Sunday, May 22, 2016
On Everybody Wants Some!! and An Untitled New Film Project
I'm amazed how similarly the film works as Linklater’s masterpiece Boyhood (2014) - there's really not much melancholy in the movie itself, but the experience of watching it and then leaving the cinema allows the sadness to slowly seep in afterward. Suddenly, you realize you can’t hang out with these guys anymore, and you want the good times to continue. The film’s cumulative power is so much bigger than I realized during the casualness of its individual scenes, and it isn’t until the final quiet moments of the picture, right before Let the Good Times Roll by The Cars starts playing, that the full impact of what you’ve seen hits you.
The other guys don’t know how to react, and we’re quickly whisked away from the potentially melancholy moment by the ridiculously bad sportsmanship of Jay Niles (Juston Street). It’s a technique that recalls something Martin Scorsese does in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), where Jordan Belfort briefly comes face-to-face with one of the deeply disturbing consequences of his lifestyle (a co-worker’s suicide) and then immediately brushes it aside and moves on to the next fun thing. These movies don’t want to linger in the melancholy, but we’re always aware it’s there, bubbling just beneath the surface.
And I’m amazed by how subtly Linklater is able to infuse a sense of melancholy throughout the movie. I think he partially does it through music, and by showing these characters charging ahead for their youthful goals that, sometimes, seem a little sad. Will they remember any of these frivolous games in ten years? Will any of this matter?
Certain details in Everybody Wants Some!! made me feel at home – for instance, the sound of white wing doves calling out in the early morning to Jake (Blake Jenner) and Beverly (Zoey Deutch) intertubing on a Texas lake.
On a slightly unrelated note, it wasn’t until watching this movie that I made a key connection between the work of Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater. The thematic material and cultures explored in the work of these two filmmakers couldn’t be more different, but in terms of storytelling approach, they both make movies that immerse you in a specific culture, time and place, in which you simply hang out among its vivid, authentic characters. There are virtually no plots to speak of in these films, but instead a huge amount of atmosphere.
With Scorsese, the pictures are often about morally conflicted, alienated protagonists and the unsettling violence, both social and literal, that consumes their worlds. Linklater’s stories have a more casual, laid-back feeling, oftentimes about the art of living in the moment without a great deal of thought about the future. These attitudes are very different, but the approaches are similar. And while Linklater’s films better represent the world and culture in which I grew up, Scorsese’s films better capture the internal struggle I continue to feel.
So, this piece is a review, yes, but also a discussion of a new project I’m planning to make this fall, which I first wrote back in August. My friend Mike Wesolowski (the star of my senior thesis film You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory) is a co-writer on the project with me, and though we wrote our script before seeing Everybody Wants Some!!, I think Linklater’s new film has helped inform how we want to make the movie. Linklater’s vision is so clear, I can’t help but relate it to my own, and in a sense use his film as part of the pitch for the picture I want to make.
In my new script, it’s as if someone dropped one of Scorsese’s morally conflicted, obsessive protagonists in the middle of a Linklater movie and he was expected to function – which may very well be the story of my life.
I'll be writing in more detail on this project, which does not yet have a title, in the coming weeks. Please check out Everybody Wants Some!! while it is still in cinemas.