WBEZ | Richard Linklater http://www.wbez.org/tags/richard-linklater Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Before Midnight': This is what it means to be in love http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/midnight-what-it-means-be-love-107673 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/525370_401174553311378_212136243_n.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Before Midnight)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>This is the romantic reality. When it is easy, it is easier than we imagined. It is holding hands and quick kisses and looks of longing. It is conversation that flows easily, breathlessly, without a moment of pause. It is laughter. But when it is not easy, when everything is not just the first time, the true reality of the complexities of a contemporary romance set in.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">This is the premise behind Richard Linklater&rsquo;s latest film, <em>Before Midnight</em>, the third look at the relationship between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) after <em>Before Sunrise</em> and <em>Before Sunset</em>. In this latest film, the two are finally together. Whereas in the first film they just met and in the second film they were reunited, in this latest, we learn that they took the major leap, altered their lives, and ended up committed to each other. Along the way, they also had twin daughters.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">The movie is not a response to the previous films. Rather it works as a complete end to the series. Although each &ldquo;Before&rdquo; film can stand on its own, they work best as a complete trilogy on how love &ldquo;works.&rdquo; I enjoyed the films originally because they were light and visually lush and aurally-rich. The dialogue jumped out of their mouths. The European settings were vibrant and enticing. The characters felt real in that I saw them in couples I knew and admired from afar. Audiences want to follow them because they are us. They are what we see for ourselves when we are young, when we want to fall in love, and when we actually do. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">Prior to watching <em>Before Midnight</em>, I re-watched <em>Before Sunrise</em> and <em>Before Sunset</em>. Watching them back-to-back further unraveled the singular narrative writers Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke aimed to tell.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/179750_442767965818703_782700937_n.png" style="height: 148px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Before Sunrise)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><em>Before Sunrise</em> is about the headyness of something new. The movie takes place before sunrise, before a new day. <em>Before Sunset</em> is about the lust of something real. Jesse has to fly back to the United States. Celine says, &ldquo;Baby, you are gonna miss that plane.&rdquo; Jessie replies, &ldquo;I know.&rdquo; Those unbelievably heavy last lines in that film were the cliffhanger to what we now know: they end up together.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><em>Before Midnight</em> then is about the frustrations of something here and now, in the real world. It is well thought out and reflects the realities of love and romance. The original films show how easy it is to fall in love. This latest shows what happens after the love has settled. Real life and relationships are challenging and messy. There are consequences to our actions. </span></p><p>It is telling that the film opens in a Greek airport as Jesse leaves his son, Hank, from his original marriage. Their relationship is loving, but strained. It is not just about his age (pre-high school), but about the situation they&rsquo;ve found themselves in. From the perspective of his son, his parents are divorced. One is (supposedly) an alcoholic and the other lives across the world with his girlfriend and two daughters. This is a complicated reality, though one that is not unfamiliar. His father found love on a different continent. For Jesse, he found love while also not being there, literally, for his son. What we want and what the world gives us are two different things.</p><p>Like the previous films, a beautiful setting (this time, a Greek island) is used in the first half of the film to frame the giddiness of love. In contrast, a cold, harsh hotel room becomes the background for a heated argument. Under the glare of reality and flawed humanity, reality is not as pleasant. Loveliness is fleeting.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">It is nice to see them age. They are literally not driven by youth. In youth we find the desire to view the world and our interactions within it with the strength of naivete. Taking the films as a whole, their youth represents innocence and hopefulness. As they age, as wrinkles set in and forms mature, so too does the reality of building and maintaining a relationship. Life happens: with us, near us, and to us. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>&quot;Before Midnight&quot; is out now in Chicagoland theaters.</em>&nbsp;<em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/midnight-what-it-means-be-love-107673 Ebertfest lost its founder, but not its direction http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-04/ebertfest-lost-its-founder-not-its-direction-106699 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88334561&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2438030817_8e5cd727f1_z.jpg" style="float: right; height: 263px; width: 350px;" title="File: The Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois. A sold-out crowd will gather in Wednesday night for the 15th annual Ebertfest. (Flickr/Rex Bennett)" />The <a href="http://www.ebertfest.com/index.html" target="_blank">15th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival</a> kicks off in Champaign, Illinois on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Roger Ebert won&rsquo;t be there. The famed Chicago film critic died earlier this month, just after stepping down (he called it a <a href="http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/a-leave-of-presence" target="_blank">&ldquo;leave of presence&rdquo;</a>) as the Sun-Times film critic.