Posts tagged ‘Kevin Smith’

May 24, 2011

“Chasing Amy” – So why is her name Alyssa?

"It's not about who you love, but how"? Really? I think male or female might matter to some people. Just saying.

“Chasing Amy” 8/10

My Kevin Smith glacial marathon continues with the sexually charged “Chasing Amy” and I actually really liked it. Here Smith finally learns how to mix direction and a budget with his pop referential, super smart writing. It’s what I’ve been waiting for him to do and he figures it out movie #3. Not too shabby.

If you didn’t know, his hipster named Holden and Banky are two comic book writers or inkers or whatever. A bearded Ben Affleck is Holden, the relatable one, and Jason Lee plays Banky the Kevin Smith stand in of the movie (i.e. the bag of dick). Holden falls in love with local lesbian Alyssa, played by the girl with the most annoying voice ever, Joey Lauren Adams. Things actually turn into a bit of a sex comedy while having a great running commentary on sexuality and what sex means to different people without being preachy and awful. Alyssa is one of the least hate-able lesbian feminists out there for which there should be actual awards given out.

Holden and Alyssa ride a series of emotional ups and downs, as happens in any rom-com. It’s Banky that saves this from your generic “lesbian dates a straight guy” (whaaaaat?) movie. In the best friend role, he gets some serious comic mileage. There’s also a gay black guy who moonlights as a black power comic book writer played expertly by the clearly forgotten Dwight Ewell. It’s this colorful cast of characters, and the omni-present Jay and Silent Bob, that remind you you’re watching a Kevin Smith movie. That and the incredible dialogue. It’s like if Aaron Sorkin smoked a lot of weed and bought a heart at Target for a buck 95. Things get emotional, but not too bad.

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April 7, 2011

Movie Review: “Mallrats” – A shaky step in my Kevin Smith Marathon

Fake Cartooning = Cool?

“Mallrats” (**)

As I finally get to the next installment of my Kevin Smith marathon, his movie Red State has been getting relatively rave reviews, which I feel validates my marathon – success! However, that film seems to be apart from the Askewniverse, Kevin Smith’s movie realm. Mallrats, clearly roots itself into that universe very deeply with a couple related characters and a few related themes.

Apparently the Orange Julius of Kevin Smith’s writing prowess was closed, and those juices stopped flowing. Mallrats was uninspired and a definite regression in writing from Clerks. His jokes were lazy and drab, featuring riffs mostly on Star Wars and Spiderman. That’s not a very big step into the nerd universe, although that might just be a frame of reference thing. So I hear, Star Wars was unpopular before Phantom Menace made the first one retro and cool again, and all comics beside Batman and Superman were practically pop-culture pariahs. So I’ll pretend that the unoriginal and flaccid comedy were stepping-stones to greater phenomena.

The major difference between this movie and Clerks, however, is not the poor writing, or the lack of an existential theme (really Kevin? A true love message? Lame). In fact, it’s the money thrown at him to make this movie. It’s clear that this movie has a real budget and is actually pretty visually interesting. There are a lot of great visual gags with the Wile E. Coyote-esque blueprints for Jay and Silent Bob’s mayhem, there are batman costumes, some pretty cool opening credits, and a third nipple.

I don’t think it’s necessary to give any sort of plot review, because it takes about a sentence to say (fine. Two guys get dumped and use different and ultimately both successful tactics to win back their girlfriends. Spoiler Alert?). The most enjoyable parts of the story were the B plots. Ethan Suplee was hilarious as Willam, an angry worthless guy, like most of Smith’s men, but with a unique goal – to see the sailboat in the magic picture. So true, so ‘90s, and the little kids really made his story line work. Jason Lee is also unrecognizable as Brodie, TS’s best friend. I guess he sounds like Jason Lee and acts a little lake Jason Lee, but wow has he really matured as a performer. He’s definitely the Randal of this movie, but his lines sting a lot less and his quirks are so much more subdued. But he’s got the physical comedy down, and was way more tolerable than the swishy haired Jeremy London.

Total Stranger

Jason Lee.

I can’t write a review about Mallrats without mentioning Ben Affleck. What an inauspicious role pre-Good Will Hunting. He does his job well, and definitely as a little extra sparkle to him, but no more than Joey Lauren Adams. Who knew he would be the breakout star of this film?

Ultimately, I have hope that after two imperfect movies, one of these Kevin Smith features (not Cop Out) will be a real winner. Clerks had an extremely strong screenplay. Mallrats was visually interesting. Maybe, just maybe Smith has married the two in one of his future movies for a really effective and complete film. Fingers crossed.

