By Mark Bell | November 21, 2011

Dazed and Confused found me at the wrong time. A friend had suggested a double feature of The Big Lebowski and Dazed and Confused, but I wasn’t really in the mood that day. Still, I sat down and watched both of them… and didn’t enjoy either. For the former, I kept waiting for some weird point that I felt it needed to have and, for the latter, I just didn’t relate. I didn’t quite get why either film was so loved by my friend, and for The Big Lebowski, its release was just new enough for the rabid fanbase to have not grown to the extent it has today (the only cheerleader of it that I knew was said friend). Dazed and Confused, however, I’d been hearing about for a while; Hell, I read about it in Film Threat. Still, thanks to that bad day of flick watching, I stayed away from both films for a long time.

Of course, today I’m a huge fan of both. It took a solo viewing of The Big Lebowski for me to find a new appreciation, and that realization that a film I disliked so much might not be bad after all led to me also revisiting Dazed and Confused. Of the two, I’ve watched Dazed and Confused the most often, as a film I didn’t seem to relate to at all became one of the films I related to the most. Maybe I just needed time, or more accurately, more life under my belt to get what was going on.

So here we are with Criterion’s blu-ray release of Dazed and Confused, and it’s a jam-packed release (as one would suspect). I realized while writing this that I hadn’t given any Criterion releases I’ve reviewed less than 5 stars, and that’s not about to change now. As I’ve said in previous Criterion reviews, these releases aren’t about whether the films are any good (they usually are better than good), but what other goodies the collection brings to the table. In this release, the standout special feature, for me, is Kahane Corn’s Making “Dazed” documentary.

Why is it so good? Because it’s HONEST. So often, when watching short docs about an influential film, you’re treated to a lovefest. Folks reminisce about the magic they made; sometimes there are horror stories about on set troubles, but usually only in the most superficial sense. In the case of this documentary, though, Richard Linklater doesn’t shy away from talking about what a shitty experience it was for him at various points. And producer Jim Jacks is equally as forthcoming, sharing his own caustic recollections. This doc shows that not all great movies are borne of wonderful experiences of creation, and it’s refreshing.

Beyond that, there are some wonderful essays by Kent Jones, Jim Derogatis and Chuck Klosterman, audio commentary by Linklater, audition footage, on-set interviews, deleted scenes and even a small version of the original film poster by Frank Kozik (a poster I’ve seen numerous times, as Film Threat founder Chris Gore owns a full-sized, framed print). Even if you don’t get as much joy out of the documentary as I did, there is so much more to wade through. Plus, in the end, you still get to watch a gorgeous transfer of the film.

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