THE DVD: Dazed and Confused (Criterion)

(NEW FEATURE: DVD reviews. This is an old one, from Idiot Ego issue one. Reprinted, again, without permission.)

By now, it's practically a cliché to fawn all over DVDs by the Criterion Collection. But it's a necessary evil for any serious film fan, or DVD fan for that matter. If you wanna see some of the greatest movies ever made (8 1/2, Tokyo Story, Rashomon) you're going to have to watch them on a Criterion DVD. Criterion also has the ability to take even the weakest and most shameful pieces of cinematic tripe (Armageddon, The Blob,) somehow elevate them into art, and make you proud to have them on your shelf.. which I do. Here then comes a long-rumored edition of what by general consensus the best movie yet made about kids in the seventies: Dazed and Confused. Director Richard Linklater's best work (Waking Life, Slacker, Before Sunrise/Sunset) is responsible for more than his share of "This will change your life" moments that I have yet experienced in film. And I'm sure I don't have to sell you on this one. You've seen it. Loved it. You listened to the soundtrack on the every morning sophomore year on the bus home (your brother thought one of his friends stole it.) That disc probably doesn't even play anymore.

The film was only Linklater's second full-length feature, after the talky vignettes of Slacker (also available via the Criterion Collection, and perhaps even more highly recommended.) Produced by a major studio, Linklater curtails his wordiness somewhat in Dazed, but it's still driven by dialogue, and it comes equipped with a stash of one-liners and truisms that actually ring true. But, the DVD is the thing. The paper slipcase packaging feels like an LP, and the Zeppelin III-style artwork (with cutouts, ala Physical Graffiti) is well designed, and a nice fat booklet of essays and a foldout of the original poster (!) help it earn it's $30 asking price. And, as ever, the supplements are everything you want and nothing you don't. A 50 minute "making of," an excellent commentary by the always chatty Linklater, and plenty of deleted scenes and extra footage to keep you busy a couple of extra hours.

In the end, what's it about? The days when you had everything you needed: Your friends, a car, some beer, some drugs and of whole lot of time. Don't smoke dope, readers. But you might want to buy this for someone who does.

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