Boyhood (A movie By Richard Linklater)

Boyhood.

I’ve been out of the theater, the experience complete, for a good five hours and change. Yet I’m still digesting all I saw, all that one of America’s greatest directors, Richard Linklater, put on the big screen to be seen in a 165-minute new American classic.

I don’t toss that word around lightly. I watched American Hustle last year. I was bold enough then, and I’m bold enough now, to say, simply and truthfully: That movie sucked. So if Boyhood wasn’t any good, I’d tell you.

And it isn’t good. It’s great, a sure best picture contender.

Everyone who watches Boyhood will experience it. And everyone who has an experience will have a slightly different experience than everyone else has, because we all go into the film with our own previous life experience as our guides, and it is those memories, and our memories of the time period covered (2002-2013) that ground Boyhood for each moviegoer.

I am a big brother. Have been since I was four years old. In 2002, my littlest brother, James, was about to turn 7, the same age as the great Ellar Coltrane’s Mason, and my little sister, the beautiful Ms. Katie, was about to turn 10, the same age as Mason’s sister Samantha (played with tenderness, skill, wit, and heart by the director’s daughter). In them, I saw my siblings. In the people around them, I saw myself.

Boyhood gets so much right. The advice given to both Mason and Samantha about life itself reminds me of the same advice I doled out, given to me years before. The brother-sister relationship. Even the video games these kids (okay, let’s be fair, the video games that Mason plays) are perfectly rendered here, so that you say, Yes, that is exactly what it was like!

Linklater’s best directing Oscar awaits him in February. If Boyhood doesn’t win best editing, then I don’t know what best editing means. If Arquette isn’t nominated for best actress, I would be utterly shocked. And if Boyhood isn’t in the running for best picture, then I want to know: What was the point of increasing the number of eligible movies from five to ten? Not only should this movie be nominated, if there is any justice in the academy’s vote, it should also win.

That means, just this once, Mr. Weinstein, let someone else come to the party. Back off promoting the rest of your films the way you’ve backed off promoting Snowpiercer (anyone who knows movies hopefully sees what I just wrote as a subtle dig). Admit that you’ve been bested, sir, because I’m telling you right now–you have!

Boyhood stars Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater. Run time: 165 min.

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A Spidery Encounter!

I’m not sure how my fellow writers feel, and it probably differs slightly depending on the genre one writes, but personally I find the writing process intensely introspective. I can spend a day or two thinking over a single passage. Should I do x or y? And what are my reasons for advocating or going against either option?

It was in such a thoughtful frame of mind that I looked to the ceiling. Often, I will ask my dearly departed grandparents for guidance in my work, and I’ll look to the ceiling before doing so. That’s just kind of my thing. But instead of a healthy helping of solace from beyond, staring back at me from atop my bedroom–with his very own Goodyear Blimp view of its geography–was the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen. And you know it’s big if I think it’s big, because my crappy eyes wouldn’t spot him otherwise.

It’s okay. He won’t hurt you. I don’t think. Besides, he’s a good distance from you and your bed right now. And he’s the hulk, in spider-terms. So he’ll easily take care of any insects that might think of homesteading here.

I tried to put my new roommate out of my mind. But the next time I looked up, he’d traversed a good amount of ceiling. He was now directly above my bed, the Usain Bolt of arachnids.

Âlright. Here’s the deal, Spider-dude. You stay up there, I’ll stay down here, and in this manner we shall coexist until such time as you decide to leave my room by whatever vent you originally entered.

I thought we had an understanding. A treaty of sorts. Until…

The next time I looked to the ceiling. No spider.

Well, that was a quick visit, I thought.

Then I glanced directly to my left. Not six inches from me, suspended by his newly made web, was the spider in question, glaring at me with bad-cop eyes.

Oh. My. GOD!!!!!!!

I did what any sane person would do in this situation, of course. I got to my feet and ran to the other side of the room.

Is he still there?

He’s the effing Hulk of spiders. Of course he’s still there. I could see him clearly from across the room.

Next (my girlfriend says I’m a girl for doing this, and I do not disagree), I ran back to my bed, picked up my pillow, and–using it both as a shield and as a weapon (you can probably picture the posture; it’s not flattering to me)–I threw the pillow at Darth Spider.

His web broke. It snapped like an improperly maintained zip-line compromised by a fat guy, and it disappeared. Unfortunately, so did its chief architect.

So here I sit, in a room in which I currently keep company with either a really mad spider, or a slowly decaying spider corpse. And as I finish this blog, I say to the army of spiders sure to descend upon me for unceremoniously ending the career of  their respected and feared spider general, I think I’ve done us both a favor.

Truce?

 

 

Breakthrough!

