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These are Richard Linklater’s best films

Richard Linklater has been making movies since the 1990s about his version of life in the suburbs, which perfectly includes the generation of Generation X in Stunned and confused, Sleepers, and the Previously trilogy. Interestingly, Linklater is technically a Boomer, yet analyzes contemporary society in ways that worshiped Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. He grew up in Houston and is a self-taught filmmaker with an eye to making the ordinary extraordinary.

After leaving Sam Houston State University, Linklater moved to Austin, Texas, started a movie club and started making a movie. His first, IIt is impossible to learn to plow by reading books, was filmed in 1988 and did not attract much attention. His second feature film was Slaper, a purposeless and philosophical movie about cynical young people, and this is where Linklater became the darling of Austin at the 1991 Sundance Film festival, which introduces the term ‘slacker’ in pop culture.

Sleeper trailer / YouTube
Orion Classics

Since then, Linklater has found mainstream success in making some of the most beloved and provocative films of the past three decades. This year Linklater is released Apollo 10½, set in the summer of 1969 in Houston. Written, directed and produced by the iconoclast, the film is another one of its kind that needs to be animated with a rotoscope, and is billed as an adult story centered around the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and stars Zachary Levi and Jack Black.

Whether he’s exploring life in the suburbs, two college kids meeting on a train, an unorthodox music teacher, or one boy following his life for a decade – one thing’s for sure, Richard Linklater let us always think about our lives and our place in society. Below are his 10 best films, ranked.

10 Everyone wants a little !!

Paramount Pictures

In the 2016 film, Everyone wants a little !!, Richard Linklater explores familiar territory – the lives of largely unsupervised teens. The film takes place in the fall of 1980 in Texas and centers around a group of former high school baseball players who are now in college trying to make the team. The only thing these teens like more than baseball is women, and the group regularly drives around campus in a car looking for women. Pret fact, this movie is a sequel of Boys. It starts just where that movie ends, with a young man moving into his college residence and meeting his new roommates as well as a girl; however true Boys was often ruminant and poetic, this film is a delightful, variegated mess of fun.

Related: Everyone wants a review: This 80’s party is a blast

9 Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fast Food Nation, released in 2006, is based on the book by Eric Schlosser that originally appeared as a series of articles in Rolling Stone. Starring Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis and Wilmer Valderrama, it describes the story of fast food marketing manager Don Anderson, who invented the burger called The Big One. On a trip to visit the meat vendor in Colorado, Anderson discovers that everything he thought he knew about making fast-food burgers is wrong. This film also features the cast of Linklater’s 2014 opus, Boys, who would all be in the middle of filming a portion of that movie at the time – Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Marco Perella. Fast Food Nation fits in with the often turbulent and aimless nature of Linklater’s films, but is much more urgently political and economic, and uses the non-fiction source material to create a meticulous, but not extremely entertaining, dismantling of the food industry.

8 A Scanner Darkly

Warner Independent Pictures

A Scanner Darkly is a 2006 film based on the novel by prolific author Philip K. Dick, and explores the fascinating idea that a new drug can make people lose their identity. In this animated film (which used rotoscopy, or filmed the real actors and then repainted the footage to dreamlike effect), Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. play. as Keanu Reeves’ fellow drug users. Reeves plays the secret policeman Bob Arctor, who becomes addicted to the drug Substance D, which damages the brains of the people who take it. Reeves is brilliant as the ethically confused, tortured soul who begins to lose his identity in the face of larger structures and institutions that surround him. It is generally accepted that Dick wrote A Scanner Darkly as a thin veil looks at his own drug use in the 1970s and how it destroyed him, and Linklater’s film perfectly captures the desperate and destructive aspects of the novel.

7 SubUrbia

Sony Pictures Released

SubUrbia hit theaters in 1996 and explores the subject to which Richard Linklater returns time and time again – the suburban experience of American teenagers. Giovanni Ribisi, Parker Posey, and Steve Zahn play as cynical teenagers who hang out in parking lots and discuss what they might want to do with their lives if they ever get out of the suburbs. Their worlds are shaken when a former classmate (and now pop star) appears. Linklater’s quiet and sad meditation on Generation X is one of his most subdued, but captures the restlessness of the youth beautifully.

6 Wake up to life

wake up life
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wake up to life was released in 2001, and like many Richard Linklater films, plays Ethan Hawke. Linklater’s daughter Lorelei also appears in the animated film about the existential meaning of one man’s dreams and how they relate to his Awake life. The movie only took three weeks to shoot, but another 15 months to animate. The film raises big questions about the nature of reality, the purpose of political action, the function of art, and much more, but does not answer it exactly, preferring rather to let viewers discover their own truths. The film also features characters from other Linklater films, including Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy from the Previously trilogy.