March 3, 2011

Movie Review: “Clerks” – The Beginning of a Marathon

When I look at all of the movies I haven’t seen (thanks to… and it’s not as bad as it looks. I’m not quite up to date.), I decided that the best way to knock out a lot of the big ones were with marathons. This Christmas, my sister and I watched all 7 Tarantino movies in chronological order. Her favorite was Death Proof. Mine, if taken as a unit is Kill Bill Vol.1 & 2; alone I say Reservoir Dogs.

I digress.

My latest marathon will be Kevin Smith films. With all of the not-so-recent press about is “Red State” stunt where he opened the floor to bidders and then bought it himself as a statement against marketing or the studio system or something, I thought he would be a good subject. He also was a guest the other week on a podcast called Doug Loves Movies. So I’m now going to make my way through the Askewniverse and beyond. And maybe when I’m done I’ll be able to use Askewniverse in a sentence.

(**) “Clerks” is famously Kevin Smith’s first feature. The lore still holds that he made it for under $30,000. It was shot in black and white to save money. It was filmed in the store where Kevin Smith worked. They filmed after closing and stayed through until morning. That’s great and beautiful, but a backstory of a film shouldn’t matter in determining it’s worth.

Fortunately, the movie does stand on it’s own, but not too gracefully. This Godot-esque movie gives us a day in the life of Dante and Randal, two clerks in neighboring stores. Well, not too much happens. They have a lot of annoying customers. Many not annoying and indifferent customers. They play hockey on the roof. Dante gets in a fight or two with his girlfriend. That’s about it. Of course , that’s part of the absurd fun. It entertains in its ennui, it delights in its boredom, in the quotidian schlep that is their lives.

Randal is easily the most interesting, well-rounded, and funniest guy in the movie. He runs the video store and cracks lots of great film store jokes. Did I like him because I am a film nerd or am I a film nerd because I like him? Either way, he spews lots of great lines about porn, hermaphroditic porn, and sucking your own penis. In addition to summing up my own personal philosophy on humanity.

(Randal demands to go with Dante to the funeral)

Randal: I’m not missing what’s probably going to be the social event of the season.

Dante: You hate people.

Randal: But I love gatherings. Isn’t it ironic?

(Tangent: Here’s to hoping in “Dogma” Randal explains irony to Alanis Morissette.)

Unfortunately, I’m running out of good things to say. Jay of Jay and Silent Bob fame was unique and interesting enough. And this movie has a horrifying scene at the end involving Dante’s ex-girlfriend. Unimaginable. Beyond that, the movie was really kind of weak. The actor who played Dante isn’t worth remembering since he’s done nothing else and was probably a great Biff in his high school production of “Death of a Salesman” or some nonsense like that. His line delivery is entirely flat and his emotions are staged. His whining is so unbearable that you end up hoping he fails to make it out of his small-town life and is trapped as a convenience store clerk forever.

Perhaps that’s the point. while I got more of a Samuel Becket vibe, apparently Kevin Smith wanted this to be more like Dante Alghieri’s “Inferno” and each of the chapters of the movie mirrors a circle of hell. I would say that the screenplay is another strong point. The dialogue doesn’t always hit where it needs to, and maybe it wanders just a little too far from what needs to happen, but a pretty strong message is made throughout the film. Maybe they are meant to be stuck there. Maybe no can help them. Or maybe, like Randal’s poor Death Star contracted plumbers, they know what they are doing, and Dante and Randal are consciously damning themselves to a horrible and misguided demise.

And in case you were wondering, here is the list of movies Randal orders from the retailer. I’ll do some… research to see if any of them are real.

  • This isn't directly related to the movie at all, but it's real!

    Whisper in the Wind

  • To Each His Own
  • Put it Where it Doesn’t Belong
  • My Pipes Need Cleaning
  • All Tit-Fucking, Vol. 8
  • I Need Your Cock
  • Ass-Worshipping Rim-Jobbers
  • My Cunt and Eight Shafts
  • Cum Clean
  • Cum-Gargling Naked Sluts
  • Cum Buns III
  • Cumming in a Sock
  • Cum on Eileen
  • Huge Black Cocks with Pearly White Cum
  • Slam it Up My Too-Loose Ass
  • Ass Blasters in Outer Space
  • Blowjobs by Betsy
  • Sucking Cock and Cunt
  • Finger My Ass
  • Play with My Puss
  • Three on a Dildo
  • Girls Who Crave Cock
  • Girls Who Crave Cunt
  • Men Alone 2: The K.Y. Connection
  • Pink Pussy Lips
  • All Holes Filled with Hard Cock
  • Happy Scrappy: The Hero Pup