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Zoe Soul (left), and Carmen Ejogo in a scene from ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ showing on July 18, in US. (AP)
‘Boyhood’ simple story 'Land’ gently amusing oldster odyssey

A balm for the harried soul, “Land Ho!” is part travelogue, part therapy session. Watching it could inspire you to call an old friend or book a trip to an exotic locale. Maybe both. The movie has a very simple premise — two older guys tour around Iceland — and unfolds at an easy rhythm. What “Land Ho!” might lack in flash or hipness, it more than makes up for in earned, genuine sentiment. The key to the movie is the palpable rapport between the two male leads: Earl Lynn Nelson is loud, boisterous and profane as Mitch, a Southern doctor fighting retirement, polar opposite to Paul Eenhoorn’s Colin, a soft-spoken Australian recovering from the breakup of his second marriage. Former brothers-in-law, they have fallen out of touch until Mitch decides to take Colin to Iceland and help him get over his divorce. Unlike the more reserved Colin, Mitch is prone to colorful expressions never heard in my WASPy family.


Sure, he can be vulgar, but it’s hard not to smile at his joie de vivre. Even Colin can’t stay mad at him too long. In Reykjavik, they meet up with Mitch’s younger cousin Ellen (Karrie Crouse), who is passing through with fellow Ph.D candidate Janet (Elizabeth McKee). Mitch insists they buy new clothes for a night on the town.

After a night of overindulgence, Mitch and Colin hit the road and catch up on their lives, alternately bonding and bickering, the way old friends do. As the movie unfolds, it becomes clear that the trip was as much for Mitch’s benefit as for Colin. “Land Ho!” evokes “Waking Ned Devine” in its celebration of enduring friendship between senior gents. It makes for savvy counter-programming in a summer full of comic-book tales and raunchy comedies. The rapport between Nelson and Eenhoorn is all the more impressive considering their disparate backgrounds; non-pro Nelson is an eye doctor related to Martha Stephens (who co-wrote and co-directed with Aaron Katz), while Eenhoorn is a veteran actor. Stephen and Katz crafted the story around Nelson, racing to complete it in time for Sundance earlier this year, where it received strong reviews. Sometimes the rush job shows: The music cues are overly loud, and some of the camera work lackluster. But it’s hard to get too worked up about relatively minor flaws in a tale this gentle and affirming, and scenery this beautiful. “Land Ho!” is well worth an expedition to the movie theater.

The road movie is refitted for a charming spin around scenic Iceland in “Land Ho!,” a serio-comedy of very modest ambition but a distinct character of its own. At its most reductive, a buddy movie about two 70ish gents who take an unplanned trip with the intent of “getting our grooves back,” this first collaboration between writer-directors Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz offers pleasure all the way but leaves the lingering feeling that it could have pushed itself further, both dramatically and comedically. Befitting classic comic tradition, the script throws together two temperamental opposites. And mighty good scenery it is, too. Countering the trend of indie as well as local directors to exoticize the island and its inhabitants with a sort of stilted, deadpan humor, the directors show the place just as the wellheeled travelers experience it, from the spare modern elegance of Reykjavik’s first-class restaurants and hotels to the striking natural splendors of the coast and countryside.

In the city, the two old boys are joined by Mitch’s cousin Ellen and her friend Janet (Karrie Crouse and Elizabeth McKee), both PhD candidates at Columbia. Gregarious Mitch, whose running comments about everything are generally amusing and never banal, takes the gang to the city’s best fish restaurant and then to a nightclub where the guys are at least forty years older than anyone else, but he can’t get the others to share his reefers or loosen up to his standards. He’s a born libertine and a shoot-from the-hip philosopher. It goes, more or less, how the great majority of trips like this would go — pleasantly, with mild highlights and chance encounters, but not the way most movies are constructed to be dramatically eventful or exaggeratedly comic. The tendency with this sort of material, especially in Hollywood’s hands, would be to turn it into an outright farce, along the lines of “Grumpy Old Men” or “The Bucket List.” “Land Ho!” is appealing for not going the route of easy gags and dumbed-down humor, content instead to ride on Nelson’s abundant personality and the slow-burn gravitas of Eenhoorn, who scored last year

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Early in “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater’s bracingly original, utterly enthralling new film about the passage of time through the lens of one boy’s life, we find our characters at a real Houston Astros game. And, with the cameras rolling, wouldn’t you know it — the Astros hit a home run. How lucky, you think, that Linklater was able to incorporate a real-life homer into his scene. But as the film progresses — at its own relaxed, distinctive pace — you soon realize that virtually every scene is a little home run of its own. And luck has very little to do with it. We already knew that Linklater was one of our most accomplished independent filmmakers, and anyone who’s a fan of his “Before” trilogy — “Before Sunrise,” ‘’Before Sunset” and the recent, wonderful “Before Midnight” — knows how eloquently he can portray the passage of time. But “Boyhood” is something different entirely. Filmed over 12 years, for a few days each year, the movie follows one family — two parents, two kids — as they navigate love, marriage, divorce, school, work, pain, pleasure and everything else a family can go through.


Yet the story isn’t particularly dramatic — certainly not by the standards of typical Hollywood storytelling. Indeed, its utter simplicity — some might say even banality — is its strength. What happens to this family, and specifically to Mason, the main character, over 12 years? Life. That’s what happens. While everything about “Boyhood” is done with extraordinary care, the master stroke was clearly the casting, 13 years ago, of a little Texas boy named Ellar Coltrane, with a mop of light brown hair and dreamy eyes. It’s hard to imagine Linklater could have known then that he’d develop into such a soulful adolescent, or such a thoughtfulyet- awkward young man, perfect for the later scenes.

But he did. We first meet Mason lying on the grass, staring at the sky. He and big sister Sam (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter), are living with their harried, divorced mom Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Dad Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) is charming and loving but unreliable, and he’s been off finding himself in Alaska. Mom moves the family to Houston so she can go back to school and get her degree. She ends up marrying her psychology professor (an excellent Marco Perella), and it’s a catastrophe — he turns out to be a dangerous, angry drunk. (These scenes are harrowing.) (Agencies)

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