One of writer-director Richard Linklater’s greatest cinematic triumphs (and he’s had a few, actually), Dazed and Confused pretty much flawlessly (and, perhaps more importantly, lovingly) recreates a specific time and place: the last day of high school in Austin, Texas, May 1976. It’s not so much the visual period details that Linklater nails (though those are spot-on perfect, too); it’s the vibe, the atmosphere, the general feeling of what it was like to be young on that particular day and at that particular time and place. As per usual, the Texas auteur isn’t too concerned about narrative or even basic structure; like Slacker before it and Waking Life after it, Dazed and Confused isn’t so much a story as it is an experience — we watch as the characters interact and co-exist, with some actions having consequences and others just fading into the ether to either be vaguely remembered or completely forgotten. Linklater is Gen X’s most unpretentious philosopher, its most thorough and dedicated chronicler… and, perhaps, its most valued court jester, as Dazed also happens to be one of the funniest films of the ’90s. Indeed, see it with a bud and watch all of the kids play before most of them became big movie stars, including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Jason London, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Nicky Katt, Rory Cochrane, Joey Lauren Adams… wow, what a great summer, man.
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