Best Movies of the 2010s
#11 – Boyhood (2014)
How often do you see a movie that is unlike anything else ever made?
The unique achievement of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood — that it was shot over 12 years, capturing its main character’s entire childhood in two and a half hours — would make it worthy of this list almost regardless of its quality.
But Linklater used his storytelling conceit to tell a deep, poignant story about the life of an ordinary kid without succumbing to sentimentality or melodrama. He found poetry in the everyday moments that build up to shape a life.
Here’s a track from Wilco’s sophomore album, 1996’s Being There. This two-disc album was the alt-country band’s first foray into the more experimental sounds for which they would receive widespread acclaim in later years.
A double album loosely based on the relationship between musicians and their fans, Being There features some straightforward bops alongside fascinating sonic detours.
Here’s an album I owe a second chance.
Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky was released in 2007, three years after the disappointing A Ghost is Born, and by that time I’d moved on.
2001’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was a ground-breaking masterwork following a handful of excellent releases, but Ghost stopped the band in their tracks. To be honest, I can’t say with any conviction that A Ghost is Born is a bad album. I just know it left me cold.
Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot could have been one of the best albums of 2001, but execs at Reprise records didn’t back the record.
The band was given the option to buy back the recordings though eventually Reprise just turned them over for free. Wilco then streamed the album on their website in September 2001, before signing with Nonesuch records and officially releasing the album in April 2002.
I lost track of Wilco after 2002’s excellent Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. That album, with its eerily prescient 9/11 echoes (it was recorded before September 11, but released afterward), is compelling and emotional in ways I usually associate more with film than music.
Its follow-up, 2004’s A Ghost is Born, had all of the sonic experimentation but none of the soul. It sounded like the band trying to repeat itself.
Music about music is pretty hit or miss. While many artists have had success writing about their experiences as professional musicians, just as many have come across as whiny and annoying.
Wilco made the bold move of writing an entire album — a double album, no less — about music with 1996’s Being There.
Frontman Jeff Tweedy wanted to write songs about his experiences both playing and listening to music and, despite the obvious dangers inherent in taking such a path, wound up crafting a superior album.
I don’t know if any band in my collection has had as extreme a swing in my estimation as Wilco. Once upon a time they were firing on all cylinders to such a degree that I numbered them among my very favorite bands. But that lasted for three albums. Now, three more albums later, I’m largely indifferent about them. I’ve been tempted a couple of times to check out their latest release, Wilco (the Album), but never enough to do anything about it.
I imagine this is what it’s like when you fall out of love with a woman. She goes from inhabiting your every thought to not stirring any emotion in you whatsoever. As Fiona Apple puts it in her beautiful song ‘Love Ridden’: “No, not ‘baby’ anymore, if I need you I’ll just use your simple name… only kisses on the cheek from now on, and in a little while we’ll only have to wave.”