Author Topic: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread  (Read 1744 times)

Noodle Lizard

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Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« on: September 08, 2021, 09:02:18 PM »
Having just got back from Austin and the surrounding area for the first time, I decided to re-watch a few Linklater films set in and around there. Like many teenagers of my generation, I was very much enamoured with Waking Life and Dazed & Confused and Slacker, but with the distance of age grew to assume they were largely pretentious, college stoner-baiting wank. I maintained a soft spot for the Before trilogy, but remember finding Midnight difficult to appreciate when it came out in my early 20s for similar reasons. I liked A Scanner Darkly and Bernie a lot, but I haven't watched them for a while. Boyhood, likewise - I remember enjoying it, but finding it very flawed and not to live up to the hyperbolic critical reception.

Then there are the other ones; the Fast Food Nations and School of Rocks and Everybody Wants Some!!s, which left very little impression on me and I've only seen once. He's apparently made some since Boyhood as well, but I haven't seen them. Clearly not a director who I felt the need to keep up with - I figured I'd just sort of grown out of it.

That being said, I watched Boyhood again last night and it hit me in an entirely different way. Perhaps it's growing older myself or having a child of my own, but it really, really impressed me this time around. Sure, there are still a few eye-rolling bits of dialogue, and my main problem with it when it came out (the kid growing into a fairly dull and sort of unappealing performer) still exists, but I have a very different perspective on it now. I really appreciated how much it does to subvert dramatic expectations; little naturalistic things I hadn't really noticed before, like the last time he sees his best childhood friend trying to wave goodbye being sort of obscured by a hedge as they drive away, or the fact that it never signposts anything - when it seems to be about to (e.g. the kid drinking as a teenager, despite a history of drunk and/or abusive stepdads) it never actually does, which is far more realistic. It eschews dramatic convention, but it's perfectly likely for someone to be able to drink normally despite a history of alcoholism in the family - or at the very least, the consequences wouldn't be immediate and severe. I also noticed more foreshadowing this time (again, not signposted) - like how pretty much all of his interactions with girls as a teenager are influenced by some advice his dad gave him on a camping trip. It's got so much going on, even if it doesn't seem like it.

One of my criticisms when I first saw it was the amount of sophomoric wanky existentialist chatter from the kid, but it does make perfect sense that a teenager in that environment would chat sophomoric wanky existentialist shit. I think the issue there is that I associate it with Linklater's earlier work like Waking Life, which I found profound as a teenager but later grew to be a bit embarrassed by, so it's difficult to discern whether Linklater writes that kind of dialogue because it's what he considers profound or because he understands characters like the ones he's writing would consider it profound. It's probably a combination of the two, but the fact that Linklater's proven himself competent at telling a story like Bernie without relying on that kind of thing makes me more generous to him. He also seems to have an uncommon understanding of and sympathy towards all sorts of people, which I think can only come down to his experience growing up in a kind of blue enclave in Texas (Mike Judge appears to have a similar knack for this).

I fell asleep within 30 minutes of rewatching Waking Life for the first time in at least a decade, but I'll get through it tonight. Then I'm curious to see what I make of Dazed & Confused and Slacker now. There are also a few that I never saw - some of the ones he directed but didn't write, like SubUrbia, for instance. But I figured it was a thread worth having - he's a fairly well-respected filmmaker, but I feel like a lot of people (of around my age, at least) may have a similar push-and-pull relationship with him. For my money, he's at least the most ambitious of that 90's indie filmmaker crowd, even if it doesn't always work.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2021, 11:19:10 PM »
You couldn't include some YouTube clips of his films?

... Or is it "post now, link later" sort of deal?

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2021, 11:29:36 PM »
I like quite a few of his films, but rather than go into too much detail now (bed is beckoning), I'll just say I fucking LOVE his Bad News Bears remake.  I actually think it's genuinely better than the original, which has the same problem that most Michael Ritchie films do in that they're comedies that don't have all that much comedy in them.

Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2021, 11:30:10 PM »
You couldn't include some YouTube clips of his films?

