Monday, January 27, 2014

My Answer to the Latest Criticwire Survey Question: Richard Linklater

Q: Richard Linklater's Boyhood, which premiered at Sundance to rave reviews, spans 12 years in the life of its characters, and an equivalent period in its director's career, which serves as a reminder of how many styles he's attempted in a career nearly twice as long. What's the best movie Richard Linklater has made, and what's the worst?

First, let me say that I cannot wait to see Boyhood – I’ve been hearing about it for years, and knowing it is finally coming out makes it one of my anticipated films of the year – the fact that it’s seem to be good is even better.

For me, Linklater’s best film is last year’s Before Midnight – which I thought was the best of the Before trilogy, and retroactively made the first two films in the series better because now we know what they were building too. At the time they came out, I liked both of the original Before movies, but they always felt like well-done fantasies to me – not quite as profound as others thought. But adding this latest film, which deals with the couple after they’ve spent 9 years together, makes all three films better – it’s almost as if Hawke, Delphy and Linklater knew they had to make this one to make the series truly complete. Runners-up would be Bernie – with it’s fascinating mixture of dramatic and documentary scenes – and great performances by Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey – and his two animated films – the strange, non-linear dream film Waking Life and the great Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly.

The worst film is easy – The Newton Boys. Linklater has gone mainstream with success at times – Dazed and Confused and School of Rock come to mind – but here, and to a lesser extent on The Bad News Bears remake – he shows why he’s more comfortable making indies. The Newton Boys is truly just a dull, boring film – full of interesting characters, bored actors and not very well handled action sequences.

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