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Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater

David T. Johnson
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 200
  • Book Info
    Richard Linklater
    Book Description:

    Richard Linklater's filmmaking choices seem to defy basic patterns of authorship. From his debut with the inventive independent narrative Slacker, the Austin-based director's divergent films have included the sci-fi noir A Scanner Darkly, the socially conscious Fast Food Nation, the kid-friendly The School of Rock, the teen ensemble Dazed and Confused, and the twin romances Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Yet throughout his varied career spanning two decades, Linklater has maintained a sense of integrity while working within a broad range of budgets, genres, and subject matters._x000B__x000B_Identifying a critical commonality among so much variation, David T. Johnson analyzes Linklater's preoccupation with the concept of time in many of his films, focusing on its many forms and aspects: the subjective experience of time and the often explicit, self-aware ways that characters discuss that experience; time and memory, and the ways that characters negotiate memory in the present; the moments of adolescence and early adulthood as crucial moments in time; the relationship between time and narrative in film; and how cinema, itself, may be becoming antiquated. While Linklater's focus on temporality often involves a celebration of the present that is not divorced from the past and future, Johnson argues that this attendance to the present also includes an ongoing critique of modern American culture. Crucially filling a gap in critical studies of this American director, the volume concludes with an interview with Linklater discussing his career.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09404-0
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Time Is a Lie
    (pp. 1-12)

    Here are three moments from three different films, all directed by Richard Linklater:

    1. In Paris, at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a group of journalists has gathered to hear a young writer discuss his book This Time, a semiautobiographical romance about a woman he met many years ago in Vienna. After deflecting a few questions on “what really happened,” the writer describes his next project, a novel about a middle-aged man who, thinking about his life at present, suddenly finds himself pulled into the past, to a night in his adolescence. But this is not memory so much as...

  5. Slowly Moving Trains, Welcome to Austin, and L-I-V-I-N
    (pp. 12-33)

    Texan by birth, a regional identity that weaves through several of his films, Richard Linklater grew up in the town of Huntsville and the city of Houston, where his mother and father lived, respectively. An aspiring fiction writer and, later, playwright, as well as a baseball player, Linklater attended Sam Houston State University for two years before leaving school. He would not return, instead living in Houston for a while, working for an oil rig based in the Gulf of Mexico, and then, eventually, making his way to Austin, Texas, where he first started making short films and where he...

  6. A Brief Encounter, the Road to Burnfield, and One Hell of a Way to Make a Living
    (pp. 33-54)

    Cinephilia is often characterized by a tendency to privilege fragments over the whole, particularly with individual moments in a film that take on even more charged meaning in the personal response of the viewer. (Some scholars have even suggested using such moments as ways of avoiding entrenched academic approaches to film analysis.) Memory, too, plays a role in this subjective privileging of fragments, perhaps in part because cinema has itself trained us to imagine our memories in this way, as a montage of images and sounds that exist impressionistically, in fleeting transitions between scenes or in heightened sequences that haunt...

  7. Dreaming in Digital, Motel Confessions, and the Poet of Wall Street
    (pp. 54-74)

    Late within Waking Life, the protagonist, having emerged yet again from one dream only to find himself in another, performs what many of us do in our minds, while asleep: a mundane task, rather than something fantastical. For this protagonist, that activity is watching television, and while channel surfing, he comes across Steven Soderbergh telling a story about Louis Malle and Billy Wilder. Malle has recently completed an expensive picture, one priced at $2.5 million. When Wilder asks after its subject, Malle says, “Well, it’s sort of a dream within a dream”; Soderbergh deadpans Wilder’s reply: “You’ve just lost two-and-a-half-million...

  8. For Those about to Rock, Late Afternoon in Paris, and Remixing a Little League Season
    (pp. 74-95)

    Linklater’s next film begins with a deceptively simple anecdote that belies the difficulties of script development: in this case, a recurring image that screenwriter Mike White had of his neighbor Jack Black. White had previously penned a script for producer Scott Rudin, Orange County (2002), about a would-be college student whose brother Black had played. In thinking about another feature for Rudin, the writer returned to a notion that captured both Black’s obsession with music and his childlike persona, one he later described as “this idea about him jamming around with a bunch of kids” (“The School of Rock Handbook”)....

  9. Little Blue Flowers and Echoes from the Slaughterhouse
    (pp. 96-110)

    The test is simple: in one hand, a toy elephant; in the other, an identical toy elephant. The man must confirm, while not looking, only feeling, that in each hand he holds the same object. But he cannot pass the test. Try as he might, his mind is already much too far gone to make this basic connection. In the summer of 2006, audiences would follow the man, Bob Arctor, as he attempted in vain to identify the replicas of a species from another continent, in Linklater’s next release, A Scanner Darkly. A digitally animated retelling of Philip K. Dick’s...

  10. Fields of Play and Waiting for Orson
    (pp. 110-126)

    Writing to his friend Benjamin Bailey in 1817, poet John Keats reflected on the subject of happiness, “I look not for it if it be not in the present hour—nothing startles me beyond the Moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights—or if a Sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existince [sic] and pick about the Gravel” (1208). Much of this volume’s interest in the present moment, as articulated in these films, is undoubtedly indebted to the rich cultural and aesthetic heritage of Romanticism that Keats helped to shape. Romanticism, as the...

  11. Interview with Richard Linklater
    (pp. 127-150)
    DAVID JOHNSON and Richard Linklater

    This interview took place in two phone conversations on November 30 and December 8, 2010, when Linklater spoke to me from his Detour office in Austin, Texas, while on postproduction for Bernie. Because we covered his entire filmography, our conversations generated more dialogue than would be possible to print. As a result, I have condensed and excised certain passages. I have also edited many of the false starts, repetitions, and pauses in speech that are a part of everyday conversation but are distracting on the page, and I have moved one section to account for his going back to add...

  12. Filmography
    (pp. 151-160)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-168)
  14. Index
    (pp. 169-178)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 179-187)