Slacker (USA, 1990)

slacker-movie-poster-1991-1020200910Directed by: Richard Linklater. Linklater is one of those guys who I’ve always respected at a distance, not knowing much of his stuff, but really respecting the stuff I have seen, like Waking Life, Dazed and Confused, A Scanner Darkly…oh yeah and School of Rock? He really seems to be one of those guys who, like Steven Soderbergh, doesn’t shy away from the idea of speaking the language of Hollywood mainstream commercialism in order to keep in good standing with the studio system, in order to retain the ability to bankroll a bunch of the smaller, smarter projects he actually wants to do. This is my projection anyway. I mean, School of Rock wasn’t terrible, but if we’re honest, what we really mean is that for an unbearably sentimental kid’s movie with Jack Black, it isn’t terrible. But it’s also possible (and actually probable) that Linklater is just a guy who does whatever the fuck he wants whenever the fuck he wants, and that’s also something I can really respect, in a filmmaker or otherwise. I had always meant to see this one because it’s always interesting seeing someone’s first movie, and also because I remember hearing vaguely good things about it throughout the years from filmy types. But, going by Dazed and Confused, I pictured this one to be just another early 90’s slackers-as-authentic-heroes movie, but really well done. I thought it would be like a smart person’s Mallrats. But this movie has more to do with European art cinema, or with third-world cinema, or with something really exciting and new and low-budget, than it does with a bunch of suburban white kids smoking pot and listening to Green Day. No fucking wonder this movie put him on the map! I’ve really never seen a movie like this before or since, and I think it’s one of those times where it’s fair to say that this is a fucking unique example of cinema, and certainly of American cinema (though it does drink from the same well as Do the Right Thing, but it jettisons narrative entirely in a way that Do the Right Thing doesn’t). It’s a piece of American cinema that looks like world cinema, and it’s probably because it takes a completely new look at what can be done with film, totally side-stepping the basic conventions of the day without jettisoning basic human interest and basic storytelling. It’s just that there are a million stories out there! Every person has a story, and this movie illustrates that beautifully. To be fair, it can be a bit exhausting trying to follow that many people, and even though it’s a short film, it feels longer than it is. But that’s really the only complaint, and it’s not a complaint really. I think everyone should see this movie, though only a few will probably like it. It’s worth seeing for the haircuts alone!

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2 responses to “Slacker (USA, 1990)

  1. Pingback: Boyhood (USA, 2014) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: La Dolce Vita (Italy/France, 1960) | Offhand Reviews·

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