From its opening sequence, The Emperor's Club, set in an eastern prep school for boys in the early 1970s, is behind the cinematic eight ball, and it knows it. That eight ball is the tremendously successful 1989 film Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as the gadfly teacher who awakens in his students a thirst for learning and for a poetic experience of the world.
Based on John Bayley's two memoirs about his marriage to novelist Iris Murdoch, Iris is in almost all respects expertly done. But the movie, directed by Richard Eyre, from a screenplay by Eyre and Bayley, is so saturated with details from Bayley's books that the story can't breathe. It's more collage than narrative.
Most of Richard Linklater's previous films, such as Dazed and Confused, Slacker and Before Sunrise, have enjoyed great success by holding up the mirror to 20-somethings' intermingling of curiosity and apathy. Judging by the almost universally positive response he's received for his latest film, Waking Life, the formula is anything but tired.