Could this be the year that Bruce Willis is the key to cinematic universes? M. Night Shyamalan recently announced that he would be making a crossover sequel for both Unbreakable and this year’s Split, and with Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets about to hit theaters, more than a few people — myself included — have wondered if Valerian would make any passing references to Besson’s The Fifth Element. Another small cameo by Bruce Willis at the end, and suddenly he’s the man holding two separate franchises together.
Even for a guy whose films are unified by their pervasive sense of chillness, Richard Linklater’s never been lacking in ambition. He’s pulled off formless philosophical rambles (Slacker, Waking Life) and a bildungsroman twelve years in the making (Boyhood), but his grandest project has to be the Before trilogy of romance films. Across three decades and three pictures (1995’s Before Sunrise, 2004’s Before Sunset, and 2013’s Before Midnight) Linklater has tracked what could justly be named one of cinema’s great love affairs as it’s progressed from infatuation at first sight to a long-awaited reunion to adult life and the domesticity that goes with it.