Movies of 2014: Ida, Big Hero 6 & Boyhood

If you haven’t seen the rest of my “Movies of 2014” posts, check them out here

Ida
What is it about choosing to film in black and white that I find so beautiful? Early films were hand-painted, frame by frame, in order to get that beautiful color the filmmakers craved…but now we see films intentionally filmed without color. But still, how can you not love it? I was reading about this film just after I finished it and saw someone describe it as choosing to sketch with just a pencil instead of choosing to paint with watercolors and I really liked that comparison. What am I even saying? Anyway, Ida is a lovely film, but basically, its the way the film was shot that got to me (that aspect ratio tho). There were many points in which the characters were situated in the bottom corner of a frame or the camera was pulled back allowing for such a large shot even though what we’re meant to focus on is small and very far away.  It almost made me feel like I wasn’t meant to be watching this but was instead just a casual onlooker. The “far away” positioning of the camera also often allowed the audience to see a larger picture of the bleak yet stunning portrayal of 1960’s Poland. I’ve never been good at describing shots so maybe I make no sense here (to be honest, I kind of skipped the intro film classes when I started college cause I thought I knew everything and now I kind of just guess). Ida is the first film I’ve seen from the Best Foreign Film category so I’ve got a lot more to watch before I say “yes! this is it!” but it really is harsh yet touching in many ways and, as I’ve said, beautiful. If you’re interested and want a much better view of what this film is than I’ve so terribly provided, check it out on Netflix.

Big Hero 6
I went into this movie expecting happiness and laughter…but…since when are movies created with children in mind so sad?! There was a death in the first 20 minutes! This is like Up all over again! That aside, this movie was a lot of laughter. Anyone who has even seen a trailer for this film is well aware of our robot hero (Baymax) and his comical interjections. Baymax was what made this film truly memorable for me. As I said with The Lego Movie, this is the kind of movie that makes me wish I was a babysitter or actually knew some children, just so I would have a reason to watch this over and over again. The Lego Movie still reigns as my favorite animated film of the year so far, but I still thought Big Hero 6 was enjoyable and I can appreciate much of the hype that was around the film. I think my favorite character (besides Baymax, obviously) was Honey. It was nice to see a really girly girl in a science-based role! I did find the film fairly predictable (it follows the same plot we’re used to seeing in many recent popular animated films) but, hey, I’m sure the intended audience was not me so it’s fine. If you have some kids in your life (or just love animated films), you should check this one out.

Boyhood
Boyhood took me totally by surprise. Previously, I was fairly certain Birdman was going to be my favorite film of the year. It isn’t that I didn’t expect much of Boyhood, I just thought Birdman was incredible. And, while Birdman was in fact incredible, Boyhood was just…wow. I mean, really and truly, Richard Linklater is a genius. Almost everything he touches turns to cinematic masterpiece. The concept alone – filming every summer for 12 years – is a massive, massive task to take on, especially when it was certainly not his only project. It was amazing to see these children grow up in the course of 170 minutes. This sort of story not only suggests an unreal dedication by the cast and crew but also to the story and the development of the characters. There are very few (if any) other films that I can think of that are able to provide the audience with such intense character backgrounds for four characters. You literally see the children grow up and become the young adults they are at the end of the movie. You see the major life events that make them into the people they’ve become. Their parents, also, fall into this same sort of theme of change. They too realize and grow as adults and parents who not only love and care for their children but also are deeply proud of who the children have become. I have read that Lorelei Linklater (Richard Linkater’s daughter and the actress who plays Samantha in the film) now cringes when she sees Boyhood and even wanted to back out of the film at one point, and I could definitely see what she meant. I had second-hand embarrassment for the kids at times, if only because I could see myself in them. I think that’s simply a testament to how good of a job Linklater and his crew have done with the film. It is so easy to see your childhood-self in so many of these moments. Nonetheless, nobody wants to relive their pre-teen years. Those whiny and bratty moments when you just look like some other-worldly baby adult and you think you know it all are the absolute worst, even if those characters are just characters. Luckily, those angsty years pass. And also luckily for the actors who have to look back and see these awkward times forever remembered on film, it has all paid off – Boyhood goes beyond one of the best (if not the best) films of 2014. It will certainly be remembered for years and years as one of the most touching coming-of-age stories of all time.

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