Waxing [Poetically] Frank In Love

Some nights you find yourself happening back upon the words of your favorite poet and it’s pure bliss.

This one to Vincent, from Frank. Notice the acrostic of it. “We’re all for the captured time of our being”–after all of that headlong movement like a train barreling on he comes to stillness; “captured time”. Ahhh, yes.

You are Gorgeous and I’m Coming

Vaguely I hear the purple roar of the torn-down Third Avenue El
it sways slightly but firmly like a hand or a gold-downed thigh
normally I don’t think of sounds as colored unless I’m feeling corrupt
concrete Rimbaud obscurity of emotion which is simple and very definite
even lasting, yes it may be that dark and purifying wave, the death of boredom
nearing the heights themselves may destroy you in the pure air
to be further complicated, confused, empty but refilling, exposed to light

With the past falling away as an acceleration of nerves thundering and shaking
aims its aggregating force like the Métro towards a realm of encircling travel
rending the sound of adventure and becoming ultimately local and intimate
repeating the phrases of an old romance which is constantly renewed by the
endless originality of human loss the air the stumbling quiet of breathing
newly the heavens’ stars all out we are all for the captured time of our being


Waxing [Cinematically]: Gleason


Steve-gleasonI’ve seen some really good movies lately. I finally saw Philomena which was great. I saw The Verdict, Sidney Lumet’s 1980s courtroom drama with a drunk Bostonian Paul Newman. Pleasure, for sure. Rewatched Seven Psychopaths for what must be the 20th time now.

I’ve been wanting to take a few minutes to write a blogpost for a few weeks now, as well. It’s always nice to get the fingers moving and watch the words splay out on the white WordPress screen. Makes it all the more pleasurable to write from my very, very makeshift standing writing desk that I’ve carved out of a large, standing bookcase.

None of those movies deserve a blogpost as much as the documentary Gleason does, which I saw yesterday.

Gleason explores the journey of former NFL start Steve Gleason as he gets diagnosed with, and later lives with the physical impact of, ALS disease. Nearly simultaneously, his wife gets pregnant with their first child and his (Steve’s) deterioration seems to coincide as the baby’s due date gets closer.

By the time their children (a baby boy) is walking, Steve is not. His condition worsens drastically through the film, which puts the strain of living with such an unkindly illness puts on his psyche, his body (most obviously), and especially his wife (who, though she denies wanting to be a saint, one walks away with the very idea).

Gleason, the man, did a very wise thing and kept a video diary (he seemed predisposed to the camera even before his diagnosis) of himself. Once he learns he’ll be a father, the theme shifts to keeping a video diary for his son to view as he grows up. The documentary shows some of these, but obviously not all (Gleason says there are over 400).

Gleason, again the man, is a happy-go-lucky, former bro, former athlete. He’s as goofy as he is aloof. He’s an explorer, a question asker (and he asks very, very good questions of others, and especially of himself). One gets the impression he would have been a great father, physically. Teaching his son about strength, throwing him in a pool. He says that the hardest thing for him is not being able to hug his son. You can get a sense of his personality in this guest column he wrote for Peter King in 2013. Or you can watch some videos of his. Even through his speaking technology, his boyish humor shines through.

His wife is much the same. Or was. She, herself, laments at the loss of her personality as she tackles/d the double duty of caretaker; for Rivers and for Steve. Her life revolves around them. The movie, rightfully, foreshadows on their wedding day with their officiant talking about a marriage being tested not in the good times, but in the bad. Well there were some really, really bad times and Gleason doesn’t shy from them.

But, okay, that’s the film. It’s been reviewed and talked about over and over again. The real experience is the viewers. The scenes that come through are a story of a man and a couple and a foundation and it’s vital to remember it is REAL life. What do we make of that? What does a viewer do when confronted with such non-fictional drama?

It’s hard to say. The movie induced more than a few tears in me, and I suspect it will to anyone but the coldest of hearts. To recognize that level of pain and discomfort and change in people that we learn to love in the first 10 minutes, well it’s crushing in so many ways.

