”The movie puts your brain into overdrive,” says Linklater. ”You just go ooh ooh ooh trying to process it all.” Arrogant boasts? Perhaps not. Just ask the folks at the Sundance Film Festival, where the writer-director’s mind-bending, animated rumination on tiny little things like the State of the Human Condition and the Fleeting Nature of Identity debuted to rapturous reception. In a major departure from his last effort, the mainstream Western ”The Newton Boys,” the film unfolds in a sprawling series of talky vignettes following a young man (”Dazed and Confused”’s Wiggins) who may or may not be dreaming. It’s a loosey-goosey structure that allowed for the reunion of Hawke and Delpy from Linklater?s ”Before Sunrise,” and cameos from the likes of ”Traffic” helmer Steven Soderbergh, ”The Cruise” star Timothy ”Speed” Levitch, and ”Saving Private Ryan”’s Adam Goldberg.
But the story and stars weren’t what had gums flapping in Park City, Utah. That distinction was reserved for the film’s look (developed by Austin-based animator Bob Sabiston), the result of a computer technique called interpolated rotoscoping, which digitally paints over the live-action footage. ”It looks real, it sounds real, but it’s like watching a painting,” says Linklater. ”You can’t take your eyes off it. It’s freaky. Like a dream.”