Can you imagine being in love with someone for several centuries?

That's the premise of this movie featuring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as vampires, if it has a premise at all. I won't bury the lead, I enjoyed watching it. But the caveat is, there isn't really that much plot or explanation, things happen but they don't really drive the story in any deeper way. Mostly, I simply found it beautiful to watch two fascinating characters interact who have been deeply, spookily (quantum) entangled with each other for hundreds of years. Movies without action-driven plots seems to be my luck these days, since that's how Boyhood felt too.

If you haven't heard of Jim Jarmusch's latest film, here's a trailer to give you an idea.


Tuesday night, I finally had my wish of going to one of the outdoor movie nights that pop up in Berlin over the summer. This particular one was set up by Nomaden Kino at ://about blank, which I've also been meaning to go to -- the club hosts the monthly (twice in June) Homopatik party. If we had gone the night before, Nomaden Kino had shown Only Lovers Left Alive at Badeschiff which is a pool on a ship (or from the pictures, it just looks like a pool in the middle of a river).  Also potentially a neat place to see a movie, right?

I swear I had listened to some group of people on a podcast talk about the film. After I saw it, I tried to find some mention of it in the show notes for any one of the many Slate podcasts that I listen to, but to no avail. I started to doubt that I had actually heard anyone review or discuss it, but then I remembered someone rhapsodizing about the scenes in the movie where Tilda Swinton dances. I don't think that's the kind of memory or discussion I would construct. Unfortunately, podcasts are difficult to search through, and even a publisher like Slate that does a pretty good job of documenting everything that gets mentioned seems to have let this one slip through the cracks.

My thoughts on Boyhood, the 12 year film project by Richard Linklater

Last night, I went with Thomas Weigelt to see Boyhood at Kino International. Boyhood was directed by Richard Linklater, who also made Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013) starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (NB: I've never actually seen this movies, but I keep hearing about them and I really want to).

The first thing about the movie to pique my interest was reading that it was filmed over the course of 12 years with the same actors, in particular the main protagonist Mason, who is played through the entire film by Ellar Coltrane. It's an impressive long-term project, considering how everything in media feels like it's moving faster and faster, with shorter lead times and quicker production. It's a totally different category, but I had a similar feeling of temporal disconnect when watching Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, which premiered in June 2012, dealing with real events which took place a little over two years before the airing date.

The Verge did a good job going over all of the neat twists and turns that came about from filming over 12 years, if you want to find out more. 

The song in the trailer is beautiful and fits the feeling of the movie perfectly. I've been listening to it on repeat for hours every couple weeks, and somehow I still haven't gotten tired of it. It's Hero by Family of the Year, and here's the original video:

The last bit that I was really curious about is to see what the movie had to say about growing up, about adolescence, and being a boy in America today. I think masculinity and manhood are underexplored topics in mainstream US discourse, and I really wanted to see what this film had to say about it.

In that respect, it was a disappointing film, but that's why I shouldn't make movies. By avoiding shining the spotlight directly on the socialization and education of boys into men, Boyhood is a better piece of art. There were no big turning points in the story, no huge decisions that altered the course of Mason's life. Without being overly preachy or having a pat message about the meaning of him growing up, Linklater put together a compelling, beautiful, yet strikingly normal story of a boy from age 5 to 18. There were funny parts, a few scary and sad parts where I was really worried about what was going to happen to the family, but no crazy reveals or plot twists to keep me on the edge of my seat like your normal summer blockboster. In fact, it's a testament to the acting and the storytelling of what a non-story that I got so into the lives of a fictional family that I couldn't bring myself to go to the bathroom at any point in the 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Patricia Arquette plays Mason's mother, and she is an amazing character and actress whose presence underpins the entire movie. Olivia ("Liv") is strong, weak, loving, confused, and terribly human. She does the best job she can raising Mason and his sister Samantha, making hard choices and doing her best to provide a good home and pursue her own dreams at the same time. While her evolution from single mom to twice-divorced college professor is only peripheral to the focus on Mason's life, it's the one I admired and sympathized with the most. Ethan Hawke who plays Mason's father has his own interesting development over the course of the movie, but it's not nearly as fraught or compelling as hers.

I definitely recommend going to go see Boyhood. It's long, but it's worth the time. There are no huge plot twists or anything really to spoil -- it's not that kind of story. It's meant to be enjoyed, and it left me with a lot to think about what it means to grow up and be responsible for creating your own life.

Final note: Kino International is a really interesting and beautiful theater. It was designed to be the place where film premieres were held in the former East Germany, so it only has one screen and it has some 50s/60s fancy decor inside. They yelled at me for taking pictures, so this is the only one you'll ever get to see:

Stand By Me played by musicians across the world

I'm not sure why, but just watching this brought tears to my eyes. Ben E. King's song has always been special to me, in fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't know it.

Basically, Mark Johnson had musicians from around the world play together across geography and time. Each performer added and built onto the combination of the artists before them.

PlayingforChange via Metafilter

Here's the description on the Youtube video of this project. There's also a trailer for the documentary.

From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This and other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD early next year.

Join the Movement to help build schools, connect students, and inspire communities in need through music.

There's also an Bill Moyers interview with Mark Johnson. It's a little long (about 20 minutes), but what's that compared to the 10 years that it took to make the documentary?

Update: Okay, the Bill Moyers interview is kind of meh. A little trite, but I guess you get some insight on the whole endeavor.