Spoilers – Entertainment Weekly and Kevin Smith

“A bad day at the movies is still better than a good day exercising.”

I normally never post spoilers. I am basically the anti-Entertainment Weekly. For those who don’t know, EW regularly spoils shows and movies just after they’ve aired. Recently they spoiled a major plot point from the third season of American Horror Story on the cover of their magazine BEFORE the episode even aired.

I have learned to skim or avoid any article about things I like. That said, a spoiler I do like is Kevin Smith’s movie series, Spoilers.

Spoilers

 

Spoilers with Kevin Smith (2014) Рnot rated but foul language is used.

Watch “Spoilers”, Kevin Smith’s movie “revue.” Spoilers is a multi-act film extravaganza mixing lively group chats, interviews with movie and pop¬†culture icons, animated shorts and cinematic reenactments. Each week, Kevin, a special guest and movie lovers passionately sound off on the year’s most anticipated summer blockbusters, breaking down their favorite scenes and what should have been left on the cutting room floor.

After a year and a half hiatus, Kevin Smith’s Spoilers has returned. The first seven episodes of the second season are now available on Hulu. I enjoyed the first season more but the second season is still worth watching.

As the title implies/states, the movies covered are often spoiled so viewer beware.

Breaking Bad

 

* I finally got to finish watching Breaking Bad with only one character arc having been spoiled for me (by Entertainment Weekly naturally). Of course I won’t spoil anything for you but I will say that the ending was leagues more satisfying than the rather poor wrap-up to Dexter.

Jay, Lars, Archer, Silent Bob, and the Real Girl Go Down Under

Yet still more odds and ends on Netflix

Jay and Silent Bob

Jay and Silent Bob Go Down Under (2012) – Not rated

“Filmmaker and comedian Kevin Smith returns with an all new special, taped in front of a sell out audience in Sydney, Australia. Joined by his infamous buddy Jason Mewes, this impromptu, uncensored hour is filled with bawdy and cautionary tales.”

Kevin Smith is a fantastic speaker with a voice as unique as his directorial vision. He discovered that people were willing to pay him phenomenal sums just to go talk. He then discovered that he could tape the proceedings and sell those as well, netting him a fortune. Generally I would say good for him – Too Fat for 40 is a fascinating talk that includes his ejection from a flight for being too fat and Burn in Hell was his best talk ever covering the making of Red State and his confrontation with the Westboro ‘Church’.

Unfortunately this appears to have made him quite lazy. Perhaps I am too old but his stoner schtick is just juvenile and the presence of lifemate Jason Mewes can only be tolerated in the tiniest of doses. I actually only got nine minutes into Jay and Silent Bob Go Down Under before I was so disgusted that I turned it off.

Lars and the Real GirlLars and the Real Girl (2007) – Rated PG-13

“When a delusional loner buys a life-sized sex doll over the Internet, promptly falls in love with her and starts telling people that she’s his girlfriend, his brother and sister-in-law decide it’s time to intervene.”

“Sometimes I get so lonely I forget what day it is, and how to spell my name.”

I actually expected Lars and the Real Girl to be a raunchy romp and instead it is quite a tender-hearted comedy. I loved the directions that the story went in and the message ultimately gleaned from it. The cast is wonderful and Ryan Gosling does a great job of downplaying…well Ryan Gosling.

Lars is a charming piece of fluff and definitely worth a viewing as long as you can stand a little schmaltz.

ArcherArcher (2009-11) – TV-MA

“Sophisticated spy Archer may have the coolest gadgets, but he still has issues when it comes to dealing with his boss — who also happens to be his mother — in this wicked animated spoof of spy flicks and the sex-crazed agents who populate them.”

On the opposite end of the comedy spectrum lies Archer. I just finished watching the third season and it is hilarious. It is not however charming – the humor is sharp and raw and definitely earns its TV-MA rating. There are very intelligent humorous bits in each episode but also quite a bit of lowbrow humor. If you are easily offended or don’t like mean-spirited comedy then Archer is not for you.

An Evening with Kevin Smith – Red State Edition

I am very fond of Kevin Smith. He and his films are foul-mouthed but they have a real resonance. Warning: if you are offended by frank sexual talk and situations, coarse language, and such then none of Kevin Smith’s films are for you.

One Line Review: Disjointed, profane yet intelligent horror based on the Westboro Baptist Church.

Red State (2011) – Rated R

“Director Kevin Smith puts a unique spin on the horror genre in this tale of hormonal urges gone awry. Three high school boys answer an online ad from a woman seeking wild sex and soon find themselves in the hands of some dangerous religious zealots.”

