“Boyhood”–Childhood is Never Easy

 

BoyhoodFilmed over 12 years with the same cast, “Boyhood”  is like no other movie made in Hollywood.  This groundbreaking story feels like a documentary, not a scripted narrative written and directed by Richard Linklater (of “Slacker” fame), who films  intermittently for five days each year over an eleven-year period (from  2002 to  2013).  The decade-long time-span for shooting the story is in itself pioneering, but “Boyhood” is so much more.  This coming-of-age story is about all families, families we know and families we grew up in.  It is not exclusively about boys, although there are scenes encapsulating maleness.  “Boyhood” is more  about all of us: growing up and growing old.

The viewer is pulled into the film, almost as a voyeur.  We see the  beautiful six-year old boy,  Mason (the phenomenal newcomer Ellar Coltrane),  grow to eighteen years old, encompassing the baby-faced  charm, but also the  pain, of early childhood through the indecisiveness of adolescence with a single mom and a well-meaning  father ill-equipped for either parenting or marriage.  “Boyhood”  opens with a sudden decision by Olivia (Patricia Arquette),  the lovely but exhausted single mother, to move to Texas in order to start a new life with her two children, Mason and Samantha (Lorelei Linklater).   The drifter dad Mason Senior (Ethan Hawke) insinuates himself into their lives.  There is no place any of them can call home.    Boyhood 2

 

 

 

Everyone in the family makes very poor choices.  As the story unfolds, there are other possible outcomes , different from what actually happens, but equally viable. When Mason, now eighteen years old, is asked: “Do people seize moments or do moments seize them?”  Mason replies:  “We are always in the moment.”  And “Boyhood” reveals the ever-constant present that replays our past. That is part of the genius of “Boyhood”, although the pacing is at times uncomfortably slow.

Ultimately, “Boyhood”  belongs to the young actor Ellar Coltrane who plays the boy Mason.   Lorelei Linklater, as his sister, Samantha,  also shares center stage for underscoring the tensions of everyday family life.   I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie  becomes a film classic!

 

“The Priest of Love” — D.H. Lawrence’s Travel Diary (Unfortunately)

 

[Guest post from author Shelly King, who has written the novel, THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, about a young woman who finds love notes written in the margins of a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in a used bookstore. The quest to learn the truth behind these notes turns her life, and the lives of those around her, completely upside down. THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING will be in bookstores from Grand Central Publishing (Hachette) on September 2, 2014. For more about Shelly and her debut novel, visit: www.shellyking.com.]

 

The Priest of Love

 

It’s hard to make an interesting movie about a writer. The process of writing is quiet and boring to watch. It’s interior and that often doesn’t make a good movie. But what do you do if you really want to make a movie about a writer, especially a writer whose work screams to be visual like D.H. Lawrence? Well, my suggestion would definitely not be to make it a travel diary which is basically what The Priest of Love is.

What made me interested in a 1981 movie I’d never heard of? Well, I’m fascinated by D.H. Lawrence’s work. Lady Chatterley’s Lover plays a key part in my own novel, The Moment of Everything. I like how Lawrence pushed boundaries, not only by the four-letter words he uses but by questioning the morality of the industrial age. He celebrates the tenderness between two people (the first title for the novel was Tenderness) while showing the expression of that tenderness with a frankness no one had read before. It’s a novel I didn’t like at first, but have grown to love for its heart. So when I found out there was a movie about the years Lawrence spent writing Lady Chatterley’s Lover–his last novel–starring Ian McKellen, I was so there.

Unfortunately, “The Priest of Love” was a disappointment. It starts with Lawrence and his new wife Frieda in Cornwall at the beginning of WWI. They are expelled because Frieda is German. So they leave England and accept the patronage of a wealthy, eccentric woman in Taos, New Mexico. Lawrence and Frieda fight. They go on to Mexico and fight some more. Then it’s back to England, then to Italy and France, fighting along the way, all while John Gielgud is back in England banning and burning Lawrence’s books.

It’s hard to say what this movie is really about. It only got interesting in the final 30 minutes when Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published and we got to see the reaction and how Lawrence reacted to the reaction. But it’s all a very shallow telling of a very fascinating story of how that book came to be.

The movie is trying very hard to show the complex relationship between Lawrence and Frieda, and that’s a noble goal. They were complex people (she left her husband and three children for him), but the movie barely scratches the surface. Ian McKellen is wonderful as Lawrence and could have been extraordinary with a better script. In the end, the film is little more than a travel diary.

D.H. Lawrence was an astonishing and revolutionary writer. It would have been amazing if this film about him had been so as well.

 

 

GORGEOUS: Confronting Beauty in Some Extreme Forms

[Guest post from artist Tracey Adams who currently has her own show at the Bryant Street Gallery,  Palo Alto, and K. Imperial Fine Arts, San Francisco.   In addition, The Huffington Post interviewed Tracey in “Everything in My Life Is Interconnected” on art, music and math.]

 0904-14-Gorgeous-exhibition-majorLast week I had the pleasure of seeing GORGEOUS, an exhibition of works  from both the SFMOMA and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.  The curators mentioned, this exhibition is not about the context or meanings of the objects. Rather, the focus is on what the objects look like and how we react to them.  What grabbed me the most were the text plaques alongside each piece. The subject of Beauty is one I’ve been exploring and reading about for the last 2 years. I’m including a few highlights from the “Gorgeous” catalog:  excerpted text  from the curators, Allison Harding and Forrest McGill.  

 Lotus-deer-and-maple-leaves-1800-50-School-of-Sakai-Hoitsu-set-of-3-hanging-scrolls-ink-and-colors-on-silk“The gorgeous challenges the limits of conventional beauty, often approaching the grotesque, abject, overwrought or kitsch. It catches us off guard with an attraction to that other thing, the under belly, where beauty gets messy and unpredictable. Some may feel attracted, others repulsed. We can’t look away. S/he may not be beautiful; s/he is gorgeous.”

“Beauty is always bizarre. I do not mean to say that it is voluntarily, coldly bizarre…I mean that it always contains a bit of strangeness, not intentional, but unconscious, and it is this strangeness in particular that creates Beauty…Reverse the proposition, and try to conceive of a commonplace beauty!” – Charles BaudelaireEllsworth-Kelly-ntitled-Mandorla-1988-bronze

 

Go experience GORGEOUS at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, through September 14, 2014!