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Dazed & Confused (The Criterion Collection)
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Rites of passage like hazing mark the last day of school before 1976 summer break for Texas teens.
You remember high school? Really remember? If you think you do, watch this film: it'll all really come racing back. After changing the world with the generation-defining Slacker, director Richard Linklater turned his free-range vérité sensibility on the 1970s. As before, his all-seeing camera meanders across a landscape studded with goofy pop culture references and poignant glimpses of human nature. Only this time around, he's spreading a thick layer of nostalgia over the lens (and across the soundtrack). It's as if Fast Times at Ridgemont High was directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The story deals with a group of friends on the last day of high school, 1976. Good-natured football star Randall "Pink" Floyd navigates effortlessly between the warring worlds of jocks, stoners, wannabes, and rockers with girlfriend and new-freshman buddy in tow. Surprisingly, it's not a coming-of-age movie, but a film that dares ask the eternal, overwhelming, adolescent question, "What happens next?" It's a little too honest to be a light comedy (representative quote: "If I ever say these were the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself."). But it's also way too much fun (remember souped-up Corvettes and bicentennial madness?) to be just another existential-essay-on-celluloid. --Grant Balfour
On the DVD
With a perfect combination of awesome '70s-era packaging and a totally rockin' selection of bonus features, the Criterion Collection's director-approved special edition two-disc release of Dazed and Confused instantly qualifies as one of the very best DVDs of 2006--the 30th anniversary of the Bicentennial, man! That's what I'm talkin' about! As a sublime companion piece to Criterion's release of Richard Linklater's previous film Slacker, the set comes in a slipcase (complete with "Physical Graffiti"-like picture-windows) festooned with Flair-pen high-school "doodling" (just like you'd scribble on your Pee Chee folders, back in the day), and the features get off on a high note (kinda like Slater, y'know?) with writer-director Linklater's feature-length commentary, which offers all aspiring filmmakers an important lesson protecting your vision and knowing when not to compromise. In recalling the many struggles he endured during production, Linklater covers a lot of territory (notes from the studio, the fantasy abundance of muscle cars, selection of music, and his acute disappointment when Robert Plant--but not Jimmy Page--refused to allow Led Zeppelin songs to be used in the film), and his engaging, good-humored perspective (and appropriate sense of vindication) clearly arises from his film's eventual acceptance as a classic. (For all you film buffs out there, Linklater quite rightly recommends Tim Hunter's Over the Edge and Lindsay Anderson's If... as "great teenage films" that defined the genre before Dazed.) The film itself never looked or sounded better (Linklater and cinematographer Lee Daniel supervised the high-def digital transfer), and a generous selection of deleted scenes will be welcomed by the film's legion of loyal fans.
The Disc 2 supplements are highlighted by Making "Dazed", filmmaker Kahane Corn's decade-in-the-making 50-minute documentary, chronicling all aspects of the production from casting to the Dazed tenth-anniversary celebration in Austin, Texas, in 2003. "Beer Bust at the Moon Tower" allows random viewing of a 118-minute compilation of behind-the-scenes footage, on-set interviews (with cast members both in and out of character), audition footage, and recollections from the anniversary bash. The accompanying 72-page booklet is a Criterion master-stroke: Designed like a small-scale high-school yearbook, it's filled with more "doodling" artwork, lots of photos, three appreciative mini-essays (the best being by journalist/author Chuck Klosterman), recollections by cast and crew, and humorous "Profiles in Confusion" portraits of the characters in Dazed, reprinted from the film's similarly designed companion book. It's all topped off by a miniature reproduction of the film's original poster, designed by Frank Kozik. In terms of capturing "The Spirit of '76" and the film's celebratory sense of anti-nostalgia, this is surely one of Criterion's finest releases to date. --Jeff Shannon
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches; 12.8 Ounces
- Item model number : CRRN1634DVD
- Director : Richard Linklater
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 42 minutes
- Release date : June 6, 2006
- Actors : Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane, Joey Lauren Adams
- Subtitles: : English
- Producers : Anne Walker-McBay, James Jacks, Richard Linklater, Sean Daniel
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), Unqualified
- Studio : Criterion Collection
- ASIN : B000F6IHSG
- Writers : Richard Linklater
- Number of discs : 2
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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.