Friday 21 October 2016

PART TWO - NETFLIX is POO, SHUDDER is GOLD: Reviews By Greg Klymkiw of DEAD SNOW 2, FATHER'S DAY, JOHN DIES AT THE END, MANBORG, MIDNIGHT SON, MONSTER BRAWL - all available in Canada, UK and USA on the magnificent

(MORE reviews following preamble)

I tried Netflix for the free one-month service. It took one day to realize I would never pay for it. Shudder launched October 20, 2016 (in Canada, the UK and Ireland). It took about one hour to decide it would stay with me forever. Netflix was stuffed with unimaginatively programmed product: bad television, (mostly) awful mainstream movies, a lame selection of classics, indie and foreign cinema, plus the most cumbersome browsing interface imaginable. Shudder, on the other hand, is overflowing with a magnificently curated selection of classics, indie, foreign and mainstream cinema, plus a first rate browsing and navigation interface which allows for simple alphabetical listings as well as a handful of very simple curated menus. Yes, Shudder is all horror, all the time, but a vast majority of the product is first rate and, depending upon your definition of horror, there is plenty to discover here that's just plain great cinema!

A rotting, flesh-eating Obergruppenführer der
Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei Zombie
Waffen is no mere wurst einen Gehackte Leber!

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead aka"Død snø 2" (2014) ***
Dir. Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr,
Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen,
Jesper Sundnes, Tage Guddingsmo, Charlotte Frogner

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The plucky Nazi Zombies of Dead Snow have returned to invade contemporary Norway, but there's no need to see the precursor to this sequel, since the first instalment wasn't especially good. All one needs know is that the latest shenanigans of Der Führer's rotting, flesh-eating Waffen-SS is a truly jaw-agape treat of the highest order. Here we are reacquainted with Martin (Vegar Hoel), now hell-bent on avenging his girlfriend's death from Nazi Zombies. Alas, a major screw-up finds zombie Kommandant Herzog's (Orjan Gamst) hand sewn onto Martin's arm. Herzog, in turn, now sports Martin's hand. Complications ensue from the swap and lead to laughs-a-plenty and a running homage to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Read the full Film Corner review HERE.

Do you love your father enough
to rape him in the ASS?
Father's Day (2011) ****
dir. Astron-6
(Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie,
Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Steven Kostanski)

Starring: Conor Sweeney, Adam Brooks, Matt Kennedy, Brent Neale,
Amy Groening, Meredith Sweeney, Kevin Anderson, Garret Hnatiuk,
Mackenzie Murdoch, Lloyd Kaufman

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This is the astounding feature film from the brilliant Winnipeg filmmaking collective Astron-6 (Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Steven Kostanski) who have joined forces with the legendary Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment to generate a film that is the ultimate evil bastard child sprung from the loins of a daisy chain twixt Guy Maddin, John Paizs, early David Cronenberg, Herschel Gordon Lewis and Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer. Father's Day combines the effects of asbestos-tinged drinking water in Winnipeg with the Bukkake splatter of the coolest artistic influences imaginable and yields a work which steadfastly adheres to the fine Groucho Marx adage: "I refuse to join any club that would have someone like me for a member."

Chris Fuchman (Mackenzie Murdoch), is a serial killer that specializes in targeting fathers for anal rape followed by further degradations, including torture, butchery and/or murder. Our madman, Fuchman (substitute :k" for "h" to pronounce name properly), turns out to be a demon from the deepest pits of hell and a ragtag team is recruited by a blind infirm Archbishop of the Catholic Church (Kevin Anderson) to fight this disgusting agent of Satan. An eyepatch-wearing tough guy (Adam Brooks), a young priest (Matthew Kennedy), a twink male prostitute (Conor Sweeney), a hard-boiled dick (Brent Neale) and a jaw-droppingly gorgeous stripper (Amy Groening), all of whom follow the trail of this formidable foe whilst confronting all their own personal demons. Read the full Film Corner review HERE.

