search

Slacker

Only 35mm print in existence!

Slacker

"Slacker" is a movie with an appeal almost impossible to describe, although the method of the director, Richard Linklater, is as clear as day. He wants to show us a certain strata of campus life at the present time — a group of people he calls "slackers," although anyone who has ever lived in a campus town will also recognize them under such older names as beatniks, hippies, bohemians, longhairs, peaceniks, weirdos or the Union Regulars (for surely every campus with a student union also has a seemingly permanent body of current and former students who hang around all day drinking free coffee refills and wondering whether life as they know it exists outside the union).

Linklater wants to watch these people and listen to them, but he does not much want to get involved in their lives, or follow them through the mechanics of a plot. So he has borrowed an excellent technique from the surrealists and pushed it to its logical conclusion. Surrealist directors such as Luis Bunuel, in moves like "The Phantom of Liberty," would follow one story for a scene or so, and then — when the characters bumped into another group of people — spin off and follow them for awhile, and so on until the end of the movie.

Linklater does the same thing at a speeded-up pace that allows him to carom through the slacker community of Austin, Texas, like a cue ball with a camera. Example: Early in the film, a taxi driver picks up a fare (Linklater), who hangs over the back seat and expounds at length on his theory that every time you think of a possibility, that possibility becomes a separate reality on some other level of existence. The taxi driver is not much interested. He drops off his fare just as a car speeds away and some passersby find a woman hit-and-run victim in the street. As help is called, the camera moves in a leisurely circle until it regards a rooming house just as the same hit-and-run car pulls up in front of it. We join the driver of this car in his flat, until he is arrested by police and charged with running down his mother. Then, outside again, we follow some passersby until they . . .

And so on. This sounds like an annoying method, but actually it's rhythmic and soothing — and funny — as Linklater moves through an apparently unlinked assortment of people, including a thief who is buttonholed by his victim and taken for a walk; a man who "knows" that one of the moon astronauts saw an alien spacecraft, but his radio transmission was cut off by NASA; a woman who owns a vial containing the results of an intimate medical procedure carried out on Madonna, and various folk singers, strollers, diners, sleepers, paranoids, do-gooders, quarreling couples, friends, lovers, children and conspiracy theorists.

We don't get a story, but we do get a feeling. We are listening in on a whole stratum of American life that never gets paid attention to in the movies — the people who believe the things they read in magazines sold in places that smell like Vitamin B. They have special knowledge, occult beliefs, revolutionary health practices.

They know they are being lied to. Listen to them and you will learn how things really are. In a sense, Linklater has invented his whole style in order to listen to these people. He doesn't want to go anywhere with them. He doesn't need a car chase to wrap things up. He is simply amused.

The movie maybe runs on a little too long. Maybe you won't think so. The point is not really what is said, but the tone of voice, the word choices, the conversational strategies, the sense of life going on all the time, everywhere, all over town. In a conventional Hollywood movie, as the brain-dead characters repeat the few robotic phrases permitted them by the formulas of the screenplay, they walk down streets and sometimes I yearn to just peel away from them, cut across a lawn, walk through the wall of a house, and enter the spontaneous lives of the people living there. "Slacker" is a movie that grants itself that freedom.

— Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com

Slacker

Wed November 13, 2013, 7:00 only, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 1991, English, Color, 97 mins, 35mm, 1.37:1, R

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cover art for Spring 2 2022
Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists