Richard Jones – Boyhood (DVD)

January 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Interviews

Born in San Antonio in 1946, actor Richard Jones knew exactly what he wanted to do as soon as he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1965.

“I wanted to be an actor,” Jones, 68, told the me during a phone interview this week. “So, I jumped the city walls like most adventurous men do and went out to do it.”

Starting off at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, Jones ended up graduating from the University of Texas at Austin and began working alongside his wife Karen in different theater circuits around the U.S. A few years after their daughter was born, the couple decided they needed to settle down somewhere so she could attend school.

“We had finished doing a Shakespeare festival in Vermont and were driving through Texas on our way to California,” Jones said. “We were coming into San Antonio in a Volkswagon bus and the engine gave out and we broke down right there on I-35. So, we just ended up staying here.”

Making San Antonio home once again, Jones took a job teaching theater at his alma mater Lee High School in 1975 for 18 months before him and Karen became resident actors at Incarnate Word College (now the University of the Incarnate Word) where they stayed for 18 years. During that time, they also performed around the city in different theaters downtown and continued to travel around the country for shows.

After a long career in the theater, Jones remembers getting a phone call in 1993 from Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones (no relation), who he had become friends with when they worked together on a stage production a few years prior.

“[Tommy] gave me a call and said, ‘Do you think you might like to be in movies or is that too commercial for you?’ Jones recollects. “I asked if it was something he thought we would enjoy doing together. Next thing you know, I was in [the 1994 drama] “Blue Sky” with him and Jessica Lange.”

Since then, Jones has starred in a handful of feature films, including “Lone Star,” “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” and “Infamous.” Most recently, he can be seen in a supporting role in Richard Linklater’s critically-acclaimed 2014 drama “Boyhood,” which was just nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In the film, Jones plays Grandpa Cliff, the step-grandfather of the film’s main character Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), who gives his grandson a rifle on his 15th birthday and teaches him how to shoot it.

As most people already know, “Boyhood” was shot over 12 consecutive summers. What year did you come in to play your role as Grandpa Cliff?

I believe it was year eight. It wasn’t called “Boyhood” at the time. It was just called “The 12 Year Project.” I thought, “Well, I hope I live long enough to see this.” My wife Karen is also in the movie. She plays my wife—the woman who gives [Mason Jr.] a Bible for his birthday.

She gives him a Bible and you give him a rifle. I don’t think any other scene in the film said Texas more than that one.

Very much so! It’s autobiographical, too. [Director] Rick [Linklater] told me either his father or grandfather gave him a gun as a gift when he was younger. It was a moment in his boyhood. In that scene, it’s like [Mason Jr.] is being passed this baton of manhood. That’s very Texas.

It must feel great to watch as this independent film receives all this recognition.

It’s doing so well. Rick has already made his movie, so whatever is supposed to happen now will happen. It is being recognized in circles where recognition is important. It’s wonderful to see that happen to Rick. It actually reminds me of the Spurs. Rick and the Spurs have a shared relationship. At first, Rick was under the radar just like the Spurs—this little team down in Texas who no one noticed. But then the Spurs stayed together like a family and were confident and unafraid. All of a sudden, the Spurs are at the top and they’re not doing it from L.A. or New York. Rick and the Spurs share a quiet Texas confidence.

Now, the first time you actually worked with Richard was back in 1998 for his film “The Newton Boys.” Then he cast you in “Bernie” and “Boyhood” 2011. What do you think it is about Richard that makes him such a respected director.

He’s gentle, intelligent and confident. He’s versatile. He has a rapport with everyone that works with him. The Rick Linklater I worked with in 1998 is the same Rick Linklater I worked with in 2011. If he calls you to come play with him, that’s what it’s going to be. He has great confidence in his actors. He has an improvisational spirit. It’s really like what theater brings you when you step out on stage. He takes the technical restrictions off filming for the actor. You feel alive like if you were on stage. He gives you the freedom to explore. He lets the human experience reclaim its rightful place in the world.

When you think back to your own boyhood in San Antonio, what do you remember the most?

