Film Review: Dazed and Confused (1993)

Release Date: June 4th, 1993 (Seattle International Film Festival)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Music by: various
Cast: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Sasha Jenson, Michelle Burke, Christine Harnos, Rory Cochrane, Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, Catherine Avril Morris, Matthew McConaughey, Shawn Andrews, Cole Hauser, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Christin Hinojosa, Parker Posey, Deena Martin, Nicky Katt, Esteban Powell, Jason O. Smith, Mark Vandermeulen, Jeremy Fox, Renee Zellweger

Detour Filmproduction, Alphaville Films, Gramercy Pictures, 102 Minutes

Review:

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” – Wooderson

I always viewed this movie as a spiritual successor to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Mainly, because it is a coming-of-age high school movie but it is just as serious, as it is comedic. While it is goofy and funny, it’s a much better film than what it appears to be on a surface level, similar to Ridgemont High.

Also like Ridgemont, it has a stacked cast that features a ton of young stars. These stars would become big names as the ’90s rolled on and the turn of the new millennium took many of them to the heights of Hollywood. There are future Academy Award winners in this cast.

It’s also directed by Richard Linklater and it has similar beats to his other coming-of-age films, although it doesn’t have as hard of an edge as the really dark, SubUrbia.

The story starts on the last day of school and it follows several characters over the course of that day and night. Each one is faced with an uncertain future, new changes and challenges on the horizon but ultimately, everyone wants to forget about their problems and just enjoy the night.

The film takes place in the mid-’70s, even though it came out in the ’90s. But it’s also timeless and regardless of the timeframe in which it takes place, it’s also really true to what the ’90s were like. I know, because I was this age in the ’90s. I can’t speak on how this will play for modern high school students but the world is a weird, incredibly soft place now.

What makes this movie so much better than most of the films like it is the performances of the cast and how genuine everything feels. Linklater obviously wrote this based off of his own high school experiences and his personal intimacy with the material comes through in every scene. And frankly, there isn’t a single unnecessary or dull scene in the entire film.

Additionally, all the big plots are well-balanced and organized, as the night plays on and several characters weave in and out of the larger story, overlapping.

Dazed and Confused has stood the test of time incredibly well. I feel like it’s material will always be relevant and because of that, it is one of the greatest motion pictures of its type.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Richard Linklater coming of age films, as well as other good coming of age high school movies.

Film Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Also known as: Die Hard 5 (working title)
Release Date: February 6th, 2013 (Seoul premiere)
Directed by: John Moore
Written by: Skip Woods
Based on: characters by Roderick Thorp
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Yulia Snigir, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (cameo)

Giant Pictures, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 98 Minutes, 101 Minutes (Extended Cut)

Review:

“Let’s go kill some motherfuckers!” – John McClane

Well, not all Die Hards are created equal but at least three were great and another one was really good. This one, the fifth and final (at least for now), was the worst film of the lot.

That’s not to say that this is a bad movie, it just isn’t on the level of the four other pictures that share the Die Hard name.

In fact, take Die Hard out of the title and this is just another random Bruce Willis action film from the ’00s or ’10s that gets lost in the shuffle and just sort of blends in with the rest of them. It’s mediocre, uninspiring and pretty generic with only one real high point worth mentioning.

That one high point is the final battle with the helicopter. It’s a pretty cool sequence and well thought out and executed. However, it is somewhat ruined by shoddy CGI effects and the film being visually drab, overall.

There are other big action sequences but none of them are very memorable.

Part of the problem with the film is that it doesn’t feel Die Hard level in scale. Each film sort of felt like it got bigger than the one before it in some way. This actually feels like the smallest film in scale since the first one. While this takes place primarily in the streets of Moscow, it just lacks the energy and intensity of the third and fourth films, which took place in the streets of two major American metropolises.

I think this problem is due to the visual tone and the drabness of the picture. It definitely went for that modern action film aesthetic and it makes it look cheap and generic. The thing I loved about Die Hard With a Vengeance was that it didn’t resort to noticeable film filters or gritty digital enhancements, it just threw you in the middle of New York City and it felt like you were there.

This film feels like you’re looking at a video game that takes place in some generic European city. There just isn’t any life to it. And that’s not a knock against Moscow because I’m sure there is really cool shit that could’ve been captured on film there. This is more a criticism of the director, the cinematographer, the location scout and the obvious lack of creativity in trying to give this film an authentic lived-in world.

From a creative standpoint, this felt like the most half-assed Die Hard film and that the producers just kind of assumed that people would love it just because it featured the character of John McClane.

Additionally, the story was also generic and weak. In fact, this felt like they took a script for a cookie cutter, straight-to-DVD action flick and just repackaged it with the Die Hard name once they were able to lock down Bruce Willis.

Still, if you’ve got just under two hours to kill and you haven’t seen the film, it’s still a good time waster. Granted, if you haven’t seen any of the other four, watch one of those instead.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Die Hard films, as well as other Bruce Willis action films.