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Slacker (1991)
A prototype for Kevin Smith's Clerks, the film that launched Richard Linklater's career is a simple look at a group of twentysomethings up to not much, really, one summer day in Austin. Free-thinkers all - some would call them weirdos - Linklater's characters already display the spontaneous, free-flowing dialogue that is his trademark, and the sort of innovative structure (the characters meet, and the camera switches from one to the next) that marks his best work. One of the most influential films on the indie scene, this elevated mood over plot and dialogue over action and showed that a few good characters can make a classic.

Lone Star (1996)
John Sayles has never in his 25 years as a director, helmed within the studio system, making him a rarity: an indie filmmaker that hasn't a) become part of the system, or b) vanished up his own arse. Lone Star is where Sayles' technical skills caught up with his storytelling abilities. His familiar theme of contemporary America under the burden of its own glossed-over history is folded into a murder mystery ensemble piece, spanning two Texan generations, and utilising some of the best flashbacks ever seen. It's brilliant, it's intelligent, and it's refreshingly beyond Hollywood.

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