The central figure of Waking Life drifts away.
The power of ideas in Waking Life is enough to lift you off the ground.

A new episode of the imperishable PBS documentary series American Masters will examine the life and career of Richard Linklater, the filmmaker behind such transformative movies as Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy, and Boyhood, as well as not-quite-transformative-but-still-really-good movies like Bernie, Me and Orson Welles, School of Rock, the Bad News Bears remake, Fast Food Nation, and lots of others.

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I interviewed him about Waking Life in 2001 and left feeling (as Marlene Dietrich said of visiting Orson Welles) like a plant that had just been watered. American Masters—Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny airs September 1 on PBS stations, but you can also watch it now for $3.99 on Youtube.

Below: more clips from the doc, the trailer for Linklater's new film Last Flag Flying (a "spiritual sequel" to Hal Ashby's The Last Detail, starring Steve Carrell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne), and Linklater's brilliant 2002 short Live From Shiva's Dance Floor, in which Timothy "Speed" Levitch argues (convincingly) for the establishment on the former site of the World Trade Center towers of a "joy park" with an American Buffalo preserve at the center of it.

Because Linklater is a mystic intellectual/intellectual mystic (as opposed to a human hamhock with no shame about self-promotion), he hasn't been publicly celebrated the same way some of his early-'90s contemporaries have. But let there be no mistake: He is a major artist and a mischievous post-formalist, and he is funny and smart as hell.

Ben Afflecks true nature foretold in Dazed and Confused.
Ben Affleck's true nature foretold in Dazed and Confused.

One day, when the life-form that succeeds our own goes sifting through the rubble of our civilization and stumbles across a massive repository of DVDs, Linklater's films will be a far better indicator of the vastness of humankind's inner life, than, say, Clerks or Swingers or Magnolia or Rushmore or Seven or whatever.

It's about time someone spent a bit of time giving him the serious consideration he deserves.

On Waking Life:

On Dazed and Confused:



On Boyhood:

On Austin:

Live From Shiva's Dance Floor:

Timothy Speed Levitch speaks the truly international language—bullshit—in Live From Shivas Dance Floor
Timothy "Speed Levitch speaks the truly international language—bullshit—in Live From Shiva's Dance Floor.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Part 3:

Last Flag Flying:

In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic
Richard “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with ex-Marines Sal (Bryan Cranston)
and Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young
Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the
help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home
in suburban New Hampshire. Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms
with shared experiences of the war that continue to shape their lives. Director Richard Linklater
and author Darryl Ponicsan collaborated on the screenplay which follows the trio as they wrestle
with the pangs of war both past and present.

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