For a writer, each day is different. Some days, you are struck with amazing inspiration, and you can’t say for sure where it came from, and you can barely contain your enthusiasm to put pen strokes to page. On others, you wonder why you chose the profession at all, and do you even have the right to call yourself a professional when the words won’t come out right?
Then there are days like today. Editing days. Where you have a manuscript, but it needs much love and care, the kind of tending you fear is not your strong suit. Even so, you commit yourself. I will up this story’s stakes. I will give readers a reason to want to read on. I will make them care as much as I care for these characters, this place, this time, this work.
To feel like you’ve done that, even in a small measure–with the pruning of some words, the adding of others, to know that you’ve achieved a breakthrough when no one else knows it, no one else can see it to celebrate with you, is nonetheless such a glorious feeling I just had to share it here.

Hi, Everyone!

Checking in from the editing bunker. Had a great weekend, which should launch me into a solid, productive week of editing (I can hope, can’t I? *Grin.*).

To my followers, I say thank you. Your patience will be rewarded. This blog is a wonderful outlet for me, and I hope you’ll read my book when it does come out. I will be totally willing to talk about it with you!

This is also a quick note to say a happy belated birthday to my dearly departed grandmother. She loved movies, music, sports, and her grand kids, of which I was the first. Happy birthday, Grandma, and I hope you’re up in Heaven baking your awesome cookies!

Fighting Through Doubt

I just spent my toughest hour yet of editing moving this passage here and that paragraph there. Reworking. Rewriting. Rethinking.
I went into the work with a clear vision, and I leave it for the day hoping I’ve done right. Greeting doubt on my way out the office door. To lose faith is so simple, so easy everyone has a talent for it. To maintain faith requires guts. And the ability to stare Doubt in the face and tell him he doesn’t frighten you.
It’s okay to say that. Even though you’re lying and you know it. Maybe one day it’ll be true. I’d like to believe that day will come when I reach publication, though I fear that, even then, Doubt will play a significant role.

Happy 4th!

I’m back from my 4th of July vacation. The vacation also functioned as a respite of sorts. Away from my editing implements. They called to me. I refused to respond.
I am thankful for this respite. Sometimes, an author just needs a break. Non-writers may think the craft comes easily to us, but authors know otherwise. They know it can be tortuous at times, and that much of that torture is self-imposed.
Fireworks. A walk through the history museum. Lunch and dinner out with people who remind you life isn’t as hard as you sometimes make it. Oh, yeah, and freshly popped popcorn; salted, of course. That’s the way to go, I say!
As the editing process continues, I may not post a new blog every day, but stop by, check in! I’m glad to see you, and I hope you’ll follow me. New blogs will appear regularly.

A Light At The End Of The Editing Tunnel!

Today’s post is a happy one!

For I have found, and can finally glimpse, the light at the end of the editing tunnel. No, I’m nowhere near done with the long and grueling edit that I’ve got underway on my novel, but as I go I am beginning to see it firming up, becoming something less conceptual and more tangible. I know now what I need to do to make the edit count.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I hate it when I read a book, and I feel like the author phoned it in. Come on, you’ve all read books like that, you know you have. What do you think at their end?

Of course. You think, Why did you waste my time with this? You might even blame the author.

I commit to never wasting your time, dear reader. Both my time and yours are just too valuable for me to do that.

So I’ve come up with a poem to remind me as I continue editing who’s important to a writer.

Their publishers, sure, and if I had one their notes would be at the forefront of my mind. But even more important….

Their readers. We write to get readers.

If the reader

Doesn’t read

What the reader

Should have read

When a story went from concept

Living in your head

To words that might engage,

Enrage,

Or yellow on an antique page,

If what needed communication

Didn’t get to them,

The fault rests squarely

With the writer and his leaky pen.

So spend your ink wisely.

Eavesdropping At The Ballpark

Last month (wow, it would be last month; welcome to July, people), I wrote about eavesdropping. How the best place to do so was a restaurant. But just as good: A baseball game. Here, a quick and mostly accurate run-down of some of the things I heard from the people my girlfriend and I sat in front of at the game Sunday. My best guess is that this was some sort of a toned-down bachelor party between former college friends, a few of whom are already married and have kids, to celebrate one of the friends being married on the day of our nation’s independence (ironic much?).

A Mutual Friend Throws Away His Relationship:

“Did you hear about Mark?”

“No, what about him?”

“He slept with a co-worker.”

“Oh, Mark”, in a tone suggesting such a choice was not unexpected from the oh-so-wonderful Mark.

A Groomsman to the Groom:

“So what kind of jobs will you have for me on Thursday?”

“Just show up, man. (The bride) might want you to put streamers up, but that’ll be something we all do together.”

“Cool.”

One of the friends’ sisters is about to have a baby with her “partner”.

“We’re just not sure how her Grandma is gonna take it. She doesn’t even know (this person is) gay.”

“Maybe it’ll be fine.”

“Maybe. She is pretty cool.”

“How old is she again, a hundred and six?”

“She’s 93, dude, and she’s pretty cool. She is Southern Baptist, though, so you never know.”

 

Oh, baseball games, you offer so much fodder for the curious writer. I hope you guys enjoyed this brief glimpse in at baseball-game eavesdropping.