John Dies at the End,
but not before he uses
John Dies at the End (2012) ****
dir. Don Coscarelli

Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Glynn Turman, Clancy Brown

Review By Greg Klymkiw

John Dies at the End gives new meaning to the oft-heard phrase in only the finest grease-laden, alley-cat-for-chicken-serving Oriental restaurants in the Occident - "Can you please pass the Soya Sauce?" The film's director Don Coscarelli is, without question, the real thing - a truly inspired Master of Horror. (He might also be certifiably insane, but what do I know? I'm no shrink.) As the director of cult classics like the Phantasm pictures (with Angus Scrimm as the diabolical wielder of blood suckin' and a spurtin' silver spheres) and the finest entry in that unbeatable genre of Elvis-duelling-with-dangerous-denizens-of-Ancient-Egypt Bubba-Ho-Tep, his latest offering is one mo-fo of an eye-popping mind-bender.

In a nutshell, two best buds, David (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes), are mega-slackers - not unlike Bill and Ted, only they're not stupid and they go on an adventure that is in no way, shape or form an EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (though we, the viewers, are afforded a most excellent adventure, indeed). Having ingested a completely mind-pummelling hallucinogen called - you guessed it (or not) - SOYA SAUCE, our boys make a harrowing journey up the river into a veritable heart of Coscarellian darkness. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

When evil delivers an unrequested butt blast,
only true heroes will rise to the challenge.

MANBORG (2011) ****
dir. Steven Kostanski (Astron-6)

Starring: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Ludwig Lee,
Conor Sweeney, Meredith Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Straight from the jaws of Hell comes Draculon (Adam Brooks), a crazed totalitarian infused with a slavering desire to inflict pain. He makes the Dictator combo-platter of Adolph Hitler (former German Chancellor), Joe Stalin (former butcher of ten million Ukrainian garlic eaters), George W. Bush (annihilator of Islam) and Stephen Harper (former Il Duce of Canada) all look like your kindly Granny Apple Cheeks knitting her umpteenth doily and churning butter. As brilliantly rendered in the opening minutes of this 70-minute masterwork, you will cringe as the Earth's pitiful armies do their best in battle with the demons of Mephistopheles, but even the best of the best of the best of mankind will be no match for the foul, pus-oozing Satanic beasts. When a brave young fighting man hits the turf and pushes up the daisies, he is mysteriously and miraculously transformed by the mad genius Dr. Scorpius (Adam Brooks) into the next best thing to Jesus H. Christ Almighty (or Robocop - take your pick!). He is, and always will be:


Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Living Dead Love, an inconvenient kind of love.
Midnight Son (2011) ****
dir. Scott Leberecht

Starring: Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz,
Arlen Escarpeta, Larry Cedar, Tracey Walter

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is sick. Very, very sick. He leads a solitary existence in a basement apartment with all the windows sealed shut. By day, he is a brilliant young artist - painting variations on a similar theme: exquisite renderings of the sun. He pays his rent working as a night-shift security guard. He is so sensitive to the rays of the sun that his arm bears the horrendous scars of burned flesh. Of late, he's been extremely hungry and in spite of wolfing down as much food as possible, he's becoming thinner and more pale. One night he collapses at work - blacking out completely. A doctor examines him and expresses concern that he is becoming anemic from malnutrition. This, of course, simply cannot be. He's eating more than a 500 lb. circus freak can ingest in a week.

Jacob is a character who feels like somebody we could know, or even be. He's trapped by circumstance and lonely out of necessity, until he finds love. That he should discover his potential soulmate at the worst possible time isn't just the stuff of great drama, it's rooted in realism - an experience so many have had when they find something or someone special, but, damn it all, the timing proves to be so damned inopportune.

