"It’s becoming a bit of a DVD reviewer’s cliché to trumpet the latest spectacular Criterion release as the best thing the company’s ever done, or as a candidate for best DVD of the year. How much easier it would be to avoid using this burnished chestnut if the company would just stop creating DVD editions that could honestly be said to be the best of the year. And what Criterion has done with Richard Linklater’s superb evocation of high school life in small-town Texas in 1976, Dazed and Confused, will justify all enthusiastic descriptors, clichéd or not. The elements of a great disc are all there: a de rigueur all-new high-definition transfer (supervised by the director and cinematographer Lee Daniel); a Linklater audio commentary that highlights the director’s unique ability to be laid-back and verbose at the same time; a 50-minute documentary on the making of the film, which began shooting in 1992, that surpasses the standard “making-of” featurette by co-opting the cool, yet energetic observational style of the movie itself (it includes footage from the 10-year anniversary cast reunion); and Criterion’s usual top-drawer optional English subtitles.*
But beyond the digital treats, Criterion’s Dazed is a triumph of packaging—there’s a 72-page book, designed like a high school notebook, featuring essays by Jim DeRogatis on the music, Kent Jones on the movie, profiles of Linklater and the film by Chuck Klosterman and John Spong, and page after page of 'Profiles In Confusion,' yearbook-style portraits of all the film’s characters, major and minor, and even a reproduction of the film’s original one-sheet, all tucked in a psychedelic doodle of a slip box that looks like every PeeChee I ever disfigured in my pre-college days . You can get just as lost in Criterion’s package for the disc of this brilliant picture (not only a great high school movie but perhaps the best movie about small-town life I’ve ever seen) as you can in the movie itself.
* Full disclosure: I created those English subtitles for Criterion—it’s my day job. It may not seem like it, but there’s art as well as craft in rendering readable subtitles for movies that honor both the material and the intended audience. And it’s always more fun doing that kind of work when the movie is as wall-to-wall sharp and smart as Dazed and Confused. And, oh, yeah, I graduated high school in a small town in southern Oregon in 1977. This movie looks like a documentary to me." ~ Dennis Cozzalio
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