IMDb > It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books (1988)

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Richard Linklater (concept)
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A nameless young character goes into travels to the country, meeting some acquaintances and strangers as well... See more » | Add synopsis »
(2 articles)
Competition: Win 'Before Midnight' on DVD
 (From CineVue. 28 October 2013, 1:03 AM, PDT)

The Films Of Richard Linklater: A Retrospective
 (From The Playlist. 2 May 2012, 9:37 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
a Linklater travelogue where it's about alienation and meandering around; better on a second viewing See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Richard Linklater 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Richard Linklater  concept

Produced by
Richard Linklater .... producer
Cinematography by
Richard Linklater 
Film Editing by
Richard Linklater 
Sound Department
Eric Friend .... sound editor
Brecht Andersch .... thanks
Scott Christian .... thanks
Matt Crowley .... thanks
Lee Daniel .... thanks
Keith Dubois .... thanks
Hugh Gapet .... thanks
Timothy Rich Healy .... thanks
Diane Herrera .... thanks
Dick Krieger .... thanks
Denise Lablonde .... thanks
Eric Lord .... thanks
Kate Marohn .... thanks
Ann Meredith .... thanks
George Morris .... thanks
Jamie Ra Pickens .... thanks
Gary Price .... thanks
David Ray .... thanks
Ted Schiebold .... thanks
Suzanne Schope .... thanks
Beverly Sternberg .... thanks
Ann Torrez .... thanks
Jesse Torrez .... thanks
Tony Lee Towers .... thanks
Martha Wise .... thanks
Eric Wolfe .... thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

USA:85 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »

Did You Know?

The scene where Richard Linklater leaves a note for the sleeping woman is not staged. While waiting for their respective departures, the woman actually fell asleep and Linklater filmed his writing of the goodbye note before he left. In the audio commentary, Linklater admitted to wondering what became of her since.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Shitcago (2015)See more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
a Linklater travelogue where it's about alienation and meandering around; better on a second viewing, 8 July 2007
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

There were moments watching this narrative experiment- the first of many for Richard Linklater- where it comes about as close to being totally mundane as can be possible with the camera. It probably wasn't a problem for him to get his shots, as it looked as if he was making his own personal 'home movie' with him either on the train or in stations or just bumming around Austin, Texas. In that sense it's almost close to being a documentary even though, according to Linklater, it's not really quite himself on screen even as it is himself. In real life he isn't this mundane and sort of drift-less, however does admit that the feelings are in him, and were in him then, and it's on a second viewing that a sort of pattern emerges from what looks like bare-bones storytelling. Unlike Jarmusch's Permanent Vacation, it doesn't necessarily try to relate some sort of 'character' in the sense that it's something created by the actor, and then surrounded in the typical indie-movie easy-going scenes. Here, Linklater is showing how such everyday things like traveling on a train, walking through a town, getting stopped by someone to see your t-shirt, watching TV, watching movies, reading, doing laundry, doing dishes, reading a Kafka quote, driving, listening to music, so on and so forth, can have some kind of interest in the initial disinterest in seeing this.

On the one hand the narrative is lax, and unlike Slacker there isn't even the framework of a bunch of characters in a small town. But on the other hand out of all of these seemingly random shots of a guy going through the motions in life, dealing without a job, the 'whatever' attitude of hanging out with friends or a girl, taking care of a car, becomes a narrative itself. It's experimental and as Linklater also has said certainly not for a large audience to see (and many haven't until the DVD of Slacker was released with this film included), but the visual language is rich in its detachment, and at the least is a curious effort that doesn't just keep the audience on a sort of line away from typical emotional involvement but is about the same thing. Far from being any great success, but for a real "student" effort (self-taught student) you could get much worse. Watch for a Sterling Hayden tribute in one scene and a sense of dissatisfaction with 80s TV.

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Sorry, but this is a bad film. DustinFulgencio
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