Where To Start With... Richard Linklater
During the early 1990s, when independent films were beginning to enjoy something of a renaissance, a new wave of young directors was beginning to emerge that included the likes of Kevin Smith, Todd Solondz and Steven Soderbergh, but one of the most exciting of these was Richard Linklater. Although his debut feature, a next-to-no budget movie shot on Super-8 called It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, came and went without much public interest, his second outing, Slacker, became an era-defining cult classic and his films since have continued to be some of the most interesting and innovative we've seen – the culmination of which being the multi-award winning Boyhood.
Now he's back with Everybody Wants Some!!, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week and sees Linklater returning to what he arguably does best; period coming-of-age films with an acute eye for detail, brilliant dialogue and an ensemble cast where nobody is the star, but every role is crucial.
If Dazed and Confused was Linklater's love letter to the 1970s, his latest film could be thought of as its spiritual successor, this time set in the 1980s in a frat house of college baseball players, each with their own egos and uniquely contrasting personalities, played by a cast that includes Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin and Juston Street and Wyatt Russell, among many others. There are parties, plenty of illicit drinking and various attempts by the boys to ingratiate themselves with the opposite sex, but it's the relationships between the contrasting characters that provide much of the film's comedy.
It's entirely possible to get at least three-quarters of the way through Everybody Wants Some!! before realising that you haven't actually seen anyone playing baseball yet – and that you probably won't – but the film's real subject is the students' struggle to find their place in the world as they are thrust into adulthood and that's something that Linklater does better than anyone else.
If you're a fan of Linklater's films, you're sure to find plenty to enjoy about his latest outing, for which you can find a trailer below. For those of you who aren't familiar with the rest of the director's filmography, beneath that we've picked five of his most essential films to get you started...
Linklater's breakthrough film came in 1991 and although it now feels a little dated in some ways, it perfectly captures its era and was actually pretty groundbreaking in terms of its structure; there's no real plot to speak of, it's more a series of scenes involving a collection of misfits going about their day in Linklater's home town of Austin, Texas. Most of the actors used were not professionals and Linklater himself even performs one of the roles, but the film has a strange, compelling magnetism all the same and remains completely absorbing to this day, having become a kind of cultural touchpoint for the early 1990s.
Dazed and Confused
Released in 1993, but set in the 1970s, this coming-of-age comedy has the distinction of being Matthew McConaughey's first role on the big screen – in fact, the film's ensemble cast featured a number of other actors who had yet to find fame, including Ben Affleck, Milla Jojovich and an uncredited Rene Zellweger. Depicting the first day of the summer holidays after high school, the film has become something of a cult classic thanks to its excellent cast and highly quotable dialogue, particularly from McConaughey's character Wooderson (“That's what I love about these high-school girls man, I keep getting older, they stay the same age...”)
Fast Food Nation
Although most of Linklater's films are based on fictional narratives, Fast Food Nation is a little different. Based on the book of the same name, Eric Scholsser's expose on the dirty secrets behind the fast food industry, Linklater's film substitutes some of the real-life fast food brands for thinly-disguised fictional alternatives ('Mickey's Hamburgers' – remind you of anyone?). But rather than simply fictionalising the people and companies in Schlosser's book, Linklater worked with the author to develop a screenplay with a little more dramatic flair and here the poor career prospects of the chain's employees are fashioned into a caper when two of a restaurant's branch workers dream up a scheme to rob their place of work. It's a wry twist to make things more interesting, but despite the film's comedic moments it still manages to get across the very serious messages contained in Schlosser's book. Be warned, though; this film will make you think twice about that next trip to your local burger outlet.
A Scanner Darkly
Linklater has employed some innovative ideas during his career and although A Scanner Darkly isn't the first time the director has used the technique of interpolated rotoscoping – the process of applying animated cells over the top of regular film that he first utilised in Waking Life – this 2006 adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel is perhaps the best-known example. Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Keanu Reeves, the film is set I a dystopian future California where a drug known as Substance D is causing brain damage, schizophrenia and other conditions. Reeves plays a detective trying to find the source of the drug's supply, but after sampling the drug himself is struggling to keep hold of his grip on reality. Dick's novels have been adapted many times for the screen, but this must rank as one of the most underrated.
Proving once again that Linklater is one of the most inventive and ambitious filmmakers around, Boyhood is the culmination of a 12-year project charting the adolescence of a boy named Mason Evans Jr., but rather than take the usual route of substituting actors to play younger and older versions of the same character, the director cast Ellar Coltrane in the lead role when he was six years old, then filmed his project in stages as Ellar – and his character – grew older in real time. The result is a film that is completely unique and it won several awards including two BAFTAs, as well as six Oscar nominations and a win for Patricia Arquette as Best Supporting Actress.