Monday, May 16, 2016


Year 8, Day 137 - 5/16/16 - Movie #2,337

BEFORE: Time for a TV update, even though I'm behind about two months in most serial programming, except for "The Amazing Race", which I binge-watched last week, three episodes a night to get ready for last Friday's finale.  It's the time of year when we find out what shows are NOT coming back next year, so I'm looking forward to a clearer schedule in September, even though it's going to take me most of the summer to catch up.  I've already said goodbye to "American Idol", so that's a chunk of time I'll get back in January, I can also say I got to the end of "Agent Carter", "The Muppets", "Heroes Reborn" - that's a good start but I need more shows to be cancelled, because that's only a small dent in the number of the shows I watch.  

Also not coming back is "CSI: Cyber", starring Patricia Arquette, who also carries over from "Lost Highway" in my chain.  Hey, she won an Oscar for "Boyhood", I think she'll land on her feet.

THE PLOT:  The life of Mason, from early childhood to his arrival at college.

AFTER: Maybe you have to be a parent to feel something for this story, because I'm not, and I didn't.  Mostly it just left me cold, although I have an appreciation for the time that it took to make.  It's a fantastic, ingenious but simple technique for aging characters, but since it's not used very often, I can only assume that it's incredibly difficult to arrange, making sure that actors are available for one week each year for 12 years.  Technically shot in 12 weeks, but those weeks were spread out over 12 years, so it's all in how you look at it, I guess.  But what a risk the director took - what if any of those cast members died during the 12-year production?  I guess they could have just added that character's death to the narrative, but it would have been a real shame.  

(The trivia section on IMDB states that the director asked Patricia Arquette not to have any plastic surgery while this film was being made, because that would have been out of character.  But that doesn't explain why she delivers all of her lines on "CSI: Cyber" without any facial expressions - I guess he should have requested a ban on botox, too...)

I felt more connected to the actors during the "Making Of" short that I watched (which also ran on whatever premium channel aired this afilm) than I did to the characters during the main film - I don't know if that's just a by-product of the film's running time, or if the different segments were so disjointed, because they were each shot one year apart.  But I almost NEVER watch "making of" segments, I made an exception tonight out of respect for the process. 

That's my way of saying that I didn't feel that the segments added up to a coherent whole - not that they HAD to, but it would have been nice if they did.  I understand that people's lives change over time, and if you look at events one year apart, people can be in different situations or feel differently about things.  But I suspect that this disjointedness comes more from writing the story in pieces, having a general framework but also charting a slightly new course each year, so the film doesn't go in one direction, but rather in 12 different directions, a little bit at a time.  That's not really the same thing.  

So the format was probably quite freeing, but perhaps it was very limiting as well, because each year the plot couldn't go too far with any one storyline, and they couldn't go back and add foreshadowing to a previous segment, because the actors weren't that age any more.  For example, in one segment, Mason's father warns his kids about the danger of texting while driving, and then a couple of years later, we see Mason in the car with his girlfriend, and she shows him a photo of a pet pig on her phone. In any other movie, that would have caused a car crash, because of established rules of cause and effect, but here it's just two unrelated things.  

It kind of makes me realize that the average human life would NOT make a good movie - movies follow specific rules in order to be entertaining, and a life follows a different pattern - 80% of all of the days would be exactly the same and therefore boring, and chances are the ending probably won't be much fun.

Also starring Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke (last seen in "The Newton Boys"), Lorelei Linklater, Marco Perella (last seen in "The Life of David Gale"), Steven Chester Prince (last seen in "The Alamo"), Elijah Smith, Libby Villari (last seen in "A Perfect World"), Jennifer Griffin (ditto), Zoe Graham, Bill Wise, Jamie Howard, Evie Thompson, Brad Hawkins, Jenni Tooley (last seen in "Arlington Road"), Andrew Villarreal, Charlie Sexton (last seen in "Masked and Anonymous"), Tom McTigue, Richard Robichaux.  

RATING: 6 out of 10 haircuts

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