Boyhood + Jules and Jim

BJaJ

Double feature: Of course I am neither the first, nor will I be the last, to recommend “Boyhood.” But what I may be able to add is the observation that its exploration of time and existence is a uniquely American one.

How so? 

In its depiction of life as an unfurling roll of inexorable progress with a renewable series of fresh starts. In the resilience and future-orientation of its characters. In its decision to leave the work it takes to absorb and get past a hardship, and the emotional toll of doing so, out of its frames.

The film itself contains a metaphor for this kind of editing in the birthday gift Mason gets from his dad – a mixtape containing only the highlights of the Beatles’ post-Beatles careers.

Contrast this devotion to not only the effort, but the very possibility, of moving forward with a film like “Jules and Jim.” This French classic also concerns itself with the passage of years, also jerks forward in time and draws world events into its eddy of personal relationships. But its narrative, as twisting and long as it is, keeps circling back to unresolved tensions in a recognition that some wounds never fully heal, and thus accompany us into the future.

For a marathon: “Le Notti Bianche,” in many ways a smaller film than “Jules and Jim,” takes this recognition a step further. Russian by way of Italy, it features a character so wrapped up in expectations from her past that she can no longer see the present, let alone steer herself into the future.

Others have noted the comparison between “Boyhood” and the “Up” series of alarm-clock documentaries, and they do make for a rich double-feature about the march of time and the equipment we have (or don’t) to take its blows.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “cheezemaster” and “LaModaLisa” at Flickr)

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