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6 items from 2016

Ranking the films of Richard Linklater so far

5 April 2016 1:10 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

It might have something to do with how much I love Everybody Wants Some, but I’m still thinking about Richard Linklater and his career to date. Yes, I touched on that a bit last week, and previously in 2014 when Boyhood was making its way through the awards season, but I’m not quite done just yet. There’s something about Linklater that has me constantly thinking about and re-evaluating his films. Interestingly enough, his flicks tend to be ones that lend themselves nicely to introspection/retrospection. In doing this, one of the things I’ve actually come up with is that he’s actually yet to make a bad movie, despite having a nearly 20 deep filmography. As such, it made perfect sense to rank his films today, showing you just how varied yet consistent he is as a director. It’s really quite something to behold, at least in my eyes… »

- Joey Magidson

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“Everybody Wants Some” is one of the year’s biggest delights

31 March 2016 12:56 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

I knew going in to see Richard Linklater’s new film Everbody Wants Some earlier this week that it was likely to appeal to me. What I didn’t expect was a near masterpiece and perhaps an instant cult classic. I absolutely adored this movie and really think it’s among the best titles of 2016 so far. Linklater has made something that’s not just a worthy companion piece/spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, but something that even continues some of the themes explored in Boyhood. This is another top notch effort that shows his current filmmaking to be at near master status. This is a special film. The movie looks at the first weekend at college for freshman pitcher Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner). We basically just follow him as he meets his teammates, including Glenn McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin), Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), Billy Autry (Will Brittain), Dale Douglas (J. »

- Joey Magidson

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SXSW Film 2016 Honors the Past While Facing an Exciting, Gaudy and Uncertain Future

13 March 2016 11:23 AM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

The night before the SXSW Film Festival got under way, Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, defended his communal love of film in theaters. "In pursuing the new future, we cannot decimate the past," he said in his acceptance speech as one of the honorees at the Texas Film Awards, the annual benefit for Richard Linklater's now 30-year-old Austin Film Society.  

Watching the Sony Classics reel, the crucial art films I grew up on over the decades sped past. From Truffaut's "The Last Metro" and Merchant/Ivory's "Howards End" to more recent Oscar-winners "Blue Jasmine," "Alice" and "Son of Saul," I felt a twinge of loss. SXSW is all about change, and forward motion. But in our rush toward digital immediacy, we lose something too.  

While Barker and partner Tom Bernard's Sony Classics remains the very model of a theatrically driven and adaptive studio specialty subsidiary, the world is changing around them. 35 mm is no longer a viable exhibition format, directors have to fight to shoot with celluloid, and distributors are increasingly challenged to lure consumers away from mobile and home-viewing options in favor of a theater. 

Also fighting the good fight is Linklater. He announced construction on the Austin Film Society's new two-screen theatre, "showing repertory, international and arthouse films every day of the week," which will boast a 35 mm projector. Meanwhile, more local exhibitors are turning to alternative content like TCM Classic Movies to grab their customers—most of whom are well over 30, if not 60.

Linklater has enjoyed an enviably idiosyncratic career since his pre-sxsw 1991 Sundance breakout "Slacker" (picked up by Barker and Bernard). He's moved through a wide range of budgets and subjects, from animated "Waking Life" and the walking and talking "Before Sunrise" series to "Dazed and Confused," which Alphaville's Sean Daniel and Jim Jacks made with Universal chairman Tom Pollock. Universal couldn't figure out how to sell a Texas coming of age film with a young indie filmmaker and no-name cast (including Ben Affleck and Matthew "all right, all right" McConaughey) at the box office; "Dazed and Confused" eventually emerged as a cult homevideo classic. 

After Linklater made commercial hit "School of Rock" in 2003 at Paramount, the studio developed the 1980 Austin film that became "Everybody Wants Some!!" And, as he said at his New York pre-sxsw party, it was still tough to get it made. The film took a decade to go into production, just as "Boyhood" hit big and headed for awards contention. However, it may be deja vu all over again: Cast with unknowns, the movie is hugely entertaining, shot with the same "Dazed and Confused" aesthetic (and many of the same crew, including long-time Linklater editor Sandra Adair), and Paramount is hedging its bets: "Everybody Wants Some!!" will go out via platform release April 1. 

It's a struggle that speaks to why, these days, emerging film directors tend to find more work in television, from SXSW stars the Duplass brothers, who keep their film budgets low, to director-actress Amy Seimetz ("The Killing," "The Girlfriend Experience") and Lena Dunham, whose HBO series "Girls" launched SXSW Film's move into television premieres. These are now major draws, from "Broad City" panels to the outdoor preview exhibit “Welcome to Annville," which ties to AMC’s supernatural comic-book drama, "Preacher" (November) starring Dominic Cooper (from executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg); that will premiere at SXSW March 14.

As for the movies at SXSW, buzz has started as film buffs spread the word on opening-night titles like Joey Klein's bleak romance "The Other Half," starring real-life couple Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen. But it can be tough for the film side of SXSW to grab attention from the rest of the festival — even after President Obama had left town.