Director Leberecht's mise-en-scene in Midnight Son is superb. He captures strange corners and pockets of Los Angeles with the same eye for detail Larry Fessenden brought to the Manhattan which Habit was rooted in. Leberecht's choice of locations, shots and interiors never feel stock. Most of all, he delivers a side of L.A. we seldom see on film. It's gritty, all right, but the picture plunges us into the sort of strange places David Lynch himself might be envious of. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Rachelle Wilde, one of the delectable MONSTER BRAWL babes, with yours truly during my cousin Adam Klymkiw's stag.
Monster Brawl (2011) ***
dir. Jesse T. Cook

Starring: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Robert Maillet,
Jimmy Hart, Herb Dean, Kevin Nash, Lance Henriksen

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Who doesn't love Mexican wrestling movies? You don't? Well, go to hell, then. That said, Santo, Blue Demon and Rodrigo the Hippie are all pussies compared to monsters. How then, about a movie that has wrasslin' monsters? Yes, you read correctly. MONSTERS THAT WRESTLE. What's not to like? Monster Brawl is unquestionably one of the most insane, hilarious, original gore-fests I have seen in ages. It's Canadian - which is no surprise given the wealth of truly insane films that come from this country. The plot? Well, there really isn't one. (At least, not much of one.) Does this matter when the movie is full of monsters, babes and head-stomping carnage? My question is rhetorical. Don't bother answering. The movie is not dreary, depressing, dour, desperately arty nor a downer. In fact, the only downer is that it could use more babes, but the babes it's blessed with are delectably babe-o-licious! Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

NETFLIX is poo, SHUDDER is gold.
SHUDDER is the all-new streaming service devoted to horror. Available in Canada, UK and USA, SHUDDER is expertly CURATED by programmers who know their shit (and then some), including TIFF's magnificent Midnight Madness king of creepy (and head honcho of Toronto's Royal Cinema, the best goddamn repertory/art cinema in Canada), Colin Geddes. It's fucking cheap and notably, cheaper than that crapola Netflix. Get more info and order it RIGHT FUCKING NOW by clicking HERE!!!

Thursday 20 October 2016


I tried Netflix for the free one-month service. It took one day to realize I would never pay for it. Shudder launched today (in Canada, the UK and Ireland). It took about one hour to decide it would stay with me forever.

NETFLIX is poo, SHUDDER is gold.

Netflix was stuffed with unimaginatively programmed product: bad television, (mostly) awful mainstream movies, a lame selection of classics, indie and foreign cinema, plus the most cumbersome browsing interface imaginable.

Shudder, on the other hand, is overflowing with a magnificently curated selection of classics, indie, foreign and mainstream cinema, plus a first rate browsing and navigation interface which allows for simple alphabetical listings as well as a handful of very simple curated menus.

Yes, Shudder is all horror, all the time, but a vast majority of the product is first rate and, depending upon your definition of horror, there is plenty to discover here that's just plain great cinema!

This terrific Val Lewtonesque modern horror film disturbs us with what we CAN'T see, and WHEN we see what we're SUPPOSED to see, we become NUMB with pure terror!

Absentia (2011) ***1/2
dir. Mike Flanagan
Starring: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell,
Dave Levine, Morgan Peter Bell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There are horrors - everyday horrors we all hear about. If we've never experienced them ourselves, all we can do is try to imagine what they must feel like. But that's all we can do. Imagine. When movies delve into the horrors we hear about everyday, the best of those pictures probably come as close as any of us would want to get to experiencing the real thing. Perhaps the one thing that's worse than knowing a loved one has died - especially in a fashion of the most heinous variety - is the horror of a loved one disappearing without a trace. If we discover that the death has come about in a foul, painful, reprehensible and senseless way, it's ultimately knowing the truth that offers the most meagre shred of solace, or at least, acceptance. Not knowing is the real horror. Not knowing is what haunts us forever. Absentia is a micro-budgeted independent horror movie by Mike (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil) Flanagan that plays on these fears. Read the full Film Corner review HERE.