In one word: freedom—freedom to roam the neighborhoods; freedom to take my bike out and ride around anywhere; freedom to be out in the pre-dawn hours in the morning. This was in the 1950s, so things were a lot different. We got whippings, but we also got to go out in the country and chase rabbits without a thought in the world. San Antonio was a wonderful place to grow up in. During my boyhood, I always had a job and always had the freedom to be who I wanted to be.

Your friend Tommy Lee Jones has a reputation around town for being a bit gruff. I assume he’s not so grumpy when ya’ll get together, right?

(Laughs) Well, he wants to be comfortable here. San Antonio is his home. He doesn’t want to be a famous movie star. There’s going to be some defensive mechanism when people come up to him when he’s eating dinner or something like that. He can come off as being gruff, but so can I and so can you under the right circumstances. He’s pure Texas. Texans can be very generous and courteous and show off their southern manners. They can also tell you to get off their property.

Ep. 32 – CineSnob’s Top 10 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2014

January 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net bring 2014 to a close. They discuss their Top 10 films of the year, as well as the 5 worst movies they saw all year.

[0:00-8:47] Intro & year in review
[8:47-1:39:27] Top 10 Films of 2014
[1:39:27-2:11:19] Bottom 5 Films of 2014
[2:11:19-2:16:18] Teases for next week and close

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CineSnob.net’s Top Ten Films of 2014

December 31, 2014 by  
Filed under CineBlog

Here is a look at the Top Ten Film Lists of 2014 for all three CineSnob.net film critics – Cody Villafana, Jerrod Kingery and Kiko Martinez. Below that is a consensus list for the entire site. Thanks for being a fan of CineSnob.net! We’ll see you in the New Year!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to say …2014 was yet another disappointing year at the movies. Maybe my expectations are too high? I’m not sure. Either way, it is yet another year with a lot of good, solid movies, but few that reach the levels of greatness that might make a list like this easy to compose. Still, out of the 180 films I saw this year (someday…someday I will catch up to Kiko) there are a handful that stood above the pack. Note: Apparently the theme of this year’s list is “parental relationship issues,” as at least six of these movies have a major plotline of the strain of a parent/child relationship. You could argue that another two could fit the bill as well.
– Cody Villafana, CineSnob film critic

10. The LEGO Movie
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
Is there anything that co-directors Lord and Miller can’t do in the world of comedy? Further perpetuating their rightful spot on the list of the most unique and exciting filmmakers working today, Lord and Miller’s “The LEGO Movie” took a the concept of a simple age-old toy (and yes, a couple of pre-existing characters) and churned out an incredibly original, legitimately hilarious, and wildly fun film. While it is not uncommon for animated films to feature adult oriented humor and themes, “The LEGO Movie” features rapid fire, consistently funny jokes and a creative energy that you rarely see in an animated film. Lord and Miller, somehow, managed to capture the essence and breakneck sense of their style and humor into another animated film. Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman are your voice-acting standouts, but everyone involved is fantastic. At this point, I firmly believe that Lord and Miller can take any project and turn it into a unique piece of gold.

9. Ida
(dir. Pawel Pawlikowski)
After no foreign films made my list last year, I’m very happy to be able to place the Polish film “Ida,” at No. 9 on my list. As the story of a young nun-in-training who unexpectedly finds her last remaining relative and some unknown details about her past, “Ida” is the most subdued coming-of-age tale in ages. Shot in stark black-and-white, cinematographers Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewsk create a beautiful palette with uniquely composed shots and taking advantage of the rule-of-thirds. Even though much of the subject matter is dark, actress Agata Trzebuchowska brings such sweetness to title character Ida that it sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. This film is currently available for streaming on Netflix instant.

8. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Reminiscent of something you might see from director Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”), “Wild” is a study of a character in a precarious position with flashbacks to see the journey she took to get there. Though it is occasionally a little too frenetic and perhaps a touch long, “Wild” still serves as an emotionally gripping meditation on not only the loss of others, but also the loss of ones self. It features a stripped down and emotionally vulnerable performance from actress Reese Witherspoon that is among the best of her career. Additionally, the themes and scenes involving Witherspoon’s interaction with her mother, played by an incredible Laura Dern, are among the best storylines of any film this year.

7. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
Regardless on where you fall on the subject of Edward Snowden and his leak of NSA documents and procedures, “Citizenfour” feels more important and essential than any other documentary this year. Largely taking place in a hotel room in China, “Citizenfour” is quite literally a first-hand account of Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA and revealing secrets to the journalists that broke the story open. The footage is mesmerizing as the audience is treated to, for better or worse, a monumental historical moment. It is a glimpse into the thought process, motivations and a little bit of the paranoia of Snowden who explains in his own words why he did what he did. He is quite easily the most fascinating documentary subject I saw in 2014.

6. Blue Ruin
(dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
There is something to be said about a film that is simple, yet expertly crafted, which seems like an apt description for “Blue Ruin.” There isn’t a whole lot of complexity to this revenge story, yet the film is so well paced and phenomenally directed by Saulnier that it becomes entirely engrossing. Using gorgeous shots and attention to detail (especially with the recurring palette of the color blue) Saulnier’s film is quiet, moody, bloody and intimate, culminating in the best revenge film in recent memory. Go check out the synopsis, details and cast of Saulnier’s upcoming 2015 film “Green Room” and you will quickly see why he is one of the most intriguing filmmaking voices to watch in the future. This film is currently available for streaming on Netflix instant.

5. Starred Up
(dir. David Mackenzie)
Though many may believe that actor Jack O’Connell will have broken onto the scene with Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” it is the British prison film “Starred Up” that will truly mark 2014 as the year of his arrival. It may touch on a few of familiar themes in past prison movies, but what sets “Starred Up” apart is the complex relationship between a father and son who are both in the same prison. Adding to the mix is a major storyline involving an in-prison anger management group led by a volunteer that, admittedly, speaks to my day job in the mental health field. First time screenwriter Jonathon Asser (a therapist himself) is a natural, able to convey authentic, natural dialogue in the context of the groups as well as building wrinkles and dynamics into the aforementioned relationship that contributes to “Starred Up,” being one of the standouts of the year.

4. Chef
(dir. Jon Favreau)
Taking place in the ever-expanding world of food trucks, Favreau’s “Chef” is absurdly likeable. Above everything else, “Chef” is a story about the connection between father and son, which is a bond that stands out as one of the best and most authentic father/son relationships in a quite a while. The sense of sweetness that runs through “Chef” is genuine, and is equally matched by the levels of humor that Favreau churns out of a really great script. Though the film may come off as a little lighthearted, “Chef” is immensely charming and out of all the films on this list, is the first one I’d recommend to the casual moviegoer. Oh, and pro tip: don’t watch the glorious scenes of food porn on an empty stomach.

3. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
There is perhaps no film released in 2014 more timely than DuVernay’s “Selma.” As a tale of the events surrounding marches from Selma to Montgomery for the voting rights of African-Americans in the 1965 led by Dr. Martin Luther King, “Selma” contains images that will certainly be affecting to much of its audience. David Oyelowo is absolutely electric as MLK, in a transfixing performance that is sure to lead to many, many future roles. As an interesting wrinkle, the filmmakers were unable to procure the rights to King’s actual speech transcripts, which makes Paul Webb’s convincing screenplay all the more impressive. Equal parts sad and powerful, “Selma” is unflinching in its portrayal of the brutality faced by African-Americans in the 1960’s and one of the best civil rights movies that I, personally, have ever watched.

