Wednesday, July 27, 2016

21 Years: Richard Linklater

Written and directed by Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood, 21 Years: Richard Linklater is a documentary film about the career of filmmaker Richard Linklater from his 1990 breakthrough release Slacker to the impending release of his 2014 film Boyhood told through interviews with many of the actors who had worked with him as well as animated segments where the actors describe Linklater’s approach through filmmaking. The result is an enjoyable and witty film from Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood.

Since the release of his 1990 film Slacker, Richard Linklater was considered one of the forefathers of new wave of American Independent Cinema in the 1990s yet he would continuously evolve through many films through the 2000s and beyond whether it would be experimental films, Hollywood studio films, sci-fi, period films, or whatever. All of which were films that had unique touches as the documentary film features interviews with not just the many actors he collaborated but also filmmakers such as Kevin Smith and Jason Reitman who both see him as a major influence in their work. Actors such as Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Parker Posey, Jack Black, Anthony Rapp, Nicky Katt, Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Keanu Reeves, and several others talk about Linklater’s approach to improv and make things feel natural.

With the aid of animation directors Adam Conarroe, Megan Kluck, and Shane Minshew, many of the stories the actors talk about in their experience with Linklater is told through animation where Hawke and Delpy talk about the writing process for Before Sunset and Before Midnight where much of it had the two of them laughing a lot in the writing with Linklater. Black talks about Linklater’s approach to make things feel genuine in order to get the story feel real to an audience as Black is proud of the work he’s done with Linklater as does McConaughey who would put in his own family into the films such as one of his brothers in an appearance in The Newton Boys and his mother in Bernie. Much of the direction that Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood does is straightforward in terms of the way the interviews are presented as well as delving a lot into Linklater’s work with the Austin Film Society that had become an important society for the city of Austin.

The film does have flaws as not all of Linklater’s films are discussed heavily like Waking Life, Tape, Fast Food Nation, and subUrbia while there is no mention of his first film It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books. It still cover a lot of what Linklater does as many of the interviews are shot in a straightforward manner with the aid of cinematographer Aaron Brown. Editor Jeremy Ward and sound editor Evan Dunivan do excellent work in compiling the footage as well as putting the audio interview excerpts from the actors over the film. The film’s music by Graham Reynolds is pretty good as it is a mixture of rock and jazz to play into the different flavors of all of Linklater’s films.

21 Years: Richard Linklater is a pretty good film from Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood. While fans of Linklater’s work will enjoy the interviews, they would definitely feel like the film deserves more to say as well as talk about all of other films he did as well as comments from the man himself. In the end, 21 Years: Richard Linklater is a stellar film from Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood.

© thevoid99 2016

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