Review: ‘Boyhood’ [SXSW 2014]

By Will Oliver, March 26th 2014


Boyhood | Richard Linklater | SXSW 2014

The journey of life is something special. For better or worse, the experiences thrown at us make us who were are. Go ahead, roll your eyes. It’s all one big cliché, but only because it’s true. Our family, the people we meet, the choices we make, they all come together to help shape our lives. We go through plenty of pain and heartbreak, but hopefully when its all said and done, we experience some good as well. All of this is a part of the experience of life.

The master director Richard Linklater successfully captures this idea with his mesmerizing new film Boyhood. Out of the 20 films I caught at SXSW, none left more of an impression on me than Linklater’s moving picture. It’s as ambitious of a film as they come. Filmed over the course of 12 years, the film follows a family as they aged naturally over time. As do the actors that play them. Over the last 12 years he would meet with his set of actors and resume filming each year, capturing the actors as they too got older. We get to follow the boy from age 5 to 18. What this does is show the growth of this family over time, in a devastatingly effective manner that has never been done before.

The first shot of the film is of young Mason, played by (then) child actor Ellar Coltrane. We see Mason as a young 1st grader, coming home to his family consisting of his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and slightly older sister Samantha (Richard’s daughter, Lorelei Linklater). There’s also his father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke), who isn’t around much as he is separated from Olivia and is constantly changing jobs.

On the surface, there really is no “plot”. What you do have is this family, who you watch go through the trials and tribulations of life. Olivia runs through bad men like a buffet, throwing Mason and Samantha’s life into a constant sea of unsteadiness. We see Mason Sr. try to salvage the relationship with his children, just as he himself begins to settle down again with a new family. It’s just how life goes.

There’s something poetic and truly beautiful about seeing the characters age naturally throughout the film. Before you know it, Mason is a fully grown teenage boy, experimenting with alcohol and woman. You see his parents get significantly older. Soon enough you’ll see bits and pieces of your own life reflected in this family. Things that happened to you, bad choices you made, it’s scary how true to life it all seems.

By the end of it all, you think of Mason as your own son. You’d seen him as just a little kid, and now he’s a man. When he says goodbye to his mom before leaving for college, it’s a punch in the gut. You get that lumpy feeling again, that same one you had when you yourself had to say goodbye. It all seems so real and familiar.

It was a bold move to rest the film on the shoulders of a child actor at the age of 7. Who knows what you would get when he’s all grown up? Luckily, Ellar Coltrane is absolutely perfect in the role, showing growth and maturity with every bit of aging. Patricia Arquette also hammers home an incredible performance of emotional weight. You can’t help but feel for her. There’s also plenty of moments for Ethan Hawke to shine, we all know how well he works with Linklater after three terrific Before movies.

Of course, credit to Linklater for taking the time to write and direct such a moving feature. It’s an ode to the state of Texas in a way, with almost all of the action contained right there. He captures all the little details to make the 12-year element work, such as playing memorable tunes throughout the times. At the beginning we get early 2000s cuts such as Coldplay’s “Yellow”, The Hives “Hate To Say I Told You So” and Outkast’s “Hey Ya.” Later on we get more recent cuts such as Phoenix’s “1901” and even Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Linklater always has a keen ear for music, and he uses it to his full advantage here. When you think back at all those seminal songs that impacted you throughout your life, you think of the time and place of where you first heard it. This is something Linklater fully understands and uses it to its maximum effect.

I’ve never seen a film quite like Boyhood before. It’s truly an important film, one that should be discussed and studied for many years to come. If not, that’s ok too. I’m just thankful to have been able to see it and let it take me over for nearly 3 hours (I didn’t notice the length at all).

I’ll happily admit I shed a tear or two when it was all said and done. As did many of the fellow patrons that sat around me. I was awestruck by how beautifully well done Boyhood was, but judging by the massive standing ovation the film received after its screening, I’m not the only one. Not only was Boyhood the best thing I saw at SXSW, it’s the best film I’ve seen so far this year. It’s early, but I have a feeling it will stick around even come December.


SXSW 2014 Recap

By Will Oliver, March 22nd 2014


It’s rather unfortunate that SXSW 2014 will be remembered for the unforgivable actions of one fool. The lives lost as well as those who were left injured in the accident is a truly horrific tragedy that cast a dark shadow over what was supposed to be a fun – and safe – festival. I hadn’t commented on the accident prior to this, but I just wanted to say that my thoughts and wishes go out to all of those affected by the senseless accident that occurred. Hopefully swift justice is served on that idiot behind the wheel.

Festival attendees tried to go about their business the best they could, and although it was a somber mood throughout the week, we still tried to make do. I saw quite a few great shows at my 2nd SXSW, and wanted to share some of the best with you in this little recap in case you’re too lazy to scroll through all the posts.