2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Out of all the films I’ve seen in 2014, the one I can’t stop thinking about is Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” which features the year’s best in a lot of different areas. First and foremost, Michael Keaton is sensational in the role of Riggan Thomson, an actor known for starring in an action film series who wants to be treated as a serious artist. It is a performance that is equal parts neurotic, quirky, nuanced and hilarious and Keaton, more than any other actor in any other category deserves an Oscar this year. Second is the film’s visual style, specifically the brilliant cinematography by Academy Award winner Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”). Stitched together to make the film appear as, essentially, one long, unbroken take, Lubezki’s sprawling, swooping tracking shots give this small film an amazing sense of grandiosity. Finally, “Birdman” is the best-written film of the year, with a razor-sharp screenplay that is often hysterically funny, bitingly satirical, and a compelling study into the fear of fading out of relevance. In any other year, it may have been enough to capture the top spot…however…

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
All the superlatives and accolades Linklater’s astonishing “Boyhood” has received may not quite do justice to this monumental cinematic achievement. Filmed with the same cast over the span of 12 years, “Boyhood” is more of an experience than merely a movie, and is easily one of the most unique and ambitious films I’ve ever seen. Some may call it a gimmick, and perhaps it is, but watching the years seamlessly melt away on screen, all while seeing not only physical growth in characters, but growth as people and the evolution family dynamics is nothing short of brilliant. Not enough can be said about Linklater’s direction, which nears perfection. Little nuances like an incredibly smart use of music from the time period the film was shot to clue the audience in on the year show that Linklater had a giant, epic ambition and carefully thought out how tie the pieces together. Likely to become a hallmark “coming-of-age” film, “Boyhood” ascends its technical feats to be a well-acted, sharply written, funny and moving meditation on growing up.

Honorable Mentions: The Imitation Game, I Origins, A Most Wanted Man

 

Unlike my counterparts, I found 2014 to be a perfectly fine year for movies. But it was the year I finally had enough of the Transformers films. Anyway, here are my top 10 for 2014.
– Jerrod Kingery, CineSnob film critic

 

10. 22 Jump Street
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
This sequel to an incredibly funny movie–that had no reason to exist in the first place–commenting on the state of movie sequels was simultaneously amazingly smart and utterly hilarious. Channing Tatum continues to impress as a comedic actor, and Jonah Hill successfully bounces between physical comedy roles like this and more dramatic fare. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller probably had the best 2014 in Hollywood (see entry No. 5 as well) and have rightly vaulted to the A-list of directors.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(dirs. Anthony and Joe Russo)
In my initial review of the film, I wrote that “’The Winter Soldier’ feels like the first Marvel film since “The Avengers’” dominated the box office to actually live in and shake up the world that film left behind.” While “Guardians of the Galaxy” got most of the positive buzz for Marvel this year, it was truly Cap’s second solo adventure that upped the ante for superhero films.

8. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
Incredible timing and wonderful luck smiled upon director Poitras when an encrypted email regarding illegal wiretapping and surveillance by the NSA turned out to be from Edward Snowden, the world’s most notorious whistleblower. Capturing the events as they unfolded, Poitras and her team deftly maneuver through the pitfalls of exposing what they see as a widespread injustice while also fearing for their own safety.

7. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
It’s hard to believe that the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most prominent human beings of the 20th century, had yet to receive the biopic treatment. Director DuVernay’s “Selma” wisely closes the scope on King’s life, avoiding the typical biopic trap of covering too much ground, instead focusing on the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. David Oyelowo as King and Tom Wilksinson as LBJ turn in powerful performances, avoiding hagiography and portraying both icons as powerful men with agendas.

6. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
I did something I never do and re-watched “Birdman” recently to see if my initial opinion (good but not great) had softened a bit, and I’m glad to say that it had. Michael Keaton, in a thinly-veiled satirical take on his own life and career, is darkly brilliant. Edward Norton, while we’re at it, deconstructs the asshole Method actor reputation he’s cultivated during his career without an apology in sight, and director Iñárritu’s one-take approach is a technical marvel.

5. The Lego Movie
(dirs. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
If some junk like “Big Hero 6” walks away with the animated Oscar over the brilliant, subversive, post-modern family film “The Lego Movie,” may every member of the Academy be cursed to walk a mile every day on a bed of the sharpest Lego bricks. Directors Lord and Miller again take what should be an unfilmable property—a movie about Lego bricks!—and spin it into absolute gold. The film’s charming faux stop-motion and vocal-generated sound effects make the whole endeavor feel like something every kid could cook up in their bedroom.

