The never ending discussion around Boyhood has finally reached a point where I simply can’t hold it in anymore. And no, this post won’t be on how it doesn’t deserve awards and it won’t be about bashing it because it’s overrated – this Coffee Talk is about another interesting thought that manifested while reading Elina’s take on Whiplash. She wrote: “…if I had to choose between Boyhood or any of the four other films (Whiplash, Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, Gone Girl), I’d choose Boyhood in a heartbeat. It made me feel nice and fuzzy inside and was a fantastic watch.” By throwing no shade nor criticism towards Elina, I just want to express the fact that I have a completely different understanding of a fantastic watch and it’s receiving completely opposite feelings to nice and fuzzy.
During the Whiplash screening, in a theater packed with people, the last 15 minutes felt like a hazed moment of truth. I was sitting at the edge of my seat, clasping my hands and probably taking really shallow and short breaths because I needed to focus and breathing got into the way of things. That feeling, that emotional impact Whiplash had on me, has stayed with me for months now and it is why I named it my 2014 favorite. Just as I remember the moment of victory in Whiplash, where the boy, having been bullied, fought back, I remember when I was being bullied by a teacher at school.
Sure, it wasn’t Fletcher-level of torment, but there were moments of backstabbing here and there. Hinting at the fact that I was a slow runner because of my weight or taking away that editor in chief spot in the school newspaper by forcing her students to vote for another girl. Students who I saw only once in our newspaper meeting… during the voting of the editor in chief. I of course lost and never really felt the passion for journalism again. So while watching Whiplash, I got a surge of emotions that took me back to my high school years and made me feel awful. But that awfulness manifests into hauntingly memorable and means that Whiplash will stay with me for years, unlike Boyhood.
The idea of a slow paced, normal movie about a boy growing up is fine. It is what it is, it took 12 years of filming and the story it tells is simply like every other boy growing up, it’s memorable in its simplicity. For me, it doesn’t mean anything really because it doesn’t challenge me to feel something outside my comfort zone. Sitting here in my warm room, sipping coffee and listening to bad pop songs, I’m feeling all nice and fuzzy – it’s a comfortable feeling but I seek for the opposite when sitting in a theater. I seek for adventure beyond my wildest imagination, I seek for drama that questions our ability to judge, I seek for thrillers that make good guys into bad and I seek for characters like Fletcher and Louis Bloom who scare the shit out of me!
Every day in my life is comfortable, more or less, because we all create that comfort to feel safe. Movies help us to escape that. Sure, I do sometimes seek out for that comforting and nice movie that gives me fuzzy feelings, but I’m not going to love that movie because I’m likely to forget it. Then there is the inevitable need to connect with a movie that gets in the way of things because a boy growing up in America is the furthest thing in the world to me. It’s not even about being a boy or a girl, it’s about the culture and the sheer fact that Boyhood didn’t challenge the growing up aspect enough to connect with me. I’m not saying I had a difficult childhood, but I’m not excelling in life so I guess I didn’t really succeed as a kid and that lack of success has stayed with me. Besides, I liked being a kid, I think of it as the easy time and it’s the life after boyhood that really challenges us.
What I’m trying to say is that sometimes movies need to spark either connectivity or discomfort in order to make me wonder and the feeling of wonder is the best thing in the world! I love thinking about things, I like analyzing the moments, I like contemplating on whether Fletcher and Andrew were similar in nature because they both got what they wanted in the end. I like wondering that Louis Bloom maintained his success because he is so sly and masterful in what he does. I’m wondering that Amy is now probably holding that baby and smiling at it with hateful content because she won. And, to prove my point, I’m not really thinking about that boy in Boyhood because he probably did alright.