The Films of 2014: Boyhood

Richard Linklater’s extraordinary new film Boyhood is primarily about twelve years in the life of his main character, a lower-middle-class white kid from Texas named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he grows from age six to eighteen.  But it’s also something far more sprawling and ambitious than that cursory summary would suggest.  It’s a film that takes as its subject the ebb and flow of life itself, and that watches the subtle ways in which characters and relationships change over time.  Linklater’s process is just as ambitious as his scope: he repeatedly brought his actors together to shoot the film in real time, which is to say over the course of twelve years. 


The Films of 2014: Nymphomaniac (Volume II)

Things get painful for our heroine in Volume II of Lars von Trier’s Nyphomaniac, which finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) confronting the darkest recesses of sexual experience: masochism, torture, and, perhaps most frightening of all, the loss of sexual pleasure altogether.  Joe herself describes this period in her sexual history as a symbolic movement from the orthodox Christian tradition of the East, associated here with spiritual ecstasy, to the Catholic tradition of the West, with its emphasis on suffering.


The Films of 2014: Under the Skin

Last night I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin at the Coolidge Corner Theater, courtesy of IFF Boston.  I’m still reeling from the experience: it’s an extraordinary film, a heady, sexy, nervy sci-fi thriller set in the Scottish countryside, where a beautiful alien being (Scarlett Johansson) seduces and kills a series of male strangers.