Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking film “Boyhood” opens in some theaters this weekend (more widely across South Florida on Aug. 1), and there are many reasons to put it atop your to-do list.
As pure entertainment, you are witness to extraordinarily ambitious filmmaking: Linklater’s story about a 6-year-old boy’s journey to the cusp of manhood unfolds delicately, with painstaking attention to authenticity that is made all the more real by having the same actors portray their roles over the course of 12 years of filming.
As Linklater’s camera returns to the actors every few years, Patricia Arquette (as a single mom with bad taste in men) and Ethan Hawke (as her cool, irresponsible ex) have never been better, and watching Linklater’s unknown lead, Ellar Coltrane, grow and mature from age 7 when Linklater started filming to age 19 in the final scenes, is astonishing for its exquisite naturalness.
For many in the audience, the film may be a remarkably honest look back at their own youth between the carefree bike rides and the cul de sacs of teenage disillusionment. Coltrane’s Mason tentatively navigates the emotional push and pull of footloose Dad, Mom’s new husband, new schools, domestic violence, Mom’s next new husband, puberty, girls, homework, bullying, bad jobs, drugs, alcohol and the inevitable existential unraveling.
But as eloquent as “Boyhood” is in looking back at familiar themes, what if it were a look forward? Might it be even more rewarding for a boy now standing on one of the midpoints of Linklater’s map of adolescence?
Sadly, that is unlikely to happen: “Boyhood” is rated R, which will scare most parents away from taking their teenage sons to see it. And that would be a shame.
I know because I took my son, just nearing age 13.
What did he see, his mother asked? He saw life in all its untidiness. The rage of an alcoholic stepdad (the act of domestic violence was not shown), high-school beer drinking (not shown as being particularly cool, and no one pays a price, which is more typical than not), the suggestion of pot smoking (one dark scene, and you’d have to know what you were looking at), bad haircuts.
In the absence of any blood or sex, I can only imagine that the rating was meant to protect young ears from the plentiful F-bombs that litter the script. But, as I told my wife, our son has watched the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators from the upper deck at Dolphins Stadium, so “Boyhood” presented nothing he hasn’t heard before.
But why take my son? Because it showed him he’s not alone in his confusion. He saw how a father can be a valuable resource (hey, I try, but …). He saw the sacrifice a mother will make for her children. He saw the journey in its entirety and learned to keep moving forward against all obstacles. He saw how you come out happy in the end.
“What was it all for?” a college-bound Mason asks his father, not at all rhetorically, near the end of the film. The relationship between him and the old man has matured into a friendship by this point. The unstated theme of this scene, and the film, is that it’s all about enjoying moments like this, honest and true.
My son and I talked about the movie on the way home, and we’re still probing our feelings — he’s at an age when feelings aren’t shared. But “Boyhood” will be something that bonds us going forward. Honest and true.
This Friday, “Boyhood” opens at AMC Aventura; Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton; Regal South Beach 18; and Coral Gables Art Cinema. On Aug. 1, the film opens at the Classic Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale; Regal Oakwood in Hollywood; Regal Cypress Creek and Carmike Broward 18 in Pompano Beach; Regal Sawgrass in Sunrise; Living Room Cinemas and Shadowood 16 in Boca Raton; Carmike Parisian 20 in West Palm Beach; Regal Royal Palm in Royal Palm Beach and AMC Sunset Place 24 in Miami.
ELLAR COLTRANE Q&A
“Boyhood” star Ellar Coltrane will take part in a live video-link Q&A at the 6:15 p.m. Saturday screening of the film at the Coral Gables Art Cinema (260 Aragon Ave.). Tickets cost $11.50. Info: GablesCinema.com.
ANOTHER FATHER AND SON
The other side of the father-son continuum is explored in another ambling and rewarding film, Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” in which a boozy old coot played by Bruce Dern goes on a road trip with his estranged son, an excellent Will Forte. Bruce Dern’s haircut is pretty wild in this one. “Nebraska” is being screened at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on the Art Cinema at the Crest film series the Crest Theatre (51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach). Tickets: $10. Info: 561-243-7922, DelrayArts.org.
