When Vince polled the UPROXX staff a few weeks ago about which summer movie we were each looking most forward to, without a nanosecond of hesitation I responded, “Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.” I am, you see, a hopeless Linklater fanboy, so Boyhood for me is one of those films that if it only plays in New York and LA for the first couple of weeks I’ll consider traveling to either to see it, because waiting for it to go wide release and play in New Orleans would be too torturous for me to handle. And if I have to wait to see it in New Orleans, I’ll be there on the day it opens with a ticket for the first possible screening. So now you know.
ANYWAY, with Boyhood coming out in a few weeks, the New Yorker has a big profile of Linklater by Nathan Heller in its June 30th issue. In the event you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the film, which stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette and was filmed in increments over the course of 12 years, here’s how Heller, with assistance from Linklater, describes it in the opening of his piece…
As Linklater entered his forties, he kept returning to the idea of making a movie about growing up. But he couldn’t see how it could work. “If you make a film about childhood, you’ve got to pick a moment—you know, ‘The 400 Blows,’ ” he says. Most childhoods aren’t like Truffaut’s, though. They have no single, representative dramatic stretch. They gain meaning across years and disparate moments. The problem nagged at him until it didn’t. “I sat down at my computer, and I had a flash of that feeling: why couldn’t you do that?”
Linklater started filming “Boyhood” in 2002, shooting a few days every year; the finished product will arrive in theatres next month. As news of the project emerged, it was often compared to Michael Apted’s “Up” series. But Apted’s project is a sequence of documentaries; Linklater’s is a single feature-length work of fiction covering crucial points from the age of seven to eighteen in the life of its protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), and his family: a sister (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s now twenty- one-year-old daughter) and separated parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). Viewers watch Mason find his way through childhood and head to college. By the time the film is over, they’ve not only witnessed his growth but shared it—the evolution of a personality, the changing soundtrack of those years.
If you’re a Linklater fan, you should make the time to read the entire piece, as it’s a deep dive into the mind of the guy behind Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy and Slacker, among others. That said, this particular passage most stuck out to me, made me smile really big even, as I think it perfectly captures why I, and many others, adore Linklater and his films — with the exception of School of Rock, mainly because I loathe Jack Black — so much.
Today, Linklater visits Los Angeles the way one might visit a low-grade radiation site. When he has business there, he takes the early flight into LAX, runs to morning, lunch, and af- ternoon meetings, then catches the late flight home to Austin. When he is ready to make a movie, he finds producers who trust him with a long leash. (In the case of “Boyhood,” this was Jonathan Sehring, at I.F.C., who gave the project a small but stable stipend every year.) He tops off the coffers with his own money, and makes the movies as cheaply as possible. Since the nineties, Linklater has offered his stars percentage points instead of Hollywood fees. He calls this “betting on myself,” and if the bet is good, which it almost always is, it makes the director as free and self-sovereign as a painter or a novelist.
Now excuse me while I sit down to watch Before Sunset for the 8000th time.