“How much do you think a cross like that costs?” – “You mean in dollars or common sense?”

Red State is Kevin Smith’s follow-up movie to Cop Out. Cop Out was the first film that Smith directed without having also written. Normally directors shouldn’t also be writers but Cop Out was just awful. I had lowered my expectations for Red State wondering if Smith had lost his touch.

I needn’t have worried. Red State is easily Kevin Smith’s darkest film. The script is all over the map as if segments were written at completely different points and with different intentions but each part is fascinating. The Netflix description only touches on how the film begins and every time the film settles into a comfortable niche, it changes direction.

Character actor Michael Parks shines as the charismatic preacher Abin Cooper (named after Green Lantern Abn Sur, Smith is such a comics geek). The role was written specifically for Parks after Smith saw him in From Dusk Til Dawn. The character of Abin Cooper is a very scary re-imagining of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps. Parks also does all of his own singing in this movie and is quite good at that as well.

The federal agents called out are played quite well by John Goodman and Kevin Pollak. For some reason I’m always surprised at how good an actor Goodman can be (probably because I naturally think of Roseanne anytime his name comes up).

If you enjoyed Red State then definitely watch Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell. His talks are normally fascinating (if a little self-indulgent) but this one details his experiences making this film and talking with members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

People Watch: Michael Parks reprises his From Dusk til Dawn role of Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in both parts of Kill Bill and both parts of Grindhouse (Death Proof and Planet Terror). His real life son James Parks plays his Texas Ranger son Edgar McGraw in the Death Proof segment of Grindhouse, Kill Bill volume 1, and From Dusk til Dawn 2 as well as playing Mordecai in Red State.

Spider-Man, Batman, Green Arrow and Kevin Smith

“Even a bad day at the multiplex is better than a great day at work.” – Kevin Smith

* My wife and daughter went to Rock of Ages over the weekend. They brought me back some huge Spider-Man cups that I’ll re-purpose as popcorn servers (same size as my Men in Black III and Pirates of the Caribbean ones) and a giant Ice Age popcorn bucket that I’m not sure what to do with.

* I splurged and bought my ticket for Regal’s Dark Knight triple feature on 7/19. I’m really looking forward to seeing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight again on the big screen (in this case really big – it’s in their RPX theater). This is followed of course by the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at 12:01. The ticket price was $25 and included a FREE small popcorn. My understanding is that AMC theaters is running a similar marathon.

I love the marathon concept but I’m not convinced at my age that I’ll be able to stay up until almost 3 a.m. and then drive forty-five minutes home. I’ll make a judgement call but I’m likely to leave after Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and catch The Dark Knight Rises after I’ve had some sleep.

* I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man over the weekend and found it to be a lot of fun. It is not nearly as good as The Avengers but I look forward to the next two installments of the new Spider-Man trilogy.

* I am looking forward to the new Green Arrow television series, Arrow, on CW. I should not be surprised that CW is going back to the comic well after ten seasons of Smallville. I was surprised to see that this is going to be a different version of Green Arrow than was found in Smallville, with a different lead actor as well. It is expected to premiere on October 10th.

* For those who want me to tie the title topics together, Kevin Smith has written comic arcs for Green Arrow (Quiver, The Sounds of Violence), Batman (Cacophony, The Widening Gyre), and Spider-Man (Spider-Man/Black Cat – The Evil that Men Do).

 

An Evening with Kevin Smith – Chasing Amy Edition

Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy is currently available on instant Netflix.

One-Line Review: A good honest look at a romantic relationship and the insecurities involved slightly marred by the premise.

Chasing Amy (1997) – Rated R

“After comic book artist Holden (Ben Affleck) falls in love with the perfect woman, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), he discovers she is a lesbian in this comedy from writer-director Kevin Smith. With no help from his friend, Banky (Jason Lee), Holden tries to make a relationship with Alyssa work. Although Holden knows Alyssa cares deeply about him, her homosexual past may conspire to come between them and ruin everything.”

“I don’t know. I love Chow Yun Fat. I just don’t see him playing Batman. “

Kevin Smith followed up the success of his debut Clerks with the sophomoric effort Mallrats. Mallrats had some funny bits but bombed at the box office, pulling in only half of its six million dollar budget.

Kevin Smith went back to the drawing board and reduced his budget to $250,000 for Chasing Amy. He sure got a lot of bang for his buck. He got a pre-fame Ben Affleck as well as his brother Casey and friend Matt Damon. Also starring are a pre-My Name is Earl Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams.

