Here’s something you couldn’t do in theaters: Thanks to the magic of streaming video, you can watch Richard Linklater’s hyper-praised experiment in chunks. You’re meant to take it in one big glop, let the 12 years in the life of a not-so-average Texas kid (Ellar Coltrane) — which was, of course, filmed over 12 years — wash over you like a cosmic head trip. Or you could stop at the end of every year, take a big break, then switch on the next bit. Each time our hero — and his parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, plus his sister (Linklater’s own daughter, Lorelei) — will have aged just a bit more. You’ll even be able to focus on the details of each episode, rather than speeding through it. You don’t necessarily have to take 12 years to watch it; after all, thanks to the fickle nature of Netflix rights issues, “Boyhood” will probably be gone from their realm in a month anyway.
‘Burn After Reading’
After their grizzled, grisly noir “No Country for Old Men,” the Coen brothers made a comedy. It was a very funny comedy. But it was arguably — or maybe even inarguably — the bleaker, scarier film. Nevermind George Clooney making Tex Avery cartoon faces or Brad Pitt’s amusing hair (and even more hilarious car seat-dancing). The fragmented tale of very stupid people involved in harebrained schemes gone violently awry is secretly one of their blood curdling looks at the insignificance of humankind. Characters’ bloody ends are accidentally orchestrated by people they’ve never met; the nicest one is ended with a hatchet to the neck. By the end, the survivors agree never to do it again — without having the foggiest what “it” was. You watch it the first time to laugh; you watch it again to cringe.
We all need something nice right now. Hugs. Kisses. Excessive amounts of alcohol. Movies about cute talking bears. “Paddington” is the latter — the rather tardy movie of Michael Bond’s old books about a well-meaning but clumsy Peruvian bear in a raincoat who likes marmalade. The film has him unwittingly wreak untold havoc: destroying a pleasant English family’s bathroom; getting lost in a tube station; skateboarding. If it was American, it would be unbearable. Thankfully, it’s British, which means the overqualified live action stars — Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman — are inspired rather than wasted. But most of all it has a bear who sounds like Ben Whishaw. That alone should be a pleasant distraction from our President-Elect’s tweets.