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Dazed and Confused
The Criterion Collection
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America, 1976. The last day of school. Bongs blaze, bell-bottoms ring, and rock and roll rules. Among the best teen films ever made, Dazed and Confused, directed by Richard Linklater (Slacker), eavesdrops on a group of seniors-to-be and incoming freshmen. A launching pad for a number of future stars, Linklater's first studio effort also features endlessly quotable dialogue and a blasting, stadium-ready soundtrack. Sidestepping nostalgia, Dazed and Confused is less about "the best years of our lives" than the boredom, angst, and excitement of teenagers waiting... for something to happen.
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Audio commentary by director Richard Linklater
Making Dazed: Fifty-minute documentary by Kahane Corn
Rare on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
Footage from the ten-year anniversary celebration
Audition footage and deleted Scenes
Original theatrical trailer
Booklet featuring essays by Kent Jones, Jim DeRogatis, and Chuck Klosterman; memories of the film from the cast and crew; character profiles; and the original film poster by Frank Kozik
Deleted Scenes (SD; 14:27) offers a few bridging scenes, including some dealing with the infamous "pledge" the Coach wants everyone to sign. The video quality of these scenes is pretty spotty at times.
The Blunt Truth (SD; 4:21) is a parody of the old Educational Films documentaries many of us were forced to watch growing up in school, this one of course about the horrors of marijuana use.
Retro Public Service Announcements (SD; 2:03) are two PSA's which play like parodies but are actual vintage pieces, one about venereal disease (replete with bouncy theme song, and no I'm not kidding) and the other the famous littering ad featuring the crying Native American.
U Control has only one fairly lame toggle switch giving information on the tunes that fill the soundtrack.
I am getting the Criterion due to better extra features than the Universal extra features, I hope it will help deciding on your purchase!
But the differences between the two movies are striking as well. AMERICAN GRAFFITI, set in 1962, was a chronicle of the last days of innocence. In DAZED & CONFUSED, innocence is already long gone. These kids, some of them as young as 14 or 15, booze it up, smoke dope, search for sex, and speak in a rush of profanities that might make the characters in a Scorsese movie blush, Unlike the idealistic kids in GRAFFITI, these teenage slackers are aimless and nihilistic. The film is more honest than George Lucas's reminiscence in acknowledging the tensions among the different cliques of high school kids, and it's psychologically perceptive about their conflicting impulses toward conformity and defiance. Linklater's alter ego, the incoming freshman Mitch (Wiley Wiggins), is flattered by the attention he gets from the older jocks even while he despises their infantile high jinks.
The performances are persuasive down to the smallest part, and Linklater has a fine ear for the unexpectedly loopy turns of phrase that make these teenagers come to life. He renders all of them -- the drugged out space cadet, the vascillating quarterback, the goons who take an almost psychotic relish in paddling freshman, the nerdy intellectual and the budding feminist -- with wit and affection. To anyone from the AMERICAN GRAFFITI generation, the teenagers in DAZED & CONFUSED may seem as alien as a band of Martians, but Linklater's passionate concern for the clan he's conjured should keep everyone mesmerized.