I had a bit of an American independent cinema double-bill today, second film being posted tomorrow, where I started out with this early film by Richard Linklater. Since I watched Boyhood before I started doing my regular Oscar film posts (and because of the criminality of his Before… series not being on the list) this will be the first and only of his films that I am actually blogging about.
Slacker is one of those sorts of films that really isn’t about anything, instead being made of a loose series of shorts about different people in Austin, Texas (usually Gen X, but some older people appear from time to time). The thing that the people have in common is that they have removed themselves from the general line of society in someway – like how one is an anarchist, another is a conspiracy theorist and another is lost in his own thoughts of alternate universes and branching pathways that he ends up making an impromptu return trip in a taxi.
On the whole, the film is more like an interesting character study of a generation and is an attempt to make a reclamation of the term ‘slacker’ to not necessarily mean a person who is lazy, but rather an alternative lifestyle that doesn’t quite conform to what the previous generation tried to thrust on them. I guess the equivalent for my generation would be ‘hipster’, which would be a very different film with many an argument about Fair Trade coffee blends.
Since it doesn’t exactly have a through line, the strength needed to carry this through for me is variation in the stories and the quality of the characters. It’s a bit obvious at times that some people aren’t professional actors – but they are propped up by some ridiculous stories like trying to sell a stolen pap smear belonging to Madonna.
In the end though, Slacker is not quite the film for me – but I can appreciate that this was a film that was a real shot in the arm for the US Independent film movement and that, without this, we probably would not have had Clerks. I still wish Before Sunrise or Before Sunset were on the list, but I get why this is.