In his 1993 film Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater offers a day in the life snapshop, a post-American Graffiti portrait of high school misfits — some coming, some going — on the last day of high school before summer break in 1976. In his first studio film (after the great Slacker) Linklater revisits Austin, Texas, and its massive cast of mostly stoned characters glimpsing the highs and lows of the American Teen Coming of Age tale. Actor Rainn Wilson called it "a Chekhov play with a bunch of jocks and stoners and dorks from an American high school. It's really funny, and really real, and really sad at the same time."
It's pure nostalgia. Chuck Klosterman notes, "This film doesn’t illustrate what it was actually like to be in semirural Texas in 1976, but I’m sure it evokes how that time and place must retrospectively feel to anyone who was actually there."
The threat of a school-wide hazing from upperclassmen looms over the film's introduction as if Godzilla is about to storm through town. More than a dozen teens drool over each other at a last-minute makeout party. The championed stoner builds bongs in shop class. These events likely happened in Linklater's memory, but they're presented in that exaggerated form the way you remember the good ol' days when the stakes were far higher than what actually happened. (Watch town badass Matthew McConaughey enter the frame in slow motion to Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" as if Linklater's memory of that guy has a specific time, place, and sound.)
At 7 p.m. tonight, NOLA Drive-In returns from a brief hiatus to screen the film on the roof of 840 Carondelet St. in the Warehouse District. Tickets are $6, and Baru chef Edgar Caro will serve black beans and chihuahua cheese empanadas with spicy crema, and pulled pork tacos with slaw and pineapple salsa.