“Everybody Wants Some!!”
The magnificent Oscar Wilde remarked that “the condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth.” I suspect it may be a little dangerous to kick off with Wilde after ending my last post the same way, but, as that great tutor and hero of mine also teaches, nothing that is not dangerous is worthy of our time. If the director Richard Linklater is adept in the trade of anything at all, it is idleness, and if the direction of his limpid though wistful gaze were to be measured, its targets can be none other than youth and verve. Don’t mistake me for judging Linklater’s films to be perfection – his fellow Texans Terrence Malick and Wes Anderson show that there is room yet for expansion in Linklater’s accomplishments – but I put it that Linklater has shown himself to be a great and valuable artist of our time. My assertion is unequivocal, and any possible equivocation would be brought on only by the presence of Linklater’s work itself: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight make up an exasperating triptych of tedious moralising and rationalising, and Boyhood lingers in my mind in a haze of fusty sentimentality; but the vigourous pleasures of School of Rock, the shocking force of affection for both his subjects and his art that breezes through the director’s masterpiece Bernie, and now the quintessence of youth examined in the midst of a most dynamic idleness – Linklater’s new film, Everybody Wants Some!! – are enough to persuade me of his inordinate value as a modern film-maker and visionary artist.
The disparities in artistic value between these two groups of Linklater’s work – with his more overtly naturalist and apparently personal films on one side of the divide and his more synthetic and imaginary films (the real life roots of Bernie notwithstanding) on the other – is due, I feel, to an inconsistent approach to the artifice of cinema when confronting different types of content. When portraying a story of a seemingly more personal origin, Linklater aims for a naturalistic mode of representation, hoping to convey it with the perception that his portrayal matches up to how the events and conversations may well look and feel in reality. But his naturalism virtually reeks of the long calculation and meticulous rehearsal that went into it, leaving me with the sense of simulated and false emotions and experiences, rather than verifiable and credibly authentic ones.