21 Years: Richard Linklater should be considered a comprehensive retrospective of Linklater’s career. You could call the film a hagiography in the sense that nobody on camera can come up with anything bad to say about Linklater. (Keanu does say the Linkster sucks but he’s obviously kidding.)
Having met and interviewed Linklater a dozen times since Slacker I can honestly attest he’s a nice guy; Linklater single handedly started the film scene in Austin in the 1980s, which has since grown to the point that Austin is a hub for major films and commercials. The city of Austin even got on the bandwagon turning the old Austin airport into a world-class movie studio with hangers and offices being turned into studio space.
All of Linklater’s films are covered up to Before Midnight, with the exception of his most recent movie Boyhood. Lots of talking head testimonials from the usual suspects: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Keanu Reeves, and Matthew McConaughey. If you’ve followed Linklater’s career or listened to his commentary on DVD releases of his films you’ve heard a lot of what’s said. One new thing is McConaughey’s mother (who had a small part in Bernie) talking about how she keeps pitching an incest-tilted story to Linklater that would star her and Matthew.
Open Windows proves that Nacho Vigalondo is a director to watch. Vigalondo is definitely below the radar as far as mainstream movies are concerned but his films, which include OW, Timecrimes (2007) and Extraterrestrial (2011), show that he’s got the right stuff.
Open Windows is a post-modern deconstruction of the concept of the camera as a window. Think Rear Window. Like Hitchcock the twists and turns of Open Windows constantly remind us (the collective aud) of the voyeuristic implications of cinema. The movie starts out with whooshing pan-sweeps of the windows or separate browsers of the internet that are on everybody’s computers. We are caught up in the adventures of a lad (Elijah Wood) who has traveled to Austin to claim the winning dinner with movie star Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). Austin locales and nightspots are highlighted in the background of many shots.
Events rapidly shoot the fever dream intensity. Before we know it Wood has gone from a fanboy to a guy trying to recue his damsel fair, herself now held hostage with her imminent death being broadcast live on the internet. Open Windows takes the genre vehicle and drives it at full speed until all the tires explode. Along the way we learn to sympathize with those that have been habituated to the undesirable aspect of life.
21 Years: Richard Linklater opens exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park. Open Windows opens exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park. I am not a huckster for the Alamo Drafthouse, but they are the one theater(s) conglom keeping independent cinema alive in Houston.