This one's a bit tough, as Linklater is constantly changing genres and is one of the most prolific filmmakers alive today. There's still several key movies of his I haven't seen (i.e. I've been making my way through his "Before Trilogy", but still need to watch Before Midnight...I haven't finished Boyhood yet, but mainly because I thought that the whole "novelty" of making a film over 12 years superseded a compelling story...I probably got halfway through and just decided to watch something else...but eventually I want to sit through the whole thing...And then there's one of his minor works like Fast Food Nation, which I've owned for years on DVD but just haven't felt the urge to watch yet)...Anyway, of the ones I've seen:
1. Dazed and Confused. One of my favorite "comfort" movies. No matter what mood I'm in, this one pretty much always manages to cheer me up. So many great young actors that went on to have amazing careers. Ben Affleck gives a hilarious performance ("FAH Q") as O'Bannion. McConaughey delivers what might be his finest performance, which is amazing given the career he has had (especially his recent resurgence over the course of the past few years). Rory Cochrane. Adam Goldberg. Try not to grin during the film's opening, where Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" kicks in, and you have that awesome orange car pulling into the high school...The perfect soundtrack (which Linklater had to fight for, but my god was it worth it; it's all there on the screen, every scene is scored to perfection). The storyline is also very relatable, and I love how Linklater doesn't just focus on one group of teens (i.e. the jocks, the nerds, the burnouts, etc.)...He pretty much touches on everything, and even when the movie gets dramatic, it always maintains a very fine line between comedy and drama...Just a perfectly realized movie...And just in case you don't own it, everyone needs to own the Blu-Ray, as it's full of fantastic documentaries, interviews, and commentaries...
2. Slacker. His first "real" movie (yes, he did one other one before this, but that was relatively minor and I honestly can barely remember it...Something about learning how to plough). Basically this one is just a bunch of vignettes that show a bunch of very interesting and unique characters around Austin, Texas. Very much of it's time and setting. Some of the scenes work better than others, but they're pretty much always so brief that even if you're feeling a bit bored with one, chances are it's going to change scenes pretty quickly...My favorite would probably be the one where some burnout breaks into a professor's home and the professor tells him some interesting stories...This is probably the film where Linklater showed producers that he could handle a large ensemble cast...Hence, his follow-up, Dazed and Confused...
3. Everybody Wants Some!!. The so-called spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. Like that movie, it features a pitch-perfect '80s soundtrack, filled with classic tunes (obviously, "Dazed" was set in the '70s). I've probably watched this a half-dozen times already, and I keep loving it more and more. I get the feeling that, to a certain generation, this is going to be like their Dazed and Confused. And the cast is simply extraordinary. I don't know who Linklater's casting director is, but props to them. You seldom see a more perfectly assembled cast, with everyone playing off each other wonderfully. A special shout-out has to go to Blake Jenner (who was very good as the lead) and especially Wyatt Russell (son of the great Kurt Russell). Wyatt really manages to steal the scenes that he's in, as a philosophical stoner. There's so many background things that the characters do that it usually takes few viewings before you notice just how perfect they are in their roles. And I'm not even a baseball fan, but the whole plot about them getting ready for the season did not seem dull to me at all...And I have a feeling that this movie is only the beginning for some of these actors, who are destined for greater things...
4. Last Flag Flying. Another movie that Linklater essentially called a spiritual sequel to Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (both books were written by the same author; who co-wrote this movie with Linklater). Really touching yet funny movie with a great cast largely made up of Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell. While Cranston really steals the movie, the other two are no slouches. This was one of my absolute favorite movies from last year, and I've revisited a couple times since my initial viewing. I don't feel enough people have watched this, so if you haven't, please do yourself a favour and check it out...
5. Before Sunrise. I only got around to watching these when I picked up the Criterion Blu-Ray...and I have to say that they pretty much live up to what everyone says about them. Solid movies, with great dialogue between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. You really buy into the romance that they develop in the series, and Linklater is quite the magician to hook you into this movie that largely just consists of two between walking around Paris and talking (often, philosophically, at that). Really liked this one...Not something that I'll be constantly revisiting, but maybe every 2 or 3 years I'll rewatch it...
6. A Scanner Darkly. Loved Harrelson and Downey Jr. in this (Keanu Reeves is also actually pretty good, as is Rory Cochrane). Wonderfully bizarre movie that is filmed similarly to his previous Waking Life. A really paranoid story based on a story by the great Philip Dick, this one really has to be seen to be believed. The storyline is all over the place, but is never dull. This one also improves after a couple of viewings...but don't be surprised if it really just leaves you scratching your head the first few times...
7. School of Rock. Thought I would hate this one when I purchased it the day it came out on DVD. I was like...Jack Black?...A kids movie?...Really? But then when I realized it was directed by Linklater (and written by Mike White, who did a lot of work on Freaks and Geeks), I was like, let's give this a shot. Is it pretty tame at PG? Yes, but that actually doesn't detract from the humour. This was pretty much the perfect role for Black (who I don't always like), and the kids that were cast were pretty hilarious. The story can be cliche at times, but someone Linklater manages to make the most of the material. This is the rare type of movie which can be enjoyed by both adults and kids (and the adults are going to get some of the more subtle humour that the kids will only get as they age and get older)...A really impressive demonstration of Linklater's range...
8. Before Sunset. I still loved this one, just not quite as much as the first one. A lot more walking around and talking...A pretty bittersweet movie, but if you're in the mood for something romantic, this one checks off that box...I'm looking forward to watching the last part of the trilogy...
9. Waking Life. Bonkers movie. Like Slacker, this one consists of a bunch of loosely-tied vignettes...only this time the movie is rotoscoped. A very experimental movie, that is filled with philosophical discussions...The only real drawback to this movie is that sometimes I find it to be a little ponderous and maybe, maybe a touch over-intellectual...Still interesting to watch, and I'm happy I own the DVD...Would love to see Criterion tackle a Blu-Ray version of this...
10. Bad News Bears (remake). Had high expectations for this one. Remaking a classic. From the writers of the hilarious Bad Santa. From the director of School of Rock and Dazed and Confused. Starring Billy Bob Thornton. That's kind of how this one was sold. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype. First off, this one probably needed to be R-rated. I'm sorry, but some of the humour just doesn't work and feels to tame, and Thornton is really only funny when he's able to unleash and act as raunchy as the character is supposed to be. Also, the original was really shocking because of the interactions between Matthau and the main kid who always cusses...In this version, that relationship just seems restrained and held back because of the rating. Obviously the studio was trying to draw in the same crowds that liked School of Rock, but in doing so they watered the movie down and lost track of what made the original so special...One of the few times I've been disappointed in a Linklater movie.
Best Richard Linklater Movies Ranked
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