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Kevin Smith's Army
November 4, 2011 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Kevin Smith's Army How His Loyal Fans Prop Up A Stunningly Mediocre Career [Slate]

Smith once said he wasn’t particularly interested in how his films looked, which is a little like a novelist saying he doesn’t much care for words. Smith’s disdain for the visual is particularly acute in his second film, Mallrats, which is to Fast Times at Ridgemont High as Cop Out is to Lethal Weapon. The movie begins with a pair of static shots lasting several minutes in which Smith simply plants the camera and watches his actors do their thing. Thoroughly flat-footed and painfully inept, it stands as one of the most purely incompetent studio movies ever made. He’s improved recently, but he’s only succeeded in rising to the level of a Hollywood hack.

...

For his core audience, though, it seems Smith can do no wrong. From the beginning, he’s presented himself as an ordinary guy, unpretentious as they come: Some call them movies, some films, but Smith may be the only working director to regularly refer to his output as “flicks.” He’s been interacting with fans online since the beginning, often in the brusque, profane voice you’d expect from his films.
posted by modernnomad (119 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh. His later films suck, but Reaper (not mentioned) was great... Sadly it never really found an audience, presumably because it was tucked away on CW.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah RED STATE was a mess of a film.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2011


How bold of Slate to publish an article taking the controversial stance that Kevin Smith's movies aren't that great.

Hard-hitting!
posted by kenko at 11:14 AM on November 4, 2011 [45 favorites]


(By rights shouldn't oh-so-contrarian Slate be publishing articles hailing Smith as the great unrecognized auteur of our times?)
posted by kenko at 11:15 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


the brusque, profane voice

This from the writer of the blog post title Seriously, Fuck Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:15 AM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


While I'm no fan of Kevin Smith (nor do I like loafers, craft beer, Ram trucks, the term "MILFs", or zombie movies, for all that it matters in the grand scheme of things), this piece seems remarkably mean-spirited. Typical from a "critic", really.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


I haven't watched anything of his except Clerks so I don't know how bad they really are, but I don't think "simply plants the camera and watches" is necessarily a bad thing. He does in that Clerks and I think it worked. It feels like real life, unlike a movie with dozens of cuts and closeups and whatnot. Documentary.
posted by DU at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Was Smith really that involved with Reaper? It looks like he directed the first ep but that's it. I liked the show alright but eventually dropped it at some point.
posted by kmz at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2011


yes, this breaks critical new ground in groundbraking groundbraking.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2011


SPOILER ALERT: Kevin Smith does not make movies the way you're supposed to make movies.
posted by griphus at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming up next: I Didn't Like Coldplay This Album Very Much At All.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


The movie begins with a pair of static shots lasting several minutes in which Smith simply plants the camera and watches his actors do their thing. Thoroughly flat-footed and painfully inept...

Is this where I make the comparison to the question of if Ringo played simple drum beats in the Beatles because he wasn't a very good drummer or because that is what the songs called for?

Life is a static, one-camera shot. At least from each individual person's point of view. I found the banter amongst the characters as the best part of his early movies, anyways.

But then again, I wasn't a fan of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and "Clerks 2" was mostly cringe-worthy, leaving me with no desire to see anything else by him in the future. I'd rather have the "flat-footed" cinematography than the trying-too-hard-to-be-big-budget of his later films.

...often in the brusque, profane voice you’d expect from his films.
I saw him speak once at our local university and, man, I did NOT expect the profanity to be of that level. And I'd seen all of his movies multiple times at that point. He still managed to find new ways to be offensive and too personal.
posted by jillithd at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Nerd Icon]'s Army: How [His:Her] Loyal Fans Prop Up A Stunningly Mediocre Career
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, I am braking brakes in groundbraking brakes.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:21 AM on November 4, 2011


Smith once said he wasn’t particularly interested in how his films looked, which is a little like a novelist saying he doesn’t much care for words.

