Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
It's the last day of school at a high school in a small town in Texas in 1976. The upperclassmen are hazing the incoming freshmen, and everyone is trying to get stoned, drunk, or laid, even the football players that signed a pledge not to. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
Dazed and Confused is a lot like the time in which it takes place. The film doesn't have much of note to say, but you get the sense that it has a good time just being there. By 1976, Vietnam was in the rear-view mirror, as were much of the struggles of the previous decades. It was almost like people were sick and tired of caring about things and just wanted to get wasted. Notice how nobody seemed to care when their teacher was trying to tell them about the 1968 Democratic Convention or our "aristocratic" forefathers. There is a certain innocence about the period that our up-tight and violent world of today could use right now.
Our film shows us the trials and tribulations of kids just looking to get high, drunk, or just save their butts from being paddled on the last day of school. Not much of note happens in this film. We just see kids doing what kids are still doing. They are all just out to have a good time. There are plenty of familiar faces in this cast, but nobody really outshines anyone else. The film is paced in a manner that doesn't let us get to know too much about the characters. We spend a minute or two with one group of friends, then we see what another group is up to. The most memorable scenes in the film are more painful than funny. We see next year's freshman class (girls and guys) get pummeled by the seniors. We see the destruction of property. We see a fight or two break out. Plenty of beer and pot are consumed by all. And there really isn't much else to it.
Linklater films the action from a completely neutral vantage point. There is nothing at all pretentious or preachy about any of the subject matter. We see some cool cars, tight jeans, long hair, and just about anything you would associate with this time frame. The film lacks the humor of Porky's or The Hollywood Knights. It also lacks the tragic desperation of The Last Picture Show. That said, this film is still worth taking a look at. Especially if you were in high school at the time. I was just a toddler in 1976, but I could still relate to these characters, and their need to party.
7 of 10 stars.
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