247 Slacker

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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denti alligator
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247 Slacker

#1 Post by denti alligator » Thu Nov 18, 2004 1:27 am

Slacker

Image Image

Slacker, directed by Richard Linklater, presents a day in the life of a loose-knit Austin, Texas, subculture populated by eccentric and overeducated young people. Shooting on 16 mm for a mere $3,000, writer-producer-director Linklater and his crew of friends threw out any idea of a traditional plot, choosing instead to create a tapestry of over a hundred characters, each as compelling as the last. Slacker is a prescient look at an emerging generation of aggressive nonparticipants, and one of the key films of the American independent film movement of the 1990s.

Disc Features

- New, restored high-definition digital film transfer, supervised by director Richard Linklater and director of photo­graphy Lee Daniel, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Three audio commentaries, featuring Linklater and members of the cast and crew
- It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988), Linklater’s first full-length feature, with commentary by the director
- Woodshock, a 1985 16 mm short by Linklater and Daniel
- Casting tapes featuring select “auditions” from the more-than-100-member cast
- “The Roadmap,” the working script for Slacker, including fourteen deleted scenes and alternate takes (DVD)
- Deleted scenes and alternate takes (Blu-ray)
- Footage from the Slacker tenth-anniversary reunion
- Early film treatment
- Home movies
- Ten-minute trailer for a 2005 documentary about the landmark Austin café Les Amis
- Original theatrical trailer
- Stills gallery featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production and publicity photos (DVD only)
- Slacker culture essay by Linklater (DVD only)
- Information about the Austin Film Society, founded in 1985 by Linklater with Daniel, including early flyers from screenings (DVD only)

- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by author and film­maker John Pierson and Michael Barker, as well as reviews, production notes, and an introduction to It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books by director Monte Hellman


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Poncho Punch
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#2 Post by Poncho Punch » Thu Nov 18, 2004 2:54 am

denti alligator wrote:I was ready not to like this film, but I was really taken by it.
I found it totally rivetting, actually. Very watchable, funny, sad, poignant. What do others think?
I had a similar experience with this. It sounded like something that would appeal to me in theory, but would bore me after 15 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to find it as interesting as it was.

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#3 Post by cdnchris » Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:19 am

Might as well briefly repeat myself on this one (from the old forum), loved it when I first saw it a decade ago, and revisiting it again lately (the first time in a few years) I still enjoyed it, but admittedly found it growing a little more tedious as it progressed during the last half hour or so, but then finding it to pick up again in the last few minutes.

Some scenes I didn't like now as much as I used to (the Madonna pap smear) and some I liked a lot more (the anarchist and the guy trying to forget his ex girlfriend.) Overall I still like it, but will probably only ever watch it a few more times in my lifetime.

My appreciation for it grew more, though, after I watched the other film on the set. I may be alone, but Yikes! Slacker is a Bruckheimer extravaganza compared to that one.

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#4 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri Nov 19, 2004 3:01 pm

I remember discovering this film in university and watching it many many times with a friend of mine and we totally riffed on the apparently random structure of the movie. What I like about it so much is that as soon as one person or group starts to get boring, the film moves on to someone else. Linklater never lingers too long and this keeps things fresh and interesting. Some people get several minutes of screen time, some only a few seconds.

My favourite characters in the film tend to be the obsessive, conspiracy buff guys, like the man who believes that we’ve been on the Moon since the 1950s with the aid of anti-gravity drives (my favourite) and the JFK conspiracy buff who rambles on obsessively about the minutiae of various theories (and his own book tentatively titled, “Profiles in Cowardice” or “Conspiracy A-Go-Go”).

There are also more poignant characters, like an aging anarchist who surprises a would-be robber at his house and instead of turning him in, talks to him at length about the city’s rich history of anarchism, that I really enjoy. There is such a rich variety of characters in this film that make it so enjoyable (at least for me) to watch again and again.

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#5 Post by Ted Todorov » Mon Dec 13, 2004 12:31 pm

I just saw it (for the second time) and liked at much more than when I saw it orginally (about 8 years ago?). At the time I was expecting a similar experience to Dazed and Confused and was bitterly disapointed. Now, not only did I greatly enjoy it, but was also surprised at how well it holds up against Waking Life and the Before... movies.