4. A Most Violent Year
(dir. J.C. Chandor)
Modern TV and film is overflowing with anti-heroes, characters we root for when they decide to take the path of least resistance and give in to a life of crime. Oscar Isaac’s heating oil magnate Abel in “A Most Violent Year” is different, an hard-working man who resists the urge to become a gangster, even as finances, hijackings, and the district attorney tighten the screws on his life. It’s like the origin story for a character from “The Sopranos” we never saw.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(dir. Matt Reeves)
Though this sequel to a prequel is named somewhat confusingly (“dawn” and “rise” are essentially synonyms), everything else about this big-budget sci-fi disaster film is spot on. Led by another amazing performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, the army of motion-capture apes is one of the most impressive, breathtaking special effects ever rendered on a movie screen. For all intents and purposes, these creatures are real, and the film wisely respects that. This is blockbuster filmmaking at its absolute finest.

2. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Nick Hornby, one of my favorite authors, wrote the screenplay for “Wild,” and it shows. Reese Witherspoon, in a career-best performance, plays real-life Cheryl Strayed as a patented Hornby asshole, looking for redemption for an ugly turn in life by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Channeling Danny Boyle, director Vallée peppers Cheryl’s lengthy, lonely journey with stream-of-consciousness thoughts and flashbacks to her mother, brought to life beautifully by Laura Dern in a performance filled with body language and a sadness that lurks just below the surface.

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
To say that Linklater’s 12-year experiment watching his actors grow feels effortless almost seems insulting, but what could have been nothing more than a stunt becomes so engrossing you’ll forget that nearly three hours just rolled by when the movie is over. As a slice of life of Texas in the 2000s, “Boyhood” deftly signals the passage of time with pop songs and the evolution of cell phones. While the performances from the kids aren’t stellar (Linklater’s daughter is a particular weak spot), the film comes alive when Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are onscreen.

 

Mustering enough strength to compile a Top 10 Films list for this year (in between sobbing uncontrollably over the fact that filmmaking demigod and personal obsession Paul Thomas Anderson would not find a place on the roster) was more challenging than usual. Nevertheless, after battling in the trenches and seeing a grand total of 211 films, here is a look at the best in 2014.
– Kiko Martinez, CineSnob founder and editor

10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(dir. Matt Reeves)
There were some impressive live-action summer blockbusters this year, but nothing was quite as exhilarating – with the same emotional depth as a Shakespearian tragedy – than this sci-fi sequel featuring the most striking use of motion-capture technology ever. First-class visual effects aside, these CGI simians offered a startling look at the complex ideologies of waging war.

9. A Most Wanted Man
(dir. Anton Corbijn)
Late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final curtain call as a leading man comes courtesy of this slow-burning espionage thriller adapted from a John le Carré novel about a Chechen immigrant who may be an Islamic terrorist. For audiences who are patient with meticulously paced narratives, the spy story is an intelligent, mature and riveting piece of filmmaking anchored with subtly by Hoffman, an amazing talent lost far too soon.

8. Two Days, One Night
(dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Point a camera at actress Marion Cotillard for the duration of a feature drama and remarkable things are bound to happen, especially with an such an engaging script by Belgian filmmakers the Dardenne brothers. As Belgium’s official foreign language Oscar submission this year, Cotillard is captivating as a working class woman who has one weekend to convince coworkers to turn down a bonus so she can keep her job.

7. Citizenfour
(dir. Laura Poitras)
No matter where you stand on the issue of global surveillance programs, there is no denying the powerful and fascinating footage captured for this documentary on former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden. Playing out like a classic political thriller, Poitras finds herself on the frontlines of this game-changing event. Watching this real-time whistleblowing is nothing short of unbelievable.

6. Wild
(dir. Jean Marc-Vallée)
Actress Reese Witherspoon becomes one with nature in this emotionally affecting biographical drama adapted from writer Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her 1,000-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Witherspoon, as a damaged and self-destructive woman, gives the most genuine and beautiful performance of her career, and Laura Dern epitomizes what it means to have a full heart but live a fragile life.

