Dazed and Confused

Richard Linklater

BY Noel DixPublished Jul 1, 2006

How is it possible that a fantastic movie released during the early ’90s obsession with ’70s culture slipped through the cracks and was left to survive via cult status? In the age of DVD it doesn’t matter if Dazed and Confused failed to reach a wide audience when released almost 15 years ago but through an emotional and sometimes depressing hour-long documentary we learn that a then cast of teenage nobodies wasn’t what the studio wanted to get behind and the movie was abandoned when it came to promotion. Director Linklater and company knew there was an audience for Dazed and they were right, as the film is one of the best depictions of small town high school life. There is no plot other than it’s the last day of school, which results in mass weed and alcohol consumption, and brilliant dialogue. It touches on everything from the transitional stages in the lives of popular seniors and outsider braniacs to the freshman brats joining the school come autumn, and it all takes place in a single day. Such a warm, funny and honest film deserves the deluxe packaging Criterion has bestowed, which includes an impressive 70-page booklet and black light poster. The aforementioned documentary talks to the cast (which includes some of the earliest work by Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Parker Posey) now and then, and they all basically treated the shoot as the greatest summer vacation ever. The on-set interviews are the most interesting feature, as they’re shot on dusty film that looks like it did in fact come from 1976. A long list of character interviews is the greatest feature, as you feel like you’re watching a baby Ben Affleck on summer vacation while some grizzled trucker teaches him how to peel out of a parking lot in a classic muscle car. There’s also deleted scenes that all could have been left in, including the acquisition of a rival school’s bronze statues that wind up as those KISS figures in the back of the pick-up. Add the commentary by Linklater and this is one of the most impressive special editions to come out, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving film. (Criterion/Paradox)

Latest Coverage