Like Father, Like Son d. by Hirokazu Kore-eda (2014) – Only a few could argue that Koreeda isn’t a true connoisseur of family dramas and Like Father, Like Son is the newest addition on his shelf. This film deals with two families whom children have been switched “accidentally” at birth and the mistake had been found just before the kids will enroll in pre-school and now the parents have decided to switch them back. The two families come from different backgrounds; one is upper middle class with an ever so occupied businessman father (Ryota) and the other is lower middle class with a sleazy dad (Yukari) who fixes electronic stuff in his small shop.
This is a very engaging plot which opens the door to many questions director could focus on exploring but the eventual outcome of these family-son relationships is the “nature vs nurture” topic mostly seen through the Ryota’s perspective, leading to undeveloped characters from the other family who are always passive and on the receiving end of Ryota’s actions.
Koreeda does little to nothing to get away from the businessman dad who has no time for his family stereotype thus leaving Ryota very one-dimensional and second to Yukari who is shown as the perfect dad in almost all occasions.
While the script and acting is as great as we’re used to see in Koreeda films, the lack of a deeper character connection makes Like Father, Like Son a bit underwhelming in regard to audience expectations. 7/10
Boyhood d. by Richard Linklater (2014) – As no recent film before, Boyhood got a universal praise that was impossible to deny. Already being a Linklater fan I was so happy to finally catch this in a theater. The film begins with the young protagonist Mason looking up in the sky, immediately giving up the central theme in the film – insecurity. Even though the title suggests we would mainly see this insecurity flow through Mason’s coming of age, this is not a centralized story at all. Linklater deliberately has chosen to show not so important moments from Mason’s life because he isn’t looking for an already done to death trope but being as edgy as only he can be, he is showing us this journey through random moments in this kid’s evolution. This concept pays its dues in certain times when we see either a repetition of a statement or a not so convincing acting by all of the young kids involved in this project.
Every character in this film is very dual, the insecurity of choice is much of a concern for adults as is for the teenagers and all this collection of random moments brings out the ultimate question of who are we and what it does all mean. The conclusion will not surprise you if you followed Linklater enough in his ramblings but as a final piece Boyhood has managed to complete a hard task of fulfilling a cycle of life in a way we haven’t seen before. 8.5/10
Au Hasard Balthazar d. by Robert Bresson (1966) – I’ve been wanting to get into the “Dostoevsky of film” for a long time but other priorities were due. I was very well aware that Bresson used non-actors to act for his projects but I wasn’t aware that he used non-actors to purposely non-act at all. This baffled me throughout the film while also being a challenging perspective to consider. The film parallels between the lives of a donkey (Balthazar) and a girl (Marie) from their childhood to their (supposed) end.
Earthly life brings out its known injustices and sins throughout a myriad of characters that revolve around Balthazar and the girl. There can be drawn parallels to Malick’s Tree of Life “way of nature and way of grace” concept but ultimately Balthazar is our hero, the one that can be burdened with all the sins of humans and not revolt, he is this grateful saint we all should aspire to be.
Since this is my first foray in the Bresson territory, his unconventional methods have left me a bit unfulfilled although I understand why this might be considered an essential film, I have yet to get used with Bresson’s perspective and will probably check it again later on to see if his method recognition complements my film experience expectation. 7/10