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SLACKER

USA, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Richard Linklater

Easily the year's most admirably eccentric movie is Richard Linklater's no-budget, college-town comedy Slacker. The 27-year-old Linklater shot the film over a couple of months last summer in and around his hometown Austin, Texas. Linklater, a college dropout who avoided the traps of film school, came to filmmaking from toying with Super-8. And the loosey-goosey, improvisatory, home-movie mode of filmmaking clearly shows in this aus­picious first feature, which sweeps the streets, the cafes, the bookshops and hang-outs to find the palpable pulse of contemporary life.

The question is, whose life? The term 'slacker', destined to become one of the key­words of the decade, applies to that generation of unemployed, white, urban, college-educated boho. Raised and nurtured on conspiracy theo­ries, talkback radio, MTV, greed and sci-fi fan­tasies, slackers grew up absurd.

Structured as a series of vignettes, the film uses its 130-plus characters as a continuous relay-team. With marathon tracking-shots, Linklater follows a group of characters until another arrives, following that one until anoth­er comes along, and so on.

While the film's style of long-takes and endless talk (My Dinner With Andre for the MTV generation, according to one reviewer) avoids the heavy-handed tug-of-sympathy of most conventional films, Linklater resists the temptation to turn this rag-tag procession into a side-show. There's no mistaking Linklater's affection and respect for his characters; per­haps Linklater is not unlike the character in the film who declares that he has given up on humanity at large. "I can only address myself to singular human beings now," he says. Yo!

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