5. Ida
(dir. Pawel Pawlikowski)
Elegantly shot, Ida is the official foreign language Oscar submission by Poland this year. Set in the 1960s, the film follows a young Jewish novitiate nun who journeys with her estranged aunt to find the final resting place of her parents who were killed during the Nazi occupation. Sober in tone, but not without its moments of pure joy, the haunting black and white art-house film is brilliantly crafted.

4. A Most Violent Year
(dir. J.C. Chandor)
Latino immigrant and heating oil business owner Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is determined to expand his company, but finds it difficult when his trucks are consistently hijacked. With the city’s DA office watching him, Abel and his mob-tied wife (Jessica Chastain) must decide how hard they will push back to ensure their American Dream doesn’t fade away. Atmospheric and intense, consider this a sort of anti-Goodfellas, but something Martin Scorsese would value wholeheartedly.

3. Selma
(dir. Ava DuVernay)
As the first major historical film ever to be released on the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., DuVernay and her cast, including a top-tier performance by actor David Oyelowo, have made an important film that centers on the 1965 Voting Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. From the intriguing backroom politics to the sacrifices made during the era, screenwriter Paul Webb turns a well-documented history lesson into essential cinema.

2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
(dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
As much of a technical achievement as it must have been to make it all work, this ambitious dark comedy featuring a noteworthy turn by actor Michael Keaton and is guided by a whip-smart, witty and self-aware script. Everything feels erratic on screen and punctuated well by a madcap, (mostly) percussion score that drives the narrative forward and makes everyone soar.

1. Boyhood
(dir. Richard Linklater)
Trying to fathom the 12-year-long journey Linklater and his cast took to form this soul-bearing, intimate and genuinely uplifting drama would be counterproductive to the intent of this once-in-a-lifetime coming-of-age film. Everyone should allow it to just wash over them and give into its masterful execution. Epic is an understatement.

Honorable Mentions: The Babadook, Big Hero 6, Blue Ruin, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Chef, Edge of Tomorrow, Finding Vivian Maier, Force Majure, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Life Itself, Locke, Obvious Child, Whiplash, X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

CineSnob.net Consensus List: Top Ten Films of 2014

1. Boyhood
2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3. Selma
4. Wild
5. A Most Violent Year
6. Citizenfour
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
8. Ida
9. The LEGO Movie
10. Chef

Ep. 11 – Guardians of the Galaxy with Michael Rooker interview, Boyhood & Get on Up

August 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net welcome very special guest Michael Rooker to the show. Before the interview, the guys talk about the recently leaked “Deadpool” test footage, the potential of a Paul Feig directed, all female casted “Ghostbusters” film, and they review “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Boyhood,” and “Get on Up.”

[00:00–05:41] Intro/Tease of Michael Rooker interview and Jerrod’s appearance on H2’s “10 Things You Didn’t Know About” with Henry Rollins.
[05:41–12:53] Deadpool test footage
[12:53-18:35] A possible all female Ghostbusters 3 directed by Paul Feig
[18:35-34:59] Guardians of the Galaxy
[34:59-45:12] Guardians of the Galaxy Spoiler Talk
[45:12-46:34] Guardians of the Galaxy Wrap-up
[46:34-59:45] Boyhood
[59:45-1:12:00] Get On Up
[1:12:00-1:34:27] Michael Rooker interview
[1:34:27-1:40:20] Teases for next week and close.

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To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

Richard Linklater & Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood

August 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

While most people would call writer/director Richard Linklater’s new independent movie “Boyhood” one of the film industry’s most ambitious projects, the Austin-based, two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker describes it a bit differently.

“It was just such an impractical and crazy idea,” Linklater, 54, told me after “Boyhood” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March. “It sort of defies typical, organizational thinking.”

Linklater, best known for films such as “Dazed and Confused,” “School of Rock” and the Before trilogy (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight”), shot “Boyhood” over the span of 12 years with the same cast. The approach allows audiences to witness the film’s lead character Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) grow up right before their eyes. The film also stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s divorced parents who try their best to create a stable upbringing for Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), despite life’s mad curveballs.

