Jul 27, 2014

An Excruciatingly Boring, Heterosexist "Boyhood"

In college I learned that whenever someone tells you that a novel like Ulysses is Epic!  Marvelous! Stupendous!  The Best Thing Every Written!, it's bound to be heterosexist.  Not to mention deadly dull.

I'm pretty sure that's the selling point.  It's the Best Thing Ever Written because there are no gay people in the universe.  No gay people!  Marvelous!  Stupendous!

Same thing with movies.  I just saw Boyhood (2014), which got reviews like A Triumph! One of the Most Extraordinary Films of the Century!  Will Change Your Life!

It was awful.  Like two tv movies on the Hallmark Channel crammed together, but without the dramatic tension.

Movie #1:  Single Mom Patricia Arquette is raising two children in small-town Texas, with the unwelcome interference of her irresponsible ex-husband (Ethan Hawke, left), who wants to become a country-western singer but settles for working in an insurance agency.  She goes to college, where she dates and marries her psychology professor  (Marco Perella), but he turns out to be abusive, so they divorce.

She completes her doctorate in an impossibly short period of time, and becomes a professor without any publications.  One of her students (Brad Hawkins, top photo) catches her eye, so she marries him.  Later they divorce, I think.  It's not really clear.


Movie #2: The story switches to her son Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who has become a sullen, artsy, exceptionally ugly teenager.  He gets a part-time job as a dishwasher, butts heads with his photography teacher, gets depressed, smokes, drinks, has sex with girls, and has long, boring conversations about the meaning of life.

In the final scene, he begins college.  His roommate and two girls invite him to go camping for long, boring conversations about the meaning of life.

The schtick of the movie is: it was filmed over a 12 year period, with the main cast returning year after year to film new scenes.

That might explain why it is so episodic, with characters appearing out of nowhere and then vanishing without comment.

And why it's so incredibly, intensely, "just shoot me" boring.

But it doesn't explain why this is such an aggressively heterosexist world.  In Psychology class, the professor lectures on universal heterosexual desire:  "Whenever you see someone of the opposite gender, you are instantly drawn to them."  Questions of "Do you have a girlfriend?" and advice about how to handle heterosexual relationships inform Mason's life, long before his parents have any way to know his sexual orientation.  Once he becomes a teenager, it's girls! girls! girls! all the time.

I think the new Transformers movie is playing in the theater next door.  See that instead.

Or anything on the Hallmark Channel.  At least it will break up the monotony with commercials.