For this week’s Director Showcase Tom takes a look at the unorthodox films of self-taught Screenwriter and director Richard Linklater
Linklater’s dialogue driven films are not to everyone’s taste but his experimental approach to film-making has created some fascinating pictures, with their philosophical leanings providing food for thought even if at times he has scant regard for story. I have passed many a sleepless night indulging in his films, and whilst they have not resonated with every viewer I have showed them to, my friends who have enjoyed a Linklater film are always keen to seek out more.
With his untitled 12-year project due to see the light of day in 2015, it will be interesting to see if his study of boyhood has been worth the wait; Linklater decided to shoot the scenes chronologically as his actors aged in real life and I hope the end result is worthy of this ambitious undertaking. Matthew McConaughey and Jack Black are starring in his latest black comedy Bernie, which has only just been released in the USA and should hopefully be hitting the UK later this year but whilst we are waiting for his latest films, here is a look at his impressive back catalogue.
As an impressionable student this film completely blew my mind, the dialogue sent my thoughts spinning and the entrancing visuals took animation to a whole new level. Told through a series of dreams, Waking Life follows a young man who encounters numerous strange characters on a journey through a jarring world which makes him question whether he is awake or dreaming. The technique of rotoscoping involves animators tracing over footage to produce a bizarre result that adds an otherworldy feeling to the film, and was the perfect method of enhancing this philosophical fantasy.
Shot for the most part in real time, this tender romance between two travellers struck a chord with viewers everywhere back in 1995, and as its popularity has grown over the years so did the demand for a sequel. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are enchanting as the couple whose chance meeting leads to an unforgettable evening in Vienna that would almost certainly never happen with today’s technological advances. Heartfelt without being soppy and overbearing, Before Sunrise is a genuine one of a kind romance that will restore your faith in the possibilities of meeting that someone special or take you back to the special moment when you met your partner.
Before Waking Life there was Slacker, another meandering film that has no plot as such but instead follows the exploits of various outcasts and misfits during a single day in Texas. Breaking free from the constraints of a standard narrative path, Slacker makes for hypnotic viewing which is impressive considering no single character remains on screen for more than two or three scenes. Linklater went on to define an era with Dazed and Confused, but Slacker defined the current generation of twentysomethings who eschewed the established norms of society in favour of being an individual at the time of its release back in 1991.
A Scanner Darkly
Linklater’s only foray into science-fiction; this excellent adapation of a Phillip K. Dick novel sees him returning to the rotoscope method that worked so well with Waking Life with incredible results. Keanu Reeves is perfectly cast as an undercover cop who becomes involved in a dangerous new drug that heightens his paranoia and mistrust of those around him. Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder also star in this mindbending science fiction which breathes life into what is already a mesmerising tale and joins the ranks of the more inspired Phillip K. Dick adapations.
Before Sunset – Not a patch on Before Sunrise but still well worth your time, this belated sequel sees Celine and Jesse reunited ten years after their original encounter
Dazed and Confused – There aren’t many films that make me wish I was young in the Seventies but Dazed and Confused makes the era very appealing with this look at a last day of school, the parties that follow and the drugs that fuel it.
Me and Orson Welles – Not to be dismissed because it stars Zac Efron, this portrait of Orson Welles before he had entered the world of film is a fascinating picture and a great view on life for a young aspiring theatre troupe.
Films to Avoid:
I am yet to see a bad Linklater film although the odd gaps I have in his filmography do leave me wondering if he has ever misfired in the past…
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Are you a fan of Linklater or do his films leave you longing for more action? Let us know your thoughts below…