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What Richard Linklater Means To Austin

Richard Linklater’s film, “Boyhood,” won Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director Golden Globes last night. To those that care about that sort of thing, it’s a big deal. Not for the inherent importance of the Golden Globes – they’re voted on by some shadowy Hollywood Foreign Press (whatever that is) and the opening monologue for the night is probably going to be more “news-worthy” (whatever that is) than the actual winners – but they’re important because they often predict winners for the more prestigious Oscars coming in February. Many people believe that last night’s victories for “Boyhood” (Patricia Arquette also won best supporting actress) put Linklater and the film as the front-runner for the big awards come Oscar night. If it all comes to fruition like these so-called insiders expect, February 22nd could be a very big night for Mr. Richard Linklater. But what does it matter? Richard Linklater is a Texas filmmaker, and to be even more specific about it, Richard Linklater is an Austin filmmaker. What this means, and how this affects art and culture in Austin, is actually something that does, in fact, matter. I don’t want to get into the biography or filmography of Linklater, you can check his IMDB for that. But the big stuff is as follows: Born in Houston. Moved to Austin to study film at ACC. First feature film is “Slacker,” a vignette of an indie that takes place in…Austin, Texas. Formed the Austin Film Society. Made big and small movies, many of which star Ethan Hawke, on his way to creating a career that was uniquely his own. More than any other filmmaker, Richard Linklater is an Austin filmmaker. It’s not that his movies take place in or around the Austin area (some do). It’s not that he lives in the Austin/Bastrop area, that he raises his kids here (he does), that he made a movie called “Bernie” that actually got the real Bernie out of prison, and now he LIVES with Linklater! (It’s a complicated, too-strange-to-be-fiction story. Watch the movie if you don’t believe me.) It’s not that he gave resident Austin celebrity, Matthew “I sell Lincolns” McConaughey, his most iconic role of Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused” (he did). No, what makes Linklater a great Austin artist is that his work belongs in Austin. It’s been shaped by the culture here. You can see it in the languid camera ramblings of “Slacker” all the way through “Boyhood.” He shares a philosophy with Austin. It’s not that Austin necessarily created this philosophy, you’d have to ask him about that personally, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Austin, in it’s own weird way, incubated that philosophy. It’s a humanist way to make art. It’s about an artist that kept making art the way he wanted to, and waited for the rest of us to catch up. Linklater is an artist that has experimented with the form of film for his entire career. “Boyhood” is just a very well-crafted version of this aesthetic. It’s not the first, nor hopefully will it be the last. Having an artist of Linklater’s character as a contributor to the local culture in Austin is very important. He’s an ambassador for the city, the culture, the way of life that may not be identifiable in a blog, but can most often be felt walking down the streets on a summer night – looking at bats, cheering football, live music, food trucks…whatever. Artists tend to work like magnets. They collect around each other like campers to a fire. They learn from each other, feed off each other, and their work tells their stories and ideas. If Austin is a city that cares about art, that cares about culture (I believe it is), then we would be hard-pressed to find a better ideal than what Linklater is doing in film right now. If he does win an Oscar, good for him, it’s well-deserved. Maybe some great director in waiting will see it, do his research, and come to Austin to put his own unique stamp on our city. And if he doesn’t win? I suppose he’ll just continue to do what he’s already doing, making great films the way he wants to make them, giving Austinites a great artist that we can, on our better days, claim as one of our own.

Logan Theissen

Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.

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