A GRANDSON'S STORY
One of the most extraordinary interviews ever to appear in GQ was this 2000 Nashville honky-tonk sit-down between Elizabeth “Eat, Pray, Love” Gilbert and Hank Willliams III, grandson of the country legend. In the profile, headlined "The Ghost," Hank III acknowledged that his management hated “when I talk in public,” going on to tell Gilbert that his record label should have carnal relations with itself for not allowing him to put a song on his album with a title that combined puns on the first syllables in “Dixie” and “country.” That Hank III has managed to continue to record and make money on the fringes of what passes for country music these days is a miracle. He performs 7 p.m. Sunday at the Culture Room (3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale). Tickets: $23.45. Call 954-564-1074, or visit CultureRoom.net.
JOHNNYSWIM ON THE RIVER
Reminder: The new Mary N. Porter Riverview Ballroom, on the second floor of the Broward Center’s dazzling Huizenga Pavilion expansion on the New River, will have its first public concert 8 p.m. Sunday by the Los Angeles-based duo Johnnyswim. Beyond the fact that one half of Johnnyswim, Amanda Sudano Ramirez (she would be the half that is not Abner Ramirez), is the daughter of disco legend Donna Summer, is the other fact that these two deliver a righteous brand of soulful Americana. Tickets: $22.50. Info: BrowardCenter.org.
$20 BUS LOOP
The Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop on Aug. 2 has a new trajectory this time around, including Bokamper’s on the Intracoastal. If you prepay by Saturday, it’s just $20 (vs. $30 after, or $35 cash at the door). As you know, all proceeds from the trolley pub tour (with a free drink at each stop) go to a variety of local charities. Info: BusLoop.org.
IN OTHER BEER NEWS…
The Riverside Market in Fort Lauderdale is joining forces with SweetWater Brewing on Thursday (July 24) for a cause near and dear to us all in the Saving Our Waterways fundraiser. SweetWater will be offering samples of its WaterKeeper Hefeweizen draft, and Riverside Market will donate $2 to the "Save Our Waterways" campaign for every pint you buy. All summer (through Labor Day), the Riverside has been raising money by selling paper fish ($1, $5 and $10) which are displayed with your name on it around the room. Thursday’s fundraiser, which includes raffles and Sweetwater swag, begins at 7 p.m. In other, less soul-nourishing but rewarding all the same beer news, the Riverside will host the debut of Native Brewing Co.’s Glades Pale Ale bottled beer, with an opening-day price of $3. Info: Facebook.com/RiversideMarket.
SUNSHINE AT NIGHT
There are many reasons to catch Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles at Hard Rock Live on Friday, but one you may not have considered is opening act Emily King. Not only is she possibly the only performer to have played CBGB and opened for Maroon 5, she included a memorable version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” on her 2006 EP, “East Side Story.” Her new single, "Distance," has a lush and entrancing Roberta Flack groove, but here’s hoping King finds room for "Sunshine" Friday night. Tickets: $39-$59. Info: 954-797-5531, MyHRL.com.
To dispel the rumor that Friday’s country show by Tom Jackson is the season-ending performance for the free Starlight Musicals series at Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park … It’s actually the second-to-last concert on the schedule, which is set to close with the Blood, Sweat & Tears-style rock of Brass Evolution on Aug. 1. Info: FortLauderdale.gov.
We mention it now so you have time to, you know, get in shape: Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale and Covenant House Florida just announced plans for Bacon Bash 2014 on Oct. 3 in Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The fundraiser will include bacon-inspired dishes, beer, live music and activities for all ages. Individual bacon dishes will start at around $5. For a $20 pre-paid donation ($25 day of), you’ll get unlimited beer samples the Bacon Bash Biergarten. Info: GoRiverwalk.com.
Fresh off months of touring Europe and North American, South Florida bluesman JP Soars brings music from his fine new album, “Full Moon Night in Memphis,” back home for a series of shows highlighted by an official release party 9 p.m. Saturday at the Downtowner in Fort Lauderdale. Other gigs are Friday at Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach, Sunday at Pine Trails Park Amphitheater in Parkland and Tuesday at the Funky Biscuit in his hometown of Boca Raton. More info: JPSoars.com.
We feel obliged to mention that Tootsie’s Cabaret Miami this weekend is hosting the 2014 Summer Pole Party, the largest pole-dancing competition on the East Coast, with hundreds of adult-club entertainers from South Florida and around the country vying for a $15,000 first-place award. We mention this only so we can acknowledge our favorite performer name in the genre: Pole Kat. Tootsie’s Cabaret Miami is at 150 NW 183rd St., in Miami Gardens. Info: TootsiesCabaret.com.