The extras are amazing. Between the 3(!!) commentary tracks and all the other stuff, I was floored. Also the transfer quality (considering the source) is beyond beleif. A real CC gem!

Ted

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#6 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Dec 13, 2004 12:46 pm

If you are from the UK then Channel 4 are shopwing an episode of The Art Show documentary at 8pm tonight about Richard Linklater. This is the write-up in the Radio Times:
The Art Show: St Richard of Austin

Emerging alongside Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino during the indie film boom of the 1990s Richard Linklater has become one of America's most respected leftfield filmmakers. Spending time with Linklater in Austin, Texas, presenter Ben Lewis discovers how the director has managed to remain true to his somewhat anti-American beliefs while achieving official and financial success with films like School of Rock. Hollywood A-listers including Jack Black, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr also discuss the merits of the man himself.

"Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy" says a character in Richard Linklaters 1991 film Slacker. Its a great motto for slackers everywhere: Linklater's rambling films helped to define the 1990s "generation X" mood. Amazingly he has gone on to become one of America's hottest directors with films such as Before Sunrise, recent hit School of Rock and Before Sunset, so presenter Ben Lewis tries to pin down what his work is really driving at. The results are thought provoking. Theres plenty of access to Linklater and his circle, insights into his home town of Austin and some dopey musings on the "velvet rut" of slackerdom. Lewis tries to make his documentary resemble a Linklater film, which is a mistake - and its ten minutes longer than it needs to be - but its still well worth watching.

David Butcher
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#7 Post by neuro » Sat Feb 26, 2005 5:17 am

I'd been skipping around Linklater's work (excluding his more mainstream efforts such as School of Rock or The Newton Boys) in the past, enjoying all of it immensely, and finally came to this film late, oddly enough. My reaction was similar to denti's; I was completely expecting something else, but was totally blindsided by this.

So, some random thoughts...

Many have commented the loose structure of the film, but to my mind, it's carefully studied looseness. It's all very planned and intentional. Many films can be called organic, but this one really personifies the word; it's practically a living thing. There's something, to my mind, vaguely sculptural about the structure and tone of this film; Linklater assembles the universe piece-by-piece, a limb here and there. It very much resembles what Linklater himself is spouting off at the onset of the film - how tangential thoughts essentially create their own new reality.

It's also described as wordy, and it absolutely is; at the same time, it's only partly about what is actually being said, but also who is saying it, where they're saying it, to whom they're saying it, and what time of the day they're saying it (as well as how that particular fragment of ideas contributes to the tone of the film as a whole). I find myself getting lost in the conversation, grasping at points here and there, which adds to the sculptural element.

What I perhaps respect about Linklater's work is the "realness" of it, meaning that, while his dialogue is inflated, his characters and the time and place they inhabit seem very tangible. I always feel like I've experienced certain aspects of Linklater's films at some point in my life. I've loved much of his work, and this one may now be my favorite.

Oh, and randomly: that Butthole Surfers track during the credits is killer.

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#8 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:58 am

I was going to write something interesting then thought, nah, why bother and watched some TV!
neuro wrote:I find myself getting lost in the conversation, grasping at points here and there, which adds to the sculptural element.
Thats part of the reason why I like the film so much as well. I think it is more a mood than a dialogue film, even though everyone is constantly talking. You just need to catch the gist of people's conversations and then you can tune in and out of it, similar to a lot of casual, time wasting (or perhaps a better slacker term, time passing, because wasting suggests you could be doing something else or something 'better', and a true slacker wouldn't think that way!) conversations I'd bet. You're talking, but not particularly engaged; or on the other hand so passionate about something that it doesn't matter if anyone else is bothered - it engages you; or occasionally you find someone on the same wavelength and then the conversation really gets going (similar to how I think the forum works!).

As an audience I think people 'get' that the bar worker is hitting on the English girl, or that the guy has disappeared leaving his postcards, or the conversation about cartoon characters or conspiracy theories or car maintenance or cheating girlfriends very quickly on entering the scene and then can either listen as the characters go off on their riffs or tune out in the knowledge that soon the film will sooner or later tune out and move on itself. The film doesn't do this because it is particularly bored with the characters, it is just wandering around in an omniscient way and listening in, maybe following, maybe staying behind, giving us a nice view of a way people are living (and more importantly their inner lives by taking notice of their relationships, hobbies and interests) through dramatised encounters.

