Review of Independent Media (Clerks, 1994)

Clerks is a film by Kevin Smith that was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994. The film is a comedy about the people who run a small convenience store called the Quick Stop in suburban New Jersey. The two main characters are Randal and Dante who run the stores and have weird and interesting customer encounters as well as playing hockey on the roof of the store, going to a wake of a person they don’t know and a woman having sex with a dead guy in the convenience store bathroom.

The movie is Smith’s directorial debut and filmed in black and white, it went on to be the set-up film for Smith’s Viewaskewniverse (this being like the Marvel Cinematic Universe if it were comprised of indie comedies directed by Kevin Smith). The film looks at the life of counter clerks drawing from what seems like first-hand experience. It also has a very comfortable homemade feeling about it, you can tell by watching that the movie was written by people who are good friends and is almost a biopic of sorts of their day to day lives. Discussions in this film are full of pop culture references, hypothetical situations pitting fictional superheroes against one another and general banter between friends who hate their jobs and are just trying to pass the time.

Having had first-hand experience in customer service and working at a checkout, this film will definitely speak to anyone who has had to deal with a variety of quirky patrons. The movie does an excellent job of translating to the audience that working as a convenience store clerk is like stepping into another universe and getting to view society as it is because people who are shopping in a convenience store are always in an “in-between” moment of their life and have no need to put on a show for a clerk so you see them as they really are. It captures the art of people-watching in a unique way that had never been done before this film.

The mundane nature of the main characters’ jobs is the thing that drives the humour because we have all been there, in a situation where someone accidentally drop a drink from the fridge or the power goes out, which makes it easy to relate to and easy for us to find the comedy in it because it’s not currently happening to us. The experiences that Dante goes through in this film can be summed up in this quote from him “I’m stuck in a pit working for less than slave wages and dealing with every backward-assed fuck on the planet”.

The movie is a great satirical look and the everyday work life at what would seem like everybody’s first job. It also serves as inspiration to any up and coming filmmakers aspiring to be in the mainstream someday as Smith has built himself into a brand off the success of Clerks and the critical acclaim it received from Sundance in 1994. It certainly has influenced my film-making, writing and comedic style and I’m all the better for it (as I would have you believe).

Smith, K., & Mosier, S. (Producers), & Smith, K. (Director). (1994). Clerks [Motion picture]. United States: View Askew Productions & Miramax.

Curation Activity

Collider TV Talk is a weekly news show in which the panelists discuss and speculate on the last week’s worth of news surrounding Television shows, they also review new programs and recurring ones.

Ricky Gervais ‘Animals’ is one of Ricky Gervais’ stand-up comedy specials in which he pokes fun at and makes light of topics such as religion, paedophiles and homosexual animals.

SDCC 2016 is a playlist that I, myself made during the few days that San Diego Comic-Con was happening in 2016. The playlist consists of movie and TV trailers that were released during the convention that I hold interest in.

  1. Collider TV Talk – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLayt6616lBcnTXiFU58Zqf3Ot8zwY32a7
  2. Ricky Gervais ‘Animals’ stand-up comedy – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL12E0398AD2368BEA
  3. SDCC 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwJjekKpEwufrrO9GNoAz3kLa0Uoq5M4N

Future Predictions

My prediction for future trends is that more classic movies from the 20th century will be remade and/or rebooted. Hollywood is running out of ideas but they don’t seem to be stressing because what has been making them money lately is recycled ideas. In the hands of good filmmakers, reboots or remakes can be a positive thing because filmmakers such as Joel and Ethan Coen can take a movie like True Grit (2010) and have it be something resembling the original but almost entirely their own. There are more examples of good remakes such as Scorsese’s The Departed (2006), Mangold’s 3:10 To Yuma (2007) and Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001) (3).

However, the trend over the more recent years has been to remake films that; a) don’t call for it and b) have nothing special or new added to them. A key example of this is Ghostbusters (2016) which tried to head up gender equality by having an all-female team of Ghostbusters with a male secretary (yeah, that’s the way to do it guys). Not only did this attempt fall flat in comparison to the original, also the funniest character on screen was Chris Hemsworth’s secretary character, as well as being a paint by numbers action spectacle (4). Other examples of lacklustre remakes are Point Break (2015), RoboCop (2014) and Poltergeist (2015). However, in very recent years there have been some reboots that have translated well to TV, The Exorcist (2016) being the prime example of this. Ultimately my prediction is, due to the trend in remakes in recent years, Hollywood will continue to produce remakes that take no risks and are therefore pointless, but there may be a place for good remakes on TV.