... Or is it "post now, link later" sort of deal?

I assumed everyone who'd bother with this thread was already familiar with his films.

I like quite a few of his films, but rather than go into too much detail now (bed is beckoning), I'll just say I fucking LOVE his Bad News Bears remake.  I actually think it's genuinely better than the original, which has the same problem that most Michael Ritchie films do in that they're comedies that don't have all that much comedy in them.

That's one of the ones I didn't watch. Coming out not long after School of Rock and such, I (perhaps unfairly) wrote it off as another example of him "going mainstream" or whatever.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2021, 11:31:36 PM »
I was merely making the greatest pun of all time.

Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2021, 11:32:06 PM »

Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2021, 11:47:00 PM »
I managed to rewatch Dazed & Confused today. Still like it. It somehow makes me nostalgic for a time and place I never existed in. It also does an incredible job of introducing, developing and keeping up with a whole bunch of unique characters who all feel perfectly "real" and lived-in. It's strange to see how many of the actors in smaller roles went on to become big stars (Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger) whereas the most prominent actors haven't done very much since. Overall: very good, fun, and remarkably light on the pop-philosophy.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2021, 12:03:07 AM »
Boyhood floored me when I caught it in cinema, not seen it since as slightly concerned it may not be as perfect as I remembered. My hot take also is it was a scandal that Birdman beat it to best picture at the oscars that year.

On the lead I didn't mind him, but the criticism of him does remind of the lad playing AJ in the Sopranos, neither are exactly Brando, but I totally missed the nuance of the performance until I re watched it recently.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2021, 12:12:04 AM »
I'll rewatch Boyhood when I'm old enough and divorced enough to relate more to Ethan Hawke than Mason, I was about 5 years too old to relate at all to Mason that much too tbh.


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madhair60

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2021, 12:16:43 AM »
yeah i like him hes good at making films

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2021, 12:23:58 AM »

Never loved any of his films but I'm glad he exists and he has a nice varied mix of movies and film making techniques.

Slacker is maybe my favourite of his. Not seen it in well overa decade, so it may have aged badly, but I recall it being funny, interesting and had more authenticity than Clerks, which came out a couple of years later and a lot of the film magazines compared the two films. Slacker felt so much more real, grubby and a nice example of cinema verite - just how 90s indie schmindie films should be. It was the kind of film I would love to have made in the 90s.

After all the hype, I found Dazed And Confused to be especially disappointing. Didn't take to any of the characters, found the paddling scenes to be all a bit nasty, it was a little too "Hey, It's The 70s" but with a very mid-90s sheen and using Alice Cooper's School's Out over a montage of kids running out of school to begin the summer holiday perhaps the most on-the-nose use of a pop song in any film ever. Having said all that, I've frequently been told over the years that my opinion on D&C is wrong, so I recently picked up the DVD from a chazza for 20p so will give it  a rewatch some time soon.

Before Sunrise is a film I should love as I usually adore any film set in one night (After Hours, Into The Night, Miracle Mile etc.) but I couldn't stand either character and found it a painful 105 minutes. Managed only the first 20 minutes of Before Sunset before switching it off - Something I very rarely do.

School Of Rock was fun, entertaining and pretty damn charming. It's one that I always forget it a Linklater film - Perhaps because it's one he didn't write.

A Scanner Darkly ticks many of my boxes but there was something lacking. The visual style was nice and original, it's got a great cast but it all felt rather unengaging.

Boyhood is, again, something I ought to have loved - Such a bold statement to make a movie over 15 years or so -  But it's so fucking dull. 166 minutes and I the only I can remember is the idea of the compilation album made up of songs by the former Beatles.

Looking at his filmography, the only one I've not seen that I have any interest in is Me And Orson Welles.


Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2021, 12:31:39 AM »
I'll rewatch Boyhood when I'm old enough and divorced enough to relate more to Ethan Hawke than Mason, I was about 5 years too old to relate at all to Mason that much too tbh.

