It’s time to talk about a movie I’ve snoozed on for too long with this blog. As any Austinite can attest, you really can’t go two feet without bumping into Dazed and Confused (Disc/Download) at the end of May. Maybe part of my reluctance is that it’s more of a beer movie than a cocktail movie, but nevertheless, nothing says IT’S FINALLY SUMMER!!! like this wild ride through the last day of school, circa 1976.
Something director Richard Linklater excels at is showing us how one single, ordinary day can be life changing. He did it with the Before movies, he did it in Slacker, and he does it so well with Dazed and Confused. Following a group of students on the cusp of summer vacation, the movie feels intimate and big at the same time. There are important philosophies up for debate (Ginger or Mary Ann), words like “Neo-McCarthyism” batted around, and deep discussions about George and Martha Washington’s colonial weed business. We’re observers to this moment in time when everything seems possible for these kids; to a night when social cliques and freshmen hazing are temporarily cast aside under the light of a moontower. This is American Graffiti for the 1970s, and like that masterpiece, made twenty years after the time period it depicts. I guess we’re overdue for a version taking place in the ’90s.
As I’ve said, this is really a beer movie. If you want to be authentic, head to your local convenience store and grab a sixer. Bonus points if it’s a Texas beer. While I watch Dazed and Confused, I’ll be working my way through a favorite local brew, Zilker Brewing Parks & Rec. It really brings back memories of the Zilker Park moontower, grackles in the trees, and that distinctly Austin eau de Dillo Dirt.
Although this is the movie that enabled drunk frat guys to quote Matthew “Alright alright alright” McConnahey until the end of time, it’s also a movie full of sweet, subtle moments like the exhilaration of a girl’s first kiss, or the excitement/terror of sitting in the backseat of a popular kid’s car, wondering how the hell you got there. It’s a film that encourages us to look around and give a hand to the people who might need a little help socially. And (most importantly) it encourages us to just keep L-I-V-I-N. Cheers!