Richard Linklater isn't one to let time get in the way of making a film
Three years after releasing Boyhood, American filmmaker comes out with Last Flag Flying, which took a decade to produce.
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Richard Linklater is nothing less than prolific. Having made movies as varied as the seminal ’70s comedy Dazed and Confused to the 12-year experimental-odyssey that was Boyhood, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker admits stories come easy.
“I always have a million ideas (and) the first draft comes pretty quickly — some things I’ve written in 10 days,” revealed Linklater recently by phone. “But it doesn’t really matter how quick you can write it; the long process is getting the film made.”
In fact, the Austin-based auteur’s latest drama, Last Flag Flying, is a good example. While the screenplay for Darryl Ponicsan’s road-trip novel was swift to adapt, it has taken Linklater a decade to produce — verifying the filmmaker’s tenacity to tell a good tale.
“I just loved these characters,” said Linklater of the drama that follows a Vietnam vet (Steve Carell) recruiting two army buddies to transport his son’s body after he’s tragically killed in Iraq. “(I loved) these middle-aged guys kind of bouncing between these two wars — how something like war really leaves an imprint whether you want to think so or not.”
Also starring Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne, the long-awaited drama also takes a more sombre and mature tone for the filmmaker, who adds he relished the experience of working with seasoned talent.
“We’re all around the same age, and it was fun to have such an instinctive session with guys; we could relate to each other and got each other’s jokes,” said Linklater. “The movie I did right before — Everybody Wants Some (about a group of college-age baseball jocks) — guys were 30 years younger than me so they didn’t get my references. I was always having to explain what I was talking about!”
But Linklater also concedes the movie is different on another level. Essentially an ode to military veterans, Last Flag Flying may hint that the director is embracing more midlife narratives to add to his accomplished filmography.
“It’s a middle-aged perspective,” laughed the 57-year old. “(I’m) slowly aging out but there’s a beauty to it. It’s inevitable — you just roll with it.”
Everybody Wants Some (2016)
“That’s an indie film that really shouldn’t have been distributed by a big studio,” said Linklater of the overlooked college comedy. “In the big picture, no one saw that movie but those who saw it, liked it — so I’ll take that.”
“(The studio) never thought big for the movie,” said Linklater of the true-life crime caper. “So when it got a great response, they didn’t know what to do; they didn’t have a plan for success.”
Waking Life (2001)
In this dreamlike meditation on life, Linklater filmed his actors and then animated each frame — a method he’s excited to follow up: “If not that technique exactly, I have some other animation things I’m spinning around.”
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