Slacker (1991)

Dir. Richard Linklater

I’m pretty sure Chris liked this, and I would recommend this to Penny, Mitchell, Grace and Kevin, Tony and possibly John. Even if they don’t really enjoy the film (and they may not), this is something they would want to see. I’m pretty sure Don, Marc, Joel and Larri wouldn’t like this. A worthy pick for the 1001 book.

For some reason I have no trouble identifying films that capture the spirit of the 70s, but I can’t seem to think of films that capture the 80s and 90s. Well, Slacker is definitely a film that captures the 90s. In a way, it is almost more like an ethnographic film–capturing a milieu of a particular sub-culture in a specific time—more than a feature film. This is also probably one of the first and best Gen X films. At the same time, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a great film, but it is different and—as I said—it really does capture Gen X sensibility.

The movie has no plot or set characters. Instead the film moves from one conversation to another (I’d guess about 20 different ones). Indeed, the film is like My Dinner With Andre with revolving participants. Many of the characters are played by non-actors, and even though all the characters aren’t in or right out of college, the conversations are what you would expect from college students hanging out and shooting the bull. There are a lot of wild crackpot theories, pseudo-intellectual ramblings and cultural references, and unlike My Dinner with Andre, I didn’t find the conversations very interesting or amusing. The conversations and characters also don’t really connect with each other, but Linklater seems more interested in depicting a type of person—and for me a generation. I think the film did an excellent job of that. The film takes place in Austin, Texas, but it reminded me of my time after college in Seattle. I can’t help but think that the film captures what it was like in most college towns of that era. That’s the main reason I liked this film. It’s more like a sociological document than a feature film.

1 Response to “Slacker (1991)”

  1. Reid

    Just re-watched this again. It’s not a film I enjoy per se, but my current ranking would be 85/100. Here are some reasons for this ranking:

    • It’s a great time capsule, and it’s a definitive expression of generation X. On a related note, Richard Linklater is to Gen X as John Updike and his Rabbit series is to Baby Boomers.
    • The plot-less format makes the film less accessible, but it reflects the rootlessness and meandering of the characters.
    • I still think the film does a great job of capturing Gen Xers–at least it closely mirrors my experience as someone from that generation

    One other thing. On this second viewing, it seems clear that Linklater wanted to make a film that felt like a 70’s movie–from the film stock, the look of the town (Austin, Texas?), and the cars–visually, the film felt like it was from the 70s–which is a bit strange as the film was more about Gen Xers. Whatever the case, I think the look and feel worked well with the subject matter.

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