Harrowing portrait of mental illness
against a chilling supernatural backdrop.
Anguish (2015) ***1/2
Dir. Sonny Mallhi
Starring: Ryan Simpkins, Amberley Gridley,
Annika Marks, Karina Logue, Cliff Chamberlain, Ryan O'Nan

Review By Greg Klymkiw

One mother, Sarah (Karina Logue), loses her daughter, Lucy (Amberley Gridley) in a horrific freak car accident. The other mother, Jessica (Annika Marks), feels like she is losing her daughter, Tess (Ryan Simpkins), to the child's lifelong mental illness which appears to be getting worse. Sarah's guilt is rooted in an argument which led to the accident. Jessica, hoping a change of environment might have alleviated the mental illness, now feels like their move to a new home is contributing to her child's increasing withdrawal. Sonny Mallhi's deeply moving feature directorial debut is a sensitive, telling exploration of teen ennui and the powerful bond of mothers and daughters. That the story plays out against the subtle, but clearly apparent backdrops of America's financial crisis, as well as that of so many fathers separated from their families to fight a spurious war against terror, are elements which deepen the experience of seeing the film. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Antichrist (2009) Dir. Lars von Trier *****
Starring: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg

Review By Greg Klymkiw

With Antichrist, Lars von Trier has made a horror film – pure, though not so simple. It's a movie that burns its reflection of pain into your memory like a branding iron – plunging itself through your cranium and searing your brain matter, creating that sickeningly sweet stench that only burning flesh gives off and remaining in your nostrils for (no doubt) a lifetime. The pain and by extension – the Passion – also stays with you. A first viewing renders you drained, immobile, and numb and yet, paradoxically there are feelings of profound excitement – that you have witnessed an expression of emotion in ways that only cinema, of all the art forms, is capable of delivering. You are also breathless, and in spite, or maybe even because of the horror you’ve witnessed, you’re almost giddy with the desire to recall every beat, every image and every soul sickening moment of the experience. It’s a movie that demands to be seen more than once – it is a movie to be cherished, savored and devoured as ravenously and gluttonously as possible. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

A Turkish Delight. A Wad of Depravity.

Baskin (2016) ****
Dir. Can Evrenol
Scr. Evrenol, Ercin Sadikoglu, Cem Ozuduru, Ogulcan Eren Akay

Starring: Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Mehmet Cerrahoglu,
Sabahattin Yakut, Mehmet Fatih Dokgoz, Muharrem Bayrak

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Baskin is a dense, scary, hilarious, nastily yummy-slurp world of viscous-dribbling mega-perversion that comes to us courtesy of Turkish director Can Evrenol, who has expanded an earlier short film into a pulse-pounding feature-length horror-fest. Though most of the proceedings (insanely thrown into the pot by no less than four screenwriters) are a dream-like blur that sometimes makes little sense, it seems not to matter too much and is probably part of the grand design.

I think.

It matters not.

The film is a supremely entertaining freak-show extraordinaire from a director with talent, style and filmmaking savvy oozing from every conceivable orifice. Read my full Electric Sheep Magazine review HERE.

CITADEL: The face of fear
Electric Sheep Magazine review

Citadel (2012) *****
Dir. Ciarin Foy

Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku, Jake Wilson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Numbing, gnawing and sheer unrelenting fear is the primary element driving this creepy, terrifying dystopian shocker. Ciaran Foy’s Citadel, which without question was one of the best films of 2012, trains its lens upon the fears of the disenfranchised – those eking out their existence amidst poverty, crime and societal indifference in blasted-out housing projects – Citadel plunges us into a reality that is as recognizable as it is fantastical. Indeed, given the constant state of bleakness brought about by financial crises and war, these could well be all our fears.

This is one mighty mo-fo of a scary-ass picture. The mise en scène is dazzling and the tale is rooted in both a humanity and reality that will wallop close to home for many. There’s nary a misstep in any of the performances and as the movie inches, like Col. Walter E. Kurtz’s ‘snail crawling along the edge of a straight razor’, Foy plunges us into an abyss at the top of the stairs. In Apocalypse Now (1979), Kurtz (with Marlon Brando’s expert nasal intonations) summed up the image of the snail on the straight razor thusly: ‘That’s my dream!’

Frankly, Citadel is MY dream of one great horror movie.

Fuck it! It’s no dream. Citadel is a bloody nightmare! Read my full Electric Sheep Magazine review HERE.

