Richard Linklater is a bit of an anomaly. He helped kick start the new indie generation in 1991 with his seminal film Slacker. He then made a high jump in cast, cost and production with mid-level hit and cult and campus classic, the 70s set coming of age comedy Dazed and Confused. And just two years ago, Linklater joined the Hollywood elite with his twelve years in the making drama, Boyhood. The film was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe (bring home the Golden Globe for Best Picture-Drama).
Dream is Destiny starts at that very sublime beginning and chronicles the director’s trail toward the fabled red carpet. In a stroke of fantastic editing, the documentary opens on Oscar night, then makes a narrative leap back in time, landing on Linklater’s childhood. With home movie footage and talking head confessionals by his parents, we get a deeply personal and intimate account of his early life. A life filled with the hard divorce of his parents, and a heart rhythm problem that kept him from pursing his original career of pro-baseball.
The second act of Dream Is Destiny introduces us to the burgeoning young man who will become the great director we know today. Again using rather intimate, warm and engrossing personal footage, we are instantly transported to 1991, as Slacker is being made on the streets of Austin, Texas. With more, current, recollections from cast and crew, you really feel like a fly on the wall for the making of that classic film. This part also focuses heavily on Before Sunrise, which from what we see is Linklater’s most personal film.
The last third of the movie continues this style, but focuses (chronologically) on his later work. We get glimpses of Dazed and Confused, The Newton Boys, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, and more. We’re also treated to classic segments of Siskel & Ebert as they discuss each movie upon release (a ballsy move on the documentary’s part, as the famously opinionated duo don’t always like or agree on the films.)
But Dream is Destiny is not entirely just composed catalog, behind the scene footage and older, on-set, interviews. This is a varied symphony. Some of the most engrossing moments come from the horse’s mouth. Richard Linklater himself is interviewed, the results edited sporadically throughout the films 96 minute running time. These segments were my favorite, as you see Linklater in his own home, looking refreshingly casual; barefoot, in a plain t-shit and sporting basketball shorts. He welcomes the filmmakers (and by proxy the viewer) warmly. He shows us his eco-system and self-sufficient mini-compound (which he dubs “a mini Skywalker Ranch). And in the sections best bit, he shares his numerous hand written notes, old school flyers and scripts for everything from Slacker to Boyhood. Just by focusing on Linklater’s face, the movie achieves a level of the sublime that speaks volumes about its subject. Here is a man who has been able to always make films his way, and knows how lucky that is.
To surmise, Dream is Destiny is a fascinating, entertaining and informative movie about one of the most important filmmakers of our time. The movie joins a growing list of recent movie related documentaries (De Palma, Hitchcock/Truffaut/Life Itself) that are a film geeks dream.
– Manny Gomez
Manny Gomez is a freelance writer & occasional digital artist based out of Florida’s west coast. He obsessively reads interviews with creative folks, binge watches TV shows, spends a lot of time at his local library, likes used book stores, loves comics, commutes on his bicycle and adores his dog. He is also giving baseball a chance again this season. Follow him on Twitter: @Manny1138