#16. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg
Dazed and Confused is Richard Linklater’s nostalgic and hilarious coming-of-age film that really established the now great director as one to watch. The ensemble period piece sees a wide range of characters about to enter – or finally finishing – high school in 1970’s Austin, Texas. Our cast of characters includes Randall “Pink” Floyd (Jason London), a kind-hearted high school senior whose major conflict involves his football coach, Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins), a teen entering high school who endures some brutal hazing from the seniors, Fred O’Bannion (Ben Affleck), a bully who gets his rocks off on hazing freshmen, and David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), whose chasing of high school age redheads knows no bounds. These four characters are only some of the more than dozen memorable figures created by writer-director Richard Linklater. Dazed and Confused genuinely feels like a day in the life of these young people largely because of the variety of characters featured, and the relatable struggles they’re all navigating. These characters eventually all come together in the film’s climactic moon tower party scene, which is easily my all-time favorite movie party. Dazed and Confused is littered with memorable moments like the Abe Lincoln sex dream, the initial hazing of the freshmen boys and girls, and O’Bannion finally getting what’s coming to him after being one of the most grating, mean-spirited characters in the film. It’s clear that Linklater is writing from the heart, because every single part of Dazed and Confused feels tried and true, from the costumes, to the dialogue, to the film’s incredible soundtrack. The soundtrack selected for Dazed and Confused serves as a “best of” compilation for rock n roll in the mid-1970’s – featuring iconic songs from Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and KISS. The soundtrack has gone down as one of the best in movie history, and for good reason – it perfectly sets the tone of the film, and helps to establish its realistic period setting. Dazed and Confused is hilarious, poignant, memorable, and just plain fun. It’s a film I’ve seen dozens of times, and one I find more to love about every time I see it.
#46. Before Sunrise (1995)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Richard Linklater’s career has spanned several decades, and has seen an incredible variety of excellent, entertaining, and thought-provoking films including Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Slacker, Waking Life, and most recently Everybody Wants Some!! Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise marked his fourth feature length film, and the young director was already showing signs of becoming a true powerhouse. Before Sunrise is the first film in a trilogy by Linklater, following the romantic lives of lovers Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). Sunrise sees the two meeting on a train from Budapest after observing an older German couple fighting. Jesse and Celine hit it off immediately and decide to step off the train and spend the day in the beautiful city of Vienna, where they walk and talk for the majority of the film. Both Jesse and Celine are free thinkers and would be classified as intellectuals by most, waxing philosophical about whatever young people find interesting. Before Sunrise may be one of the most perfect on-screen representations of romance ever created – the walking and talking nature of the film makes it feel so romantically familiar and genuine. They chat about love, death, sex, parents, and so much more, and every time I see the film I find myself hanging on their every word. Not only is it a beautiful representation of impulsive, star-crossed love, but it’s also something of a love letter to your 20’s. Both Jesse and Celine have their entire lives ahead of them, and it shows in their attitudes and opinions about the world around them. As they walk around the city, everything seems perfect and idealistic for those precious few hours – a feeling we’ve probably all felt at one point or another. Linklater’s tracking camera techniques allow for total immersion into the world of Before Sunrise, allowing the audience to focus on nothing but the main characters and their interactions with one another. My favorite scene in the film sees Jesse and Celine in the listening booth of a record store – Kath Bloom’s beautiful song “Come Here” underscores the scene as Jesse repeatedly eyes Celine, making it clear that he’s fallen for the lovely young woman. Before Sunrise is one the great American romance films ever made – it feels warm and familiar, and features intelligent writing and some truly beautiful scenery. It’s a perfect beginning to an excellent trilogy.