Dazed and Confused Blu-ray Review
Getting wasted whilst waiting for something - anything - to happen
Dazed and Confused Film Review
Richard Linklater's debut studio effort is a teen rock and roll spree with an ensemble cast of future stars.At times playing out like a static road movie - in that the characters drive around a lot, but never actually go anywhere - Linklater's Dazed and Confused could also be viewed as one long party, with its cross-population of graduating year groups drinking beer, smoking weed, driving around, chasing girls, avoiding bullies, throwing parties, fighting, pairing up, and celebrating the end of an era.
Linklater's observational work is renowned, whether in his 'Before' Trilogy, or in his even more audacious Boyhood, which was shot over an unprecedented 12 year period with the same cast. Dazed and Confused, by comparison, is positively commercial, but it still boasts the filmmaker's trademarks, taking a step back from any conventional narrative in order to instead focus on what feels like a fairly realistic graduation night (or, at the very least, a 'greatest hits' compilation) evolving over the course of the movie.
A superb soundtrack binds together this memorable greatest hits high school yearbook
The ensemble cast is really a who's who of future familiar faces, providing breakthrough roles for the likes of Matthew McConaughey (whose laid back character would go on to define his career), Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Rory Cochrane and even Renee Zellweger. Somewhat ironically, the two leads - played by Jason London on the seniors side, and Wiley Wiggins on the freshmen side - have proven considerably less successful over the last quarter of a century, but are superb in the main roles.
Although the script is thin, it enjoys its best moments from a nice improvisational feel (which, in the case of characters like McConaughey's, was likely due to the fact that it was improvised), and the film maintains momentum often thanks to a superb soundtrack which binds together this memorable greatest hits high school yearbook.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray PictureCriterion released Dazed and Confused on Region A-locked US Blu-ray back in 2011, and that's exactly the disc here, only now accessible for UK players. The disc affords the movie a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
Supervised by both the director and cinematographer, it's clearly the best that the film has ever looked, and likely the best it will ever look, staying faithful to the original production footage, even if that same has its inherent limitations.
Clearly the best that the film has ever looked
Detail is pleasing throughout, bringing some manner of texture and depth to the piece, affording clothing and skin some nice finer nuances. The film is a product of both its budget, era of production, and stylistic design, enjoying a warmer, softer look which suits the period stylisation but also equates to a hazier image replete with some slightly variable levels of grain. Since earlier releases - before Criterion got their hands on it - were notorious for their heavy-handed DNR implementation, a little organic grain at least reminds viewers that there's infinitely less manipulation here, and the payoff is some excellent detailing which belies the film's quarter-century vintage.
The colour scheme also reflects the era, with plenty of pastels dulling primaries, but strong enough black levels and a decent palette to round out a strong video presentation that may not exactly be conventional demo material, but oftentimes comes surprisingly close, and is likely both the best the film has ever looked, and the best it ever will.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also a pleasant support to the main feature, delivering a very engaging aural offering which affords keen observation of the core components.
A very good presentation of the film's audio
Dialogue remains well prioritised across the frontal channels, dominating where necessary, whilst effects enjoy the bustling gatherings, pool bars and throaty growling engines, hardly providing an expansive offering, but nicely disseminating what is there. It's the score and song tracks that afford an edge, however, with a warm undercurrent of LFE input underpinning the myriad tunes and instrumentals at work, and rounding out an excellent presentation of the film's audio.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray ExtrasCriterion's UK release of Dazed and Confused comes complete with the exact same plethora of extras that adorned the US release. It's a strong salvo, affording everything you could possibly want, and rounding out the definitive package.
The exact same plethora of extras that adorned the US release
Headlined by an audio commentary from director Richard Linklater, there's also some 2 hours of interviews and behind the scenes clips housed in the Beer Bust at the Moon Tower section, which includes dozens of interviews taken 'in character' during the first week of rehearsals, a dozen more cast and crew interviews, and rounded out by half an hour of behind the scenes footage. To complement this, there's also a further near 30 minutes of audition footage, and almost half an hour of deleted scenes. Perhaps the strongest addition is a 45 minute Documentary which was put together over a decade, taking in background footage from not only the production but also the 10 year cast and crew reunion.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray VerdictFor fans who haven't already imported, it's a must-have purchase
Criterion's 2011 US release of Dazed and Confused finally comes to UK shores in a package friendly for those who are not multi-region, affording us the same very good video, excellent audio and tremendous extras package. For fans who haven't already imported, it's a must-have purchase.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.99
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