Personally, I always thought that his movies were more about people talking than anything else, and in that sense, no -- the visuals don't matter as much when the talking's the focus. And I also think that his fans would be perfectly willing to admit that the guy is capable of producing a failure.

Also: Sheesh. Relax. They're fun movies. He's not claiming to be Bergman, here.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2011


Coming up next: I Didn't Like Coldplay This Album Very Much At All.

Been done already
posted by KokuRyu at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wait, I forgot about "Jersey Girl". That was actually pretty well-done, I think.
posted by jillithd at 11:25 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think "simply plants the camera and watches" is necessarily a bad thing

It was the signature style of Yasujiro Ozu, one of Japan's most acclaimed directors. I also think Kevin Smith is not a very good filmmaker, but it is important, when being critical, not to simply state something under the presumption that it is universally understood as being terrible. A lot depends on context, and a good critic provides the context.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:25 AM on November 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


Haven't seen many of his movies but the man is a terrific stand-up comedian orWhateverYouWantToCallHisActOnStage.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Never watched a Kevin Smith movie. Listening to a couple of months worth of his podcast made me hate him so much I'm sure I couldn't give them a fair appraisal.

Seriously, the man is congenitally unable to not make a dick joke. Gotta space 'em out dude. Like my dick.
posted by Trochanter at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


(By rights shouldn't oh-so-contrarian Slate be publishing articles hailing Smith as the great unrecognized auteur of our times?)

I've always found Salon's critics* to be much worse as far as the "if a lot of people are hailing this film as great you can be pretty well guaranteed our review will say the opposite" along with similar "here is why this movie that has been universally panned is actually brilliant"-type articles.

*With the disclaimer that I don't read the site regularly anymore, so perhaps this has changed over the past year or two, particularly since Stephanie Zacharek, who I found to be especially guilty of this, left the site?
posted by The Gooch at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was Smith really that involved with Reaper? It looks like he directed the first ep but that's it. I liked the show alright but eventually dropped it at some point.

A big deal was made of it at the time, but you're right his name is barely on it...

Right, back to liking Mallrats as my controversial thing-by-Kevin-Smith-I-like.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, what's so bad about Kevin Smith? I like his work- not love, but like. I'd agree he's mediocre, but so are most directors! The best part of his movies, especially the early ones, was a good grasp of natural sounding dialogue which is stupendously rare in most movies where people sound like they're talking in a movie. And as Capt. Renault says above they're about the conversations we have, not the explosions we fly away from in slow-motion.

Mallrats was fine, as are most of his movies- I even enjoyed Jersey Girl- but admittedly, I wouldn't deliberately rewatch any of his movies. But if I catch part of them playing on cable, I'll watch for a little while.

I will say I thought Reaper was total shit, and clapped when I heard it was finally canceled; the lead was so dumb, so whiny, so much a stereotype of what every Baby Boomer thinks every Gen X-Er was like... ugh, I just wanted him to fail. You're a half-magical son of the devil- act the part you schmuck! The occasional Seattle street scene was nice, though.
posted by hincandenza at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


THIS JUST IN: Nerds angry that nerd icon is painted in unflattering light.
posted by Legomancer at 11:35 AM on November 4, 2011


Central character is an idiot, it's all about Sock and Ray Wise.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on November 4, 2011


Troll article is trolling you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will say I thought Reaper was total shit,

Blasphemer! Ray Wise makes anything awesome. (seriously, that show could have been just him and i would have loved it) I also have to say i'm confused at why you complain about the leads, and so much of tv and movies lately are schmucks who fail or just plain bad people. It was just a plain fun show, something i'm missing now, with everything taking itself way too seriously.

Kevin Smith may have his problems, but one thing you can count on is that you know what you are getting when you see his name on the film. There are also a LOT of worse directors that have been getting big projects that just boggle my brain. I know Transformers makes a ton of money, but holy hell are they terrible and i'd even take a Smith film over those, even his worst ones.