What interests me is that we know this is happening. It’s an eye-opening documentary that reveals things intimately, in a small micro example. It’s not, for instance, a deep dive into the Chinese recycling industry that might blow the lid off of something we had no idea was happening. It’s investigative to the level that Gleason allows and no more.

Does this change the director? Does it change that in which it documents?

These are the perplexing questions I am left with when I choose to, momentarily, abandon the wrecking-ball sadness that the doc provides and ask the intellectual side of it. The criticism that is due of “art”.

But is it “art”? Is it important without being art. Of course, it is. It is human and I am and you are. And, in that, we share in the visuals the screen provides. We are close to the subject until we aren’t (and this includes after the movie since Gleason, the man one last time, is alive and active and wanting to make a difference).

Those are my waxing thoughts. None are necessary. Gleason, the movie, teaches us to love, live, and give, no matter the context. Because the content of our character and the story of our lives do not need to be derailed as they are supremely challenged.


Waxing [Musically]: John Wesley Harding


John-wesley-hardingStarting on March 22, 1965, Bob Dylan released, it the span of 14 months, perhaps the three greatest rock n’ roll albums of all time. The triad output of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde had immediate enormity; proving that the young star of American folk could handle an electric plug-in and play blues-infused music just as well as he could with the spectres of Americana.

There’s no span of music that I know of with such offered genius in as short of a time span as this that I know of—and really only a few contenders that would even qualify.

For years, it was Dylan’s early folk that I clung to (the ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ tracks), but his electric albums that assured me that my idol is an undeniable genius. Blood On The Tracks (my favorite album) came a decade later to confirm that the artist, though choosing to do different experiments, still had capacity where one might have conjured doubt.

However, there were always gaps in Dylan’s discography for me. Sure, I know Planet Waves and a few tracks. I know I’m supposed to like Nashville Skyline, though I can’t get over its silly cover art. And then there’s John Wesley Harding. Dylan’s follow-up to the three electric albums up above.

JWH is Dylan’s biblical genesis, it’s said. It’s a return to roots, others suggest. A short and tidy album the master made while cooped up after his motorcycle accident. His thoughts on death and legacy after the same event.

All makes for good backstory. All etched in the gospel of the prophet Bob Dylan.

What I knew of JWH was that it was a short(er) record. It had ‘All Along the Watchtower’. It was simply written—explicated by Dylan himself as lyrics in which he chose not to waste any words.

I listened to the album in full a few years ago. My reaction was mixed. Songs didn’t stand out. It felt not just as a return to the folk Dylan, but an experiment in simplicity that denied the hero his platform. It felt bare at a time when I craved Dylan.

And then I bought the vinyl.

And everything changed.

Let me say this now: John Wesley Harding is, should be, can be, will be (?) the archetypical album which anoints the difference in listening to vinyl as opposed to an mp3.

I realize that’s controversial and the classic rock fans can have their picks for that constructed category, but it’s my winner there.

John Wesley Harding needs crackle. It needs to spin, not just play. It needs to live in what is now an antiquated platform because it’s stories are too antiquated. It’s an album of the past; of fictional people in their fictional caves, castles, or caskets.

And it’s a fucking masterpiece.

Each song is a tale of something; man’s dream of freedom, edenic understanding, etc…Each songs moves you from the beginning to somewhere else at the end, with clear intention and an even clearer bit of focus (which answers to perhaps the only criticism one could levy at 65-66 Dylan).

It’s not a rock and record. It’s not a folk record. It’s a record of dripping genius, not waking you up the way ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ might or ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’ does. Its songs are not epic enough to stand next to ‘Desolation Row’ or its like (‘Visions of Johanna’ in there too, obviously).

It’s a record only Bob Dylan gets to make.

But it aches and, again, drips, with its verses. Simplicity is the ultimate strength and it cries with such. The lines keep their rhyme with structure instead of necessity (instead of racing toward it the way ‘Johanna’ does or ‘Stuck Inside…’ does).

