One of the coolest film programs I've ever seen was at Lucy's Record Shop, in the mid-'90s; anyone could bring any kind of film and show it. One man had taken footage many years ago of a summer event at Riverfront Park. He threaded up the film, and suddenly the city appeared as it did in the bad old days before downtown revitalization. For him, it was a record of a day's outing. The rest of us were transfixed by everything he captured incidentally, just by letting the camera run. Here were buildings, long torn down; clothes and haircuts and shoes, long out of fashion. The longer the shots went on, the more they measured a stretch of time that otherwise would have vanished.
A character in Richard Linklater's Waking Life describes these as "holy moments," invoking the French critic Andre Bazin's term for those seconds of film that preserve something of the fullness of life that flickers in every instant. Linklater's movies are full of these moments, and even if it had nothing else, his 10th movie, Before Sunset, would still yield the pleasure of a real-time stroll through Paris. But it has much more to give. It's a sequel to Linklater's 1995 film Before Sunrise, a warm summer breeze of a movie that followed two young European travelers, the American Jesse and the French Celine, on a whirlwind night of love in Vienna. The movie held out the promise of a futurethey agree to reunite six months later, to see if their connection is realbut it mattered less than the immediacy of their awkward, anxious and dizzying flirtation.
So, did they meet again or didn't they? Linklater slyly answers the question twice. Nine years later, as Before Sunset opens, Jesse is in a Parisian bookstore reading from his first novela story about young lovers who share one magic night and part. Readers want to know whether they hooked up or not, and he playfully deflects the question. Watching silently from the back is the only other person who knows they didn't meet: Celine.
Before Sunset takes place in the short time (a perfect 80 minutes) between Jesse's book signing and his ride to the airport. The matter of who did or didn't show up is settled, but it's less important than the people Jesse and Celine have become in the intervening years, and the people they might have become had things worked out differently. Ethan Hawke's Jesse has a furrowed brow and faint lines of age; Julie Delpy's Celine looks less waifish, less pristine. Anyone who's attended a high-school reunion will recognize the accompanying sensationthe pang of seeing your own aging measured in the faces of others.
Most current romantic comedies can't imagine people in love would actually have something to talk about: the actors usually mime laughter while some pop song blares. Before Sunset, by contrast, is all talk, an invigorating conversation about life, politics and the passage of time, spiced with sexual tension. The more the characters reveal of themselves, the more complexity peeks through the ideal each wants to project.
Linklater's generosity with time says something about the way he regards people. He believes them capable of surprising us and each other, and he's willing to give them the room to do it. Maybe that's why Hawke has a depth and presence he's never hinted at before on screen, and why Delpy registers as a sweetly dithery heartbreaker on an Annie Hall scale. Near the end, Celine sings to Jesse while plucking out a gentle waltz on her guitar, and it's one of those moments where the combination of the actor, the character, the situation and the moment produces something like alchemy. Or something like the feeling of falling in love, in real time.
Looks like he was a great Artist.......who left his Legacy behind for others to follow.....
Indianapolis (CA-35), not Indiana.
There were plenty of jumps and screams at the severed-head reveal at the Sunday night…
I just...this recap...why did I not know these were here until now?! 4 times on…
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.