Klymkiw interviews Citadel Director Ciarin Foy
at Electric Sheep Magazine

Greg Klymkiw interviews

Citadel director

Ciarin Foy

Klymkiw: I was so lucky to see Citadel on a big screen at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. For me, it’s definitely a Big Screen experience and even though so many independent genre films get relatively modest big screen exposure at festivals and in limited theatrical runs for an eventually larger life on the small screen via DVD, VOD, etc., I can’t help but assume you crafted the picture with Big Screen at the forefront.

Foy: That’s very true. I think especially so in terms of the soundscape. Sound was an important big screen element when you’re going into a 5.1 sound mix.

Yes, the aural landscape, if you will, is alternately subtle and jarring, but it seems to me that your visual design always felt bigger than life and yet, in so doing, captured life and reality so much more powerfully than many similar genre films.

Yes, we had a fairly extended series of preparatory discussions about the aspect ratio and at first I was thinking in terms of the aesthetic and practical pros and cons between a 2:35 landscape or something closer to 1:85. Trying to capture Tommy’s agoraphobia was a big part of this and my initial feeling was to go wider. At the same time, I really wanted to build in much longer, more extended takes to capture Tommy’s condition. However, working within modest means you begin to realize that cinemascope-styled frames need more lights, more art direction, and that extended shots take longer to plan and shoot, especially with actors getting their marks and so on. We eventually settled on the 16:9 aspect ratio. Read my full Electric Sheep Magazine interview with Ciarin Foy HERE.

There is a light at the end of the CITADEL tunnel,
and it's a drawer-fillingly scary as it is positive.

CITADEL (2012) *****

Dir. Ciarán Foy

A New Appreciation

By Greg Klymkiw

Welcome to this special edition of the Greg Klymkiw Film Corner where I will be presenting an all-new in-depth review and analysis of Ciaran Foy's contemporary masterpiece of horror CITADEL. This article is a preview of a chapter I'm adding to my book about the visual techniques of cinematic storytelling. Entitled "Movies Are Action", my book has been a culmination of over 30 years in the movie business - producing and/or co-writing numerous independent features, seeing and studying over 30,000 motion pictures, covering cinema as a journalist in a wide variety of publications and teaching for 13 years at the Canadian Film Centre (founded by Norman Jewison) wherein I had the honour to serve as the producer-in-residence and senior creative consultant for over 200 screenwriters, directors, producers and editors.

It's become very clear to me that Mr. Foy's astounding first feature film CITADEL is not only one terrific movie that introduces the world of cinema to a genuine original with filmmaking hard-wired into his DNA, but that his film can and should also serve as a template to all young filmmakers on the precipice of diving into the breach. It's lonely out there, kids, and there's nothing better than using such a mature, accomplished and extraordinary work by someone who is, for all intents and purposes, your peer. Here on this site, you'll be reading a reasonably polished first draft of the chapter to appear in my book, but I'm confident you'll find, thanks to Mr. Foy's great film, a few nuggets to take with you onto the battlefield. -- Greg Klymkiw

Read my full in-depth Film Corner analysis of Citadel HERE.

Only Canucks from Collingwood
would think to unleash Civil War Zombies
Exit Humanity (2011) ***
dir. John Geddes

Starring: Mark Gibson, Dee Wallace,
Stephen McHattie, Bill Moseley, narrated by Brian Cox

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Exit Humanity, a zombie western from the visionary psychopaths at Foresight Features in Collingwood, is certainly one of the strangest and more compelling movies I've seen in some time. In fact, while it clearly belongs in the horror genre (there are zombies, after all), the picture feels a lot more like it's rooted in a tradition of magic realism and fairy tale. It doesn't quite gel, but in spite of this, it's a solid feature debut for a director who will have a long, fruitful career ahead of him. His film begins with an all-out, no-holds-barred brutal battle sequence twixt the opposing blue and gray forces of the American civil war. As the carnage heats up, a third fighting element creeps into the madness - zombies. Even though the war soon ends, a dark cloud appears over the land and during the reconstruction period, a plague spreads across the once-divided, but now tenuously-melded nation. The living dead, you see, rise to eat the living. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

SHUDDER is the all-new streaming service devoted to horror. Available in Canada, UK and USA, SHUDDER is expertly CURATED by programmers who know their shit (and then some), including TIFF's magnificent Midnight Madness king of creepy (and head honcho of Toronto's Royal Cinema, the best goddamn repertory/art cinema in Canada), Colin Geddes. It's fucking cheap and notably, cheaper than that crapola Netflix. Get more info and order it RIGHT FUCKING NOW by clicking HERE!!!

