Just a day after the Oscars copiously rewarded Alejandro G. Innaritu’s overt feat of dazzlement, Birdman, that film has so quickly diminished in the public conversation. Yeah, the myth that a film needs an Editing nod to win Best Picture has been disestablished, and the industry has awarded a film that’s explicitly roasted a number of aspects of that industry, but people aren’t talking about how Birdman will last. Throughout the season, I’ve heard much more about how Birdman will become less and less remarkable as years go by. There will be imitators of its one-shot structure – hell, there’s already been one(ish) awarded at the Berlin Film Festival, though Vittoria was actually captured in one legitimate long take – and its industry satire won’t be the last, and arguably isn’t even the best of last year (22 Jump Street forever!).
What people are talking about this week, and will likely continue discussing for some time to come, is the legacy of Boyhood. It’s much easier to imagine a single-take gimmick being imitated, but shooting a film over an immense period of 12 years and sustaining that without it falling catastrophically apart? That’s a tough task to mimic, and much more so to do it well without it feeling hollow, empty or repetitive. It’s an extraordinary thing that Boyhood came together as fluidly as it does, regardless of your thoughts on the film’s meanings. We may see others try, succeed and fail, but Richard Linklater has set an enviable bar and has genuinely pioneered a new way of expressing ideas on film.
But if we’re not merely focusing all the praise on Boyhood, the film of the moment, we have to talk about the career that Richard Linklater has had to this point, and how diverse, yet cohesive his films have been. Stylistically, it’s weird seeing Waking Life, School of Rock and Me & Orson Welles existing in the same filmography, and one would imagine it’d be even weirder seeing them compiled against one another. Editor Joel Walden has officially answered that query with Richard Linklater: The Works, a short video tribute to what may someday be seen as the first half of Linklater’s career. Regardless of how long Linklater keeps going, however, one hopes he’ll keep on creating new, psychedelic, fun and moving variations on the hipster existentialist themes he established in Slacker.
So watch the video below, even if it’s predictably teary-eyed and knowingly indulgent. I especially dig the closing transition from young Mason to late teen Mason, and its juxtaposition with the elderly Greek lady’s film-reflecting words from Before Midnight. For what it’s worth, Joel Walden’s done some remarkable work in both predictable modes – yup, an all emcompassing trailer to middle earth vanity project The Hobbit, that’ll be… fun? – and more unexpected ones. Admire somebody for doing what they do well, I suppose I’m saying.