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Strangers die everyday
on 23 March 2000
With documentary-like realism, experimental art film structure, and a title that became a '90s buzz word, Richard Linklater's brilliant study of the life of idlers has acquired cult status. Eschewing the typical film syntax, he follows a string of characters through a 24-hour period in Austin, Texas, using basically the same camera angle and lens for the length of the movie (with the exception of a brief segment shot in pixlevision). The dialogue acts almost as a monologue, with each scene linked together by one character 'passing the baton' to the next. The cast was made up of crew members and locals (Linklater plays the opening character), and an improvisational overtone provides for many memorable moments (the video backpacker, the JFK buff, and of course the infamous Madonna pap smear). Austin band Ed Hall are seen playing live in a club, and Louis Mackey, Professor of philosophy at University of Texas, has a great role as an old anarchist. After this, Linklater started directing more linear, mass audience-friendly films ("Dazed & Confused," "Before Sunrise," and "SubUrbia") but still kept the stories within a 24-hour time frame. An excellent companion book (including the full movie script) was published in 1992.