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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “Slacker” (1991)

July 29, 2012

Apologies all around to my loyal readers, I’ve been slacking lately on this site. I’ve been writing fewer and fewer articles by every week. For crying out loud, my last Blast from the Past Review was nearly a month ago. So, it only seems fitting for this somewhat return, that I review Richard Linklater’s ”Slacker”, how appropriate. LA native, and editor, Diandra Luzon picked this film for me to review; she couldn’t have picked a more fitting title.

[Richard] Linklater’s cinematic dossier is quite an appealing one.  Look at his Filmography and you can see he ranges from all kinds of films, and doesn’t particularly have a certain reoccurring tone, like Christopher Nolan, Linklater seems to fluctuate; from the clever low-brow teen comedy that is “Dazed & Confused”, to the family friendly “School of Rock”, to the bone chilling look of the future in “A Scanner Darkly”, Richard Linklater isn’t your typical Hollywood director.

His work has always fascinated me, in fact one of the better films of 2012 was a Richard Linklater film, “Bernie”, which in my opinion could be his first major Oscar contender motion picture. But I’ve always been more so curious about Linklater’s early works like “It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books”, “Before Sunrise”,  “Tapes”, and even his cult classic “Slacker”. “Slacker” was his first official theatrical debut feature film, beloved by many film festivals in it’s hey-day and has earned a respective cult following. After watching “Slacker” I respected what Linklater was (trying to) convey, but I feel that it’s overall abundance as a whole movie becomes a little more self indulgent than a stand off film. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, but it’s clearly shown that it’s a movie done by a first time filmmaker.

Everything that takes place in “Slacker” is connected, person-to-person that is. The film is set in a whole day, in Austin, TX, where Linklater hails from. The first character of the film is cleverly portrayed by the movies writer/director, his characters IMDb credit reads as followed: ‘Should Have Stayed at Bus Station’. This character pretty much sums up the entire film, the so called slackers we get to see in the film may say some of the most f’d up, and sometime looniest responses to everyday life, politics, religion, and so on, but what the people do say is indeed thought provoking. I feel like some of the dialogue was ripped out of the pages of “The Philosophy of Homer Simpson”, but this is 1991, and that book wasn’t published for another decade, but you see what I’m getting at.

There are a lot of bits, and that’s mostly what this film is comprised of, 5-10 minute bits with different ‘slackers’. My two favorites, and I think the cult fans will agree with me on this, are the scenes with the two conspiracy nuts; one discusses NASA/moon landing/UFO’s, the other talks heavily about everyone’s favorite government conspiracy, the JFK assassination. These are my kind of guys, you and I both know they’re bat shit crazy, but it’s entertaining to listen to what they have to say, because in the end you leave yourself in wonder, wondering where do these guys come up with this stuff and they really, actually, 100% believe what they’re saying???

The movie does tend to drag, while clocking in at almost two hours, the movie does become a little boorish and petty with some of the points it’s trying to get off. The scene with the old man and the crook, discussing anarchist’s, while I’m sure Linklater was trying to get a potent message across, I don’t think he even understood what he was trying to say. But hey, it’s only a movie, and while the movie does become a little bloated every now and then, it’s a fascinating prologue to a creative directing history this filmmaker has given us.

GRADE: B-

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