It’s about time we got a Summer movie worthy of adult eyes. Roger Ebert called the cinema a “machine for generating empathy.” (The Life Itself biopic of Ebert is out now in theaters and available at home on demand.) Not much empathy washes over us as we turn our eyes to Transformers or superheroes. All those explosions and flattened cities leave us feeling tired and hopeless, or feeling nothing at all. Those films are about nothing. The celluloid – or, more likely, the digital 0’s and 1’s – are full of sound and fury, signifying … well, you know. It is life itself that offers thrills, mystery, and passion. Where is that in the midst of the inevitable June-July CGI orgy?
It’s about time we got something to look at that said something about life itself. And with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, we’ve got it. It’s about time. Literally. Linklater filmed a kid and his family over a 12 year period. We see the actors age, which might sound like grim stuff, like watching our friends and, therefore, ourselves, slouch toward mortality. But there is nothing grim about seeing a six year old emerge into adulthood. That is life. Dreams, experience, and memories collide and conspire to produce some luminescent thing that seems simultaneously transient and immortal. It is more arresting and miraculous than cosmic warfare among the exoskeletons. It stays with us long after the hobbits and avatars exit stage right. As with Michael Apted’s Up series, or Linklater’s own Before series, Boyhood reminds us what life is about and what movies can do. The film theorist Siegfried Kracauer said that the function of film is to do what no other art form can do – show light and movement. We can see the leaves blowing in the wind, flaunting different shades of green as they flutter in sunlight. We see things live and change in time. Perhaps everything takes place under the eyes of eternity, but those are not our eyes. Ours blink. Ours close.
Time is the big subject today. It always is. The most important philosophical work of the 20th Century is not A Theory of Justice by that very nice Rawls fellow, but Being and Time by that not very nice Heidegger fellow. Our favorite poem of the 20th Century, Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening,” is about time. “Oh let not time deceive you/you cannot conquer time.” Our favorite beach-reading book that we could not finish was A Brief History of Time. Our favorite rock song is “A Day in the Life.” Our favorite baseball team stinks because the star players all got old at once. Father Time is undefeated. Time marks victories and defeats. Time marks births and deaths. Time marks us. Time also marks lawsuits.
We do not too often write about statute of limitations decisions. They are fact-bound. The people behind Seinfeld (which premiered 25(!) years ago) vowed that their show would have no learning and no hugging. Maybe we here at DDL won’t force a hug on you, but we do hope for some learning. With statute of limitation decisions, we are usually unsure as to what we can learn from any particular case. Not so with today’s case, Truitt v. Bayer, No. 13-CV-7811, (SDNY July 2, 2014). A copy of the opinion can be found here.