I'm not up with music at all and am ashamed to admit that the only exposure I had to the Butthole Surfer band before was the Simpson episode with either Rod or Todd Flanders wearing the T-shirt and saying "Look mom, I'm a surfer!", and I'm going to try and find out more about the group. I also liked the upbeat track over the final sequence, especially given the way that both the last two tracks seem to perfectly fit the mood of the end of Slacker (both up and downbeat!), but I think that the final upbeat musical section and the end music is illustrating how the film is not going for a realistic depiction of real conversations (as say Altman might), but is aiming at capturing a mood of engagement and interest in life, however wacky and (to use the latest forum fad word) 'fetishistic', that is psychologically true.

I also want to say how much I enjoyed It's Impossible To Learn to Plow By Reading Books. If there had not been so many other excellent things released I would have voted for it in the Criterion awards (the three commentaries on Slacker itself were excellent as well, and having one track for the director, one for crew and one for cast is perfect for this film). Its a rough film but surprisingly good and I was hooked for the whole running time, despite or perhaps because of, very little of note happening. It is also an amazing technical achievement and I could never imagine being able to do anything similar myself!

I wonder if the girl in the train station ever got in touch with Linklater again?
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 7:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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#9 Post by Theodore R. Stockton » Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:48 am

Question concerning "Plow"
Anyone know what the second movie they are watching is? The first is The Killing. The second I recognized dialogue from and it's driving me crazy. It's a guy and a girl talking about reading something. She says "I liked it." He says she didn't understand it and finally she admits it and says "I don't understand it but I like it. I don't understand you but I like you. I love you." These lines are so familiar that it's going to piss me off all throughout the rest of the movie.

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#10 Post by Galen Young » Sun Mar 27, 2005 10:20 am

Theodore R. Stockton wrote:Question concerning "Plow"
Anyone know what the second movie they are watching is?
I believe that is Some Came Running directed by Vincente Minnelli, 1958. Frank Sinatra & Shirley MacLaine are doing the talking?

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#11 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jun 09, 2005 6:24 am

There is a very interesting article here about how the Oblique Strategies cards came about. The article also has a link to this site with more information.

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zedz
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#12 Post by zedz » Fri Jun 10, 2005 9:23 pm

I believe you can still buy Oblique Strategies decks from Eno's online store. Check out enoweb for the link.

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#13 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Jul 05, 2006 1:29 pm

Salon's got an excellent retrospective look/oral history of the movie:

http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature ... 5/slacker/

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#14 Post by exte » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:54 pm

[quote]The WayBack Machine
Wednesday 2 August 2006 @ 4:57 pm

I celebrated my twenty first birthday unceremoniously by working the two to ten thirty shift at Quick Stop.

I was single then, having recently severed ties with Kim Loughran, my high school sweetheart. She was home from college for the summer, and I'd spent most of that June trying to get our relationship back on a track I'd felt her tenure at Carnegie Mellon had disrupted. Despite my best efforts to get our on-again/off-again status reassigned to active duty, it had become clear that I'd been reduced in status from love-of-her-life to a mere summertime fling - at which point I'd thrown in the towel.

Who could blame Kim, really, for not seeing a future with me as she once did in eleventh and twelfth grade? She was in her sophomore year in a top-notch college, and I was direction-less and drifting through life back home. It became harder and harder for Kim to see me as husband material after my short-lived college career at the New School for Social Research ended after only a winter semester. And while I'd taken a few for-the-fuck-of-it courses with Bryan Johnson at the local community college, it was clear that I wasn't going to put said studies to good use (i.e. - I was never gonna be a criminologist). As unattractive as I normally was, my complete lack of ambition must've made me even less so.

As if a twenty one year old with no plan wasn't sad enough, I was still living at home with my parents - something neither of my elder siblings had done since graduating high school and heading to university years prior. Mom and Dad weren't kicking me out of the nest, thank God, but they'd been chiding me to find a better job for some time. I knew that the arrival of legal adulthood would only up the ante on their campaign to get me out of the five-buck-an-hour convenience store service industry and into a gig that paid better and might finally deliver me from the realm of the per-hour rate into the promised elysium fields of a grown-up career.

So with no birthday celebration looming, how did I opt to spend my birthday? Behind the register, slinging smokes. My friends stopped by during my shift, but no post-work plans were made. When the steel shutters were closed at the end of the night, it would also signal the close of my first day as a numerical adult.

