Today I Watched…Dazed and Confused & School of Rock

Linklater films

Dazed and Confused & School of Rock

Review by Paul Preston

Welcome to Today I Watched…, a series of posts documenting my new challenge – watch a movie a day for the rest of my life. Keep coming back to to find out what I watch each day…and get my take on it.

When I see a movie that’s a new release in theaters or for home viewing, I’ll give it a proper review in the “Reviews”, otherwise, I’ll write about it here.

April 28/29, 2017 – Dazed and Confused & School of Rock

Speaking of revival houses, back to The New Beverly in Hollywood for a Richard Linklater double feature. Take a look at Linklater’s IMDB page and you’ll realize you haven’t seen nearly enough of his films. I feel pretty good having seen four or five of his films, but then realized I hadn’t seen what is probably considered his most popular cult hit (Dazed and Confused) and his most popular film at the box office (School of Rock). I knocked ‘em out in one night.

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused centers around a ritual I know nothing about – freshman hazing. This isn’t the first film to present this concept, so I’ve seen it, but I didn’t deal with it when I was in high school. It’s the centerpiece of this movie and must’ve been such a big deal to Linklater that he later re-visited it in Everybody Wants Some!!. School’s wrapping up in 1976, everyone’s getting high and in their altered state they figure out what’s in their future. If you’re looking for a plot, this is not the movie for you. I don’t necessarily need a plot, but the meandering in Dazed and Confused didn’t add up to as much for me as it did with Everybody Wants Some!!. Some characters are sad, some have pathos, some are belligerent and some are Ben Affleck (he kills in this as the never-to-be-deterred bully who giddily hammers on the freshman). Linklater’s style is never an obtrusive one, and that’s always fascinating to watch, but I don’t think this will achieve with me the multiple-views cult status it has with some.

School of Rock

If you’re like me and you set out to run a movie website and call yourself a Movie Guy, there’s pressure to be cultured about film. To think The 400 Blows is way better than The Princess Bride. With that, there’s some pressure to call Slacker my favorite Richard Linklater movie – it’s his first and his most indie. But I’m not gonna lie that I was entertained as hell by School of Rock. “C’mon, Paul, that was Linklater as a director-for-hire, man, that was his sell-out studio film”. Nonsense. The opening credits alone let you know you’re not in a studio-cut comedy and the single greatest direction Linklater could give star Jack Black was to cut the reins on him and let him go nuts. Black plays a loafer who needs a job and ends up stealing his roommate’s name to take a sub position at a school where he finagles a way to teach the repressed kids all about rock ‘n’ roll. And he’s downright maniacal the whole movie, screaming, flashing devil horns and even when the end credits roll, he’s still improvising rock and roll with the kids. School of Rock came out in 2003, but it has ‘80s movie all over it, where a slacker doofus can lead a gang of underdogs to victory with minimal effort (think Stripes). The odds are against him in the form of angry parents, his roommates and Joan Cusack as the put-upon school principal. This movie is a full win and a New Beverly Cinema audience showing their love doesn’t hurt in amping up the experience.
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Release Date: November 10, 1994
Run Time: 102 minutes
Rated: R
Country: USA
Distributor: Gramercy Pictures

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Release Date: October 3, 2003
Run Time: 108 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Country: USA/Germany
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

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