Richard Linklater

Insert Fish Here

Listen, I know we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for that The Incredible Mr. Limpet remake to finally get out the door and into theaters. Details have been scarce ever since the project was first announced in the late 90s- first, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist mastermind Steve Oedekerk was ready to direct, with Jim Carrey as the astounding man-fish. Oedekerk stepped down, but the troops were rallied and Brad Bird was offered the gig. Then, Bird caught a glimpse of Mr. Limpet’s new look: a CGI fish with Carrey’s human face transplanted on via mo-cap. He described it thusly: “If you saw this in the water, you would get out of the water and run screaming and tell everyone the world was ending.” Plans for the film fell apart shortly afterward. Then, they fell back together when Enchanted director Kevin Lima boarded the project. Zach Galifianakis was in talks to play a presumably less horrifying Mr. Limpet, and then Richard Linklater later found himself in talks to replace Lima. Yet neither man was officially sworn in; the best we got was a single source from the LA Times claiming that “Warner Bros. is set to make it official and hire Linklater.” Save for that one bit of potential confirmation, every other Limpet-related headline on Earth still ended with a pesky question mark.

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Sundance

And thus ends another Sundance Film Festival. This year’s festival provided us with plenty of feature fodder to examine for the next eleven or so months, despite the lack of any big breakout a la Fruitvale Station or Beasts of the Southern Wild. As ever, though, the festival featured some recurring trope and tricks (a few of which we identified early), but not all of them seemed rote or repetitive. In fact, there are more than a few themes and players that popped up throughout the festival that we would like to see more of – either at Sundance or out in the wide release world. So what kept showing up in this year’s Sundance selections that deserves a bigger stage? Read on, and make some notes.

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Filmmaker Richard Linklater’s relationship with the Sundance Film Festival has so far proven to be a very fruitful one – Linklater memorably premiered both his Before Sunrise and Before Midnight at the festival (Before Sunset, the middle film in the current trilogy, bowed at Berlin), his Slacker won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival back in 1991, and the festival even honored the film with a special anniversary screening back in 2010 (similarly, this year’s “From the Collection” screening will honor the twentieth anniversary of Hoop Dreams) – so it’s not surprising that the festival will be the one to debut one of Linklater’s most talked about features. It is, however, (pleasantly, to be sure) surprising that it will be his long-promised (and long-filmed) Boyhood. Honestly, we sort of didn’t think it was real.

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It’s hard to image that it’s already been a decade since Jack Black stormed into our hearts and that classroom in Richard Linklater’s School of Rock as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who steals a substitute teaching gig meant for his roommate when he gets booted from his band and threatened with eviction in the same day. And though he may not have known a single damn thing about teaching “the boring subjects,” he certainly knew a thing or two about the important things in life: rock music and sticking it to anyone who thinks they’re better than you. Though ten years have passed, and those children are all about 20 years old now, the best songs and moments from the film still hold up as strong as ever. For those about to rock, we salute you.

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Richard Linklater

John Pierson, the producer of Slacker and several other early features by notable directors of the American independent filmmaking renaissance of the ‘80s and ‘90s, once described Richard Linklater as the voice of a generation that wasn’t part of it: an art film brat who found himself at the center of a microbudget filmmaking movement who would “much rather talk about Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac than either Jaws or The Brady Bunch.” Yet Linklater’s filmography suggests that he’s just as comfortable with ascetic French minimalism as he is with American broadcast television. His career covers everything from no-budget chamber dramas like Tape to studio-backed kids’ movies like School of Rock to cult classics like Dazed and Confused and animated experiments like Waking Life. While Linklater is notably comfortable making movies in his native Texas (he arguably defined Austin’s filmmaking and twentysomething scene without overtly seeking to instigate or capture either), as evidenced by the enthusiastic reception surrounding the third entry in his much beloved Before trilogy, he’s just as comfortable working on the continent that housed Bresson as he is the one that birthed Matthew McConaughey. Time and again, Linklater has proven that all he needs to make a film is a camera, a setting, and some interesting conversation. So here’s a bit of free film school from the creative mind behind Before Midnight and general slackerdom.

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Before Midnight

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as a part of our insanely extensive Sundance 2013 coverage. Before Midnight is in theaters as of May 24th. It’s no easy feat to review one of Richard Linklater’s Before films – including Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Sundance premiere Before Midnight – because to attempt to chronicle and summarize films that primarily feature two characters walking and talking would likely prove boring and definitely end up reducing the experience of watching one of the Ethan Hawke- and Julie Delpy-starring films. Here it is straight – do you love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? You will love Before Midnight. Do you just like the previous two films? You’ll probably still love Before Midnight. Do you hate the film’s predecessors? Well, perhaps you’re best advised to stay away from this one. Have you never even seen one of the Before films? Well, you’ll probably do pretty okay with Before Midnight, thanks to its impressively well-crafted flow, its increasingly more relatable characters, and its less-starry-eyed but much more satisfying approach to what it means to actually love someone.

