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A day in the life of various misfit twenty-somethings in Austin, Texas. Told in a series of short vignettes, highlights include a UFO buff who insists that the U.S. has been on the moon since the 1950s, a woman with a glass slide purportedly of Madonna's pap smear, and an old anarchist who sympathetically shares his philosophy of life with a robber.
For more about Slacker and the Slacker Blu-ray release, see Slacker Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Linklater, Rudy Basquez, Jean Caffeine, Jan Hockey, Stephan Hockey, Robert Jacks
Director: Richard Linklater
» See full cast & crew
Slacker Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 3, 2013
Richard Linklater's "Slacker" (1991) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film; collection of thirteen deleted scenes and alternate takes; pages from the original script for the film; Richard Linklater's first feature film "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books"; audio commentary with director Richard Linklater; audio commentary with cast members; audio commentary with Richard Linklater, director of photography Lee Daniel, and co-producer Clark Walker; and more. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring essays by author and filmmaker John Pierson and Michael Barker, as well as reviews, production notes, and introduction to "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books" by director Monte Hellman. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
There are two important characters in director Richard Linklater's 1991 film Slacker. The first is called time, the second atmosphere.
The entire film takes place in Austin, Texas, Linklater's home town, over the course of 24 hours. There are two groups of people here. Those in the first group have fairly well organized lives. Each day they wake up, go to work and then come back home exhausted to recharge their batteries. On the following day, they do it again. But Linklater isn't particularly interested in them, which is why his camera rarely spends time observing them.
The people in the second group are beatniks, punks, apolitical potheads, and hustlers. Some of them like to talk a lot, others prefer to listen. Quite a few also prefer to spend time alone because they do not like to talk or listen to other people talking.
Linklater is fascinated with the people in the second group because they have completely ignored the rules of the System, and by doing so made it irrelevant. They don't care about money and they don't care about their community image. Their minds are focused on bigger things, such as human progress, the future of the planet, and the possible arrival of the mighty Krishna.
The two groups of people co-exist in an unusual harmony. They mingle, but as soon as they figure out their identities they head in opposite directions. Each group is convinced that the other is too odd, simply impossible to engage in a meaningful conversation.
The film is structured as a collage of overlapping vignettes. In each vignette Linklater observes from afar different individuals from the second group who share their thoughts and ideas and then introduce a new group of individuals with similar views. Occasionally the tone of the discussions changes, but the casual flow of the 'story' remains the same.
What is said in these discussions is unimportant. The idea here is to give the viewer a good sense of the time and atmosphere that have inspired them. To be perfectly clear, the entire film essentially provides a snapshot of American life without any sugarcoating or any biased social commentary.
Shot on 16mm with a very small budget, Slacker looks appropriately raw. However, the transitions from one sequence to another are surprisingly well done. Indeed, the exact timing (and specifically the beginning and ending of each sequence) and positioning of the camera are of utmost importance.
Slacker was lensed by Lee Daniel, who also collaborated with Linklater on his Dazed and Confused (1993), Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Fast Food Nation (2006).
In 2012, Linklater's Slacker was selected for preservation and listed with the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Slacker Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Linklater's Slacker arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criteiron.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"Supervised by director Richard Linklater and director of photography Lee Daniel, this high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine from a 16mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Transfer supervisors: Lee Daniel, Lee Kline, Richard Linklater.
Colorist: Joe Gawler/Technicolor, New York."
Excluding some light banding that I noticed after Linklater exits the taxi, the presentation is indeed quite good. The film looks appropriately raw - depth and clarity are very good despite various minor fluctuations, while colors remain stable. Light noise is visible throughout the entire film, but its presence never becomes overly distracting. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue of concern. Overall image stability is good. When projected, the film remains tight around the edges of the frame and depth never suffers. Lastly, there are no large damage marks, cuts, debris, or stains. However, there are a few tiny white flecks that occasionally pop up here and there. To sum it all up, there is definitely some room for improvement, but the current presentation is indeed quite good. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Slacker Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Dynamic intensity is very limited. However, considering how and under what conditions Slacker was shot, this should not be surprising. This said, the conversations are very crisp, stable, and easy to follow. There is no background hiss, pops, cracks, or other general stability issues to report in this review.
Slacker Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Slacker Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Richard Linklater's Slacker offers a glimpse at a place that no longer exists - the quiet but alive City of Austin, TX with its legendary Les Amis cafe. If you haven't seen the film before, I urge you do so as soon as possible. It has a terrific style and quite a bit of attitude. If you have and like it, you should consider adding Criterion's Blu-ray release to your collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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