Thursday 13 October 2016

UNDER THE SHADOW - TORONTO AFTER DARK 2016 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Horror film against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s will knock you on your ass!

Under the Shadow (2016)
Dir. Babak Anvari
Starring: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Living in Tehran during the eight long years of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s was terrifying enough with endless bombs dropping. Eventually, with the threat of missiles from Iraq, the city emptied to ghost town proportions. Against this backdrop is one of the most creepy, harrowing and heart-stoppingly scary movies of the year.

Shideh (played by the intense and babe-o-licious Narges Rashidi) lives the life of a housewife and Mom to hubby Iraj (Bobby Nederi) and daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) respectively.

After unceremoniously being booted from medical school for her "political" leanings, she's disappointed to learn that after years of repentance, she will still be barred from completing her studies. Iraj is sympathetic, but he is a practising doctor himself and tries to placate her with taking solace in the good life they have together.

She's having none of it. Even in the repressive world they live in, she yearns for independence and self-fulfilment - perhaps, even, to a fault. When Iraj is drafted into military service, she refuses to leave Tehran with Dorsa and into the relatively safe harbour of her in-laws. As bombs and missiles strike the city with more frequency, Shideh gets frantic telephone calls from Iraj, begging her to leave.

Infused with the similar kind of Dustin Hoffman from Straw Dogs ethic of "This is our home", Shideh digs her heels in.

However, other than a war waging, there's another problem which creepily, insidiously begins to plague the family's home. Is it a ghost? A demon? A Djinn?

If it's an evil Djinn, this is definitely not a good thing.

Shideh is, however, a woman of reason, of logic, of intellect. She refuses to believe in old Arabic superstitions. But soon, the horror visiting upon her is far too real to ignore.

Under the Shadow is a slow burn. What begins as a domestic drama during wartime starts to unravel itself into a full blown horror film. You'll never see the first jump-scare coming, but when it does, you will be gasping for breath and clutching your chest. And it's no cheap jump scare. It's earned and rooted deeply in the psychological, cultural and sociological fabric of both the narrative and world of the film.

Writer-Director Babak Anveri displays such control over the proceedings that the visceral moments have the kind of impact we seldom see in contemporary horror films. The film is dazzling and original and one of the few movies that flirts with being genuinely in the same league as The Exorcist.


Under The Shadow is an official selection at the 2016 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Friday 7 October 2016

BOYHOOD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Linklater Trick Pony Drama Perfect Criterion Viewing

Sometimes, once is simply not enough.

Boyhood (2014)
Dir. Richard Linklater
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke

Review By Greg Klymkiw

One-trick-pony movies tend to drive me nuts. Perhaps the most egregious perpetrator of this artistic masturbation is the loathsome Christopher "One Idea" Nolan. The, oh-gee-what-if-I-tell-the-story-backwards abomination Memento is the pinnacle of an entire career of making movies that have little going for them save for the ONE idea Nolan jackhammers us with - film after film. The myriad of "found footage" movies that took off from The Blair Witch Project and onwards also fall into this category for me. Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) seemed to develop an adjunct career making one-trick-pony movies when he gave us Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wandering around and yapping in an approximation of real time during Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) and then, in 2014, he served up his ultimate trick-pony gymnastics with the universally acclaimed Boyhood.

My initial response upon the picture's theatrical release was decidedly mixed - so much so, that I never really bothered to watch it again. Well, not all the way through, anyway. You see, I had a Blu-Ray copy of the movie lying around in a heap of screener copies when it came out on home entertainment formats and my (at the time) 13-year-old daughter discovered it and couldn't stop watching it - again and again. As it was played a ridiculous number of times over the years, I was often in the same room while she had it on and yes, I occasionally found myself sitting down to watch bits and pieces of it. Of course I queried her as to why she loved it so much and her most telling response was something like: "I don't know, Dad. I guess it's because it's so real."

