Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Best Q&A Of The Year.

I dunked on my brother one summer, like, 20 years ago, on the adjustable hoop in the driveway, and I still think about it roughly twice a week.

It’s amazing what stays with you. Like the way I got to see my favorite movie of the year.

For the past couple weeks, anticipating the premiere of Boyhood, I couldn’t shut up about it, and so I called my friend John Kapelos last week and asked him to see it with me. He said, “Actually, I have an extra ticket to a screening for some movie this weekend. Let’s see..” as he read from an email, “it’s followed by a Q&A with Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane.”

“That’s Boyhood!”

And so we went. It was a remarkable way to see the film. Here are some of the things discussed:

• To help her bond with the kids who were going to play her son and daughter, Patricia babysat them for a weekend. Richard then asked her to name their characters.

• After the first four years of shooting, Richard’s daughter wanted to drop out, and asked him to kill off her character. But Richard thought that was too momentous a plot shift, and made her finish the next eight years.

• Richard never cheated by shooting footage years later and pretending it was original. Everything was shot chronologically.

• After watching the beginning of the film, Ethan thought he looked handsome, and that this would lead to a few other offers for roles. Then, he got to the end, when he’d aged 12 years, and gave that right up.

• Ethan also had a profound thought about the technique of the film: “Stories in novels progress through years all the time, so this type of storytelling is not unique in that regard. But it’s completely original in a film.” He was genuinely thrilled to be a part of it. He also was kept deflecting attention on him, constantly praising Patricia. He’s a good guy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Best Film Of The Year.

We should really thank our dads for bringing us into this world, since our moms were probably tired and not in the mood.

Fatherhood and tired moms are a major thread throughout one of the most innovative films of all time: Boyhood.

Writer/director Richard Linklater had an idea for a screenplay in 2001 about a boy growing up in Texas. But rather than use prosthetics to age the characters, he decided to shoot them for a week every year for 12 years.

This could have been simply a gimmick, but this was Richard Linklater, the king of independent film. (Independent = no money. No money = no CGI, no exotic locales, no hefty actor salaries. Dialogue is everything.) So he cast a six-year-old named Ellar Coltrane, who had never acted before, and had faith the kid would able to carry the movie and maintain his skills when he was 18. (He got lucky – Ellar can act and has poise.) Linklater then cast his own daughter (who also had never acted) as Ellar’s sister, and his friends Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as their mom and dad, because he could rely on them, and they wound up collaborating on the writing as much as they could.

As daunting as this project seems, in some ways Linklater did himself a service. He didn’t have to use makeup to age actors (or cast an older actor to play teenage Eller.) He didn’t have to worry about using period-appropriate hairstyles, wardrobe, cars or props. We used flip-phones in 2001, and smart-phones in 2013. Pop culture has shifted from Britney Spears to Lady Gaga. Roger Clemens is seen in actual footage, pitching at the top of his game in 2005. Nowadays, he’s a steroid-using pariah who hasn’t played in seven years.

It’s fascinating. The film that opened four days ago began shooting before 9/11 happened. And four years before YouTube was launched, and six before the first iPhone. When production began, just about all movies were shot on 35mm; that film stock isn’t even produced anymore.

Linklater managed to keep the story linear and the footage seamless. You only know a year has passed because Ellar has subtly aged or his changed his haircut. I won’t spoil the story, but I will tell you it’s so real and you’ll feel so engaged that even though it’s two hours and 46 minutes long, you’ll want it to continue. It received a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it’ll get multiple Oscar nominations. You gotta see it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Weekend. In Which I Eat My Feelings.

This breakfast biscuit sandwich hasn’t killed me, so it must be making me stronger.
Melrose Place Farmers’ Market 

Chocolate cookies with Frangelico whipped cream. My feelings are delicious.
Chaya, Beverly Hills 

My favorite food – chicken parm – at the best Italian restaurant in LA. My whole life is one big cheat day.
Mezzo Mundo, Studio City 

You’d think they’d just coast after coming up with the coolest name breakfast place, and yet, there they are, warming up the syrup in a bin full of hot water. Stellar.
Bread and Porridge, Santa Monica

A big bag of assorted bubble gum.
Does Obamacare cover TMJ?
CVS, Burbank

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rest In Peace.

Elaine Stritch died on Thursday, and as sad as it is to see her go, she left nothing in the tank, working as an actress for over 70 years. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, but her true legacy is recurring as Colleen Donaghy, mother of Alec Baldwin’s character on “30 Rock.” Check out the above clip (forgive the video quality) and see what we’re going to miss.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Fourth Great Movie Of 2014.

Sorry, I was going to listen to your band. But I saw that more than two members were listed under “percussion.”

Begin Again opens with hippy singers on an open-mic night in a New York City bar, each one shittier than the last until Keira Knightly reluctantly steps up. Mark Ruffalo’s character, a drunken, washed-up record exec instantly thinks he’s discovered the answer to his problems.

Yeah, it gets a little sweet at times (Ruffalo easily finds parking right in front of wherever he’s going in Manhattan), but you want to believe it. You want to believe that music can change people’s lives after their hearts break or their careers go down the toilet. The original title of the film was Can a Song Save Your Life?, a bit on the nose, but writer/director John Carney knew better.

And he made the best romantic dramedy of the summer. See it.