I don’t believe would be possible if the characters were played by several different actors. I also loved the realism within the film and the way the characters changed and grew or devolved the way real people do. I thought Ethan Hawke as Mason’s initially absent and irresponsible father was excellent in his portrayal of someone learning to take responsibility for not only himself but also his family. The relationship between him and his children was one of the best things about the film. I suppose the ultimate message of Boyhood and the lesson that Mason learns is that no one has the answers or knows what the purpose of life is. We’re all just doing the best we can, making a series of decisions that are sometimes good and sometimes bad and that’s 0kay.  Pair this up with stunning cinematography, Linklater’s hallmark excellent dialogue and a heartfelt performance from Coltrane throughout and it’s hard to fault. 5/5

If I look really closely, I can see your good looks somewhere in the distance

If I look really closely, I can see your good looks somewhere in the distance

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Ten years after the simian flu all but wiped out humanity and hyper intelligent apes escaped to the forests outside San Francisco, they live together in a peaceful community lead by Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is now a father. The apes live and work together in homes they have built adhering to rules like “ape not kill ape” and “apes stronger together.” At the same time a small collection of humans have set up a colony in the abandoned city but are in danger of going dark as they are running out of power. While on an exploratory mission to reactivate a hydroelectric dam in the forest, former power plant worker, Carver (Kirk Acevedo) crosses paths with Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and his friend, Ash, who are fishing. Carver panics and shoots Ash. Caesar calms the apes and allows the humans to leave unharmed but his right hand man, Koba (Toby Kebell) is furious and demands that action be taken. Caesar is torn between wanting to show strength and risking everything he has created but eventually leads the apes to the human colony to tell them to stay away. But colony leader, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) is desperate to get the power going and risks life and limb to return to the apes territory and beg Caesar to allow them to continue their work. Caesar hesitantly agrees and Malcolm gets to work. At the same time, Malcolm’s fellow leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is not as trusting of the apes and begins testing the humans’ remaining ammunition. This sparks of a series of bad decisions on both sides that will shatter the fragile peace and risk the survival of both species. I have been eagerly anticipating this film for a while after attending a sneak preview of some scenes a couple of months ago and I have to say I was not disappointed. Not only is the motion capture so incredibly impressive that you almost instantly forget that you are not watching real apes but the theme of two leaders just trying to do the right thing is universal. I found the decision not to push the audience to side with the humans or the apes refreshing and it makes it truly about the characters. Serkis is incredible as Caesar, who is a multifaceted character forced to breaking in an attempt to protect what he holds dear. If I have any complaints it is that Caesar’s “wife” is completely underdeveloped and it  might have helped add an extra layer to his desire to defend her if we saw a little more of who she was. It’s a minor complaint though from a film that held me rapt from beginning to end. Much better than the first one. 4/5

I'm on a horse

I’m on a horse

Alone in the Dark (2005)

As part of Shitfest Summer 2014 over at the IPC, I joined in on one of the Shitfest Socials where a group of bloggers watch the same terrible film and comment along in a blog post. This is the film we watched. I can’t really do a plot summary because throughout the film I never figured out what was going on but basically Christian Slater plays Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who was experimented on when he was a child in an orphanage – I think. And this was somehow related to nuns and some kind of evil demon force that was awakened by an ancient race called the Abskani. His friend pops it so Ed goes to investigate and encounters not only his ex-girlfriend, Aline (Tara Reid), a museum curator but also some kind of government paranormal organisation headed up by Commander Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff). And then there are explosions and fighting and some kind of parasite creatures living in people and demons that basically look like Pound Store aliens from Alien. None of this is relevant because the overall effect is so incredibly shit that there’s virtually no chance you’re going to manage to sit through it. The story line is incomprehensible. The acting is atrocious, especially from Tara Reid who is in no way believable as an archaeologist and just  appears to be meandering around the set waiting for someone to give her her next hit. The effects are awful, along with the fight choreography and neither is helped  by the score, which probably came straight from the video game this stinking turd was based on. If that wasn’t enough make sure you look out for a sex scene between Slater and Reid which is sound tracked by Youssou N’Dour’s Seven Seconds, a song about child poverty and racial prejudice. Hot. Avoid at all costs. -1/5 (first ever minus marks)

This curating business would be a lot easier if I could just find that giant pug statue

This curating business would be a lot easier if I could just find that giant French bulldog statue

Lovelace (2013)

In the 1970’s Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) became the first ever porn megastar after starring in a film called Deep Throat but how did she get there? This biopic follow’s Lovelace’s starting with her strict upbringing at the hands of her domineering mother, Dorothy (Sharon Stone) and father, John (Robert Patrick). Desperate to get out she marries, Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard) who turns out to be a violent, sexual sadist who has no problem with prostituting Linda whenever he needs the money. He eventually pushes her into the world of porn where her life unravels around her but will Linda have the strength to get our before it’s too late. While Lovelace is interesting and Seyfried gives a passable performance of a desperate woman, the tone is all over the place and it never feels like it delves beneath the surface. I also didn’t understand why some scenes were revisited showing the truth of what happened versus the perception at the time. It adds nothing except confusion and padding. Overall watchable but nothing particularly special. 2.5/5

What do you mean my hair looks shit? Have you seen yours?

What do you mean my hair looks shit? Have you seen yours?

14 Comments

  1. It seems it was quite the mix up – some very good and some shockingly bad.

    All I could think looking at Caesar on the horse was “Look at my horse, my horse is amazing.” (if you haven’t seen it, go watch it – brain dead but entertaining).

    Boyhood seems to be getting good reviews, yours further reinforces this. I might have to look out for it sometime! I had no idea it was shot over such a long time period, for that alone it must be worth checking out.

    As always, fantastic reviews Abbi!

    1. Abbi

      I would highly recommend Boyhood. You get so involved with the characters. You feel like you’re part of the family.

      1. Will check for it, definitely!

  2. theipc

    SHITFEST FOREVER!!!!!

    “If that wasn’t enough make sure you look out for a sex scene between Slater and Reid which is sound tracked by Youssou N’Dour’s Seven Seconds, a song about child poverty and racial prejudice. Hot.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    1. Abbi

      Shitfest RULES!!

  3. Alone in the Dark is atrocious! I think the sex scene is with different actors too. It had to bring down your weekly average haha. Shame about Lovelace. Always worse when a biography flops.

    1. Abbi

      It wasn’t a flop so much as it just didn’t live up to its potential. Unlike Alone in the Dark which was just a total turd.

  4. Great reviews! I have no interest in watching Alone in the Dark or Lovelace. Saw Apes this week and really liked it; I agree: much, much better than the previous one. And I can’t wait to see Boyhood. The concept is amazing and I love Linklater’s writing.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! Definitely avoid Alone in the Dark. It’s probably the worst film I have ever seen. Boyhood is beautiful. I hope you get to see it soon.

      1. Hope so too. If anything, it’ll be worth it to see Ellar Coltrane grow up on film. That is just fantastic. Plus, I looove Ethan Hawke.

  5. I need to check out Boyhood and the apes movie. Great reviews. Alone in the dark oh yes wow I heard that was a masterpiece. lol

    1. Abbi

      It deserved an Oscar… NOT! I’d highly recommend the other two though.

  6. LOVED Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I really want to see Boyhood…but I don’t think it’s playing anywhere here anymore. :/ I am…erm…so disappointed I missed Alone in the Dark…bahahaha.

    1. Abbi

      I think Boyhood would be totally enjoyable on the small screen so you haven’t missed out. Alone in the Dark can only be described as an ordeal.

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