Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why We Need More Kevin Smith's...

...and more movies like 'Clerks II'.

I know...I know..."Clerks II"? But for me, Kevin Smith (much like Tarantino) still embodies that sensbilty and spirit and blind ignorance that we all had in film school, but for the most part have long lost as we became more experienced and knowledgeable and yes, talented.

It's about making choices that don't necessarily add up or conform or even make sense, but you did it because you didn't know any better. And most times it sucked, but sometimes just sometimes it worked...and something was created that lived just outside the box - a place a lot of us wish we could still go, but don't, or can't, because now we know too much.

Not to say Kevin Smith isn't talented or hasn't become more experienced and knowledgeable, but it's like part of him never left film school. And that's why I really enjoy his films. For my money, I'll check out a Smith movie a lot sooner than most other 'auteurs' that almost threaten us to worship the celluloid they expose (see M. Night).

'Clerks' amused me. Sure it had its problems...all Smith's films do, but there were enough moments of unbridled enthusiasm combined with real-life lunacy to more than make up for the shortcomings. 'Chasing Amy', 'Mallrats', and 'Dogma' all fall into the same boat. 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' remains to this day one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Even with its blatant 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure' plot borrowing, it still makes me laugh out loud after far too many viewings. 'Jersey' Girl was a step sideways, but 'Clerks II' shows a return to form.

Film school form.

It could have used a little more Jay and Silent Bob and a little less 'drama', perhaps another dance number and more heinie troll talk and definitely some more interspecies erotica-like moments (don't ask, go see!), but it still more than held together and entertained and stepped outside the box just enough times to make me laugh and shake my head and mutter..."I can't believe they filmed that..."

And even though it looked like every cent of its reported 5 million dollar budget, that was okay, because it smelled like film school - right down to the circling steadicam sequence when the two best friends have a down and dirty argument out in the alley. Vintage film school...

Fuck art, let's shoot.

I remember those words being stenciled on the back of a simple black t-shirt worn by the first real dolly grip I ever worked with as a director (a hot shit we brought in from Vancouver - and he was good...real good) --- and since then, whenever bogged down waiting for an elaborate lighting setup to finish or hair and makeup to go back in for final touches 'again' or a special effect or stunt needing another rehearsal, I'd hear those words echoing around my brain - and have to exercise great self control to keep from shouting them out.

Fuck art, let's shoot.

Kevin Smith seems to still have those words echoing around his brain, and doesn't seem to be afraid to shout it out.

SONG & ARTIST? - "Frustrated, incorporated
Frustrated, incorporated
Well I know just what you need
I might just have the thing
I know what you'd pay to feel"


Heart Of Darkness said...

Good to have you back - how was the trip with your kids? :)

Anonymous said...

I preferred the Canadian Gary Burns film THE SUBURBANATORS (shot in Calgary) so much more than the original CLERKS.

They covered similar territory, but I thought Burn's film was quite cool.

I used to always say, THE SUBURBANATORS was the film CLERKS wanted to be.

This was back in '95 though and perhaps I had no taste back then.

The Film Diva said...

I hear you on the film school gung-ho. I've been trying to kick my d-friends in the arse and get them to just MAKE something already. Geesh. You'd think we were in the analyze-and-think business out here...

Anonymous said...


"It's about making choices that don't necessarily add up or conform or even make sense, but you did it because you didn't know any better"

My first script was a brilliant mess, but it pushed open a door for me, even if it couldn't withstand "professional" scrutiny in the end. It made pages turn and was a great read.

But nobody told me I couldn't have five minute scenes and incredibly oddly lengthed acts in a 1 hour TV show. I had to find out the hard way. ;)

Callaghan said...

Isn't that a Soul Asylum tune? I can't quite remember. Their bass player is part of the new Golden Smog record, along with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and the guy from the Jayhawks. Haven't heard it yet though.

wcdixon said...

Callaghan: you got it is 'Misery', played under closing credits of Clerks II

jutra: that's the way it is for most all of us - do by trying, then learn from that. I'm just saying there are moments of brilliance that can come from 'not knowing any better', yet once you know better, it gets harder and harder to let yourself go there as it were and discover those moments.

And Suburbanators did have its moments and an independent charm also.

Scribe LA said...

YAY for the photos. See, it was easy :-)
You're welcome

Crashdummie said...

Dogma was wicked - everytime someone sneezes I alwasy say "Bless you", even when it comes to strangers...

If looks could kill.. :)

Callaghan said...

You should definitely check out TV on the Radio if current music has left you a bit uninspired. Pick up their "Young Liars" EP. And make sure you stick around for their remake of Mr. Grieves by the Pixies. It's a hidden bonus track that needs to be heard to be believed.

They're the kind of band that the first time you hear them, you don't know what the hell you're listening to. Second time, you start digging it and by the third time, they'll be your favourite band.

A band that needs repeat listenings to understand, but rewards you more and more each time. Like Tom Waits' "Bone Machine" album.