Be Kind Rewind: ‘Slacker’
In 1991, Richard Linklater would release his first film, Slacker. Now, most will probably recognize him for films like Boyhood and Dazed and Confused, but this film was the one that took the usual approach to tell a story and threw it out of the window. Releasing six years before I was born, it would be more than an understatement to say that I was the target audience for this film. In fact, when I had first came into contact with this film around the time I graduated high school, no one had even heard of the movie. However, it didn’t halt me from trying to get any, if not everyone, to see this film. Moving from one character to another, it took me a little longer to figure out that once a character left the screen it was as if you’d never see this character again.
What makes a film like Slacker so good is the fact that it works not as a solid story, but the idea of it. The film is abstract without being abstract; we go from conversation to conversation, while hearing all of these ideas and meeting all of these people as if we are in the movie. The film takes the audience on this adventure that makes you feel just as nuts as some of the characters in it. The beauty of watching the film the way I did, almost allowed me to watch it as if I was an audience member at the time because I had no clue what Linklater looked like. I’d heard of Dazed and Confused, but I didn’t even see a trailer. I went straight in, and within seconds, I was hooked. That first scene where the guy gets off the bus, then gets into the cab and he just goes on and on about this dream and this theory about separate realities being created based on thoughts and actions. I was unable to move my eyes away because I was curious about what he was going to end a sentence with, if they were going to cut, and the taxi driver’s face. My real amazement would come after the film from two things. The first being that this pretty much foreshadowed the rest of the film. Instead of staying with characters, once one appeared on-screen we got the chance to follow them and see where life took them until the cycle continued. The second was that the person speaking was the director himself, acting as his own mouthpiece for the film.
I was so excited about this realization that I watched it again and again until I got my hands on Dazed and Confused. Another reason the film stands out to me to be so good is the fact of how simple it is; it doesn’t strive to be an Academy film, and it holds true to the idea of just making a movie, which is what most indie filmmakers at the time held in their mentality. Kevin Smith, one of those indie filmmakers, has gone on countless times to talk about this film as the inspiration for Clerks. Recalling his first experience watching the film, he said, “I can do that.” Kevin Smith experienced the same feeling that many others, like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, would give off in their own films—even breaking down the filmmaking process to just going out with a camera and shooting it.
While Slacker might not hold up as well today, in terms of what specific things the characters go over, there is an undeniable place that this film holds in cinema. I love this film because not only does it hold true to that essence of telling the story we believe in, but it’s a film everyone can enjoy almost anytime if you REALLY like movies.
The introduction—I remember when I first saw Slacker, the last thing on my mind was that this was going tell me the entire movie in the first couple of seconds. It took me a good three times from starting at the beginning to really pick up on what was going on, but when I did, it definitely demonstrated the importance of the intro.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Be Kind Rewind Score: A-
It’s a film you undoubtedly have to respect, even if you did not like it.
-Linklater at the beginning
-Everyone is practically in their own world
-No real sign of direction is what gave the film the most direction
-Dialogue flowed from everyone