Not sure about the complaint about static camera, have they ever watched akira kurosawa? Good films, but dynamic cameras aren't there much either.
posted by usagizero at 11:38 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


the visuals don't matter as much when the talking's the focus

Very true his movies are very much about bro banter. All the intermidable holding-forth his movies contain is much better in his podcast or or his speaking engagements. He is a guy that should have been alive when radio was huge.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mr. Smith responds to another critic.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2011


Slate's Army: How Its Loyal Fans Prop Up A Stunningly Mediocre Webmagazine
posted by gompa at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, it's not like Smith is going to get on a plane and come beat you up... (not without two tickets anyway)
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


While I'm no fan of Kevin Smith (nor do I like loafers, craft beer, Ram trucks, the term "MILFs", or zombie movies, for all that it matters in the grand scheme of things), this piece seems remarkably mean-spirited.

Yeah, really. I'm not a Kevin Smith fan either, but I haven't had to even think about him since Dogma or so.

What's so bad about what he's doing? It sounds like a smallish number of people want to pay a premium for Kevin Smith's personality and/or his work. So what?

It sounds an awful lot like sour grapes.

Mallrats was my favorite Kevin Smith movie by far. Actually, it's the only one I've seen and liked. Clerks was "OK."
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kevin Smith has made some awful films. However, he also made "Clerks," which is a great film.

It's also the only genuinely great, genuinely independent film I know of. As in, him and his friends got together and made a movie. Film is tremendously expensive. Almost everyone who becomes a filmmaker has a wealthy family or a pretty serious set of connections or they'd never get started.

Even the ones who invent a "started from nothing" mythology are invariably lying, like Robert Rodriguez. I once heard a radio piece on the creators of "Napoleon Dynamite" where they talked for about five minutes about how they were a "poor couple living in this little apartment." In the next sentence one casually mentioned "and then we raised $400,000" with no explanation, as if it was something anyone could do in a few days.

So props to Mr. Smith for doing it on his own, for real.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:41 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nerds angry that nerd icon is painted in unflattering light

oh, i dont think thats it at all. more like nerds annoyed that guy gets payed for stating the bleedin obvious.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:41 AM on November 4, 2011


As someone who spent his teen years working at a shitty convenience store, Clerks cannot be celebrated enough. Before the age of YouTube, Smith managed to make a film from the perspective of a New Jersey nobody stuck at a shitty dead end job and get it out there for the general public. Clerks was not a film that a studio would be interested in making even to this day. So, Smith will always get kudos from me for that feat. However, after Clerks he really didn't have as many revelatory ideas and his films since then are largely forgotten (remember how Chasing Amy was big back then, yet today no one mentions it? Must not have aged well).

That Smith now makes movies for a small, but dedicated audience shouldn't be scorned, in fact it feels about right. He started out with the niche Clerks, got to make a few big budget films, and now is back to the niche audience. The fact that he got to make any studio films at all is a remarkable achievement and critics should just let him be to make the films his fans want to see.

Oh, and when my shitty convenience store went out of business I very much went up to the roof with some friends to play soccer (we didnt have hockey gear).
posted by boubelium at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Worse than watching Kevin Smith movies: following Kevin Smith on Twitter. "I love eating out my beautiful wife's asshole!" How nice for both of you. Now get back in the editing room and work on Red State, because there's a decent movie buried in there, but what I'm watching is not it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh, i dont think thats it at all. more like nerds annoyed that guy gets payed for stating the bleedin obvious.

I think it is safe to assure you that he didn't get paid much.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:45 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


remember how Chasing Amy was big back then, yet today no one mentions it? Must not have aged well

So much so that you could probably just put a still from it under the dictionary definition of "not aged well".
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on November 4, 2011


well, you know, more than most of us get paid for opining on the web.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:46 AM on November 4, 2011


It's also the only genuinely great, genuinely independent film I know of. As in, him and his friends got together and made a movie. Film is tremendously expensive. Almost everyone who becomes a filmmaker has a wealthy family or a pretty serious set of connections or they'd never get started.