I think that's what happened to me. I must've been around 23 when it came out, and I think a lot of the stuff on the parents' end of things (who arguably have a more substantial role than Mason does) didn't resonate with me on anything other than a superficial level - of course I understood who they were and what was going on with them, but I didn't feel like there was much more to it than that.

At the same time, I couldn't relate too much to Mason either - the age difference wasn't as significant, but his experience of childhood and adolescence didn't really reflect much of mine. Not just situation-wise, but also in terms of his personality. He's more or less a passive bystander for much of the film; things happen around him as he moves from situation to situation, but he's rarely the active participant. A bit like the titular donkey in Au Hasard Balthazar. Moreover, I feel like it skips a lot of the more formative common experiences of adolescence. Not a bad thing necessarily, but there was less to relate to.

Watching it now, having crested 30 and with a kid of my own, the parents' side of it resonates significantly more. I've never been divorced, and honestly none of their specific situations are that similar to mine, they just feel a lot deeper as characters now. It's probably similar to how people grow along with the Before trilogy - when I was younger, Sunrise would be the one I most related to, whereas I'm probably somewhere in between Sunset and Midnight now (I'll have to watch them back to see). I'm very glad those films exist, regardless.

Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2021, 12:39:37 AM »
Looking at his filmography, the only one I've not seen that I have any interest in is Me And Orson Welles.

I've not seen that (I should), but you should definitely give Bernie a try. It's quite un-Linklaterish, in many ways, but tells the (true) story in a very engaging and sympathetic manner which most true crime dramas don't. The fact that, after the film's release, he actually had the real-life Bernie live with him as a condition of his parole between his release and resentencing is fascinating, and suggests a filmmaker who genuinely cared about the story and the people involved rather than the detached, sometimes exploitative direction similar movies have taken. Also Jack Black is fantastic in it.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2021, 12:56:15 AM »
I remember liking a Scanner Darkly. Even if I hadn't, I'd still admire it for being an animation (sort of) for adults that's actually mature, rather than just puerile nonsense (e.g. most of Love, Death and Robots). It's a bit of a shame that conspiracy types take Alex Jones's minuscule role as evidence that Linklater is on their side (instead of evidence that Jones will say stuff for money).

After all the hype, I found Dazed And Confused to be especially disappointing. Didn't take to any of the characters, found the paddling scenes to be all a bit nasty, it was a little too "Hey, It's The 70s" but with a very mid-90s sheen and using Alice Cooper's School's Out over a montage of kids running out of school to begin the summer holiday perhaps the most on-the-nose use of a pop song in any film ever. Having said all that, I've frequently been told over the years that my opinion on D&C is wrong, so I recently picked up the DVD from a chazza for 20p so will give it  a rewatch some time soon.
I watched it for the first time fairly recently and wasn't bowled over by it either. Maybe if I was a gen X type, or I'd just watched it when I was younger, It might have made a better impression. Also, McConnaughey's character needs Yewtreeing.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2021, 01:02:23 AM »
assume they were largely pretentious, college stoner-baiting wank

To be fair you seem to do that with 99% of artistic endeavours.

Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2021, 01:14:48 AM »
I remember liking a Scanner Darkly. Even if I hadn't, I'd still admire it for being an animation (sort of) for adults that's actually mature, rather than just puerile nonsense (e.g. most of Love, Death and Robots). It's a bit of a shame that conspiracy types take Alex Jones's minuscule role as evidence that Linklater is on their side (instead of evidence that Jones will say stuff for money).

I just yesterday read an interview where Linklater was asked about Jones's appearances in his earlier films (I think from around 2018, when Jones was "in" with the Trump administration). Linklater's response made perfect sense to me - Jones was a local Austin celebrity, notorious for his animated anti-government rants. At the time of both his appearances in Linklater's films, the Bush administration was the government, so he was very much "on side" with the liberal college crowd that made up a significant portion of those films' demographics. In the 2000s, being against the Iraq War and even 9/11 conspiracy theories were very much left-wing talking points, and Jones was one of the loudest voices espousing those ideas in that area at that time. That's when I first heard about him, anyway.

