October 19, 2014


Richard Linklater, 1991
Most of the great modern filmmakers have that one particular film early in their career. Typically a more primitive representation of their abilities, it showcases some of their ideas and thoughts but not in such an organized or refined fashion. Of course you need experience to evolve. Kevin Smith has Clerks. Steven Soderburgh has Sex, Lies, and Videotape. David Lynch has Eraserhead. While all of the aforementioned films have varying levels of quality associated with them, they all display a certain root quality to each director. Linklater’s Slacker is probably more messy than all of those, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Linklater is a man who has a lot to say, and before he made the Before films where he had an Ethan Hawke-led Jesse vessel to deliver it, it came off as a lot of disorganized stoner talk and philosophical ranting. All in the setting of a pre-Hipster Austin Texas. When you get a good look at this 1990’s Austin, you understand the inevitable influx of hipsterdom to the city that would come in the later years. The amateurish quality to the film is certainly revealed when you even see a finger at the top of the frame in one of the scenes. But there is something there, some qualities that you will see in Dazed and Confused and even in School of Rock. What separates these characters from Linklater's future characters is certainly a sense of purpose, or at least principle.

In a way it’s a film that questions a lot of things. Authority in it’s many forms. Uncle Sam, parents, the police, the boss. An examination of the aimless Gen X population. Drifters, couch surfers. People with a lack of conviction to virtually everything in their lives. Habitual moochers in the same vein as the Freegan movement. All laid out with Linklater’s signature tracking shots, only this time focused on people with fanny packs and acid washed jeans.

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