Primer cost more than 4x less than Clerks to create.

And re: clerks, from Wikipedia: "To acquire the funds for the film, Kevin Smith sold a large portion of his extensive comic book collection in 1993, maxed out eight to ten credit cards with $2,000 limits, dipped into a portion of funds set aside for his college education"

Serious or not, Smith had at least some connections.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's big money to be made writing articles dissing Kevin Smith for content aggregation sites! Fun and easy!

Well, probably not.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2011


I really enjoyed Zack and Miri... am I the only one?
posted by utsutsu at 11:50 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


If Kevin Smith has an "army," I don't know what you'd call the millions of people propping up Michael Bay's Stunningly Mediocre Career.

People Who Like Stuff I Don't Like: How They Enable That Stuff To Keep Existing Anyway
posted by straight at 11:51 AM on November 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


The idea that an artist is "propped up" by fans is a pretty thickheaded notion. An artist has fans or doesn't. If an artist has fans, they presumably find something worthwhile in the artist's work, whether the critic agrees or not. Taking a position that the fans are somehow wrong or misguided because the artist somehow objectively sucks is a deeply stupid act.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Primer cost more than 4x less than Clerks to create.

And my calculator doesn't have enough zeroes to calculate how many times better it is.
posted by straight at 11:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


utsutsu: No.
posted by foldedfish at 11:53 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I'm not up for re-watching it to find out that I'm wrong, the Clerks cartoon was hilarious. If it would have started on Adult Swim rather than a network, it would have ran for a thousand years or fifty four episodes.
posted by drezdn at 11:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Clerks is a great fucking movie, but I have grown to really dislike Kevin Smith. Never has any one person needed to just... stop... talking.

Also, I helped a friend hand out flyers to people entering one of those Evening With Kevin Smith things and he totally does have an army. An Army of Clones. Jesus fuck, every other guy entering the joint looked exactly like Smith.
posted by bondcliff at 11:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


> remember how Chasing Amy was big back then, yet today no one mentions it? Must not have aged well

> So much so that you could probably just put a still from it under the dictionary definition of "not aged well".


"Everyone has a moment when they're rudely forced to accept that they aren't as young as they'd like to believe."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Worse than watching Kevin Smith movies: following Kevin Smith on Twitter. "I love eating out my beautiful wife's asshole!"

Good lord, you're surely joking
posted by KokuRyu at 11:58 AM on November 4, 2011


Clerks 2 made me happy. I found Zack and Miri to be a successful romcom, with more of the gross-out than I'd like, but that seems to be obligatory for a modern R-rated comedy. So you can put me down for... eh, not particularly interested in condeming or lionizing him.

(And I have some fond memories of Reaper. Everything with Ray Wise really shone.)
posted by Zed at 11:58 AM on November 4, 2011


Seconding BitterOldPunk: Red State didn't hold together, but parts showed promise. Reframe the movie around John Goodman's character and it just might work.

("More John Goodman" is my answer to pretty much anything.)
posted by whuppy at 12:03 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]




SPOILER ALERT: Kevin Smith does not make movies the way you're supposed to make movies.


Hey, remember this time, right around, ohhhhh 1989/90, when all us Gen Xers were like "fuck the way you are supposed to do things...we can't get jobs anyway..let's just do some shit our way"?? Yeah...that's the context in which Smith did his work, and he wasn't the only one. Are we gonna now rip the engineering aesthetic of the lo-fi movement in music for 'not caring where they put the EQ'?
posted by spicynuts at 12:03 PM on November 4, 2011


The film originally opened with Holden and Banky meeting two scornful comic book owners. Their snarky comments about "Bluntman and Chronic" were taken directly from a negative review of Mallrats.

I actually would have thought that pretty cool.
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good lord, you're surely joking

I am not joking. Now imagine variations of that tweet, repeated every ten minutes, 12 hours a day.