Around nine at night, my friend and co-worker Vincent Pereira closed up R.S.T. Video for the evening and joined me at Quick Stop, to stock the milk and mop the floors before heading off. We got to talking about movies, as per usual, and I told him about a review I'd read in the Village Voice for a film called “Slackerâ€

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#15 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:53 pm

From GreenCine Daily:
March 10, 2007
Austin Dispatch. 2.

The biggest laugh from the SRO crowd following John Pierson's conversation with Richard Linklater this afternoon came after the author of Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes pulled out a letter from an aspiring filmmaker written to him around 1990 or so. Slacker, the young Linklater suggested, might be aimed at a niche described in an enclosed Time magazine article profiling an aimless generation of 20-somethings who not only might identify with the characters but also happened to be a rather cinema-savvy bunch. This was an audience that actually read about movies before they went to see them.

Linklater, now 46, listened stoically and then remarked that so often, when one's confronted with such evidence of youth and naivete, deep cringes of embarrassment are the only possible reaction. But not this time. Listening to the letter, his immediate reaction is, "You know: that guy's on it."

Of course, he also admits to being very lucky as to what immediately followed the film: Douglas Coupland's Generation X, Nirvana and so on, events that would both shape and define 90s-era culture in such a way that Slacker can now, in retrospect, only be seen as one of a very few essential ur-texts of the decade.

At the time, though, it certainly wasn't perceived as a cultural milestone. Pierson roused more laughs with an Austin Chronicle letter to the editor complaining that the characters of the film were contributing nothing to the world or to the city of Austin and were not deserving of screen time in a film that, at any rate, isn't about anything - "underlined twice."

When Pierson asked Linklater about three of the greatest and three of the worst moments in his career, one from each category, it turns out, was experienced during the making of Slacker and the struggle to get it seen. Hardly a surprise, given that this was his first feature and the emotional ups and downs would only be intensified by the make-or-break stakes. The good moment: Credit cards maxed out, bank account emptied, the works, he thought he'd have to stop production indefinitely when a letter plopped in from German broadcaster WDR: it contained a check for $35,000 - enough to complete the film.

Oddly, there's a German angle to the worst Slacker moment as well. Once the film was complete, he took it to the Market at the Berlin film festival. Four people showed up at the screening. Three were friends. The stranger wandered out before the film was over. But of course, ultimately, thanks in no small part to Pierson, Slacker did find a distributor, the bunch that would eventually become Sony Classics.

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#16 Post by Narshty » Mon Jul 02, 2007 9:21 am

An article about the design process behind the Slacker packaging.

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Re: 247 Slacker

#17 Post by manicsounds » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:44 am

Slack To The Future, the 20th anniversary screening in Austin.
One of my favorite Criterion releases here, but after all these years, I still haven't watched "Plow" on disc 2...

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Re: 247 Slacker

#18 Post by skuhn8 » Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:25 am

manicsounds wrote:Slack To The Future, the 20th anniversary screening in Austin.
One of my favorite Criterion releases here, but after all these years, I still haven't watched "Plow" on disc 2...
I remember watching Slacker when I was in University upon initial VHS release--I just didn't get it, couldn't connect at all, which is strange as looking back it should have spoken to me at that time more than any other. But took a stab at it again with the CC release and have to say it's one of my favs. But I dove right into Plow after watching the CC the first time...only way I could get through it was by turning on the commentary. Hard to believe he got funding for Slacker based on that. The only talent inherent to its creation as far as I could discern was the perseverance displayed by completing it.

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Re: 247 Slacker

#19 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:26 pm

But Plow is even better than Slacker! Although it really comes into its own with the commentary with Linkater where he gives some more context by talking about various jobs he took during this period, including a nightwatch job that he liked but lost in an unfortunate manner (there is also an amusing story about a friend's car getting towed away after having not paid any of the parking tickets on it!); his film self-education; noting that he had forgotten the attempt to add 'drama' to the beginning of the film by shooting a gun out of a window suggesting that maybe his character has killed someone(! Something which resonates nicely to the section in Slacker that takes in the Charles Whitman shootings, an event which was probably also an influence on the killer in Bogdanovich's Targets); the fascination of train travel with the long shots through the windows at the passing scenery illustrating the point made in the commentary about the way that train travel often shows the less glamorous and more gritty, but more evocative, back areas of the places it passes through; through to the logistics of both shooting and playing the main character in a film at the same time and a nice section on the TV and Radio surfing sections (the scene driving into Houston flicking through the radion stations as the background scenery gets more and more built up is quite beautiful).

