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Dazed and Confused(1993)
Set on May 28, 1976, the last day of school for a group of high school students in a Houston, Texas suburb.
For more about Dazed and Confused and the Dazed and Confused Blu-ray release, see Dazed and Confused Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jason London, Matthew McConaughey, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Anthony Rapp, Michelle Burke
Director: Richard Linklater
» See full cast & crew
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 16, 2011
Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" (1993) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; character interviews filmed during the first week of rehearsals; cast and director interviews; behind-the-scenes footage; a gallery of audition clips; documentary film by Kahane Corn; large gallery of deleted scenes; and audio commentary by director Richard Linklater. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring essays by Kent Jones, Jim DeRogatis, and Chuck Klosterman; memories of the film from the cast and crew; character profiles; and the original film poster by Frank Kozik. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main features. Region-A "locked".
Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused is about a lot of things that were fashionable during the 70s - weed, tight pants and big leather belts, facial hair, big American muscle-cars. Most of the film is quite funny but at same time terribly dated. One can watch it dazed and get absolutely everything there is to get from it.
The entire film takes place on the last day of school and the night after it. In less than 24 hours, different characters, all of them teenagers, do all sorts of crazy things. The cool ones (the seniors) begin chasing the uncool ones (the freshmen) to humiliate them in a variety of different ways. The older guys handle the younger guys and the older girls handle the younger girls. This is the rule and even the teachers know it.
The chase and the humiliations are quite boring. Only when a few poor freshmen confront the almighty seniors things perk up a bit. Eventually, however, they all gather for a massive party not too far away from the local stadium. Beer kegs miraculously appear, bags of weed are passed around, and little green men quietly abduct every single cop in the area.
By the morning hours just about all of the main characters in the film make some important discoveries. Then Linklater carefully points out the ones that will remain dazed and confused for the rest of their lives and those who will grow up.
Dazed and Confused has a lot in common with American Graffiti, but its characters are far less interesting. In fact, there are so many that are scattered all over the film that it is next to impossible for one to genuinely care about them – excluding, of course, the obnoxious ones (such as Ben Affleck's Fred O'Bannion), which one remembers and hopes somehow get a dose of their own medicine.
There are quite a few funny scenes with some great lines, but the script is weak. The reality the colorful characters belong to never feels real, or surreal enough to have one mesmerized (see Gregg Araki's Nowhere if you really want to end up somewhere you have not been before). Unsurprisingly, the film looks and feels like a very long episode from a retro reality show which has its moments but lacks substance. Not bad, but not good and definitely not great.
Despite the weak script, the cast is uniformly good. There is a sea of future stars here - Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, (even Renée Zellweger has a tiny role) – who look incredibly relaxed in front of the camera. Unfortunately, many of them are underused or simply neglected.
Lee Daniel's lensing is simple and effective, but like the cast he isn't given any serious opportunities to impress. (If you have not already done so, see Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, both films directed by Linklater, to get an idea how good Daniel is).
Dazed and Confused is complimented by an outstanding soundtrack featuring tracks by such rock legends as Nazareth (Love Hurts), Alice Cooper (School's Out), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Tuesday's Gone), Deep Purple (Highway Star), Black Sabbath (Paranoid), and Sweet (Fox on the Run), amongst others.
Note: In 1993, Dazed and Confused was nominated for Golden Leopard Award (Richard Linklater) at the Locarno International Film Festival.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
This high-definition transfer of the director's cut of Dazed and Confused, which has been supervised by director Richard Linklater and cinematographer Lee Daniel, definitely looks stronger than the one Universal Studios used for their Blu-ray release of the film (reviewed here). I have tried to match a few screencaptures so that you could get a general idea what the key differences between the two high-definition transfers are.
Next to Criterion's high-definition transfer, the Universal Studios high-definition transfer clearly looks to have underwent stronger noise filtering. If you look at screencapture #19 and compare it to screencapture #3 from the review linked above, you will immediately see that the Universal Studios high-definition transfer looks notably softer. On the Criterion release contrast levels have also been elevated and the color-scheme pushed up (compare screencapture #10 to screencapture #4 from the review linked above). Naturally, reds, greens, and blues appear far better saturated, but not always natural, as they should. Unsurprisingly, the Criterion high-definition transfer looks rawer and often times edgier. Furthermore, both high-definition transfers convey various traces of mild to moderate sharpening (see screencapture #17), and I am convinced that sensitive viewers will notice their presence during normal playback. The good news is that the sharpening is prominent only during selected outdoor scenes and practically impossible to spot during the nighttime footage. Finally, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. All in all, Criterion's Blu-ray release is the clear winner, though there are various small issues with the presentation that I have to believe could not be addressed. As it was the case with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, there is only so much Criterion could do with the existing Universal Studios masters they have to work with. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS--HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The audio has been optimized very well. The loseless track allows the outstanding soundtrack to shine during some of the film's most memorable sequences - the bass has plenty of oomph and the high-frequencies are never overdone; there are absolutely no distortions either. I was not particularly impressed with the surround activity, but I have no reason to believe that there are any serious compromises there. The dialog is always crisp, clean, stable, and very easy to follow. For the record, I did not detect any problematic pops, cracks, or hiss to report in this review.
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dazed and Confused Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused is a charming and occasionally hilarious little film that deserves to be liked. I don't believe it has the substance many of its fans claim it does, but it has a terrific period atmosphere that makes a lot of people feel nostalgic. In other words, I understand why it is loved.
As expected, Criterion's presentation of Dazed and Confused is a lot more convincing. Their high-definition transfer is clearly better than the one Universal Studios used for their release of the film and complimented with a wealth of interesting supplemental features. RECOMMENDED.
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