Criterion Corner: Slacker. 1991

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray. They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim the Oscar to be the ultimate recognition. Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition. Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers. This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.

slacker cover v5


Cast: Too many to list.

Writer and Director Richard Linklatter.

This debut film from Richard Linklatter is lacking the one key thing to be called a movie and that is conflict. As I have mentioned before in other reviews.  Conflict albeit internal or external makes any story more fascinating. Without it I’m just watching people talk for over two hours. In some cases those flicks can be fun because it has interesting characters and they are discussing fascinating things.  Other times it can become very dull and dry and the characters talking are just boring beyond the words they speak.  What makes “Slacker” stand out and be enjoyable is that it is a collage of different scenes sewn together.  If you don’t like one moment.  Just wait a few minutes, new characters show up and a whole new scene takes place.

The film begins with a man(Richard Linklatter himself) getting off a bus and into a cab.  He talks to the driver a bit about dreams and exits the ride.  As he walks down the street, he sees the outcome of a hit and run accident.  That same car involved just goes around the block and shows back on the same street.  The driver involved goes up to the house,hangs out in his room and is eventually arrested.  As he is being escorted out by police we see another character walking down the street and we now follow that person.  The whole movie goes from one character to the next in no real order.  None of the moments with these people  last longer then ten minutes before we are on to the next person.
Slacker” feels like Linklatter and crew just took a camera and started following people around downtown.  Nothing feels scripted, so it surprised me that it was.  One thing that stands out in many of his works is that the dialog feels so natural.  Each character in this is bizarre, but I found some of the things they were talking about to be very engaging. Maybe it’s because I have met these people before and have wanted to spark up a conversation, but was afraid they would stab me with a syringe. I don’t know.  This was a kind of template of what we would eventually see in classics like “Dazed and Confused” and “Before Sunrise“(Co Writer Kim Krizan is featured near the end as the woman who questions happiness at the restaurant).  I’m not going to say that this was a groundbreaking movie even in the whole Indie Film movement but it was nice  spending a day with these characters.  None of them could hold an entire movie by themselves, but their quick moments were entertaining enough. I watched this like I was reading a book.  I would watch only a few chapters at night right before bed.  This would help alleviate any type of boredom I would have experienced if I watch this whole thing in just one sitting.

It’s great to watch the first movies by filmmakers you like.  In them you get to see the the staples they kept and the ones they improved on.  “Slacker” needs improvement but it’s not a failure.


New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound supervised by director Richard Linklater and director of photography Lee Daniel, made from original 16mm film elements
Three audio commentaries featuring Richard Linklater and members of the cast and crew
It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988), Linklater’s first full-length feature, with commentary by the director, available here for the first time on home video
Casting tapes featuring select “auditions” from the over one-hundred-member cast, with an essay from production manager/casting director Anne Walker-McBay
An early film treatment
Home movies
Woodshock, an early short 16mm film made by Linklater and Lee Daniel in 1985|
“The Roadmap,” the working script of Slacker, including fourteen deleted scenes and alternate takes
Ten-minute trailer for a documentary about the landmark Austin café, Les Amis, which served as location for several scenes in Slacker
Stills gallery featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production and publicity photos
Footage from the Slacker tenth-anniversary in Austin, Texas, in 2001
Original theatrical trailer
Slacker culture essay by Linklater
Information about the Austin Film Society, founded in 1985 by Linklater with Daniel, including early flyers from screenings
English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
PLUS: A 64-page booklet featuring essays by author and filmmaker John Pierson (Spike Mike Reloaded: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of Independent American Cinema) and Michael Barker, head of Sony Pictures Classics, as well as reviews, production notes, a complete cast and crew listing, and an introduction to It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books by director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, The Shooting)

About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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4 Responses to Criterion Corner: Slacker. 1991

  1. nasen75 says:

    I feel like this is the kind of movie that could easily have fallen into being just like The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, which was a god-awful made-for-TV movie that had no real story. In fact, MMT was unscripted and the movie was sort of shot based on some notes Paul McCartney scribbled somewhere. That said, I will say Slacker must be impressive to be able to pull this off.

  2. The Vern says:

    Yes but MMT did not get a Criterion release. It is impressive though just not all that great

  3. Dan Heaton says:

    Vern, I’m glad you’re spotlighting Slacker, which I’ve enjoyed more each time I’ve seen it. I disagree that all movies need conflict, as some may just explore a specific theme or community without having a specific conflict involved with it. Even so, I see where you’re coming from and always appreciate it when Slacker gets spotlighted. Nice work!

  4. The Vern says:

    Thank you Dan I appreciate your thoughts on this and a wide assortment of topics. I rewatched Waking Life immeditatly after seeing this. Both are very simular but I love the conversations way more in Waking Life.

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