References

  1. Abraham, M., & Newman, E. (Producers), & Padilha, J. (Director). (2014).RoboCop [Motion picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
  2. Baldecchi, J., Johnson, B., Kosove, A. A., Taylor, C., Valdes, D., & Wimmer, K. (Producers), & Core, E. (Director). (2015).Point Break [Motion picture]. United States: Alcon Entertainment.
  3. Best and Worst Movie Remakes Since 2000 – Metacritic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.metacritic.com/feature/best-and-worst-film-remakes-since-2000
  4. Chris Hemsworth As Kevin In ‘Ghostbusters’ Steals The Show & He’s So Funny It’s Almost Unfair. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/172453-chris-hemsworth-as-kevin-in-ghostbusters-steals-the-show-hes-so-funny-its-almost-unfair
  5. Coen, E., Coen, J., & Rudin, S. (Producers), & Coen, E., & Coen, J. (Directors). (2010).True Grit [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures
  6. Grey, B., King, G., Nunnari, G., & Pitt, B. (Producers), & Scorsese, M. (Director). (2006).The Departed [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.
  7. Konrad, C. (Producer), & Mangold, J. (Director). (2007).3:10 to Yuma [Motion picture]. United States: Lionsgate.
  8. Lee, R., Raimi, S., & Tapert, R. (Producers), & Kenan, G. (Director). (2015).Poltergeist [Motion picture]. United States: Fox 2000 Pictures.
  9. Pascal, A., & Reitman, I. (Producers), & Feig, P. (Director). (2016).Ghostbusters [Motion picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures.
  10. Smith, C. C., Rea, J., & Williams Jr., R. M. (Producers). (2016).The Exorcist [Television series]. Chicago, IL: FOX.
  11. Weintraub, J. (Producer), & Soderbergh, S. (Director). (2001).Ocean’s Eleven [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

My Media Use and Identity

My main use of media in the film world is my collection of blu-ray and DVD (but mostly blu-ray) movies and TV shows. They hold a particularly special place in my heart due to the emotional attachment that comes from the possession of physical objects (and mediums in this case) as opposed to digital. For me, I enjoy the artistry of covers and the creativity that the distributors go to to produce alternate covers, steelbooks, special editions etc. Something as simple as special features is just one other thing that makes the physical medium of blu-rays.

In, 2014 The Guardian surveyed people aged 16-24 and found that 62% of this group preferred buying books to reading eBooks. Many film directors in recent years such as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and J.J. Abrams have been crusading to keep alive the art of shooting film with film stock as opposed to digital. And in recent years there has been a resurgence of vinyl production and collection. There are many reasons for the sudden love for the media mediums of the past, to remember where we came from, to stay grounded in the digital age and even just the happy feeling you get from putting one more blu-ray in your shelf, even if it’s taking up room that could probably be more practically used.

The best I can explain it is the feeling I get from looking through old photo albums of my childhood far exceeds the way my selfies make me feel. Physical possessions make us feel comfortable because we’re surrounded by things that we chose to put there, as is the same with relationships of any kind. The reason that the worst punishment you can give a man in prison (besides lethal injection) is solitary confinement is because they’re completely alone and humans need physical companionship of any kind. Maybe that’s a stretch from movies to prison but it proves the point that we have the best relationships with things that are tangible, things we can touch.

 

References

Forbes Welcome. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanpassman/2017/01/12/vinyl-is-officially-booming-the-new-billion-dollar-music-business/#34a9bf0a4054

Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Judd Apatow Lead the Charge to Keep Film Stock Alive | IndieWire. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.indiewire.com/2014/07/quentin-tarantino-christopher-nolan-and-judd-apatow-lead-the-charge-to-keep-film-stock-alive-23668/

Young adult readers ‘prefer printed to ebooks’ | Books | The Guardian. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/25/young-adult-readers-prefer-printed-ebooks

 

What Brought Me Here?

As well as being a unique story of film making success, Kevin Smith is a source of inspiration to me as an artist and a creator. Having made a movie like ‘Clerks’ at such a young age and taking it to the Sundance Film Festival where it was adored and still is, Kevin has a particular outlook on life, which he constantly urges anyone who will listen to adopt the same mindset. Myself, being a huge fan of his comedic style, the View Askewniverse and his few college lectures from the early 2000s as well as an avid watcher of his online show ‘Fatman on Batman’, have come to appreciate the sentiments he shares. One quote which encompasses Kevin’s brand of humour and his outlook being “It doesn’t even take TALENT to do what I did; I’m living proof of that. All you need to do is identify what you love to do and monetize that” (Smith, 2017). On a more serious note he also has said many times “Remember: You be you. Your voice is the only currency in this world that you’ll never have to earn or fret about losing. So spend it often” (Smith,2017) and this strikes a chord with me knowing that maybe I could have something to say, I just haven’t found the words yet. It’s the culmination of these two things that have compelled me to study film because I know it is what I love and I want to find my voice in the world of movies.

 

References

KevinSmith on Twitter: “Remember: You be you. Your voice is the only currency in this world that you’ll never have to earn or fret about losing. So spend it often.”. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/thatkevinsmith/status/503360001801322496

 

My Boring Ass Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://silentbobspeaks.com/?42ee7fc0&paged=51