Everybody Wants Some!! is the newest effort of film-maker Richard Linklater, a man who understands the complex relationship between time and cinema. With the release of Boyhood almost two years ago he was universally recognised as a true great of the medium. About time. The evidence has been there since Slacker and Dazed and Confused. Linklater is not a flashy filmmaker. His films are modest, their genius understated. Neither manipulative nor sentimental, their interest in people celebrates humanity in a very real and honest way.

Often going unnoticed is Linklater’s mastery of story: Dazed and Confused, with its wandering plot line and high-school setting, feels like an easy, inconsequential movie. But this is only because of Linklater’s brilliant handling of pace, his unconventional narrative and its numerous characters. The film’s 102 minutes make us feel like we’ve lived every second of the 12 or so hours over which the film takes place. This is the subtle genius of the director, who can provide a short but sweeping look at real characters with real lives, while simultaneously expressing the inarticulacies of youth in a way that only cinema could. Boyhood takes this approach to another level: the film spans 12 years and by the end we feel like we know Mason as well as his own mother.

It is easy to miss the artistry in these films because they are not experimental in the conventional sense. Linklater seems to adopt a uniquely passive approach to his craft: the best of his films unfold themselves naturally before us, with no sign of being forced. They have a realism – not the kind of realism that is created by a shaking camera and grainy cinematography, but by the way he just seems to let his films happen. They mimic the experience of living and it’s this kind of passivity which is innovative and new. It is also deceptively hard to achieve.

Yet, Linklater also understands the artistry and artifice of cinema. Linklater’s cinema strives for realism but he doesn’t forget that film-making is about telling stories, and that stories are made up of moments in time. In films like Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, he demonstrates his expertise in knowing exactly which moments best reveal these stories, so that 102 minutes feels like 12 hours, 165 minutes like 12 years. But, due to Linklater’s subtle genius, we don’t even notice that we are being told anything.

Everybody Wants Some!! was released on May 13th.