For Boyhood, director Richard Linklater worked with the same actors over a period of 12 years to make a beautiful film about aging. And there is something unexplainably emotional about watching someone grow older, even if they’re a total stranger. It’s especially brilliant that Linklater shows his main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), grow up in surroundings that are generally happy, but imperfect. That’s why we think, the film rings so true. Just as moving is Mason’s mum (Patricia Arquette) who is also figuring things out as she goes. There’s a scene towards the end - in which she gets upset while Mason leaves for college - that just gets us in tears. Every time.
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Royal Tenenbaums, like all of Wes Anderson’s films, is quite stylised, but the dynamic between his characters always feels brutally honest. And rather funny. The film shows the three gifted and grown-up Tenenbaum children experiencing sadness in various forms: grief, unrequited love, depression. Meanwhile, their father is pretending to have cancer to get their attention, and their mother is hoping to get remarried. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson do a splendid job at playing their respective heartbreakingly vulnerable characters. And despite all the confusion, it’s heart-warming to see the family come together at the end (but in a realistic, non-cheesy way).
Everybody Wants Some!!
Though this film outwardly appears to be about college baseball players partying over summer, it’s really about trying on new identities and figuring out friendships. Oh, and there’s also an unapologetic celebration of all things 80s thrown in there - the music, the clothes, the atmosphere… you name it. Add to that dialogues that are clever and raw and hysterical and you’ve got yourself another Linklater classic.
Lost In Translation
Sofia Coppola captures perfectly a sense of homesickness and loneliness in her first film, Lost in Translation. Bill Murray, playing a famous actor (so sort of himself) is dispatched to Japan to film a series of commercials. In the impersonal luxury hotel where he stays, he meets Charlotte, a young woman who is also bored and lonely. Their friendship is great stuff: easy and non-judgemental, and both discuss the difficulties they face in their respective marriages openly. We can totally click with it. And don’t we all feel sometimes confusion akin to as if someone were shouting instructions at us in a foreign language?
We’ve all met someone like Brooke. Someone who is utterly confident, rather clever, and completely contradictory. And so when Brooke, a thirtyish-year-old New Yorker takes Tracy, an undergrad student under her wing, it all ends up going haywire. What makes this comedy all the better is that Mistress America gets millenials just right. It’s a smart film about what it’s like to be young in a confusing age.
Fantastic Mr Fox
Fantastic Mr Fox is an animation, but don’t be fooled. It’s a sweet, thoughtful film … all for grown-ups. The Roald Dahl adaptation was given new life in Wes Anderson’s hands, engaging with themes such as trust in a marriage, sibling rivalry, and whether someone can really change who they are. Thanks to the stellar animation, it’s also rather poetic. We love the segment at the end in which the motley crew meet a wolf, and stop their getaway, stunned by its beauty. Then they get on with life again. Much like we have to do, even after we encounter something truly extraordinary.
Little Miss Sunshine
Life is full of paradoxes - and Little Miss Sunshine is all over them. The Hoovers are a happy family, yet there’s a depressive uncle and teenager, a grandfather with ailing health, and a father obsessed with positive thinking. They rally together to work things out though - one silly problem at a time (isn’t life full of silly problems?). This lovely film is both hilarious and full of wisdom. Who knew you could get all that from a story about a tween beauty pageant?
The Life Aquatic
Here’s another Wes Anderson classic (he isn’t paying us anything, we promise). The Life Aquatic follows celebrity oceanographer Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray yay) as he searches for the shark who murdered his friend. Along the way, Zissou learns some important life lessons. Which can easily be summarised to “don’t be a jerk”.
Frances Ha is a salute to all those who don’t know what they’re doing with their lives. And don’t even know how to begin figuring it out. It’s also a celebration of friendship. We mean real-life friendship, as in when your friends sometimes behave not so great, and you’ve got to work it out. We’re just as confused as you Frances, but thanks for showing us that we’re not the only ones.
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