13th Jul2014

Boyhood – Film

by timbaros

images-199Boyhood was filmed over the span of 12 years (one week per year) to capture the story of a young boy, who right before your eyes, turns into a young man. But that’s the only revelation this film brings us.

Clocking in at two hours and forty-five minutes, Boyhood is a bit of a struggle to sit through. It’s an ingenuous idea, getting the same actors to commit to taking part in the filming of Boyhood over the course of 12 years of their careers, but it’s epic length destroys any sense of realness the film is trying to convey and you’ll find yourself looking at your watch several times, and when you think it is over, another year in their lives is tacked on. Even The Wolf of Wall Street, which was three hours long, didn’t feel as long as Boyhood.
Directed by Richard Linklater, he started shooting Boyhood in 2002, with Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr., Lorelei Linklater (his daughter) as Samantha – Mason’s sister, and as their parents Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). Every year Linklater would gather the cast and crew together to capture another year in their lives, and especially Mason’s life. As very young children, Mason and Samantha are adorable, especially Samantha as she teases Mason and hits him but then turns the tables on him and tells their mom that it was Mason who had started it. Of course their mom believes her. The kids grow up through the divorce of their parents and the ups and downs of adolescence. They also endure their mother’s second marriage to an aggressive controlling alcoholic, fleeing from their home after he becomes violent and hits Olivia, not for the first time. But as Boyhood continues, and the older Mason and Lorelei get, the less adorable and fun they are, and they are complete bores when they reach puberty, with very little personality to match. There is nothing interesting going on with them as they get older, and they less confident and less adorable on screen, whether they were forced to take part as they got older and didin’t want to, it appears this way on the screen. Luckily for them, and us, Hawke appears every so often to take the kids out, whether it be bowling, or to sit around in a cafe and talk about grown up stuff, Hawke easily steals every scene he is in. But it’s near the end of the film where where Olivia breaks down as Mason is about to leave for college and proclaims to him “what have I done to my life, why am I here.” It’s a strange moment that I didn’t quite understand, made even more strange when Coltrane looks into the camera. We wonder why she’s saying this at the moment that her son is leaving the nest and going off to college.
And as Boyhood winds down, Mason meets his college roommate in their dormitory and off they go, with two girls, to explore the local mountains. And as Mason and one of the girls sit on a rock and talk and then kiss, we immediately know that this is the girl for him.
Boyhood is an ambitious project. Director Linklater has been successful in the past with his Before Sunrise and it’s sequel films, also starring Ethan Hawke – Before Sunrise was released in 1995 with Before Sunset coming out in 2004 and then Before Midnight in 2013, all to very good reviews. At least these three films had superb acting and plots that made sense. In Boyhood, nothing really happens. The screenwriter, Linklater, seems to have decided to let the scenes in each year of their lives play out without achieving much, and that’s what the whole film feels like. Not much of an achievement for sitting through two hours and forty five minutes.
13th Jul2014

The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Theatre

by timbaros

images-205Five sisters make up The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is now playing at The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

India, Willow, Gemma, Garden and Mouse are their names, and they’re all very beautiful women. Some of them lead a charmed life, and a couple of them don’t. Coming from a wealthy and famous family (though we are not told exactly how wealthy and what they’re famous for), they all live on that island called Manhattan. Gemma (Charlotte Parry) is the wealthiest of the sisters, and everywhere she goes so does her maid/p.a. Heather (Ronke Adekoluejo. Willow (Claire Forlani) is the oldest of the sisters, grounded, smart, and easily likeable with 2 sons, though her husband is not working so she needs a handout from Gemma.  Garden (Patricia Potter) is the unstable one who can’t accept the fact that her husband is having an affair and wonders what she could have done to keep him. India (Isabella Calthorpe) is in a very happy relationship with an artist, so she has no issues. And then there’s Mouse (Alice Sanders), the youngest of the bunch, she’s a free spirit who will go with any man who simply smiles at her, she’s acts innocent and dumb, and is a bit adventurous.
So there you have it, the five Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now living in Manhattan.
The show begins with the women getting their dresses for a photo shoot and dresses that will be worn to an upcoming fundraising ball. India agonizes about her financial situation, Garden agonizes about her cheating husband, and Mouse continues to rhapsody about the many men that she meets. All the meanwhile, Gemma walks around with a not a care in the world – with Heather tagging along a few steps behind. The sets are very minimal, which I think is to match the minimal script. A living room, a ballroom, a closet, a tennis court (smartly done) and an almost bare stage backdropped by picture frames take us through 75 minutes of these woman’s lives, and one event that should change them forever but doesn’t. The event (I don’t want to give it away as it’s a key plot point) is meant to shock the audience and to make the woman pause to think about their lives, but moment’s later they are back to wearing their beautiful dresses with their sunglasses on, in a way to avoid or to welcome the paparazzi. And that is pretty much the show. Sure, the acting is very good, especially from Forlani (Meet Joe Black, NCIS: Los Angeles) and Potter (Holby City), the rest of the woman are playing caricatures of women we’ve seen portrayed on film and stage for many years; the socialite, the depressed wife, and the free spirt. And poor Adekoluejo, not only is she relegated to playing a maid and p.a., but in between scenes she is the one who moves stuff around on the stage! Writer Adam Brock seems to have watched a lot of Sex and the City to find personalities for the women, and some of the scenes don’t just come across as realistic. And it would have made for a more complete play if we knew more about the women and how they got from Pittsburgh to Manhattan. But the Set Design by Richard Kent will catch your eye as huge picture frames beautifully backdrop the show, and for a few minutes one of the picture frames shows them women as young girls, in happier times, as a family, with each other. This is the part of the show that stuck with me, and nothing else. And at the end of the show Mouse says “Nobody knows us, they think they do, but they don’t.” Yes, that’s correct, after seeing show I still don’t know who the Colby Sisters are.