Wednesday 26 June 2024

"Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused'" by Melissa Maerz - audiobook review

I love this film (Dazed and Confused) and I really enjoyed this book. It made me want to rewatch the film (I just bought the DVD from eBay). My big brother, Gregory, introduced me to this film in the mid-90s. It's right in my wheelhouse as a coming-of-age film. It has that timeless quality: the film is set on the last day of high school in 1976 and goes all through the night to the next morning.

Anyway, enough about the film. Why did I like the book? I haven't read many oral histories before. It's kind of like reading the trivia section from IMDb in a really drawn-out and detailed way. It's a really interesting insight into the early career of Richard Linklater: his years in Austin, Texas, where he lived off his savings, paying cheap rent, watching movies every day, not really having to work. That led to Slacker; Dazed and Confused was his second major film, funded by Universal.

Most of the cast of the movie seemed to have a great time: partying, staying up all night, smoking weed, drinking, sleeping around. Linklater, on the other hand, had to fight really hard against the Hollywood machine to make the film he wanted to make. His memories of making the film are more painful.

His filmmaking style seems to be really laid back: he is definitely in control, but he lets his actors express themselves, write scenes, improvise; and sometimes he goes with it.

I hadn't realized that the film was the start of some pretty major acting careers for Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger, and others.

It's nostalgic for me to revisit this beloved film. I really wish Gregory was still around so that I could talk to him about it. He introduced us to so much culture like this when I was growing up.

The audiobook narration by Brittany Pressley is pretty good: clear and easy to follow. It includes some contributions by George Newbern, who I think reads some of the male voices. There's also an interview between the author, Melissa Maerz, and Richard Linklater at the end. It makes sense to read this as an audiobook, but I did find it hard to keep track of who everyone is. This would be easier in a book, where you could stop to check the cast list. The audiobook has a PDF, but I didn't read this until after I'd finished it. It doesn't really matter though: it evoked a mood, a good time, and I learned a lot about one of my favourite films and made me want to rewatch it.