I’ve also attached some of the best photos I managed to take throughout the week. So without further ado, here are the best shows that I saw at SXSW 2014:

1. Ty Segall/Ex-Cult @ Street-Legal Guitars
2. Future Islands @ Hype Hotel
3. Hundred Waters @ Red 7
4. Damon Albarn @ Fader Fort
5. Coachwhips @ Beerland
6. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Red 7
7.Chromeo @ Hype Hotel

Ty Segall has done it yet again. Although I’ve seen him a few times now, his show at a guitar shop space was wild and intense, the most thrilling show I’ve seen yet. Ex-Cult played with them and were just as money. Based on Future Islands performance at Hype Hotel, and all the chatter about them throughout the festival, this is their year. They absolutely killed it live, transcendent in every way of the word. Hundred Waters put on the most elegant and thought provoking performance of the week. I finally got to see the legendary Damon Albarn, who played some solo stuff, Gorillaz stuff, and brought out quite a few guests, including the one, and only, Snoop Dogg. I saw John Dwyer’s old band Coachwhips go nuts at a bar, and somehow saw a full set from Chromeo in a tiny place. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have a new lineup but rocked out just the same.

Also, a special shout out to all the fellow bloggers and friends who I hung out with at Austin. It was great to see all of you guys. Keep on doing your thing!

All in all, SXSW 2014 was a great time.

Future Islands:

Future Islands

Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn

Ty Segall



Ex Cult



Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo

Julian Casablancas


Albert Hammond, Jr.


Perfect Pussy


Pure Bathing Culture

Pure Bathing Culture



The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

The Pains


Coachwhips 1

Hundred Waters

Hundred Waters 1

[SXSW]: Coachwhips @ Beerland (March 15, 2014)

By Will Oliver, March 22nd 2014


Late Saturday night I figured catching the final set from John Dwyer’s pre-Thee Oh Sees band Coachwhips would be a good way to end my second SXSW. The reunited trio only had the small set of SXSW dates, so who knows if this is it for them live. If so, I didn’t want to be kicking myself for missing them. Thank god I caught them, Coachwhips put on an amazing show.

As Destruction Unit finished their set, it was nearly 1:15. The supposed set time of Coachwhips was 1:15. So it obviously didn’t seem likely for them to stay on schedule (as is with most SXSW showcases). But Coachwhips proved me wrong. Immediately as Destruction Unit ended their set, a noisy clatter began to the side of the crowd. As I peered to a little corner in between the bar and a hall to the restroom, Coachwhips set up on the floor and ripping into their set. They started playing and without a moment of hesitation immediately everyone rushed over to surround them.

Coachwhips dirty, fast paced, garage rock sent the crowd into a panic in the little corner tucked away at Beerland. People were moshing and crowd-surfing, even though it was only a tiny circle of maybe 100 people. It was so tiny many moshers were being sent right into a wood banister that stood directly behind the crowd. Things got rowdy as hell, but it was damn glorious. John Dwyer powered through a furious set with plenty of sweat shared between the band and the crowd. There were a few moments where he had to fight to keep his own spot and balance as things got that crazy around him. Very reminiscent of the Ty Segall set which I saw earlier in the week, which Dwyer also attended.

It was a fantastic way to end my SXSW, and I’m glad I am able to say I saw Coachwhips.

Check out some photos of their performance below. I’ve also attached their track “You Gonna Get It” below. Imagine hearing this bad boy live. Read the rest of this entry »


Prior to their set at Red 7 for BrooklynVegan’s day party, it had been some time since I had last seen The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The line-up was completely different as far as I can recall, with Kip being the only member that I recognized from the original incrnation of the band.

This wasn’t an issue in any way, as the new band was sharp as can be, delivering tight performance of all the bands tracks, old and new. The new stuff sounded good, but it was the oldies, “Come Saturday” and “Young Adult Friction” that provided the biggest delights, hitting as hard as ever.

They’re playing Rough Trade next week on March 28, although it looks like that show is sold out. Hopefully they will return for a larger gig sometime soon.
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[SXSW]: Protomartyr @ Red 7 (March 15, 2014)

By Will Oliver, March 22nd 2014 — with 1 comment


Protomartyr are a rock group that hail from Detroit. Hadn’t heard of them before their performance, but I dug their sound. Something of a post-punk fury with dry vocal delivery from frontman Joe Casey.

They will release their new album Under Color of Official Right on April 8th, 2014 via Hardly Art. Listen to a track from the LP titled “Scum, Rise!” After that are some more photos from their set. Read the rest of this entry »

[SXSW]: Hundred Waters @ Red 7 (March 15, 2014)

By Will Oliver, March 22nd 2014


Hundred Waters delighted with an utterly captivating performance at BrooklynVegan’s day party on Saturday. Their set was highly articulate and well composed of their songs that are just plain beautiful. They take their time to build, but once they do..whew. It’s a joyful thing to watch the songs unfold live

They played both of their new tracks “Cavity” and “Down From The Rafters.” Both were stunning to say the least, as was the rest of the material that they played from their debut.

They got one of the better crowd reactions that I saw during the festival, and based on these new songs, I think Hundred Waters are in for a big breakout in 2014. They certainly deserve it.

Find some more photos from their set below.
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