That's Kevin Smith's Twitter timeline.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:06 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really enjoy Kevin Smith. I dont love all of his movies, but I can probably quote Clerks from beginning to end. Plus, I find what hes been doing recently interesting. Hes started all these podcasts, creates his own work, and just generally seems like a cool guy.

/sidenote: the only good thing that every came out of my first love relationship was a signed copy of Clerks 10th anniversary DVD box set. The only thing I kept from her after boxing up all her shit. That is a treasure to me.
posted by handbanana at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2011


And, since I've slated it, I will say this: All the comicbook bits of Chasing Amy are actually pretty fun.
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised at the idea that liking Mallrats is controversial. As a followup to Clerks it does a great job establishing that this town in New Jersey, (Redbank represent!) has a couple of dudes in it who sell drugs and have wacky adventures. I liked the Jersey trilogy, never saw Garden State, and just found Red State to be severely dumb. The Clerks cartoon was aces though.
posted by Peztopiary at 12:10 PM on November 4, 2011


Good lord, you're surely joking

I am not joking. Now imagine variations of that tweet, repeated every ten minutes, 12 hours a day.

That's Kevin Smith's Twitter timeline.



That's how his podcast sounds to me, too. Cannot not make the cheap dick joke. It gets to the point where you can't respect that mind anymore.
posted by Trochanter at 12:13 PM on November 4, 2011


If Kevin Smith only had 1 good movie, that would be 1 good movie more than I've made. Turns out he has several good movies, so I have nothing negative to say about the man.

Michael Bay is another story.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm: Primer cost more than 4x less than Clerks to create.
I hope you're happy that you've ruined my day when my brain parsed that sentence. "Cost more than 4x less"? What the hell is wrong with just saying "It was made for less than 1/4 what Clerks cost"
posted by hincandenza at 12:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


All the comicbook bits of Chasing Amy are actually pretty fun.

...but it's regrettable that a million people now have the "so you're a tracer" knee-jerk response to inking. It was funny enough to work in the movie. That was a long time ago.

never saw Garden State

Garden State wasn't his.
posted by Zed at 12:18 PM on November 4, 2011


Hey, remember this time, right around, ohhhhh 1989/90, when all us Gen Xers were like "fuck the way you are supposed to do things...we can't get jobs anyway..let's just do some shit our way"??

Well, if you're directing that at me: a) I was being facetious and anyone who genuinely thinks there's an objective way you're supposed to make movies probably either doesn't make movies at all, or makes really, really terrible movies and b) I was six.

He is a guy that should have been alive when radio was huge.

He's certainly got a face for it.

OH

WHAT
posted by griphus at 12:22 PM on November 4, 2011


Yeah, I imagine most inkers either have it memorized or will rip your throat out at the first hint of it by now.
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on November 4, 2011


From the description on Netflix Instant I thought Red State sounded fun. We got about 20 minutes into it before switching over to something else. It was then that I noticed it was a Kevin Smith movie -- which instantly explained why I hadn't enjoyed it, but did not explain why it seemed like such an amateur work. I mean, what??
posted by hermitosis at 12:28 PM on November 4, 2011


I hope you're happy that you've ruined my day when my brain parsed that sentence. "Cost more than 4x less"? What the hell is wrong with just saying "It was made for less than 1/4 what Clerks cost"

I assumed they were trying to convey some of the brain-hurt one gets watching Primer.
posted by sparkletone at 12:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Clerks and Chasing Amy were enough to cement his legacy, and Dogma, tho not a good movie, was an important movie. Mall Rats was neither important nor good, but it was a lot of fun, great on a rainy afternoon in a double feature with Empire Records.

The rest of it - mmmmmeh.

Still - Alex Cox only had two good movies in him, too. I think the problem is that Kevin Smith is opinionated and not shy in sharing, where most directors live at a level of Olympian remove with a cool feline reserve.

Some people just don't like their hollywood idols to have feet of clay... or jorts.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


...Dogma, tho not a good movie, was an important movie.