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Before Midnight

Seeing as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are movies that basically consist of two characters walking and talking for their entire run times, they’re the niche sort of films that aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Those that fell in love with Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine in that first film fell hard though, and most continued to love what they got in the sequel 9 years later. Well, here we are, 9 years after that, and the third film in the trilogy has a trailer. What does it tell us to expect from the film? Of course, it gets Jesse and Celine together in a gorgeous European location (this time Greece), and it gets them walking around, taking in the sights, and debating life, love, and human nature. But there are some differences here, as well. They’re older now, parents, and their talk seems to be less about the possibilities of love and romance and more about the reality of what it is to love and be loved. Also, instead of keeping them isolated somewhere on their own, this film seems to see them spending much more time together while interacting in groups. Has too much time passed for Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy to rekindle the magic a third time? Has too much changed about these characters and the setup for this to really feel like a Before movie? By all accounts, no. Everyone who has seen the film has responded to it very strongly, […]

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Dazed high school girls

  It won’t officially be the 20th anniversary of Dazed and Confused until this fall, but last Thursday the film was honored at the annual Texas Hall of Fame Awards, where it received the Star of Texas Award from presenter Quentin Tarantino. In person to accept were writer-director Richard Linklater and members of the cast, including Wiley Wiggins, Anthony Rapp and Joey Lauren Adams. To continue the film’s recognition, it seemed fitting to devote this week’s Scenes We Love to the 1993 high school movie classic. Dazed is not the sort of feature that is easily broken up by scenes. There are many memorable moments, a lot of quotable lines, but as far as individual scenes are concerned there aren’t many that can be bracketed and labeled so cleanly. There are definable acts marked by location, such as the school act, the Emporium act and the beer bust/moon tower act. Are the many distinct pieces of each of these sections qualifiable as scenes? Obviously I’m thinking too much about it. I feel like this is a conversation for Tony, Mike and Cynthia to have while cruising around. Clearly those geeks were the ones I most identified with when the movie came out during my junior year. As usual feel free to name your own favorite scenes or those you think are the “best.” You can find six scenes I love and the personal reasons why after the jump.

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Before Midnight

Perhaps the days of waiting months (and sometimes years) to see Sundance films are finally on the wane, as Exhibitor Relations reports (via /Film) that Sony Pictures Classics has set a limited release date for festival favorite Before Midnight on May 24th, when it will open in both New York and Los Angeles. The film was a true darling at last month’s festival (it even earned an A- from this critic) and is widely considered to be a wonderful end to Richard Linklater‘s globe-trotting romantic trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Fans of the trilogy have been anticipating this one for years and, we daresay, they will not be disappointed with this final entry. We mentioned the film in our wrap-up of purchased features from the festival that we posted last week, and while we didn’t have an exact opening date then, we did guarantee that it would be a 2013 release. We’re certainly pleased that our prediction proved true, and you’ll probably share the sentiment when you get to see the film this spring. Before Midnight will also play at SXSW, which kicks off on March 8.

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Richard Linklater and Jack Black

The first time director Richard Linklater used Jack Black as the star of one of his films, the result was the much-loved School of Rock. The second time the duo collaborated, it was on last year’s quirky Bernie, a film that didn’t have the mainstream appeal of School of Rock, but that earned Black quite a bit of critical acclaim for his showing off more range than audiences were used to seeing from him. Not ones to let a good thing end prematurely, Linklater and Black are reportedly planning on working together on a third film, a biopic about a real life professional bowler. At a recent awards season event for Bernie, Black let news of the new film slip when he told the L.A. Times that their new project would be, “about a guy who gives up everything to be a professional bowler.” While Black refused to confirm who exactly this bowler who gave everything away is, The Times has theorized that he’s probably talking about PBA Champion Pete Weber, a figure who – for the bowling world at least – is considered to be pretty controversial.

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Criterion Files

Of the 600+ films in The Criterion Collection, almost 200 are listed as from the United States. While not all of these films are explicitly thematically based  around life in the US, the American selections for the Collection do make up a mosaic of diverse perspectives on life in this country, proving that there is no sustainable solitary understanding of what it means to be an “American,” but there exists instead an array of possibilities for interpreting American identity. What the American films do have in common, though, is provide proof that excellent films have been made in the US for quite some time. So, after exhausting yourself with Independence Day Parades, firecracker-lighting, and Budweiser, settle down with a great American movie. Here are a dozen great titles from the Criterion Collection about “America” and “freedom” in the many senses of those terms.

