SLACKER directed by Richard Linklater (USA, 1991)
Two definitions from Urban Dictionary :
SLACKER - Someone who puts off doing things to the last minute, and when the last minutes comes, decides it wasn’t all that important anyways and forgets about it.
SLACKERS - a group of guys who like to hang out and do nothing.
Two typical conversations from ‘Slacker’, the movie:
Q – What’s up man? A – Not much OR
Q – Hey, what’s going on? A – Nothing
‘Slacker’ follows the day in the life of a cast of youths in Austin, Texas who share the ability to turn idleness into an art form and who are content to spend their days “lolligagging around” or just vaguely hanging out.
One prefers to stay home rather than go out to the lake because he hates the idea of “premeditated fun”. Another can’t decide if he is remembering something that happened to him or whether he saw it on TV. Continue reading
The second in a series of 13 book reviews written in my pre-blogging years.
MOLLOY by Samuel Beckett (First published in English – translated from French – in 1955)
Molloy is far from being a conventional novel. In fact, Beckett seems to mock traditional plot devices and characterisation.
He gives impressions of people and places through images rather than details. He pointedly avoids using descriptions, apparently regarding them as superfluous. Of a bicycle he writes : “I would gladly write four thousand words on it alone” but does not do so!
The novel is divided into two sections, both written in the first person singular. The first is by Molloy, the second is by Moran. Through these two characters Beckett explores the central themes of freedom, doubt and human frailty.
At first the two elderly men seem dissimilar aside from the fact that they are both world-weary. Gradually they become to seem like one of the same person with Moran as the public face of Molloy.
Moran’s comment that “As soon as two things are nearly identical, I am lost”, is therefore highly significant.
Each slowly becomes aware of their failings. They have tried trusting in others but now feel disillusioned. Molloy says “All the things you would do gladly, oh, without enthusiasm but gladly, all the things there seems to be no reason for your not doing and that you do not do! Can it be that we are not free? It might be worth looking into”. Continue reading
WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys (First published by André Duetsch, 1966)
If you’re as geographically challenged as I am, you probably need to be told exactly where The Sargasso Sea is. A Google search will throw up maps locating the stretch of water in the North Atlantic near the West Indies. Further research identifies it as a kind of oceanic black hole into which many an unsuspecting voyager has disappeared.
Written late in life, Wide Sargasso Sea is widely viewed as Rhys’ masterpiece and it’s certainly her most famous work. Rhys chose the title as a metaphor for a great divide between the island of the West Indies and mainland Europe. Various forms of physical, emotional, cultural, racial and psychological separation make up the content of this rich yet challenging novel.
Jean Rhys’ father was a Welsh doctor and her mother was a white Creole. She was born in Domenica in 1890 and came to England when she was 16. She married twice and her relationships with men never ran smoothly. Her unusual background and resistance to bourgeois convention gave her an affinity for the exile and an innate sympathy for women who, in search of protection, are open to exploitation. Continue reading
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE directed by Jim Jarmusch (UK / Germany, 2013)
The future’s so dark you have to wear shades.
Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleson & Tilda Swinton) must be the coolest vampires ever to haunt the big screen.
They look so perfect together – an Emo Goth and an ice maiden, black on white.
A still of them lying naked together is so faultless it looks suspiciously like it’s been photo-shopped but who cares?
As an ageless undead couple they are resigned to living by night; wearing shades to protect their eyes from the glare of moonlight. Continue reading
THIS BOY’S LIFE by Tobias Wolff (Picador 1990, first published 1989)
I picked this book up by chance in a second-hand store in Rimini. There was a copy of Wolff’s collected short stories too but I was more drawn to this autobiography or ‘memoir’ as he prefers to call it.
The cover promises something of the mythical America I know mainly from movies. The illustration by Irish painter Kenny McKendry shows a station wagon being filled up at a remote gas station and a young male figure standing apart in a cap and dungarees. It’s like an open air version of an Edward Hopper painting.
I also liked the author’s choice of epigraphs; one by Saul Alinsky (“He who fears corruption fears life”) and the other by Oscar Wilde: “The first duty in life is to assume a pose. What the second is, no one has yet discovered”. Both these quotations suggest an unconventional, yet worldly wisdom and humor.
I knew nothing of the writer nor that the book had been made into a movie starring Robert De Niro and a very young Leonardo DiCaprio. If you Google the book title, you get an image of these two A-list actors in Boy Scout uniforms.
I decided not to watch any trailers or clips so as not to be distracted or influenced by someone else’s views of the story. I habitually avoid synopses and reviews for the same reason; something that’s getting harder and harder to do in the age of information overload. I like coming to things with as blank a slate as possible so I can make my own mind up.
This Boy’s Life is a slight variant on Boy’s Life, the official scout magazine. Scouting is, fortunately, only one strand of the story which takes up the formative years of Wolff’s life from 1955, when he was 10, to the time when he has to choose between university or other options, I guess in his late teens. Continue reading