2015

The International Year of Light, as U.N. designated 2015, presented us with many challenges, but also with a great number of worthy film titles we can indulge in. It's always nice to lose a grip on reality for a while and enter the well-constructed worlds filmmakers and thespians assemble. It is not easy to produce a good motion picture so let's celebrate the year 2015 by looking at Cinema Paradiso's top 50 rentals.

This is the year we saw the release of the final instalment in the Hobbit series, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) which also turned out to be the second highest grossing film the previous year. When it comes to epic on-screen adaptations, in 2015 we got to experience the first part of the stretched out The Hunger Games finale, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014). What about comic book sequels, you may ask? Well, here enters one of the better X-Men films of the franchise – X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) which also earned a spot on the highest grossing list in 2014.

One of these blockbusters I'd like to take a closer look at is Interstellar (2014), a science fiction epic combined with a dramatic story, much like Gravity (2013) the year before, and yet so different. The other selected film I'll focus on is a cinematic experiment Boyhood (2014), a unique story of growing up or better yet, a unique way of making a movie.

Let's start with the amazing looking Interstellar, another film from Christopher Nolan that steps into the unusual with its story. After Batman reboot, imaginative Inception (2010) and memorable Memento (2000), Nolan directed and co-written dystopian futuristic film Interstellar adorned with a plethora of talented actors including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon and Michael Caine. Let's just mentioned young Mackenzie Foy who did an amazing job as the younger version of Chastain's character Murphy.

Interstellar shows us a grim future for humanity just to take us on the most important space mission in history, in search of a last glimpse of hope – a new home on a distant planet. Oscar winner McConaughey plays pilot-turned-farmer after a catastrophe that brought the world on its knees. 

Even though I thought Gravity would be hard to surpass as a visually stunning work and a story set in space, Interstellar did just that. In many departments both films are considered ground-breaking. And I might have watched a few times upon its release on home media. When I went to see Interstellar for the first time, it was with no set expectations, which is always a plus from my experience. There is little I didn't like about this film and it is probably Christopher Nolan's best work. Screenplay is gripping and it takes you on a see-saw of emotions which is unexpected for a sci-fi film, and the cast complemented it very well.

The best part of the audio-visual experience is Hans Zimmer's soundtrack which is superb. Those amazing docking and black hole scenes wouldn't be that effective without Zimmer's score. Even the moments when the music stops are strikingly powerful, the moments where the lack of sound amplifies the atmosphere.

The other film in my review selection is Boyhood, indie drama and as I said a unique film that took 12 years to finish. During this time, Richard Linklater was consistent in using the same cast, and they managed to keep it a secret while filming. So, when the time passes and we see older versions of the characters, it's not about the make up or substituting younger for older actors... this boy literally grows up before our eyes. When you think of it, this is quite probably the ultimate project a filmmaker can take on, and Linklater did just that, as well as directing and writing the film. The parallel could be drawn to his Before... titles which also document the same people over a longer period of time, but these are standalone films released separately throughout the years. 

The cast of Boyhood is led by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as young boy's parents (played by Ellar Coltrane). Coming-of-age stories are always popular as they represent the rockiest and identity finding period of our lives.

The story centres around Mason and follows his life from first grade at age 6 through 12th grade at age 17-18, witnessing the good and the bad times. Mostly it deals with basic family issues, relationships, ups and down, and in the end it's a reflection on their lives – which in turn just might make you reflect on your own. Nostalgia at its finest!

Boyhood turned out to be a successful film experiment and you should watch it to experience the cinematic achievement even if you're not sold on the story, and a friendly warning – it does run close to three hours. In its defence, it also does convey 12 years of people's lives into that running time.

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