Smart girl.

So yes, armed with the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray edition of Boyhood, I sat down - alone - and watched it from beginning to end in one sitting.

Yeah, okay. It's definitely a good movie. Really, it is. But, is Boyhood great? Well, what I can say for sure is that it shares the special thing great movies have - at least for me. In spite of the speed bumps the movie is littered with, I do want to see it again.

And yet again.

Boyhood is deceptively simple. Linklater wanted to tell a coming-of-age story spread over a few years, but with the same cast and within the same literal time frame in which he was shooting the movie. So, from 2002 to 2013, as his cast aged naturally, he told the story of Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from age six to eighteen. Set in various locations in Texas, Mason Jr. lives with Olivia (Patricia Arquette), his (mostly) single Mom and older sister Samantha (Linklater's real-life daughter Lorelei). From time to time, Mason Evans Sr. (Ethan Hawke) visits and spends quality time with his kids.

The movie details Mom's desire to "better" herself by going to college, achieving a Master's degree and eventually teaching in college. We are also privy to the various other men in her life. She admits that she loves Mason Sr. but that they were not meant to be living together. Alas, the other dudes she ends up with are bitter, abusive alcoholics. The worst that might be said about Mason Sr. (at least in terms of what Linklater chooses to reveal) is that he's a free-spirited wannabe musician who eventually "grows up" and becomes a successful insurance salesman.

Throughout, the film wends its way through the sort of touchstones all kids hit - school, discovering inner passions and first-love.

And yes, I can genuinely admit the movie is overflowing with sequences and images that (finally) knocked me on my butt. Early on there's a moment where the kids are moving out of their childhood home and Mason Jr. is charged with doing painting touch-ups on the walls. He looks at the markings that detail all the periods of his physical growth. His job is to erase this part of his life in the place he's known through most of his childhood.

I lost it here. (And please, folks - try to never remove your children from the place they grew up in. It's devastating. For you, maybe. For them, definitely. Trust me. I know all too well.)

This is the extraordinary thing about Boyhood. For all its longueurs (and yes, it's almost three hours so it has plenty of them), this is a movie that keeps hitting you in the gut.

Towards the end of the film, Olivia (and Arquette, who is extraordinary throughout, completely nails it here) talks to Mason Jr. as he's about to leave for college. She says:

"You know what I'm realising? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones. Getting married. Having kids. Getting divorced. The time that we thought you were dyslexic. When I taught you how to ride a bike. Getting divorced... again. Getting my masters degree. Finally getting the job I wanted. Sending Samantha off to college. Sending you off to college. You know what's next? Huh? It's my fucking funeral!."

Mason Jr. is somewhat bemused by this and suggests she's jumping ahead to her funeral by about forty years. Her response, which I can't quite shake (and that extracted copious tears from my eyes) was simply thus:

"I just thought there would be more."

Jesus Christ, ain't that the truth.

I often wonder if my initial less-than-enthusiastic response to the picture had more to do with its power and ability to rub my nose in the screen as if it were a mirror?

Like my little girl told me, "It's so real."

And so it is.

Boyhood is a great picture.


The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray and (if you must) DVD of Boyhood includes a new 2K digital transfer, supervised by Linklater, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, a new audio commentary featuring Linklater and nine members of the film’s cast and crew, a new documentary chronicling the film’s production, featuring footage shot over the course of its twelve years, a new discussion featuring Linklater and actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane, moderated by producer John Pierson, a new conversation between Coltrane and actor Ethan Hawke, a new video essay by critic Michael Koresky about time in Linklater’s films, narrated by Coltrane, a collection of portraits of the cast and crew by photographer Matt Lankes, narrated with personal thoughts from Linklater, Arquette, Hawke, Coltrane, and producer Cathleen Sutherland.