Boy, where to start here. Sundance day 3 began on a very chilly morning at the 1,245 seat Eccles theatre. Audrey and I had scored actual tickets to this 8:30am screening which had To Be Announced stamped on them. Well, this screening turned out to be "Boyhood", the newest film from Richard Linklater - probably the most prolific "quirky" filmmaker who makes deeply personal projects seemingly always on his own terms. From the "Sunrise" series (Before, Sunset and Midnight), to "Waking Life" to "Dazed and Confused" to "Tape" to "Bernie", Linklater runs the gamut and his films are always original and interesting with a keen eye for sharp dialogue.
But I can firmly say here and now though that "Boyhood" is Linklater's masterpiece. It's his Citizen Kane, his 2001, his Apocalypse Now, his Raging Bull. It simply blows everything he's ever done right out of the water.
This project was the very definition of ambitious filmic risk; he began shooting with his cast in 2002 and reunited with them every year for the next 12 years to continue his epic saga of a family's life challenges. So lead actor Ellar Coltrane starts the film at age 6 and by the end of the film, he is a real 18. Having this cast age for real in this movie is utterly absorbing. It's different. It casts some weird kind of spell that just wouldn't happen by casting different actors to represent them at different ages. It's like electricity - I don't know how it works, I just know that it does.
Linklater's film runs 2 hours and 41 minutes and it earns every minute on the screen. I wouldn't dream of going into any real detail, lest you be denied the surprises of actual life that unfold in this family. But I will say this - there are laughs, there are tears, and there are shocks...but there isn't a single false note or contrived scene. I'll say it again - "Boyhood" is a masterpiece. It is not to be missed and deserves to be seen in a movie theatre with a full audience.
My evening film was "Land Ho!" - a warm apple fritter of a movie detailing a road trip to Iceland by two old friends. Mitch and Colin are late 60-somethings who have been battered around a bit by life from divorce and death of loved ones. So Mitch decides to live it up and take his stuffy friend Colin to Iceland (why not?) for some good food, good hikes and warm mineral baths. Oh yes, and some local pot to help them "levitate the days".
Now on paper, this is pretty routine stuff but the surprise is the two main leads. They are absolutely terrific. They have enormous chemistry and charm and make this journey special. "Land Ho!" is not very deep and the thin script runs out of gas towards the end (the movie doesn't so much as end as just.....stop) but it is very entertaining and the Iceland locations are gorgeous. It's certainly worth at least a Netflix streaming.