Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Hawke’

Life, fictionalized: Richard Linklater creates an interesting prototype in ‘Boyhood’

August 23, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 23, 2014

In 1991, Houston-born writer-director Richard Linklater released a shaggy dog of a movie with the title Slacker. Playing more like a documentary that switched subjects every five minutes or so than a traditionally structured movie, the film featured characters with names such as Should Have Stayed at Bus Station (played by the director himself), Grocery Grabber of Death’s Bounty, Espresso Czar/Masonic Malcontent, Happy-Go-Lucky Guy, Two for One Special, Traumatized Yacht Owner, Guy Who Tosses Typewriter and Handstamping Arm Licker. Over the course of about 97 minutes, Linklater’s camera restlessly moved from one character or group to another over the course of a day in the life of Austin, Texas.

Linklater’s newest movie, Boyhood, features a more typical narrative, and yet it’s hardly a typical feature. In fact, it’s rather like a reverse-engineered Slacker: Rather than focusing on various people who cross over — or at least near — each other’s paths during one day in one city, Boyhood follows a youngster, his family and their doings in different parts of Texas over the course of 12 years.

And when I write “12 years,” I mean that literally: Filming began more than a decade ago and continued every year or so as Linklater reconvened his core cast of four actors. (A few secondary characters appear in multiple segments.)

Boyhood’s story, to the extent it has one, involves families dissolving, forming, dissolving and reforming in varying permutations over the years. The divorced mother and father, played by Patricia Arquette and regular Linklater trouper Ethan Hawke, change from dissolute slackers (he more than she) to respectable professionals, making plenty of mistakes along the way. (She, perhaps, more than he.) Young Mason Evans Jr. (Austin native Ellar Coltrane) starts out as a young video-game-obsessed slacker who eventually develops a passion for music, art, photography and girls. In his spare time, the teenager Mason cultivates a personality that is both laconic and iconoclastic.

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‘Gattaca’ portrays a chilly, chilling future in which one’s fate is decoded from DNA

February 11, 2013

Literature and film are full of tales of people who steal, borrow or exchange identities. Few have been as carefully thought out as Gattaca, the futuristic 1997 drama written and directed by Andrew Niccol.

The protagonist is one Jerome Morrow, né Vincent Freeman. His parents chose to conceive him without using genetic engineering to select helpful traits and weed out unhelpful ones. A heart defect, detected nearly instantaneously by genetic scanners that seem to be ubiquitous in Gattaca’s near-future setting, prevents Freeman from realizing his dearest dream, which is to be an astronaut.

But Freeman finds a way to cheat. One Jerome Morrow sells his genetic identity to Freeman; having been paralyzed from the waist down, there’s no other way for Morrow to fund his decadent lifestyle.

The two become uneasy roommates and doppelgängers; Freeman mimics Morrow’s hairstyle and has surgery to lengthen his legs to match the recorded height of the man he is impersonating. Morrow diligently collects dead skin, blood and urine that Freeman dispenses as needed to pass for a man with a princely genome.

But Freeman’s subterfuge is jeopardized just days before he is scheduled to depart for a year-long mission to explore one of Saturn’s moons. When an official at Freeman’s organization, Gattaca, is murdered, cops arrive to vacuum up physical evidence. A loose eyelash indicates the presence of Freeman, who isn’t officially cleared to be on site. Thus the protagonist becomes the target of a most inconvenient manhunt.

To complicate matters, Freeman strikes up a flirtation with a co-worker, Irene Cassini, that heats up quickly. At the very moment Freeman should be most eager to shed his Earthly ties, his heart finds itself moving on an unexpected trajectory.  Read the rest of this entry »

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