So I don't think the fact he turned up in those films is an indictment of either of them, really.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2021, 01:20:36 AM »

Looking at his filmography, the only one I've not seen that I have any interest in is Me And Orson Welles.

I've not seen it since it came out which is over ten years ago, its not Citizen Kane (banter alert) but its very watchable and  perfect Sunday afternoon film.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2021, 01:30:11 AM »
I just yesterday read an interview where Linklater was asked about Jones's appearances in his earlier films (I think from around 2018, when Jones was "in" with the Trump administration). Linklater's response made perfect sense to me - Jones was a local Austin celebrity, notorious for his animated anti-government rants. At the time of both his appearances in Linklater's films, the Bush administration was the government, so he was very much "on side" with the liberal college crowd that made up a significant portion of those films' demographics. In the 2000s, being against the Iraq War and even 9/11 conspiracy theories were very much left-wing talking points, and Jones was one of the loudest voices espousing those ideas in that area at that time. That's when I first heard about him, anyway.

So I don't think the fact he turned up in those films is an indictment of either of them, really.
I'd read that Linklater had no real idea who Jones was, but just liked his audition. Either way, yes, it's not an indictment of the the films.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2021, 03:10:58 AM »
I've not seen that (I should), but you should definitely give Bernie a try. It's quite un-Linklaterish, in many ways, but tells the (true) story in a very engaging and sympathetic manner which most true crime dramas don't. The fact that, after the film's release, he actually had the real-life Bernie live with him as a condition of his parole between his release and resentencing is fascinating, and suggests a filmmaker who genuinely cared about the story and the people involved rather than the detached, sometimes exploitative direction similar movies have taken. Also Jack Black is fantastic in it.

Thanks! Sounds good, and I just read that it's a mockumentary which is very much my thing.

And I just remembered that Waking Life has been sat in my "To Watch" pile of DVDs for getting on for ten years!


Noodle Lizard

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2021, 03:30:21 AM »
Thanks! Sounds good, and I just read that it's a mockumentary which is very much my thing.

It's not really a mockumentary - not in the Christopher Guest sense, anyway. It's mostly a dramatisation of what happened, but occasionally intercut with expository documentary-style interviews[1]. Some of the interviewees are actors, but some are real people who had a connection to the story or lived in the town at the time, and I think some of them even play themselves in the dramatised parts. I can't really think of anything to compare it to, it's a bit of an odd format, but it works. Well worth a watch.

And I just remembered that Waking Life has been sat in my "To Watch" pile of DVDs for getting on for ten years!

Haha - if you're no fan of his, Waking Life will probably only strengthen your distaste. Then again, its art/animation style and soundtrack are interesting enough on their own, and some of the sequences are fun/funny. It feels like a spiritual sequel to Slacker in some ways, but a lot more heady. It's imaginative, at the very least.
 1. Some of which are great in and of themselves, like this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVmIqRcglvE

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2021, 06:51:17 AM »
In the director's commentary on the Criterion edition of Dazed and Confused, Linklater utters the phrase: "you can't go back". Not only has that phrase continued to haunt me since I heard it but it has been a key source of understanding Linklater's cinema as a whole (and, I suppose, life). Real fan of his hits, continue to support him despite his misses. Always up for more of his films, really should get round to watching another one at some point. His next film is Apollo 10½ and seems like a real return to both form and content.

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2021, 07:04:55 AM »
Dazed & Confused is one of my favourite films. I watched it again the other week and it always feels like a perfectly condensed coming of age film, dipping into a location at a pivotal time and just having a look at what happens for a bit. Making a bunch of clichés that also come across as totally earnest and genuine is hard to do but Linklater nails it here with Alice Cooper and smoking weed and hassling freshmen. It’s like Big Star’s “Thirteen” in cinema form.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2021, 07:54:16 AM »
I managed to rewatch Dazed & Confused today. Still like it. It somehow makes me nostalgic for a time and place I never existed in. It also does an incredible job of introducing, developing and keeping up with a whole bunch of unique characters who all feel perfectly "real" and lived-in. It's strange to see how many of the actors in smaller roles went on to become big stars (Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger) whereas the most prominent actors haven't done very much since. Overall: very good, fun, and remarkably light on the pop-philosophy.

