Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dazed and Confused

A few days ago, I watched Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. I don’t like writing full reviews of past films. I write enough reviews as is. But I’d like to point out a few things.

1) I once saw critic Andrew Sarris describe the genius of Preston Sturges by noting that Sturges could write funny lines in dozens of voices, doing it in each individual character’s vernacular. That’s a strength of Linklater’s voice in this film, writing lines for jocks, stoners, high school girls, nerds, and everyone else. The variety of voices is impressive. Of course, a decent portion of the dialogue here is reputed to be improvised, so it’s a credit to the actors, as well.

2) This film is one of the most colossal cases of bad marketing that we’ve seen. The studio lumped it together with the batch of stoner-heavy, slacker early 90s comedies. Apparently the suits didn’t notice the inspiration it takes in Truffaut’s casual lyricism. It’s an unusually fluid film, unusually artistic, and it’s a shame that some were discouraged to see it originally because it was treated like product.

3) You forget how many careers the film launched. Everyone knows Matthew McConaughey. But also Parker Posey, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams. Milla Jovovich became whatever she became. Even Anthony Rapp ended up in Rent, I believe. Renee Zellweger isreputed to be in the film for a couple seconds.

4) Few films achieve such an appropriate ending. For all the talk about this film being melancholy, I find a lot of joy in watching a group of kids willing to live fully in the moment of their youth, when an Aerosmith concert can be considered “the priority of the summer.” Gotta love that.

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