“Dear Landlord/please don’t put a price on my soul/my burden is heavy/my dreams are beyond control”

It’s boozy. It doesn’t stand upright. It needs not the pantheon of eternal praise the way some might expect Dylan to put out in the becoming-late 60s. Instead it’s a statement. Of acoustic purpose. Of no specific purpose. Reminding us that genius sometimes sneaks out the back porch and plays you something its been “working on”. And it plays and its profoundly simple. Confoundingly brilliant.

(how does one even put a number on the work of an idol? one does not grade gods). but for some sake I don’t know yet, I’ll give it a 9.4/10


Waxing [Cinematically]: Love & Mercy


Love-and-mercy-movieLet’s start with a few simple facts on this one.

Love & Mercy is a music-focused biopic on Brian Wilson — member of the Beach Boys, producer, and noted recluse for much of the decades after creating some of the 1960s best pop music.

One of those creations was the 1966 album Pet Sounds.

Along with much of the music critics circle, I believe Pet Sounds is one of the best pop albums ever made. Maybe the best.

Love & Mercy shows much of the creation of Pet Sounds — a theatrical re-telling of Wilson’s genius in creating that album and putting life into the recordings you can find on his work.

These variables lead to an equation that made it very unlikely I would not LOVE or HATE Love & Mercy. Fortunately, it was the former.

This is a great biopic — not necessarily to keeping true to Wilson’s story (I don’t know enough about that, other than that the director worked with Wilson and his wife (who plays prominently in the movie) and had their permissions to create it.

The movie split his story into two — the younger Wilson as he grows to fame and decides that his talents are best kept at home where he can work on producing music — a smart move for a budding recording genius. Paul Dano plays this part and plays it with the nervous energy and chaotic genius that Wilson must have had to create something like Pet Sounds.

The second is his later life, somewhat in the midst of, but mostly after, the years of psychotic breakdown. This Brian Wilson was played by John Cusack (who looked just a bit too John Cusack-like to always pull the role off….we couldn’t add weigh or do anything there??? C’maaan!)

I won’t go too deep into the plot. It’s a true story, so the plot is essentially Wilson’s wikipedia page here.

The movie hits the right keys when we see Dano orchestrate Pet Sounds — an audicious album of so many instruments and sounds that rock n’ roll had never had (this was before, and a big influence to, the later Sgt. Peppers).

Dano’s Wilson is set on making the greatest album ever made. He has the music in his head and just needs to get it out on paper, no matter how complex it is, how many hours he needs to spend in the studio etc…All of this too while facing disbelief from his team of other Beach Boys, none of who had been in this kind of “sound” before, a father wrapped up in emotionally abusing Brian, AND the introduction of drugs into the scene and his own mind.

Crazy thing is, he damn near succeeded in doing it.

And through Bill Pohland’s lens we see how it all came together.

The joy was really in the reproduction of this genius and the sound Brian Wilson created. In the span of a few months, this man wrote ‘God Only Knows’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, ‘Sloop John B’ and ‘Good Vibrations’. Those are three titans in the pantheon halls of rock/pop music — and good enough to hold against any four Beatles songs.

And that’s not going into the albums underrated hits (‘Here Today’, ‘I Know There’s An Answer’,’That’s Not Me’).

I’m losing the movie  a bit in this waxing here and I can tell but the musical element is just so damn strong. It’s what you take away from the movie and the great joy of seeing this displayed. Great albums don’t just arrive one day. They’re crafted, written, edited, re-recorded. There’s men, or in this case, a man, behind the construction. That man is baring his soul and crafting a ‘David’ in his own sense. As we see, this almost killed Brian Wilson (and some others almost did too). Luckily, we have his albums. And perhaps even more miraculously, we have him back.

Waxing [Literarily]: One Summer [Bill Bryson]

It was on a sunny Saturday in Vancouver, BC that I embarked on two history-learning journeys: (1) starting ‘One Summer’, Bill Bryson’s book on the exciting summer of 1927; and (2) Dan Carlin’s ‘Hardcore History’ series on ‘The Wrath of the Khans’, the telling of the Khan dynasty of warriors.

Though the histories here are different in so many ways, one struck me. Carlin, a man who has dedicated a lot of his time to his podcast (each episode is over 90 minutes and very well researched and rehearsed), he constantly asserts to his audience that he is not a historian. Bryson, on the other hand, makes no such claim.