I was also fascinated by the use of people sending audio tapes to one another rather than writing letters, the one-sided mundane conversation aspect of which is something which reminded me a little of the Niels Vørsel 'audio penpal' section of the similarly lo-fi Epidemic. Albeit without the cruel undertones of sniggering at the delusions of the people on the tape on display in Epidemic - Plow is refreshingly open-minded about the honest attempts to communicate even through devices such as audio tapes. Which is perhaps best illustrated by the way that, in another brief encounter on the street with someone else who hands him a tape in return, the main character translates the Russian words on the shirt he is wearing (which he received from the friend he visited earlier on) as being the title of the film.

It is a really nice film with a great, evocative sense of time and place (and some great 'found footage' sections involving train announcements or Bobby Vinton's Blue on Blue playing over a tannoy) and some great stories involving characters who appear in the film (the chap who gives away tapes of his music to people he meets in the street in the film apparently actually did that). The circular road trip structure is nicely laid out, seeming mainly to be based on small activities such as needing to house-sit for his parents or a wish to visit with a friend, with all of the relationships or connections between the characters left mostly unexplained and vague, creating a strange sense of the character in the film drifting detached from the world while still perfoming all the daily functional duties and activities within it (very Jeanne Dielman, in a way, though not as stiflingly choreographed. Particularly Jeanne Dielman-esque is the regular use of/struggle with ticket or stamp dispensing machines). Which is presumably why there is a long lingering clip from Dreyer's hypnotic Gertrud near the end, acting as a comment on the character in this film as much as paying homage to the Anna Karina Vivre sa vie scene.

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Re: 247 Slacker

#20 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:25 pm

Coming to Blu-ray, but minus some features?
New, restored high-definition digital film transfer, supervised by director Richard Linklater and director of photo­graphy Lee Daniel, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Three audio commentaries, featuring Linklater and members of the cast and crew
It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988), Linklater’s first full-length feature, with commentary by the director
Woodshock, a 1985 16 mm short by Linklater and Daniel
Casting tapes featuring select “auditions” from the more-than-100-member cast
“The Roadmap,” the working script for Slacker, including fourteen deleted scenes and alternate takes (DVD)
Deleted scenes and alternate takes (Blu-ray)
Footage from the Slacker tenth-anniversary reunion
Early film treatment
Home movies
Ten-minute trailer for a 2005 documentary about the landmark Austin café Les Amis
Original theatrical trailer
Stills gallery featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production and publicity photos (DVD only)
Slacker culture essay by Linklater (DVD only)
Information about the Austin Film Society, founded in 1985 by Linklater with Daniel, including early flyers from screenings (DVD only)

PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by author and film­maker John Pierson and Michael Barker, as well as reviews, production notes, and an introduction to It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books by director Monte Hellman

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Re: 247 Slacker

#21 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:27 pm

At the very least, it looks like the deleted scenes from The Roadmap are being kept. The other missing features are photo-based, and Criterion has been moving away from those kind in recent years.

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Re: 247 Slacker

#22 Post by Brianruns10 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:34 pm

Yeah they've been ditching the photo features more often on the upgrades. Black Narcissus' blu-ray upgrade lost all the behind the scenes photos which were really great. I guess it means the completists out there will have some redundancies on their shelves...

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dwk
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Re: 247 Slacker

#23 Post by dwk » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:42 pm

One reason that photo features often get dropped is that they need to be rescanned for the Blu-ray re-release and, I guess, that isn't always possible

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Re: 247 Slacker

#24 Post by peerpee » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:49 pm

Strange that it's not just the SD version of the photo gallery that they bring through to Blu then. But I suppose even reprogramming the existing SD photos for Blu-ray would be arduous. A strong case for the reduction of this type of extra on any future discs.

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Re: 247 Slacker

#25 Post by warren oates » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:52 pm

"The Roadmap" script -- for me the most interesting extra not ported to the Blu -- is in the Slacker book, which is out of print but still pretty easily available.

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