At SXSW 2016, everyone hovers on street corners searching for their Uber or Lyft drivers. Downtown Austin resembles San Diego's Comic-Con with its countless showrooms, meet-up tables, and brand marketing opportunities like the "Mr. Robot" ferris wheel, Capital One House, and pedicabs bedecked with HBO's "Game of Thrones.

As at Comic-Con and Sundance, the noise of the corporate world trying to nab a piece of the smart digital-driven demo at SXSW has gotten a lot louder. Interactive was SXSW's growth engine for four years, but attendance stabilized in 2015 and 2016 (2015 attendance included 30,000 music, 33,000 interactive and 20,000 film participants). "'Twas the night before SXSW and all through this hotel lobby bar there are Interactive nerds drinking wine talking about Macs and Minecraft," tweeted The Daily Beast's @jenyamato.

SXSW attendees lined up around the block to get into fashion and lifestyle site Refinery29's opening night high-school-themed "The School of Self Expression" party, serving miniaturized high school snacks on molded cafeteria trays to guests including Kate Bosworth.

"SXSW is about youth and the future," eight-year SXSW veteran and Refinery29 cofounder Philippe von Borries told me. "It's forward looking, but it's a dude-centric world. SXSW events used to attract diehard geeks who love technology. It then became about big marketing events, as brands started coming in. That's blown up in the last few years. Now there’s a much larger female presence, more style, more creativity in the air."

Targeted to millennial women, Refinery29 lures 150 million visitors a month with content ranging from horoscopes to in-depth interviews with Hillary Clinton, pushed out via social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. "It's about self-expression and empowering women, bringing content from incredible female voices from around the world: style, fashion, beauty, global issues, health, wellness," said Von Borries.

And it may be companies like Refinery29 that will shape the future of SXSW. Video is driving Refinery29's next evolution; at Sundance, it announced the "Shatterbox Anthology," a 12-part series of shorts directed by women. Produced by Killer Films' Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler, it will debut this spring with "Kitty," the directing debut of actress Chloe Sevigne. And Von Borries is proud of Jill Soloway's darkly irreverent six-part comedy series "The Skinny," about a young woman with an eating disorder, which "goes to places other media companies are not going."


- Anne Thompson

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SXSW Film Review: ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

11 March 2016 6:30 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

After the dramatic one-two punch of “Before Midnight” and “Boyhood,” a master of the modern hangout movie achieves his most sustained comic bliss-out in years with “Everybody Wants Some!!” Billed quite accurately as a “spiritual sequel” to 1993’s “Dazed and Confused,” Richard Linklater’s latest acutely funny, achingly perceptive retro-sociology lesson follows a team of ’80s college baseball players wasting a longish weekend together before the start of a new school year; many scenes of pot smoking, disco dancing, knuckle flicking, skirt chasing and other forms of competitive male sport (and some baseball here and there) predictably and hilariously ensue. Linklater indulges his characters’ antics with such wild, free-flowing affection that you might miss the thoughtful undertow of this delightful movie: Few filmmakers have so fully embraced the bittersweet joy of living in the moment — one that’s all the more glorious because it fades so soon.

Linklater loyalists will »

- Justin Chang

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Diversity Scandal Overlooks Historic Year for Women at Oscars

4 February 2016 6:00 AM, PST | Scott Feinberg | See recent Scott Feinberg news »

By Patrick Shanley

Managing Editor

When it comes to this year’s Academy Awards, no word is more buzzworthy than “diversity”. For the second year in a row the Oscars have nominated only white actors in their four main acting categories, sparking backlash and, as a result, inciting the Academy to announce new changes to tackle its “diversity problem”.

Amidst another year of #OscarsSoWhite trending on Twitter, however, the fact that 2015 has been an exceptionally strong year for women has been largely overlooked. Three of this year’s best picture nominees (BrooklynRoomMad Max: Fury Road) are female-centric and feature strong female protagonists in the center of the action. In fact, even outside of those films and their performances, a number of women are nominated for best picture as producers, as well. Kristie Macosko Krieger is nominated for Bridge of Spies, Blye Pagon Faust is nominated for Spotlight, Dede Gardner »

- Patrick Shanley

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[Sundance Review] Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny

27 January 2016 10:01 AM, PST | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Premiering at Sundance 25 years after his seminal second feature film, Slacker, Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny, produced for the PBS series American Masters, is the kind of documentary that requires little introduction. Borrowing its title from the opening moments of his Waking Life — a film that itself represented a rebirth for the Austin-based filmmaker following his second studio feature The Newton Boys — and combining behind-the-scenes footage from many of Linklater’s films (from Slacker to his upcoming Everybody Wants Some) with a history of Austin’s independent film scene, as developed by Linklater and the Austin Film Society, the picture reflectively weaves together a history of a master filmmaker whose work is squarely interested in the passage of time. The picture includes commentary by the late Siskel and Ebert, along with critic / scholar Kent Jones and, very briefly, Kevin Smith.

Directed by Louis Black (SXSW and Austin Chronicle founder) and Karen Bernstein, »

- John Fink

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