During an interview with Linklater and Coltrane, we talked about what it was like growing up in front of the camera over the last 12 years and how the film evolves when the maturation process kicks in during Ellar’s teenage years.

Richard, “Boyhood” is sort of in the same vein as your Before trilogy except that you didn’t make three films out of this story. Did you approach the projects the same way?

Richard Linklater: You know, they are two very long, time-based projects, but they’re very different. The Before trilogy had some gaps in time. “Boyhood” was a constant thing. It demanded to be told this way and required constant attention. With the Before films, I didn’t have to think about the next one for seven or eight years.

Ellar, you were only six years old when you started making this film. When did you realize how ambitious Richard’s idea actually was?

Ellar Coltrane: (Laughs) There definitely was a gradual realization about just how massive it was and how important of a part of my life it was. I’m really grateful that I was given the chance to work on a piece of art like that.

Richard, the script was completed prior to shooting, but it seems like you were open to adding to it. I mean, you include a scene referencing Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, which I’m sure you didn’t know would happen six years prior.

RL: Yeah, one year we were shooting in the fall during the Obama/McCain race and I thought the moment was worthy of adding in. Even if it didn’t end up being a huge cultural moment, it was real. We were just trying to be honest about that moment. The film wasn’t trying to reflect on too much pop culture. I wanted to reflect on what it’s like as a kid growing up and having everything coming at you—from the culture to the way you pick up on your parents’ politics. Everything is sort of in your face.

You know, most directors would’ve simply cast three or four actors to play Mason at different ages.

RL: I think I just have more patience. I thought there would be more beauty this way. I mean, it’s completely understandable to do it the other way. You cast an actor as a kid and then you cut to a new actor as an adult. It only makes sense.

Yeah, but then sometimes they don’t even look alike.

RL: They often don’t! I mean, I had to watch “Goodfellas” a few times to believe Henry and Tommy as kids grow up to be Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci since Pesci is older than Liotta in real life. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s all about the storytelling. But, yeah, “Boyhood” was just a whole different methodology. I was just trying to get in touch with that maturation process and make it feel very real and organic.

I really got a sense of that. It feels like it becomes more and more Mason’s story as the film moves forward year by year.

RL: Yeah, as the film goes on, it becomes less about Samantha and the parents. When you’re a kid, you’re just being dragged along by the family. You don’t have your own motor. I knew as they years went by, it would be his story and everyone else would become supporting characters.

The music you chose is such an important aspect of the film. Why did you decide to set “Boyhood” to a soundtrack rather than, say, a traditional score?

RL: I had to work through so many ideas to get this film where I wanted it to be. You couldn’t really impose anything on this film, so a score really didn’t work. I wanted songs that would evoke that period and make them from the characters’ point of view.

Ellar, watching the finished product for the first time, did you recognize all the songs Richard uses? I mean, you were only six years old when Coldplay’s “Yellow” came out, which is how the film opens.

EC: Not all of it. I think the music was chosen because it was popular and people resonate with it. It marks that time and might remind you of something. Later on, some of it is more of the things that I remember, but a lot of it is like, “Oh, that’s that song I heard on TV.”

Something that really struck me was how you capture how easily people come in and out of each other’s lives. One day they’re there, and the next day they’re gone.

RL: Yeah, I mean sometimes people move and you never see them again. I wanted this film to feel like a remembrance of the present. You mean to keep in touch, but you never really do.

Do you think that’s how things are going to be for you in real life, Ellar? I mean, people move on. Are you they type of person who signs friends’ yearbooks at the end of the year with things like “Keep in touch” and other phrases like that?

RL: Ellar is not the guy to ask about that.

EC: (Laughs) Yeah, my life has been very bizarre. Yeah, that definitely is the case. There are people who you spend all this time with and then suddenly you never see them again. It’s just how things are. It’s very different for me because I’ve lived in Austin my whole life and everyone I know lives here. Even if someone leaves my life in a direct sense, they’re still around.

