Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" is a masterpiece. Full stop. It's an effortless piece of humanist filmmaking we don't often see, particularly on these shores where the Hollywood machine has forever altered the concept of what a movie should be, where independent cinema is pushed to the fringes while soaring budget gambles dominate the status quo and the middle ground of American cinema is consistently eroded. "Boyhood" is, at last, I think, the film Linklater has been striving toward his whole career. It is his Truffaut film.
It's been nearly a decade since Reese Witherspoon picked up a Best Actress Oscar for "Walk the Line," but her recent renaissance (kicked off by her supporting turn in "Mud") could culminate in more Oscar attention.
A couple of years ago, Andy Serkis' name again made the rounds in the awards conversation vis a vis his performance capture work. The talk concerned his performance in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and came nearly a decade after he stirred consideration among more progressive minds for his work in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." Well, with a performance in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" that is sure to outshine a great many that will be in the actual running, it's time to dust off that conversation once again.
Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is coming this winter, another spin on the Moses story and…I don't know, why can't I get excited about this? Part of it might be the fact that the last Scott film that really lit my fire was "Matchstick Men," though I did quite like "American Gangster" and the director's cut of "Kingdom of Heaven," and I have a ton of below-the-line respect for "Prometheus." But it also just feels, I don't know, passé? This is Scott back in "Gladiator" territory, and "Gladiator" was 14 years ago, by the way.
One of America's greatest film critics received a welcome honor this past weekend. "Life Itself," the documentary chronicling the career of Roger Ebert, opened in limited release grossing $131,411 in 23 theaters. That might not seem substantial, except when you realize the doc debuted simultaneously on VOD, a modern day necessity for small films that the technologically forward thinking Ebert may have been more than OK with (or not).
HOLLYWOOD — This Friday is a significant date for the cast and crew of Richard Linklater's "Boyhood." After 12 long years of production on one of the most unique film projects of all time, the film will finally be unleashed on the movie-going public.
For Patricia Arquette, the anxiety mostly came at the end of shooting, when she realized this clearly life-altering experience was coming to a close. In the film, she stars as the mother of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a headstrong woman already dealing with the effects of a broken home at the beginning of the story who is challenged with finding her way through the ups and downs of life as much as her son. The film could just as easily have been called "Motherhood," and indeed, you come away sensing that Arquette delivers the film's stand-out performance.
Fox pretty much sat the Oscar season out last year after coming off a big 2012-2013 season with Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." This year, they have a David Fincher film to peddle, and indeed, "Gone Girl" could be an intriguing zeitgeist play dealing in elements of misogyny and misandry and the overall war of the sexes just four years after the director tapped an au courant vein with his critically acclaimed "Social Network." The latest trailer for the film (teased over the weekend by the studio on a key date) sets the stage nicely.
Terrence Malick is so secretive with his projects that it's sort of a perfect storm for the internet era. People track down any and all morsels of information and get hung up on whatever might be breathed about this or that project (the filmmaker is uncharacteristically prolific these last few years). Naturally, with a pair of films on the way sooner or later, the feeding frenzy is on, particularly as it pertains to "Knight of Cups" (the only one of them with a title). Is it going to hit theaters this year? That's what the film's Italian distributor says, anyway.
I've had several weeks to draft this piece, and several drafts it has taken, but the introduction is always the hardest part – the part where the bittersweet reason for breaking from our daily programming has to be announced. So let's lead with the good news: I'm excited to announce that my three-year relationship with Variety is growing into something more permanent and prominent – starting this month, I will be contributing regularly to the trade paper, both as a film critic and a features writer. The bad news you may have guessed: this means my time at In Contention has come to an affectionate close.
Louis Zamperini is a hero, no question about it. From Olympian to POW, his story is one for the ages, one laid out on the page beautifully by author Laura Hillenbrand in the book "Unbroken" and adapted by filmmaker Angelina Jolie in a film that will be released later this year. But just six months shy of seeing that life story writ large on the big screen for movie fans the world over to learn about his struggle, Zamperini has passed away, having lived a long and full 97 years.