Now there’s no great reason to dive into the legitimacy of Bryson’s historical book or takes — and I don’t think he would stand a strong ground in that regard, his own ‘About‘ page says nothing of the sort and instead focuses on his travel series. Yet, the detail is important to note in a reading of One Summer.

The book itself is fun, as are most of Bryson’s works. Its engaging, easy to digest, and full of quips from the author on histories great ironies. He spends most chapters talking about large events in the American landscape, and usually circles back to one of his main characters — Babe Ruth, Al Capone, a couple from Long Island wrapped in a media-focused murder case, Al Jolson, Charles Ponzi, and, most of all, Charles Lindbergh.

Lindbergh, himself, takes up a good chunk (maybe 30%) of the book, with even more devoted to the now-marginalized characters of aviation history happening in 1927. That time, that summer, of course, marks the time of Lindbergh’s awe-inspiring flight over the Atlantic — and the insane publicity tour that followed. It hints, as well, perhaps one too many times, at how much Lindberg disdained this AND at the terrifying future that he would face because of his fame.

The book is meant to show the reader just how eventful the summer of 1927 was. And there’s no denying that. Bryson, at other moments, seems to want to take that historian’s leap forward and postulate on the legacy of the summer. Indeed, this is where a history book really can make its mark — putting events into context and defining futures and/or cultural narratives by pinpointing origins or centerpoints. Bryson, however, balks at doing this. He offers ideas at some points (one example would be the meeting of financial minds in 1927 and the effect this might (or might not) have had on the 1929 crash), but does not take them to their limit.

In this way, Bryson probably protects himself from self-classifying as a historian (and charting terrains he is probably not comfortable going), but also lets down a historically-minded reader. Instead, we get a roster of happenings, an understanding of timeline, and anecdotal offerings. But that’s all. One cannot take the broader view of American history (or even early 20th century American history) and confidently identify 1927 as much of an epicenter after reading this. It, in short, does not offer anything past the closing of its pages other than story.

This, perhaps, is Bryson’s goal and that’s fine. it becomes a lighter look on history. And perhaps its best looked at like this — anyone looking to know when these events (Lindbergh’s flight, Ruth’s homerun record, Ponzi’s scheme, The Jazz Singer, Sacco and Vanzentti, etc…) collided (and the other events colliding with it), might want to peruse these pages. Anyone looking to learn more about these, and what they meant, might want to look for a deeper book.

Still enjoyable, just light. The way summer probably should be. 

Waxing [Literarily]: Travels with Charley {John Steinbeck}

There’s been much debate on the reality of what happened with John Steinbeck in 1960. His book, Travels with Charley in Search of America, details some (of his/not his) journeys through that year and came out shortly before the revered author won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The journeys published involves a trip around the country in a large van, with a dog that takes on a character of his own. The subsequent investigations have painted this as untrue. Journalists stake claim of its impossibility. The Steinbeck camp supposedly hasn’t exactly back it up as true, but won’t do anything to wound the reputation of one of American’s native scribes.

The question is: does it matter? For journalists and literary historians, it does. For readers, it does not. Unless you decide to take Steinbeck’s words as gospel for the land — a point he himself refutes, resists, and rustles with during the entirety of the book. For the reader that pays attention, this becomes evident and the “truth” no longer matters. It, like all of its ilk before it, is a story.

Of course, it’s a certain type of story — it’s a travel story. And with many of the travel stories of our days, it reads as more of a collection of essays comprising a story, than a story from someone like Steinbeck’s production. By the end, it’s not the story (man rides around the nation) that matters, than the conclusions it reaches or questions it proposes.

The story’s plot is simple. Steinbeck puts himself in a van and journeys America — a country he so often is billed as representing. But for all of his truth in fiction, so he claims, what is the real truth that lay undiscovered? Trips through the Northeast, the Great Plains, Montana (he loves Montana), and down the West Coast are meant to bring that. Each larger area gets a chapter — each chapter filled with a character or three meant to represent that area in some, sometimes totally stereotypical sometimes atypical, way.

