Sunday, September 5, 2010

Links: Dazed and Confused

Janet Maslin almost, but didn't quite, miss the point in her New York Times review back in 1993:

"Dazed and Confused unfolds in a loose, natural style that suits its teen-age characters, whose collective mental state is reflected by the title. To the blaring, less-than-nostalgic music of bands like Foghat and Deep Purple and Black Oak Arkansas, these high school students drive around and contemplate the future in American Graffiti fashion. Their drifting is treated as a form of forward momentum, even though it sometimes becomes aimless and the film's improvised quality becomes overpowering. The actors bounce off one another with crazy riffs and cosmic observations, some of them unexpectedly funny. Mr. Linklater wrote Dazed and Confused as well as directing it, but not much of the film sounds tightly scripted.. . . . No film whose plot involves the quest for Aerosmith tickets can take itself too seriously. So Dazed and Confused has an enjoyably playful spirit, one that amply compensates for its lack of structure."

But Ken Eisner at Variety sure did:

"The teenage wasteland, 1976-style, of "Dazed and Confused" is smack-dab between "The Brady Bunch" and "Children of the Damned," and it's a scary, if sometimes giddily amusing, place to visit. Richard Linklater's followup to his no-budget "Slacker" is sure to attract support from urban Gen-Xers, but the pic's unrelieved nihilism -- including brutal male "bonding," rampant drug use, and f-word frenzy -- may keep it out of mall-plexes where its most appropriate auds are found. . . .One-liners and dry sight gags still abound, but the ennui-sodden formlessness of "Slacker" doesn't fly as well in this $ 6 million, smoothly lensed package, which calls for shapelier narrative and resolution.
And while London is soulful enough to make Pink's plight intriguing, his indecision about whether to sign a no-drug pledge for a hard-ass coach just doesn't carry the urgency that has driven coming-of-age studies from American Graffiti to Hangin' With the Homeboys."

Kent Jones, however and of course, gets everything right in his essay for the Criterion Collection:

"From the first shot—a pumpkin-colored GTO pulling into a high school parking lot in slow motion, curving in perfect time with the chorus of “Sweet Emotion”—my reservations dropped away. Why? Hadn’t we seen hundreds, if not thousands, of such moments, the shotgun marriage of the right song and the right period gewgaw, setting the “correct” mood? This was something else, though. Linklater has always been devoted to the little things, the tiny details that gradually accumulate and make up the big picture. He has never been one to start off with a bang. With this supposedly unassuming opener, he had found the perfect link between sound and image."

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