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Waking Life ***1/2
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Starring Wiley Wiggins, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke
Directed by Richard Linklater


     "Waking Life" is a movie that immediately seperates itself from any other movie you've ever seen, including all of Richard Linklater's past films.  The visual techniques are unparalleled.  Richard Linklater's philosophical musings are coupled with Bob Sabiston's unique approach to animation.  Sabiston and a crew of animators took actual digitally filmed footage and used revolutionary software to animate over the actual actors' work.  Everything seems vaguely like a painting, but at the same time it is wholly new since common sense says paintings do not move.
     Besides the breathtaking visuals, Linklater gives the viewer what adds up to be a philosophical journey.  If you have trouble following regular dialogue, "Waking Life" will give you a headache with the power of a thousand munchins pounding thousands of little hammers on your head.  At times, the dialogue is very hard to follow.  But it is always interesting.  I am sure there are some who would find the movie to be boring once you accepted the visual style, but I found the entire movie to be fascinating in the purest sense of the word.  People talk about how they see life, dreams, reality, movies, books, even soap operas.  And they are always intelligent, which might be a bit of a stretch to believe, but it is a dream, so what can go does go. 
     The premise of the movie and what you must accept to have an enjoyable time is that what we are seeing is the never ending dream that the central character is having...or not having...or having sometimes.  It's crazy weird, but in a good and amazing way.  The conversations the central character has are the meat of what turns out to be a movie composed of conversations.  He learns tricks, or more accurately methods, to experience new aspects of his dreams.  What the movie has to say about dreams is what kept me hooked.  Everything said was new and brilliant. 
     "Waking Life" should be credited as a film that advances its medium.  Still, I missed something.  The experience wasn't complete.  I am all but certain that the missing link can be found in a second viewing, which I am looking forward to.  See the movie for the visuals, but stay for the dialogue...and the visuals.

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