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Film / Slacker

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"I may live badly, but at least I don't have to work to do it."

Slacker is a 1991 experimental film by Richard Linklater.

Set and filmed in Austin, Texas, it depicts a wide variety of slackers, paranoid conspiracy theorists, street philosophers, and other freaks and misfits as they go about their daily lives. The camera gravitates to a different group of people in every scene, giving the film a unique stream-of-consciousness style and painting a picture of the counterculture of the time. It was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress, so it must have done that right, at least.

Generally regarded as an important influence on the '90s indie film scene, specially dialog-heavy "mumblecore" movies. It was a direct influence on a then-22-year-old Kevin Smith and inspired him to make his own low-key microbudget flick.

Differs from The Slacker. See My Dinner with Andre for the film's inspiration, and Gummo for a film with a somewhat similar concept but very different execution.


Slacker provides examples of:

  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Meta-example; almost no-one's name is mentioned over the course of the film, but the credits describe them by their roles including such luminaries as Dostoyevsky Wannabe, Based on Authoritative Sources, Been on the Moon Since the 50's, Post-Modern Paul Revere and Grocery Grabber of Death's Bounty .
  • Cool Old Guy: The fake Spanish Civil War veteran anarchist.
  • Creator Cameo: The first character is played by Richard Linklater.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It starts with a bus passenger and doesn't stop.
  • Defiled Forever: While the implications of what led to the Madness Mantra entry are tragic, they're offset by the comic appropriateness of the last sentence coming from a Looney Tunes short where a dissociative Elmer Fudd repeats the line.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The entire film.
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  • Hyperlink Story: Each scene passes off to the next one via a shared shot between the characters of each.
  • Madness Mantra: "You should quit, you should quit, you should quit, you should quit..."
  • The Münchausen: The Old Anarchist tells stories about fighting in the Spanish Civil War. His daughter reveals that he and her mom visited Spain in 1955, about twenty years too late.
  • Self-Made Orphan: A woman near the beginning is mowed down in the street by a car driven by her son. He's picked up almost immediately.
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: "You should quit traumatizing women with sexual intercourse. I should know. I'm a medical doctor. I own a mansion and a yacht."
  • Who Shot JFK?: A woman who goes into a bookstore runs into a Conspiracy Theorist who recommends different books about the assassination (including Rush to Judgement, the first big one to challenge the Warren Report), and he also mentions he's working on his own book on the assassination.