The story is nice, if not overdone. The real strengths of Travels is in its witticisms — which is to be expected from Steinbeck. At varying times, Steinbeck, elder in age and wise in experience, leaves bits of wonder along his journey, found or already known. These are the jewels of the book, and perhaps the jewels of journeying at large. It’s a short collection of gains that make up a wholly intangible growth.

Some examples he leaves you with:

We value virtue but we do not discuss is.

It’s bad to have one’s myth shaken up like that

It seemed to give the journey a design, and everything in the world must have a design or the human mind rejects it. But in addition it must have purpose or the human conscience shies away from it.

You get the picture. Steinbeck drops these in his book like you’d find truck stops punctuating the highway on the long stretches in the middle of the country. They’re his resting thoughts, the truths that stay in the wind somewhere even as your van passes by.

For a travel book, particularly one of such a long drive, Travels is short. It reads quickly and can feel like a shifting dream (assuming that others dream of spending time with Mr. Steinbeck like this author). It’s not the kind of deep, penetrating book that he has elsewhere in his oeuvre, but it’s a fun romp that filled the author with substance in his elder years. And it wasn’t the substance of fictional characters in fictional places. Or perhaps it was. And perhaps it never mattered. Substance is not reserved for the living and it’s not reserved for one fixed place. If you go searching for it, you’re bound to find it, like America, it just comes in bits and pieces, littered in  small towns and big cities.

Waxing [Cinematically]: The Ending of ‘Short Term 12’

I saw Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12 three months ago. It hasn’t left my mind since. It’s a movie that sticks with you — thanks to a brilliant cast, great pace, and most of all, a focus on storytelling.

That’s no more evident than in the movie’s final scene. You can find that scene here — and it has the rare distinction of not being a spoiler for the movie at all really. In fact, it’s a bit of a departure from the movie’s main plot lines, yet still embeds itself (rather deeply) in the film’s themes and purposes.

It’s an astoundingly powerful scene of storytelling. It can stand alone, really, which is all the more of an amazing feat for a movie’s final scene. Yet, you can feel the familiarity in it — both with the characters themselves and then with those characters and the subject matter of the story. This is evident when one person asks, “Marcus drinks cappuccino?” and you understand that there are preconceptions being broken here.

John Gallagher Jr. does a brilliant job moving through this story. He nearly chokes up at the end, which is the perfect cap to this story and the perfect mirror to Brie Larson’s character’s reaction. What they must have felt during the actual event of this story come back in this retelling and we bear witness to this first-hand, but belated account. And we can still see how important it is & was to these characters.

As for Larson, this was a role that she OWNED. It was one of the best lead performances I’ve seen this year and she handled the depth and vulnerability so perfectly. She truly captured the mess that comes when your life is surrounded by fucked-upness and you have dedicated yourself to helping others move past that. It’s tricky, and complicated, and to stay positive you need a few wins which is what we see from her in this scene, in its most subtle glory.

Check her out at 1:54 and then again at 2:14. This is the most important 20 seconds of the film, both for it at large and for her character. And she doesn’t even speak. Instead we get a few close ups of her and we can read into her about just the true power of this story and its meaning. So brilliantly acted, we see that this is what it all comes back to. Marcus at the coffee shop. Her work, her soul, her tears, it’s this. This is the win. This is the beauty of her surviving past her own shit to help others get through theirs.

It’s as powerful of non-verbal acting as I’ve seen. And it closes down a movie full of this kind of beauty, acting, and storytelling.

(SPOILERS, wanna see Marcus in action? Check this scene out for one of the movie’s most powerful scenes)

Waxing [cinematically]: The One I Love

The billing sold me first. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.

And then I read it was really only those two. Ted Danson is in there. For, what, a minute? Two?

So we have two favorites. 90 minutes. With just them.

And what a ride it was. It’s not just them two, it’s them two times two. That’s the trick. The trailer won’t tell you that and (SPOILERS) that’s what the movie hinges on. Ethan (Duplass) and Sophie (Moss) meet each other’s nearly-Platonic form in a guest house that plays as an alternate world (and as the movie tongue-in-cheeks itself “some weird version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”).