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Richard Linklater has been tight-lipped about the possibility of there being a third installment in his Julie Delpy-and-Ethan Hawke-walking-around-a-city-and-talking series of films that so far include 1995’s Before Sunrise and 2004’s Before Sunset. But, unfortunately for him, one of his stars and collaborators can’t stop spilling the beans everywhere he goes, that star being Ethan Hawke. The last time Hawke was talking about the potential project, he remarked, “I don’t know what we’re going to do but I know the three of us have been talking a lot in the last six months. All three of us have been having similar feelings that we’re ready to revisit those characters. There’s nine years between the first two movies and, if we made the film next summer, it would be nine years again, so we’ve really started thinking that would be a good thing to do. We’re going to try write it this year.” Well, it seems like the writing went well, because in an interview with IndieWire that was supposed to be about his upcoming project The Woman in the Fifth, talk turned to the new Before Whatever project again, and Hawke confirmed that the third film was indeed on its way. Of his future collaborations with Linklater (which also include a still-untitled series of short films) Hawke said, “we’re also doing a follow-up to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, so that will be fun. We’re going to shoot that this summer.”

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Criterion Files

The Criterion Collection’s motto makes explicit its devotion to “important classic and contemporary films,” but it’s also clear that the Collection has dedicated itself to the careers of a select group of important classic and contemporary directors. Several prestigious directors have a prominent portion of their careers represented by the collection. Between the Criterion spine numbers and Eclipse box sets, 21 Ingmar Bergman films are represented (and multiple versions of two of these films), ranging from his 1940s work to Fanny and Alexander (and 3 documentaries about him). 26 Akira Kurosawa films have been given the Criterion/Eclipse treatment, and Yashujiro Ozu has 17 films in the collection. Though many factors go into forming the collection, including the ever-shifting issue of rights and ownership over certain titles, it’s hard to argue against the criticism (or, perhaps more accurately, obvious observation) that the films in the Collection represent certain preferences of taste which makes its omissions suspect and its occasionally-puzzling choices fodder for investigation or too predictable to be interesting (two Kurosawa Eclipse sets?). And while the Collection has recently upped its game on the “contemporary” portion of its claim by highlighting modern-day masterpieces like Olivier Assayas’s Carlos and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, for the most part attempts at forming a complete directorial filmography via within the Collection has typically been reserved for directors whose filmographies have completed. Except, of course, for the case of Wes Anderson.

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Writer/director Richard Linkater is a filmmaker who can never be accused of making one thing. Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock, Tape, The Newton Boys, A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life, and his latest film Bernie, about the nicest murderer you’ll ever meet, all make for an eclectic filmography. If there’s one noticeable connection in Linklater’s works, it that he’s always mixed comedy and tragedy. As the director puts it, that’s just how he sees the world, and he generally shows that view in different structures. Unlike, say, A Scanner Darkly, Bernie is a plain and simple story, with zero tangents to speak of. Although Linklater isn’t a fan of the normal three-act structure, a fact you can see in his films, Bernie mostly fits into that box. This, along with his writing process and where he draws inspiration from, is one of the few things I discussed with Mr. Linklater in an all-too-brief conversation.

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It’s no secret that we love Constellation round these parts – we’ve already hosted one screening through the online movie-viewing platform (a barn-burner of a Rashomon screening) and we’ve got a terrifyingly appropriate one teed up for later this week (that would be our 4/20 screening of The Big Lebowski) – but for all the fun it provides, the site is admirable because of its unique ability to allow film fans access to great movies and filmmakers without having to actually do something nuts, like leave the house to go to a movie theater (I kid). This week, Constellation is hosting a free special sneak peek of Richard Linklater‘s Bernie, along with a live online Q&A session with the filmmaker. This Thursday, April 19th, at 8:00 PM EST, Constellation will play a series of exclusive clips from the upcoming film, including behind-the-scenes looks and true-story featurettes, with Linklater hosting the post-screening Q&A. The conversation will take place in Constellation’s virtual movie theater platform, with Linklater live via webcam. Even better? It’s free!

