Boyhood

Filmed over 12 years (yes, that’s correct) a few days each year, using the same actors throughout, Boyhood plots points throughout one person’s life from the age of 6 until he turns 18.

Of course it’s not just about the boy, Mason, it’s as much about his parents and sister, as each life has an impact on other members of the family. The most interesting observations are actually to do with his mother, a constant presence in Mason’s life, and whose own life choices (made for what seem like all the right reasons) turn out to not have necessarily the best outcomes for her children.

This isn’t a happy ‘best bits’ collection of high days and holiday videos – we are drawn through Mason’s life gently, landing at random points in events. We’re allowed to work out for ourselves how long a gap there may have been since we last dropped by, and what has been happening to everyone in the meantime.

As a piece of film-making, it is quite extraordinary in its construction, and Richard Linklater deserves all the acclaim he receives for this mammoth shoot. It all fits seamlessly together, and it’s only when you start to wonder what happened to the cute 8 year old from an hour ago that you remember he’s there, right in front of you right now, but he’s now that sullen 14 year old who’s driving you mad!

I admire this film very much for the sheer dedication, artistry and technicality with which it has been put together. But am I alone in not feeling quite so much of the emotional heart-tugging though, not being a parent?

Edge of Tomorrow

A tightly-written, well acted story of a PR guy who gets caught in a time loop and ends up as a top-notch soldier trying to save the world from alien invasion.

Tom is good, Emily is even better, and the film-makers have done well to present the repetitive part of the story in a lively and interesting way. It makes a change too that the target city this time is Paris, not New York or San Francisco.

But despite all the good stuff, I think I am suffering from battle fatigue. I’ve had enough for the time being of films where ginormous monsters/aliens/humans in armoured suits smash each other to bits. Yes the premise of Edge of Tomorrow is clever, but Source Code does it much better and without the warcraft.

It’s probably a sign of the times, and of our current insecurity this century, that being invaded by big bad outsiders who don’t look like we do and don’t speak our language is what preoccupies filmmakers at the moment.

But I’ll be giving Transformers 4 a miss, I think.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie

Bless me Father for I have sinned – I wasted the price of a bottle of wine and an hour and half of my life on this.

Explanations out of the way first. This is not a film I would normally contemplate going to see as I am, to put it mildly, not a fan of the television series which spawned this movie. However, I was actively encouraged to defy my better judgement (evidence here) by the people at New Zealand’s Rancho Notorious film podcast. Not one to spurn a challenge, I duly took my seat and waited with as much of an open mind as I could muster.

I should also whole-heartedly acknowledge that this is a massively successful, BAFTA Award-winning television show which many people enjoy, which is presumably why it hit the top of the UK box office in its first week of release.

So the best thing I can say about it is that I didn’t find it as offensive as the slices of the television programme I have seen, and it was only 96 minutes long.

But please … the stereotypes … it was like disappearing back into the 1970s. ‘Salt of the earth’ market traders, token characters from ethnic minorities to poke fun at, an Irish man playing a Chinese man by narrowing his eyes and putting on a funny accent – oh, and that open-mouthed wink to camera. Why is all this funny?

The television series is filmed in front of a live studio audience (as the saying goes), and I understand that ‘out-takes’ are left in, as the audience reaction is part of the ‘fun’. But in a film, leaving out-takes in and showing actors corpsing is annoying at best, and on occasion, confusing. The actors were clearly having more fun that even the most devoted fans in the cinema, and surely that’s the wrong way round?

There were around a dozen people at the screening with me who, to be fair, did chuckle quietly at various points. Mostly where a man dressed as an Irish Mammy said ‘w*nk’ and ‘gobble’ while speaking to a barrister with Tourette’s. The parade of ‘lovable rogues’ was irritating and predictable, and in all honesty, I think this film makes Irish people look stupid.

Apparently, there’s a sequel in the making.

One of the trailers before this film started was for the live broadcast of the Monty Python reunion show. If you want a masterclass in 1970s style comedy, that’s what you should be watching.