Friday, June 28, 2013

SLACKER (1991) - Richard Linklater

It's a forgone conclusion that I cherish the movie Slacker. I've already opined enough how much it influenced me way back when as a budding cineaste and a budding filmmaker. No need to belabor the point again here. I've watched the film at least five times in the last 20 or so years and again the other night. It's no longer a question of whether I appreciate Slacker and all its DIY merits, its casual revolving door narrative. The only question now is which "slacker" in Slacker I like the best. It seems to change with each subsequent viewing as my own tastes morph over the years.

The first time I saw it in '91 my favorite was probably everyone's favorite...The Madonna Pap Smear Pusher. A memorable gynecological rant to be sure, but after noting that the poster and all Slacker press materials seemed to be built around her, I think my kneejerk nonconformist tendencies kicked in. I went looking greener pastures, fresher slackers.

The UFO Guy (or, as named in the end credits, "Been on the Moon Since the '50s") was the next obvious choice. His conspiracy theory rich monologue (and his toupee and his Batman shirt) had me at hello. Or "Hello, I think the FBI might be following us." I also appreciated the fact that he carried his ice coffee for the length of his monologue (several long blocks) in a glass cadged from Captain Quackenbush's as opposed to a paper cup.

From delusional paranoid to paranoid schizophrenic, my next favorite slacker for a while had to be the lady in the café who repeats "You Must Never Traumatize a Woman Sexually" over and over again. She had panache. Also, fantastic buggy eyes.

The next time, it was another obvious choice...the surly Hitchhiker in Black (Linklater fave, Charles Gunning). Many of the lines from his rant about getting back from his stepdad's funeral and being overjoyed that he is dead ("I might go back later...tap dance on his fucking grave") speedily made their way into my everyday conversations.

Eventually, my tastes mellowed, became a little more subtle. The Old Anarchist held at gunpoint who takes the young robber under his wing, singing the praises of Charles Whitman grew on me like a fine aged wine.

Then there was the girl at the menstrual cycle party with the Oblique Strategies cards and a mysterious black eye.

But, this time around, I kind of cottoned to the Guy in a Roomful of TVs. His rant about seeing a stabbing in real life and being disappointed that the blood did not look as real as it did on his TVs had a certain shut-in poetry to it. Remember, this was in '91, on tube TVs, before there was an widescreen HDTV in almost every living room. Some movies have a very short, very specific lifespan. Despite being inexorably linked to the '90s and the whole Gen X thing, Slacker, for me, only gets better with age. When I watch it again in another five years, I wonder who my new favorite slacker will be.

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