</p><p dir="ltr">But Ebert&rsquo;s ethos&mdash;his influence and taste and general good spirit&mdash;is all over the event.</p><p dir="ltr">Ebertfest doesn&rsquo;t work like a typical film festival.</p><p dir="ltr">The movies aren&rsquo;t submitted. They are hand selected by Ebert and his staff. They&rsquo;re not &ldquo;in contention,&rdquo; or vying for prizes from select juries made up of celebrated members of the global film community. You also won&rsquo;t see studio types hanging around Champaign, trying to make distribution deals.</p><p dir="ltr">But there will be some film stars on hand.</p><p dir="ltr">Actors Jack Black and Tilda Swinton will introduce and talk about their respective films <em>Bernie</em> and<em> Julia</em>. Haskell Wexler, the legendary Chicago cinematographer, who is an unbelievable 91 years old (a longevity <a href="http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-04-17/wexler-heads-ebertfest-feeling-perfect.html" target="_blank">he chalks up to being grouchy</a>), will introduce the opening night film, Terrence Malick&rsquo;s 1978 stunner <em>Days of Heaven</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Interesting directors abound, from as far away as Australia (Paul Cox, <em>Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh</em>) and as close as Lake Bluff, Illinois (Randy Moore, who will introduce his intriguing Disney noir <em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NFPQfdlDZY" target="_blank">Escape from Tomorrow</a></em>).</p><p dir="ltr">That effort to include homegrown talent, <a href="http://www.ebertfest.com/fifteen/bios.html#kumare" target="_blank">some with ties to the University of Illinois,</a> is one of the things that makes Ebertfest a special event.</p><p dir="ltr">But it also just sounds like fun to sit and watch movies, some old and some new, with people who both love films and love to make a living from them.</p><p dir="ltr">The schedule makes it possible to savor rather than gulp down the experience. Only 12 features and a couple of short subjects will screen over the five-day fest. Obviously watching them all is the thing to do.</p><p dir="ltr">But here are a few recommendations.</p><p dir="ltr">Two of my favorites are from last year, Richard Linklater&rsquo;s <em>Bernie</em> and Joachim Trier&rsquo;s <em>Oslo, August 31st</em> are very different movies that nonetheless have a surprising amount in common.</p><p dir="ltr">Both directors are independents who&rsquo;ve also formed ties with commercial enterprises (Hollywood and advertising respectively). Both have a deep interest in films about &lsquo;generational drift,&rsquo; or the ways young people struggle to find and maintain a sense of identity and place within a larger community and set of values.</p><p dir="ltr">And both of these films are driven by the performances of their incredible leads. Jack Black practically reinvented himself as an actor in <em>Bernie</em>, and absolutely should have been nominated for a best actor Oscar last year. But if you haven&rsquo;t yet watched Anders Danielsen Lie, who has now made two films with Trier, I think you&rsquo;ll be moved by his turn in <em>Oslo</em>. His character veers between possibility and pathos on his way to a tragic end. And as Ebert suggested in his review, you almost want to reach out and steer him out of the film and destiny he&rsquo;s trapped in, into another life, or maybe a different movie.</p><p dir="ltr">And because the pleasures of filmgoing can rise and fall on the company you keep, I wouldn&rsquo;t miss the opportunity to watch<em> Days of Heaven</em> with the Ebertfest crowd. Now that Malick (another Illinois native) is practically churning out the films, it is hard to remember the days when he hadn&rsquo;t made a movie for twenty years, when we only had <em>Badlands</em> and<em> Days </em>by which to assess his talents. Back then his films seemed like far cries from a distant country&mdash;what genius went into the wilds of the American landscape and emerged with these earthy and feverish tales? These days I&rsquo;m less enamored of his films. But what a great crowd with whom to rehash his career.</p><p dir="ltr">Finally, Tilda Swinton in person? <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi8GdqzHHk0" target="_blank">Wow.</a></p><p dir="ltr">The 15th Annual Roger Ebert Film Festival kicks off Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois. The event is sold out.</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" target="_blank">@wbezacuddy</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport" target="_blank">Instagram.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-04/ebertfest-lost-its-founder-not-its-direction-106699 The evolution of Gen X filmmakers Whit Stillman and Richard Linklater http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-05/evolution-gen-x-filmmakers-whit-stillman-and-richard-linklater-99452 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gen x film 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/JBDYl-p9dH4" width="560"></iframe></p><p>This spring has brought a good crop of cinematic pleasures (yay for the creepy and clever <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXfc12BqFkc"><em>Cabin in the Woods</em></a>!), chief among them new films from Whit Stillman (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0RrTl3tA1w"><em>Damsels in Distress</em></a>) and Richard Linklater (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEs7l6JTAc4"><em>Bernie</em></a>). And though they vary wildly in their choice of subjects and style, the two are bound by a notable distinction: Both made mighty contributions to one of my favorite periods/genres of movie-making: the &#39;90s era, Generation X film.