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Bernie is director Richard Linklater‘s most accessible film in years. It falls somewhere in the middle between his commercial features and his more experimental works as a splendid mix of both sensibilities. Bernie is hilarious, clever, sweet, thought-provoking, and a fine example of the most interesting type of comedy. Set in Carthage, East Texas, the true-life story follows Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede (Jack Black), a happy-go-lucky member of the community. He’s about as well-liked as they come and the type of guy who would never hurt a fly. Bernie, a local mortician, is also a mystery. The only people he has any known relationships with are the old widows he comforts. Are his intentions sexual? The film doesn’t say. When the most disliked member of his community, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), loses her husband, Bernie tries to prove she isn’t the horrid person everyone makes her out to be.

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Richard Linklater‘s latest film, Bernie, features Jack Black as a mustachioed mortician who all the townsfolk admire. His character is a people person, which is probably why he tries to make nice with the snarly widow played by Shirley MacLaine. A romance blossoms, but there’s still plenty of dirt in the woman’s heart, and from the looks of the new trailer, she doesn’t get to see the end credits. And apparently Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer convinced dear old Bernie is a killer. Jack Black ratcheting it down a notch? Maybe without even scatting? MacLaine essentially reprising her Guarding Tess role? McConaughey with a shirt on? Looks great:

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I promise not to begin every Austin Cinematic Limits post with a discussion on Richard Linklater’s significance to Austin’s filmmaking community, but he is an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to Austin’s long-standing relationship with the Sundance Film Festival. Other Austin filmmakers may have traveled with films to Sundance before him (though I am not sure who they are), but Linklater deserves the credit for initially spraying Austin’s mark on the snowy slopes of Sundance with his regional premiere of Slacker in 1991 — and Linklater did not end his relationship with Sundance there, as he holds the distinction of being the Austin director who has screened the most feature films at Sundance (Slacker [1991], Before Sunrise [1995], SubUrbia [1996], Waking Life [2001] and Tape [2001]). Ever since Linklater plowed that initial path in January 1991, Austin filmmakers have frequented the silver screens at Sundance year after year. In fact, no matter how you define an Austin filmmaker or Austin film production, I guarantee that Austin ranks extremely high on the list of cities that have sent the most films to Sundance. In turn, Sundance has done a lot for Austin’s reputation as the “Third Coast” of filmmaking in the United States; Sundance has also helped launch the careers of several now-famous Austin filmmakers including Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket [13 min short]), Catherine Hardwicke (thirteen), and the Duplass brothers (The Puffy Chair).

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Editor’s Note: For several years, Film School Rejects has called the city of Austin, TX home. And throughout that time, we’ve enjoyed the always rich film scene in our own backyard. Starting today, we’re going to celebrate that love with the world through this new column written by new writer and Austinite Don Simpson. With Austin Cinematic Limits, we’ll share with you stories from the Austin film scene, give our friends and neighbors in Central Texas a weekly guide to what’s happening and celebrate all that’s great about the city in which Reject HQ resides. Yes, I admit it, Richard Linklater’s Slacker played a majorly geeky role in my fateful decision to pack my bags and relocate my butt to Austin during the summer of 1998. It was not until recently, however, that I honed in on the precise moment — the proverbial flapping of the butterfly’s wing — that propelled my life towards this long, strange tangential path on which I find myself today. It was my first visit to Austin during the spring of 1997. I arrived in the old Mueller Airport and hopped into a taxicab. The young, shaggy-haired, beatnik driver immediately commenced a sprawling diatribe of sociopolitical non-sequiturs (accented with a few conspiracy theories for good measure) that transported me into the cerebral cortex of Austin that was oh-so-brilliantly documented on celluloid by Linklater seven years earlier. Needless to say, the words “I am literally inside Slacker” swirled around inside my head for the entire 15-minute […]

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A lot of people still fondly remember Before Sunrise, the romance Richard Linklater released in 1995 about a couple of young people (played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train, spend a day together in Vienna, and then part ways, perhaps never to see each other again. It’s a quiet little movie about love and relationships, a character piece that focuses pretty solely on maintaining a dialogue and travelogue-esque location spotlighting. But it worked, and the ambiguity of the ending, where you never knew if these two kids with this immediate connection would ever really see each other again, was pretty sublime. So there was a lot of apprehension when it was announced that a sequel, Before Sunset, would be released in 2004, at least on my part. This one was about the same two characters reuniting nine years later, and this time spending a day together in Paris. Surely this sequel would ruin the perfection of the first film and all of that delicious ambiguity that it left you with, wouldn’t it? Turns out, not really. Before Sunset showed us how Hawke and Delpy’s characters had aged and matured in interesting, but authentic ways, it completely recaptured the magic of the first film, and it diminished the original in no way. That’s no small feat, but surely a third film would be the charm when it came to ruining what those first two offered up, wouldn’t it? Could Hawke and Delpy walking around a city […]

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
C

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