I think Everybody Wants Some is very similar to D&C, despite being set in a different time and place. It isn't as good or memorable but still has that warm "hanging with friends" thing about it, where no-one is particularly heroic but no-one is too much of an arsehole either. Relaxingly low stakes

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2021, 09:03:42 AM »
Been years since I watched EWS but that was my take home from it as well. Not as great as D&C but still lots to enjoy.

madhair60

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2021, 09:10:35 AM »
if he was bad you could call him richard stinklater

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2021, 09:53:54 AM »

After all the hype, I found Dazed And Confused to be especially disappointing. Didn't take to any of the characters, found the paddling scenes to be all a bit nasty, it was a little too "Hey, It's The 70s" but with a very mid-90s sheen and using Alice Cooper's School's Out over a montage of kids running out of school to begin the summer holiday perhaps the most on-the-nose use of a pop song in any film ever.

Linklater has always maintained that his view is staunchly anti-nostalgia which is why Pink is in the film. His whole bit about hating the idea that these are the best days of our lives is as clsoe to Linklater's own view as anything else in the film, which is why I think it's so brilliant. It works very well as a celebration of that period (which I didn't live through) and a condemnation of only being able to celebrate it at the expense of progression or development. The 'Hey, It's The 70s' you mention is intentionally heightened (and is brilliantly executed - apparently all of the clothes were sourced from legitimate Austin vintage stores of locally-made 70s gear, as opposed to being designed to look like they're from the 70s).

I wonder did '70s nostalgia' as a sort of American trope properly exist yet when the film was made, or was this the first major example of such?

I've banged on about it before but Melissa Maerz's book about the making of the film is essential for Linklater fans and people who like books about filmmaking.

Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2021, 09:55:34 AM »
I really like the majority of Linklater's films, Before Sunset and Sunrise are two of my favourite ever movies, and though I've not seen his early work since they came out I enjoyed them a lot at the time. But I thought Me And Orson Welles was pretty awful, here's the short review of it that I wrote at the time: Richard Linklater's film concerning Richard (Zac Effron) an actor who briefly worked for Orson Welles (Christian McKay) on his 1937 production of Julius Caesar, and the romance he has with production assistant Sonja (Clare Danes). It portrays Welles as a charismatic if cunty playboy egomaniac, while Danes is okay and Effron is watchable but sometimes annoying, and I struggled to care about either. Linklater's stressed a dislike for biopics and factual retellings and Richard's story is completely fictional (with surviving cast member Norman Lloyd elaborating on that here: https://film.avclub.com/norman-lloyd-on-upstaging-orson-welles-and-playing-tenn-1798286982), but it's a shame Linklater doesn't dislike bland and tiresome stories as that's what we largely get here, and only McKay's Welles and the little we see of Julius Caesar is any fun. 4.4/10

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2021, 12:09:32 PM »
if he was bad you could call him richard stinklater

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2021, 01:10:11 PM »
It somehow makes me nostalgic for a time and place I never existed in.

There's a word for that feeling but I've forgotten it. Barry Admin told me what it was but I can't find the thread any more.

Anyway, I used to love Linklater. Slacker was my favourite too, followed by D&C. Did anyone see Suburbia? I think it felt like it was trying ot be part of that whole Slacker/ D&C thing but was just a really poor attempt, almost like it was made by a different director. Didn't like it at all. Also didn't like the rotoscope films, just because I hate the effect. Tape was ok (and my choice if there was a Linklater round on Pointless) but I lost interest between Sunrise and Sunset. Anyone ever seen the Newton Boys? Not sure if it even got a UK release which seemed a bit odd at the time.

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Re: Richard Linklater Appreciation Thread
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2021, 02:35:37 PM »
I've banged on about it before but Melissa Maerz's book about the making of the film is essential for Linklater fans and people who like books about filmmaking.

It's worth it for the chapter about Shawn Andrews alone

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