RICHARD LINKLATER’S FILMS RANKED FROM WORST TO BEST
From “Slacker” to “Tape,” the first decade of Richard Linklater’s career conjured the easy narrative of a director primarily interested in capturing the extremely plausible interactions of Generation X’ers talking out their values in a variety of locales and narratives. His subsequent career’s been harder to pigeonhole, but this (inevitably subjective) annotated ranking of his 17 features to date is based on the premise that at ⅔ of his work has the always interesting personality of a major director in full force.
There may be no signature “Linklater shot” — no obvious preference for symmetrical tableaux or repeated camera movements — but there’s a consistent style. Though he doesn’t avoid close-ups, shots of people’s faces (both on moving bodies or talking intently in repose) de-emphasize a strong editorial point-of-view from unusual or emphatic angles. Characters aren’t restricted behind symbolic window/prison bars or viewed from claustrophobic, high-up surveillance camera angles but move freely through largely open and unconstrained spaces. Enough time is allowed those onscreen to hang themselves by their own conversational rope, but even more time given to reveal themselves as interesting people. At their most uplifting, Linklater films can seem like a credible demonstration of humanity at its most admirably and unselfishly individualistic.
Ground rules: short films are omitted, as are his allegedly 240-minute 1991 montage of countdown reels “Heads I Win/Tails You Lose” and the rejected HBO pilot “$5.15/hr,” which I’ve actually seen but so long ago that I can’t recall it in useful detail.
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