I think that we should all give battleroyalewithcheese.com the biggest happy birthday cheers we can. For ten years, BRWC has provided us with coverage on the latest in on-screen entertainment and has helped writers with a passion for film find a voice. Not only that, but it has gained the favour of a great fan-base. Ten years old, and yet it’s still growing and finding ways to reach out to people. For this special occasion, I thought it’d be nice – and fun – to find what I would consider to be ten films that capture the themes of growing up – of birthday celebrations and ageing. This is of course a broad spectrum of films and remember that I will not have seen every film that carries such a theme. If you think a film not mentioned deserved a mention I do apologies, odds are I never saw it.
Without stalling anymore lets start the list, with a very happy tenth birthday to BRWC!
10/ BOYHOOD. DIR: RICHARD LINKLATER.
Boyhood is a very interesting experiment. The films story is very un-unique, a boy grows up and we follow his life from the age of six to the age of eighteen. We see his parents get divorced, him go to school and watch him experience new things that we all experience. The main difference here is that director Richard Linklater (who also directed A Scanner Darkly and School of Rock) started filming this in 2002 and finished in 2013. So, we are actually seeing actors grow up right in front of our eyes.
It’s an interesting experiment that hasn’t really been done before. It’s certainly an interesting way around hiring separate child actor and giving the adults ageing make-up. It was a successful experiment, particularly with critics. The film earned an impressive score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and an almost unheard-of score of 100% on Metacritic. It won Academy awards everywhere to boot. The film’s success is undeniable.
Watching Boyhood is something that isn’t really done on a whim. It’s not something that people watch for fun, but to be fair the film doesn’t pretend that it is. It can be classed as nostalgic for the times that it was filmed in – I remember having a PSP at that age too, that kind of thing. What Boyhood is, is artful and a definite slow burn. If I’m going to be brutally honest, it’s not a film I like personally. In fact, I’m inclined to say that I hated it. The film itself is far less creative without the filming in real time, and the story itself is just boring and overly pretentious. But even I can’t deny that Boyhood deserves it’s placing simply because of how bold it was with its idea.
It’s by no means a bad film. The acting – except from some of the other kids and especially the step-father – was great throughout and Linklater knows how to shoot and edit his films in creative ways on relatively low budgets. It’s worth at least one watch for any aspiring filmmaker or for people who just love the art of filmmaking. Don’t go into it expecting the amazing film that the critics at the time were calling it and you might find something to enjoy. It wasn’t for me, but it’s certainly one to appreciate.
9/ THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. DIR: DAVID FINCHER.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is, well, a curious film. It essentially tells a very similar story to Forest Gump, but with one major difference in terms of narrative. You see the protagonist, the titular Benjamin Button, doesn’t age like we do. He ages backwards. He was born as an old man and dies as an infant. This sounds very silly, and in many ways it is, but it’s handled with unexpected maturity and it takes itself just seriously enough to work.
This is a rare film from director David Fincher. Fincher’s filmography is mostly made up with the likes of Se7en, Fight Club, Gone Girl and Panic Room. So, for him to make something that even a younger audience could enjoy is something very unexpected from the man. That being said, the audience for this shouldn’t be too young, as it does have dark tones, brief images of gore (particularly in the war segment of the film) and has plenty of implied sex scenes. All of this works well in a film that is ultimately a celebration of life.
Something that the film highlights is the surprising similarity between the times of infancy and elderly. The ending is tragic, but it’s how it needed to be to complete its story. It’s what we do between birth and death that matters, that’s the message of the film. It’s a nice message and it demonstrates how we all change in life – again, all by looking at it backwards.
That being said, it’s not perfect. It’s my personal least favourite of Fincher’s work. The pacing is the main culprit here as the film runs a little longer than it should do. There’s a sub-plot about an affair that I thought could have been cut entirely. To top it off, the acting isn’t great. Cate Blanchett and Jared Harris do respectable jobs here – but Brad Pitt, while not necessarily bad, does feel out of his depth with the role. His southern-American accent is a little too silly too. But don’t let that detract from what is otherwise a well-directed and well-constructed film that was far better than it had any right to be.