The two actors (playing themselves and then their other “forms”) are really in sync here. You can see them play both sides of the coin — coy and new love, and disrupted, stretched-out romance. In this, we see how easily these sides are divisible from each other in life, through the lenses of these characters. They can be happy together, it would just take some kind of drastic change on their parts (and, then, even, who gets the person they want to be with? Who doesn’t?)

There’s a lot of compelling reasons to see this movie. It’s unique. It’s well acted. It’s got lessons on love, relationships, and, I think, most of all, communication.

That’s what really struck me here. Both characters knew something strange was happening, and there’s some base level communication about what’s happening there. But after that? Nothing.

The Ethan and Sophie that are on rocky terms do almost nothing to describe to each other how the other acted in the guest house. Sophie has a chance and, in what becomes a terse moment for any onlooker, kind of lets it go. My guess is that her character doesn’t think she owes Ethan anything (and for good reason).

Communication is so disruptive in its absence here. Both characters choose to stay silent (Sophie more than Ethan) and turn the widening gyre of their reality into what’s happening in the guest house. Without communication, and with this distance expanding, Ethan panics and loses his cool. And, yet, still, NO communication. He can’t even explain to Sophie why he’s upset. He can’t bring himself to that vulnerable of a place (which is necessary). It’s not in his character, and a wall of history stands between that.

Not all couples are built to last, one supposes. But there was something, some golden bowl you saw once. What was that? And what if that came back? The movie asks these questions and more.

Worth the watch.

Waxing [Musically]: Lucinda Williams’ ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’

It took me seventeen listens to realize that Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is the story of a breakup. It took my slightly fewer listens to realize the lyrical genius of Ms. Williams. See, when you start on the album, and you get that twang, but like a late-90s twang, that she sings with, and you see the lyrics as simple. Basic rhymes. Not realizing the story happening underneath. That couldn’t be less true — it just takes a few listens. 

I started on this album two years ago. That was ‘I Lost It’ and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It became one of those songs I couldn’t listen to twice in the same week, but if I came on randomly, I sang loud and rekindled a love for it. Same goes for seeing it covered.

The other songs came slowly in. First was ‘2 Kool 2 Be Forgotten’, the awkwardly named jam that comes right at that sweet spot in any relationship when you think someone is beyond god — can’t believe the whole world isn’t in on the secret of who this person is (and how happy they can make you). On ‘Metal Firecracker’ when she says “I used to think nothing could wrong,” it’s not hard to imagine the scenes painted in ‘Forgotten’. 

I found the title track soon after (“found” meaning it stuck with me and I listened to it on repeat for hours). Then ‘Greenville’ the slow, dripping, almost too-close-to-the-bone track that comes at the end of album (and the relationship). “Go back to Greenville” seems about as close to a bootkick in the ass as it comes in Lucinda Williams’ world. 

‘Right in Time’, ‘Lake Charles’, ‘Can’t Let Go’ all came in their own time. It’s such a great album, I’m almost astounded that I found so many tracks individually (listening through the album and finding one track has stayed with you after….or having to replay that track on a full album listen), and not the whole thing in one swoop. Instead of “wow there are MORE great songs on this,”…it was “well, this is my song for the week now” and isolated the others behind.

Ultimately, Car Wheels is one of the best form=function albums I’ve ever heard. For one, Williams voice sounds like the title track (let’s come back to that). So do the guitar tracks, which aren’t quite poppy, not quite full-country, not quite alternative. It’s all quite undefinable, until you hear that phrase. It’s the oh-so-distinct sound of car wheels bursting through a gravel road. Rough, kicking up rocks, but still getting there. That, too, a metaphor for any relationship. It’s perhaps the best named album of the 1990s. 