Did you ever think as another summer rolled around, you didn’t want to work on the film anymore?

EC: I don’t remember ever not wanting to do it. As I got older, [Richard] made me more of a collaborator on the process. I just became more excited and less passive. I mean, when you’re young, even if you think something is cool, you really don’t know how to engage.

RL: Yeah, a film production is pretty overwhelming, especially for a kid. As you educate yourself and know what everyone else is doing, Ellar became more comfortable and a bigger part of it.

How does it feel watching yourself grow up on screen like that? It must be surreal.

EC: (Laughs) It’s unspeakably surreal.

RL: Yeah, not a lot of people have experienced this. People have been in documentaries like this, but not in [a feature film].

EC: Yeah, how does one witness one’s self aging? I get to do it to a certain extent.

RL: Ethan and Patricia have their own version of aging in the film. But you and Loreli have a full-on, growing-up, maturity thing that’s unique.

Ellar, do you see yourself in Mason. Is that you? Are you acting?

EC: It’s very much both. It goes back and forth a lot, especially as the character gets older. I’m more conscious and can craft my ideas. That’s the weird thing. There are moments that are very much me and moments that aren’t so much.

RL: Just like any actor, you’re creating a parallel character and finding your way emotionally into a character that is created that isn’t you. That’s what we wanted to do every year. Any good actor gives all of themselves to a role.

So, Richard, any chance you go into another 12-year production and return to SXSW 2026 and premiere “Manhood?”

RL: (Laughs) I don’t know about that. I was sort of on this grid for years 1-12 for this one – like first through 12th grade. I’m not sure what the next 12 years would look like.

Would you consider revisiting the Before series and making a fourth film somewhere down the line?

RL: You know, it would be cool to do something really conceptual and take 30 years off and then come back and do a fourth one. That just might be my fate.

Boyhood

August 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke
Directed by: Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight”)
Written by: Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight”)

On paper, the idea of producing a film with the goal of shooting it over 12 years, following a child actor as he ages and telling the story of a boy’s growth from kindergarten to high school graduation might sound crazy, or at the very least daunting and difficult. In fact, it might even be considered the ultimate creative risk, in a world where people discuss and value risk-taking in Hollywood. Leave it to Austinite Richard Linklater (“Before Midnight,” “Bernie”) to not only attempt this project, but to produce such stunning results.

It is difficult to pin down a proper synopsis for “Boyhood,” as it is more of a longitudinal character study than anything else. That isn’t to say it is without plot. While people might assume the film is solely about the process of growing up, it is far more than that. The film is at its most fascinating when it explores family dynamics, especially with how parents and children deal with divorce and newly blended families. The film centers on Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, who began filming when he was seven years old.

In the scenes or vignettes throughout the film, we see Coltrane slowly age and encounter new issues and experiences as he begins to mature. The growth is also seen in Coltrane’s talent. Audiences will get the opportunity to literally see an actor grow before their eyes. As his relationships with his parents become more nuanced, so does his performance and by the end of the film Coltrane is a veteran, commanding the screen with a wealth of personality.

The film also follows veteran actors such as Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke and their characters growth through the course of 12 years. Hawke’s character is particularly fun to watch as he evolves from the young, cool dad into a mature middle-aged adult. There are so many details that Linklater brings to the table in “Boyhood,” none better than an incredibly smart use of music from the time period the film was shot to clue the audience in on the year. This serves as a gentle reminder that the film was shot over more than a decade without being aggressive about it.

What Linklater pulls off in “Boyhood” is nothing short of astonishing and it is easily one of the most ambitious films I’ve ever seen. It is a fascinating meditation on growing up and is likely to strike a nerve with many audience members. Funny, moving, and oozing with personality, “Boyhood” is a film that is incredible beyond just its technical and logistical feats. It feels more like an experience and an epic journey as it instantly becomes a hallmark coming-of-age film. While there are a thousand reasons why “Boyhood” shouldn’t work, it excels in myriad ways.