Joey Lauren Adams is absolutely adorable as the somewhat gay Alyssa. I won’t get into the thinking behind the heterosexual male fantasy of being able to ‘cure’ a lesbian but I will say that for the premise, it is handled much better than could be expected. Joey Lauren Adams shows a lot of real raw emotion when she is not busy being cute and, in spite of the other members of the cast, she is the best actor in the film.

Ben Affleck is charming as Holden and thankfully doesn’t try to mug his way through the film as he has occasionally done. Jason Lee is very funny as the crass Banky and is matched well by Dwight Ewell as an aggressively black gay man. Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) put in their requisite appearance but thankfully don’t overstay their welcome.

Kevin Smith does especially well when he sticks to an oeuvre he knows. Here he tackles a slightly unusual romance set in the world of comics. Kevin Smith is a huge comic geek. After achieving fame as a filmmaker both DC (Batman, Green Arrow) and Marvel (Daredevil) have had him write stories and he owns his own comic shop. Interestingly enough Ben Affleck who stars here would later go on to star as Daredevil.

With most of his films, all of the success or failure can be attributed to Smith as he writes, directs, edits, and guest stars in his films and Chasing Amy is not an exception. In fact the movie he didn’t write, Cop Out, is actually his worst.

Performances are quite good as is the writing. The best scene is a wonderfully uncomfortable confrontational scene juxtaposed with a hockey game. Chasing Amy’s Jaws riff is better than the one in Clerks but the Star Wars one isn’t as funny. Smith also throws in a number of references to Clerks to let you know that this is part of a series.

People Watch: Comics VIPs Mike Allred and Joe Quesada play themselves and Illeana Douglas plays Alyssa’s roommate. Also look for Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) appearing briefly as an executive.

An Evening with Kevin Smith – Clerks Edition

Kevin Smith’s first film, Clerks is currently available on instant Netflix. Kevin Smith’s strengths are his wonderful, well-realized characters and dialogue. WARNING: All of Kevin Smith’s movies are crass and have controversial material.

One-Line Review: Hilariously foul-mouthed black and white indie comedy about a video clerk and a convenience store clerk.

Clerks (1994) – Rated R on appeal for extensive use of extremely explicit sex-related dialogue (re-rating after appeal)

“Store clerks Dante and Randal are sharp-witted, potty-mouthed, and bored out of their minds. So in between needling customers, the counter jockeys play hockey, visit a funeral home and deal with their love lives in this classic indie comedy.”

“You know, there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you. “

If you haven’t gotten the message yet, Kevin Smith has a potty mouth. I had to work hard to find a quote I could print above. This is his debut and yet features some of the harshest material in his oeuvre.

Clerks was obviously made on a shoestring budget. Scott Mosier plays three roles, Walter Flanagan four, and David Klein a whopping five different roles. There are innumerable continuity errors and some reflection shots of the crew. imdb reports that Clerks cost $230,000 to make after post-production. Kevin Smith reportedly maxed out his credit cards, borrowed from his family, and sold his comic book collection to finance it – this is only exceeded by Robert Rodriguez selling his body for medical experiments to finance El Mariachi.

One of the things Kevin Smith excels at is pop culture. He rivals contemporary Quentin Tarantino in that as well as realistic dialogue and offbeat situations. Kevin Smith’s films always have bits on Star Wars but here there are also nice riffs on Indiana Jones, Jaws and more.

The main characters of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) the convenience store clerk and Randall (Jeff Anderson) the video clerk are well-realized and feel quite genuine. They seem composites of people I knew growing up. One of my best friends worked as a convenience store clerk for a bit after he received his Physics degree and had some post-graduate Astronomy work under his belt. The stories he would tell were horrific. None of the customers in Clerks seem out of place.

The only character I found off was Jay (Jason Mewes) and he really grated on me. I understand the character is a stoner but Mewes always comes across as someone trying desperately to get attention. A little of him goes a long way. His companion Silent Bob is played by director/writer/editor Kevin Smith himself.

The reason to watch this is not Kevin Smith the director but Kevin Smith the writer. The dialogue is sharp, snappy and realistic. He also has the ability to give different characters a different voice (i.e. Randall does not talk like Dante who does not talk like Jay). The entire film is simply a day in the life of – the film is shot in black and white and not much happens.

Sequelitis: Strangely even though Clerks is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, I thought Clerks II was just a terrible cash-in. It should have been an easy slam-dunk as the fast food industry is ripe for satire but Clerks II just came across as a crass exercise in paycheck collecting. The somewhat obscure Clerks animated series from 2001 is very funny and worth seeking out if you enjoyed Clerks.