The idea of roads, curving into something (a mystery, a moment, a yellow el camino playing howlin’ wolf…) is depicted on the front cover and you wonder if the whole album might have been written just by staring at that picture (pre-album). It’s possible. Roads are so prevalent in the album’s songs, we’re never too far from that blue-skied scene. This idea that gravel roads exist at all moments in a relationship (getting back to Lake Charles on a getaway, on the way to eat some bacon in Macon, or going back to Greenville broken-hearted), stays with you. If it’s all the same road then the rest is just details. You can drive the same gravel county highway in love or out of it and it ain’t gonna make much difference. Same sound. Memories are a’coming.

Back to her voice. I didn’t know Lucinda Williams before this album. (And a thanks to Captains Dead and his albums list) I’ve tried to watch some of my favorite tracks live on Youtube. It’s not great. The voice carries so well on record, backed by that country ramble of guitar winding down the road with her. The voice itself is like that gravel road. Rough until your ears smooth it over. The simple songs (mostly same lyric progression, lots of choruses…) gives that simple Southern feel and probably some of the smoothness needed to take the edge out of the voice. One gets so trifled with Bob Dylan, perhaps, because of his insistence on complexity AND a rough voice to start with.

Needless to say, the voice is no longer an issue (if it once even was). It’s beautiful in its own skin and grit. Car Wheels has worked its way up in my book. Quite high, actually. It’s the perfect accompaniment when you need some attitude without the angst or snottiness. Williams is a straightshooter with a pistol of beauty on this one. Simple, country songs that escalate a mile (or, in this case, take you a mile down the road). I’ll be singing that ‘Metal Firecracker’ chorus for years to come. Don’t tell anyone my secrets might be the saddest declaration of a relationship burnt out, and she captured that on the same road as the man she sings ‘Right in Time’ about. That’s a journey.


Ranking If I HAD To Give One (RIHTGO) — 9.1/10



Waxing [cinematically]: Boyhood

It’s been five full days since I saw Richard Linklater’s new movie ‘Boyhood’. I’ve thought about it multiple times in each of those days since.

In writing this, I’m almost more consumed by my thoughts of the last week than the movie itself. The truth is, the move is so beautifully presented, so swift in its movement in a young boy’s growth, that you forget some of the earlier scenes. In a coming-of-age story, everything replaces itself. There isn’t a current state of affairs you can harken back to.

It reminded me, somewhat, of reading Garp, and trying to remember those first few chapters where you got to know this new person. What was he like back then? Could we have seen things coming that happened later?

Boyhood wasn’t so literary and it wasn’t as long as a true novel. Instead, Linklater employed a pastiche-ing strategy, at least at the start. Twelve (12) clips of 10-15 minutes, comprising a boy’s formative years. Comes together to make a movie.

He didn’t ultimately go with that. Some years are more dynamic than others. The mother’s (Patricia Arquette) story needed its time to breathe. The father (Ethan Hawke) drew watchers in too and required time. We saw him become exactly the type of guy that his first love wanted — and it was so fulfilling see that self-actualization actually make it into the film (in one of the final scenes).

It turns out, the pastiching was more than just the formatting of the movie. And I can’t say that without thinking of the ‘Before’ trilogy. In those, we had a twist of sorts — a bare-bones romantic engagement that the audience was invited into. And with that close-up intimacy, we’re allowed into an intimacy among the characters (Hawke and Julia Delpy).

Much the same, here, we see Linklater do something to the form=function equation which is really higher than mastery. It’s a special thing to see — and a special see to be a part of in the current.

In ‘Boyhood’, we see pastiching of moments come together to tell the story. And guess what the film itself stands on the laurels of — moments coming together to make up a whole. It’s an integral moment of the movie (you’ll know what I mean once you’ve seen it) and a true lesson that our characters learn. Not just Mason (played over 12 years by Ellar Coltrane), but his surrounding family as well.

Aside from that, as a viewer it was a welcome party to a journey of sorts. You can sense that over a dozen years these characters have grown together — professionally, personally, in regards to attachment of the story, etc… That was truly a joy.

Boyhood was the best reviewed movie I’ve seen. I knew it was a critic’s darling before I saw it. It’s hard to believe that it would live up to that hype. But it did. There aren’t holes worth tearing apart. It was shot beautifully, written sentimentally, and made whole by moments of acting prowess.

An absolute must see.