</p><p>Now, if we limit the genre to films made by actual members of Gen X then neither would qualify &ndash; both were born prior to 1961. But to quote Stillman&#39;s film <em>The Last Days of Disco</em>, &quot;for a group to exist someone has to admit to being part of it.&quot; In their shared interest in a cohort emerging out of the ashes of the Baby Boomer cultural free-for-all and headed into the full-on fire of Reaganomics, Stillman and Linklater clearly reveal an affinity for the concerns of X.</p><p>Linklater fits more comfortably or obviously within the category, thanks to the shambling, grunge-appropriate attitude of films like <em>Slackers </em>and <em>Before Sunrise</em>, which are kissing cousins to other ur-Gen X texts like <em>Kicking and Screaming</em>, <em>Reality Bites</em> and <em>Clerks</em>. But in his comedy of manners or &quot;doomed bourgeois in love&quot; trilogy (<em>Metropolitan</em>, <em>Barcelona</em> and <em>Disco</em>) Stillman too mines specific subcultures and generational shifts. He&#39;s just chosen to focus on the more rarefied end of the social spectrum: the upper class, or the 1 percent, as we now hail them.&nbsp;</p><p>The two do share a number of hallmarks. Each has an interest in deeply self-conscious and self-absorbed protagonists who find themselves at odds with or at least freely floating through their times &ndash; in but not of the scene. Fittingly, their narratives are driven less by plot, more by endless talk and potentially awkward social situations. Each made films of their moment and films that looked back (<em>Dazed and Confused </em>takes place in 1976, <em>Disco</em> &quot;sometime in the early &#39;80s&quot;). And both helped launch the careers of actors who not only came of age during the Gen X years but literally became the face of it: Chloe Sevigny, Chris Eigeman, Ben Affleck, Parker Posey.&nbsp;</p><p>So, are their concerns still aligned with those of Gen X? <em>Damsels in Distress</em> is Whit Stillman&#39;s first film in over a decade. And at first glance yes &ndash; he&#39;s still observing young, upper crust Ivy League types still caught between holding onto and updating the rules of their game. His damsels are&nbsp;an appealing blend of wit, snobbery and much discussed if poorly actualized sexuality. They look as if they&#39;ve shuffled on over from a Doris Day film and their agenda is likewise out of step with the times: to ward off depression and male barbarism through a quixotic application of proper hygiene and sedate tap dance routines.</p><p>But by casting Generation Y actors (Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody) Stillman gets to remain in place and catch up with the new kids: he&#39;s like Woodson, Matthew McConaughey&#39;s character in <em>Dazed and Confused</em>, who loves high school girls because even as he gets older &quot;they stay the same age.&quot; What&#39;s different is that Stillman has turned up the fantasy or fairy tale elements that simmered through his previous films, a move that pays off in authenticity. Their mission may be frivolous but the director and his actors fully commit. Which makes&nbsp;<em>Damsels</em>&nbsp;the perfect feel-good film: an indie musical that&#39;s silly on the surface, sincere at heart, and slays the hell out of the average Hollywood rom-com.</p><p>Linklater&#39;s <em>Bernie </em>is simultaneously more mannered and more deeply rooted in the realism that defined a film like <em>Slacker</em>. The film&#39;s based on a real-life crime and Linklater employs a documentary technique &ndash; the talking head &ndash; as a kind of Greek chorus/commentary on the doomed relationship at the center of his film. The heads are both actors and actual members in good standing of Carthage, Texas, the community where Bernie is set. These plain-spoken folk come off as a cast of stereotypes, especially in their preference for colorful turns of phrase. But paradoxically they serve to deepen the character of the film. Which is welcome, because the relationship between the main characters, played by Jack Black and Shirley MacClaine, is more lightly sketched than fully fleshed out.</p><p>Black gets the better end of the deal &ndash; his development as an actor is wonderful to watch (and his singing and dancing is superb).&nbsp;Linklater too has matured. He long ago moved away from a singular focus on the &quot;frozen&quot; or stuck youth that define Gen X films, to a wider world, one that can embrace both <em>Bad News Bears </em>and Orson Welles. But he&#39;s remained committed to exploring the concerns and values that bind groups together, and in doing so, has produced a deeply layered and nuanced portrait of a faith community (he also conveys the regional differences that break Texas into geographical factions as at odds with one another as are Sunnis and Shites).</p><p>At a moment when political disputes are easily and hatefully translated into cultural or religious divides, how welcome it is to encounter a community taking positions that don&#39;t necessarily have a right or a left. These people are free spirits &ndash; and they are&nbsp;spiritual. Like the young protagonists of <em>Damsels</em>, they want to do good <em>and </em>do right by one another. Only difference is, they&#39;ve got a much stronger &ndash; or shared &ndash;&nbsp; grip on how best to proceed.</p></p> Wed, 23 May 2012 00:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-05/evolution-gen-x-filmmakers-whit-stillman-and-richard-linklater-99452