Skimming the Cinematic Stones: Early Linklater

Between my son’s practice in the Finger Lakes Opera ‘Carmen’ and my work on a Blue Cat Screenplay Contest Short, completing a triology of early Linklater was a challenge. But guess what, I’m not late! Santa aka ‘Boyhood’ won’t be in Rochester, New York till 8/15.

Let’s start with the wonderful surprise of Slackers (1991), a breezy yet heady walk through the lives of Austin, Texas 90’s ‘kids’. Don’t discount it because it’s old, nor get it confused with the other Slackers from 2002. Do be amazed that we’re still fighting about gun control 23 years later. The movie literally moves (like sharks) through the apartments, houses and streets of Austin. Not really big on story, more philosophical ramblings of both young and old.

The cult classic “Dazed and Confused” is from 1993 and is the first movie of two mega stars: Ben Affleck (who made me uncomfortable as a bad ass machismo frat boy) and Matthew McConaugHEY (the origin of his ‘alright, alright, alright’). Parker Posey, a mega star in my book from her tantrums in “Best in Show” (Guest 2000), also plays a cartwheeling high school sorority queen (and she pulls it off, not looking her actual 25 years of age). But, I have to say, this movie disappointed. Yeh, I get it’s a halcyon view of Linklater’s early life, but if someone gave me the choice of ’93 comedy ‘classics’ (and trust me ’93 was a barren landscape for great comedy) I’d pick ‘Grumpy Old Men’ or ‘Ground Hog Day’.

Last, in the Linklater menage, was “Waking Life”(2001), a very good case for the old adage that writers only have one story presented in different forms. Not a bad thing, considering that “Waking Life’ is Slackers grownup and animated with the addition a through character (Wiley Wiggins) as he meanders through conversations and musings of philosophers trying to decipher if he’s in a lucid dream or dead.

If you enjoy deep thought: ‘liberate from your own negativity”, existentialism as a positive realization of our free will, and last, but certainly only the tip of the movie’s ideological ice berg, that every choice we make is crucial to our life, then you’ll love “Waking Life”.

Much like “Slackers”, “Waking Life” addresses gun control with an ironic scene of a man bragging about his need to carry a gun everywhere quoting “a well armed populace is the best defense against tyranny”. I won’t tell you how that piece ends, but everyone except those pinch-your-cheeks-cute Texans can take a good guess.

In the end, this was a trilogy sandwich where the bread was better (Slackers and Waking Life) than the filling (Dazed and Confused), but indeed, it was a chewy, hearty and fulfilling sourdough. And if that line doesn’t sound like corn beef, I don’t know what does.:)

By Goldie

Aspiring writer who has retired from the institution of education. I've written plays, three of which have been performed both in Rochester NY and here in Sarasota FL. I also write stand up and obviously, film critique. My comment section does not work, so please email me your comments at

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