Richard Linklater’s groovy-cool debut is credited, along with Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape, for jumpstarting the independent film movement of the early ’90s that eventually gave rise to Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) and Kevin Smith (whose Clerks could be seen as the foul-mouthed little brother of Slacker). Slacker showcases the various artists, students, bohemians and misfits of Austin, Texas as it focuses on a particular scenario for a few minutes before following another person into another scenario, and so forth, creating an ever-moving “Day in the Life” kind of diorama; standout characters include a UFO buff who insists the U.S. has been on the moon since the 1950s, a JFK conspiracy theorist, an elderly anarchist who shares his life philosophy with a man trying to rob his house and Linklater himself, who opens the film as a motormouth taxi passenger. Shot on 16mm for about $23,000, Slacker is now a valuable relic of its time, an affectionate love letter to the “Blue City in the Red State” from a filmmaker who would continue to explore and expand on his unique semi-improvised style in later works such as the excellent Days and Confused, Before Sunrise, Waking Life and Before Sunset. By the way, the woman on the poster is Butthole Surfers drummer Teresa Taylor, who’s seen in the film trying to sell a Madonna pap smear.
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