Richard Linklater’s 12-year long project, “Boyhood,” is already being called a masterpiece. Starring Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and now-19-year-old Ellar Coltran, the film began shooting when Coltrane was only 6 years old as he plays Mason, the son of a single mother (Arquette). “Boyhood” then shot every year, as Mason — and Coltrane — grew to age 18. The result is a cinema experience like no other: the ability to watch a character truly grow up on screen. “Boyhood” has been commended for both its ambitious and unprecedented length of production as well as its writing and acting, creating a one of a kind coming of age story.
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
If you haven’t seen Chris Pratt in one of his many charming late-night interviews, you apparently haven’t turned on your television. The “Parks and Recreation” actor has now solidified his place on the big screen as hero Star-Lord in the new Marvel Studios film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Pratt has also delighted all of America during his late-night roundup, and has recently been called the “male Jennifer Lawrence.” “Guardians,” also starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and an always-hilarious John C. Reilly, was impressively entertaining. The film was funny, smart and stands out in the midst of the onslaught of comic-turned-blockbusters of late.
This bizarre but compelling indie comedy was just released Aug. 15, but has already received rave reviews and puzzled reactions. “Frank” stars Domhnall Gleeson, Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal as band mates. While the movie centers around Gleeson, reviews of the film give endless praise to Fassbender, who plays the bands mysterious and eccentric leader clad in a giant, cartoonish fake head. That’s right, Fassbender’s face is never shown, and he still steals the show. Fassbender even made an appearance as his character on “The Colbert Report” recently with the fictional band.
“Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is having quite the year. The writer, professor and co-editor of “PANK” magazine has been lauded for years for her short stories and poignant essays, but 2014 marks the release of Gay’s first novel, “An Untamed State” as well as a collection of essays titled, “Bad Feminist.” While you should absolutely check out her novel, “Bad Feminist” was released Aug. 5 to positive reviews and a spot on the New York Times’ bestseller list. The essays include autobiographical stories and commentary about race, gender and politics, and like most of the supremely talented Gay’s previous Internet and print work, have received critical and popular acclaim.
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami
Fans of the hugely popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami celebrated the release of his newest novel, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” with midnight release parties and bookstore openings. But while Murakami’s 13th novel was released in Japanese more than a year ago, the English translation was just released to eager readers Aug. 12. The novel follows protagonist Tsukuru Tazaki and his quest as an adult to understand why his friendships as a young man abruptly ended. The novel is Murakami’s first after his three-part novel, “1Q84,” which was released between 2009 and 2011 to mixed reviews, and the author released a special excerpt from the new book in “Slate” in July, only upping the anticipation of its full release this month.
Beyoncé’s “Flawless” remix
In case it was not clear enough that Beyoncé ruled the world, the release of her “Flawless” remix, a collaboration with Nicki Minaj released Aug. 3, confirmed any remaining suspicion. Beyoncé not only graced us again with an unexpected midnight release, but also addressed the Solange-Jay Z elevator scandal of the summer in an absolutely perfect verse. With the addition of Nicki Minaj, the song was bursting with girl power and gave the Internet the best surprise of the summer.
Jack White’s “Lazaretto”
Jack White’s newest release, “Lazaretto” wasn’t just an album — it was a record making and record-breaking event. Musically, the album has received generally positive reviews, but the buzz surrounding “Lazaretto” has just as much to do with the way in which it was released. The former White Stripes’ singer worked on songwriting for a number of years, but recorded and produced the album in only four hours. When the LP was pressed on vinyl, it included several hidden tracks and interesting quirks, making it a unique and interactive listening experience. And fans knew it: the vinyl sold 40,000 copies in its first week, breaking the record for most vinyl sales, once held by Pearl Jam for their 1994 LP, “Vitalogy.” According to “Billboard,” vinyl sales for “Lazaretto” came close to matching CD sales upon its release June 10.
As if 2014 wasn’t already a strange year, the fact that the made-for-television, Syfy-original “Sharknado” sequel was one of the biggest television events of the summer is telling enough. After the original “Sharknado” premiered in July 2013 and drew in millions of viewers during subsequent airings, the tongue-in-cheek disaster movie about — you guessed it — a tornado of sharks got a sequel order from the SyFy network. Set in New York, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” starred Tara Reid and Ian Zeiring, both from the original cast, and included cameos from stars like Billy Ray Cyrus, Matt Lauer and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath. The movie premiered July 30 to 3.9 million viewers, a record for SyFy. Like the first “Sharknado,” the film became a Twitter craze, with celebrities tuning in and taking part in the collective joke.
“You’re the Worst”
Promotion for FX’s two new “post-romance” series “Married” and “You’re The Worst” showed promise, with the former seeming to delve into less examined concepts of monogamous relationships in comedy series and the latter expecting to be yet another “friends with benefits” type sitcom, done in an edgier cable tone. What emerged over the course of the two shows’ summer runs thus far, still, has been even more exciting. While “Married” has appeared a bit tamer and inconsistent; it, nonetheless, stretches far beyond the usual troubles of a sitcom husband and wife and provides laughs and heart along the way. However, despite cautions from early ads, “You’re The Worst” has proven to be the more inventive and buzz worthy show. Main characters Jimmy and Gretchen are foils to each other’s established noncommittal tendencies, vowing not to get too attached, while clumsily navigating their non-relationship. Beside them are two mildly insane best friends, with many of their own issues and complexities. The show boasts not only razor sharp humor, but often tackles relating classic pop culture phenomena in the most intelligent, sophisticated way since NBC’s “Community.”