5 Sleeper

Orion Classics

Sleeper is not just classic Richard Linklater, it’s classic American films, which is one of the first films that really started the American independent film movement in the 90’s. The 1991 film explores the playground that Linklater knows well – the alternative cultural scene in Austin, Texas. The movie again follows, in classic Linklater fashion, a day in the life of a group of Austinites, from the oddballs to the outcasts to the social misfits. The film is incredibly unique and pays homage to Bunuel’s Phantom of Liberty by following one character’s story for a short time until she interacts with another character, at which point the film follows them. None of the characters of Sleeper have traditional names; instead they are called Roadkill, Running Late, Should Have Stayed at Bus Station, Espresso Czar, and so on, reflecting the interconnected and iconoclastic lives of twenty-somethings who are still trying to find their identity.

4 School of Rock

School of Rock trailer / YouTube
School of Rock trailer / YouTube

School of Rock plays Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a guitarist who was kicked out of his band. To finish, he takes a job as a music teacher at a primary school where he transforms the rag group of students into a rock band throughout the course of the story. Through his students, Finn overcomes his depression and finds a sense of purpose again. School of Rock is undoubtedly Richard Linklater’s most mainstream film, and probably the only one the whole family will enjoy. It’s delightful and inspiring without being the kind of sentimental mess the director so intensely shrugs off. Linklater also cast Black, who has been the sidekick / supporting actor throughout his career, as the lead role in the film, and Black delivered completely and launched his career to true stars.

Related: #Jack Black Trends After Inspirational School Of Rock Scene Goes Viral

3 Stunned and confused

Teens hang out in Dazed and Confused
Gramercy Print

“Good, good, good.” No list of Richard Linklater’s best films would be complete without this ode to the very groovy (and stoned) high school culture of Texas. Stunned and confused, Like most of Linklater’s films, it takes a very loose but specific look at the last day of high school in 1976. The 1993 film has the career of the University of Texas in Austin alumni Matthew McConaughey (with Ben Affleck and Renee Zelwegger) begin. He played Wooderson, who graduated from high school before the movie aired but just could not move on; he, and the film, are perfect metaphors for nostalgia. McConaughey delivered the rule: “That’s what I like about these high school girls, man. I’m getting older, they stay the same age.” When Stunned and confused debuted in theaters, it was a certified bomb that only brought in $ 2 million more than it cost to make the film. In the ensuing decades, however, the movie became a cult classic and many of its lines became part of our pop culture lexicon.

2 Boys

Boyhood trailer / YouTube
Boyhood trailer / YouTube

In Boys, Richard Linklater and his cast (Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane) have embarked on an epic film project whose mainstream Hollywood has never seen before and has not seen since (although Linklater is now trying). Coltrane plays Mason and the story is told through his eyes over 12 years of his life. The cast and team reunited each year for 12 years to tell the next part of the story until it was finally completed and released in 2014. The film is both a nostalgic look at the past and a hopeful ode to the future, which is classic Linklater. This is one of the most detailed, intimate character studies ever made.

1 The Before Trilogy (Before sunrise, before sunset, before midnight)

Before sunset
Warner Independent Pictures

In 1995, audiences were captivated by a small, very personal look at two college-age strangers meeting on an overnight train traveling from Budapest to Vienna. The American man, Jesse, was played by Ethan Hawke. The French woman, Celine, was played by Julie Delpy. The two twenty-year-olds only had that one night to get to know each other before Jesse boarded his plane home to the USA. The movie was Before sunrise, and it redefines the romantic film for American audiences, proving that it does not have to succumb to tired tropics and porridge fluff.

Linklater, Hawke and Delpy have their roles as writer / director and stars with two subsequent films over the next two decades, with 2004’s Before sunset and 2013’s Before midnight follow the couple as they grow up separately and together in a strange, beautiful relationship that takes them to middle age. Linklater deftly handled the transitions in the lives of his characters through the three movies, forming a perfect trilogy (which is a relief, considering a fourth film will not happen). Altogether, they present a story of love that has thinned and flowed over the decades with the power of a fleeting connection that you just can not let go of.

Richard Linklater will shoot Sondheim musical over the next 20 years
Richard Linklater will shoot Sondheim musical over the next 20 years

Experimental filmmaker Richard Linklater plans to make Merrily We Roll Along slowly over 2 decades.

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