Why?
posted by griphus at 12:31 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of wondering what I would think of Chasing Amy now. I'm repeating something I said this morning, but when I saw it I was 17 and naive (and a girl), and -- unlike Clerks -- it just filled me with so much dread. How many guys are like this? Is this normal? How unfair, how sexist, how awful. Of course I'd seen movies about much worse, but those weren't billed as regular comedies teenage guys like. Still not sure I could detach myself enough to appreciate the movie's ambivalence about the Affleck character, to whatever extent it's there (and I hear it's there a lot). I'm not sure that character was the only gross thing about it. Of course, that doesn't mean it wasn't artistically successful; I really can't remember anything about it but feeling anxious about these regular bros' anxious misogyny, how tangled up it was in everything, and how funny that was supposed to be. Maybe if I were 30 I could have laughed at it.

It's just a little too close to home to feel like reviewing, and I don't remember it being funny enough to reward that. I'd kind of rather watch Irreversible or something. Or just some movie in which at least some of the women are just as compromised as the men, even if it's much much bleaker.
posted by Adventurer at 12:32 PM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Gooch: I've always found Salon's critics* to be much worse as far as the "if a lot of people are hailing this film as great you can be pretty well guaranteed our review will say the opposite" along with similar "here is why this movie that has been universally panned is actually brilliant"-type articles.

Well, I'd rather see a few contrarian reviews than a bunch of yea- and nay-saying ones. I don't read critics for consensus. I read them to see which ones will break off from the consensus and say something worth paying attention to. Not that Stephanie Zacharek was always worth reading, but she wasn't horrific either. I don't see the point in having every review be part of the herd.

I've never understood Kevin Smith's appeal, but this article is stupid. "He’s become the suburban stoner equivalent of Charles Foster Kane, his faculties dulled by the nattering of yes-men and the uncritical embrace of eager acolytes." Oh, I'm deep, I inserted a Charles Foster Kane reference into my completely unrelated article!

hincandenza: I'd agree he's mediocre, but so are most directors!

Most directors aren't at Kevin Smith's level of celebrity, perceived or not.
posted by blucevalo at 12:36 PM on November 4, 2011


...Dogma, tho not a good movie, was an important movie.

Why?

I don't know how it was in your circles, but in my circles, here in liberal Northern California, that vision of organized religion, that level of Catholic introspection, caused a whole shitload of conversation on religion. It opened up dialogues between atheists and Christians in a way that the Evangelical right had managed to completely shut down. It caused discussion and sharing and common ground between religious, agnostic and atheist on a level that I didn't see again 'til the reading of Christopher Moore's Lamb hit critical mass.

And in "Buddy Christ" it simplified a vision of religion that's so iconic that every time I drive out into the Central Valley and I have double-take moments.
posted by straw at 12:37 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


GRIPHUS... I was agreeing with you and fleshing out your argument
posted by spicynuts at 12:40 PM on November 4, 2011


[Nerd Icon]'s Army: How [His:Her] Loyal Fans Prop Up A Stunningly Mediocre Career


Cool formula now let's get this shit for Neal Gaiman. CWAA
posted by grobstein at 12:42 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Straw - I had no idea. Being not religious and from comics to me it was "like Preacher, but not as good. "
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or just some movie in which at least some of the women are just as compromised as the men, even if it's much much bleaker.

Ummm... Lauren Adams wasn't playing a saint or a victim. Her motivations for getting involved with a handsome and successful hetero man were as complex and shallow as anything Holden or Banky were up to.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:44 PM on November 4, 2011


GRIPHUS... I was agreeing with you and fleshing out your argument

This is why I need to stay away from MetaFilter after lunch on Fridays.

...that level of Catholic introspection, caused a whole shitload of conversation on religion.

Fair enough; I'm coming from a completely different place (in the most literal sense) on that so I will take your word for it.
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on November 4, 2011


If Kevin Smith only had 1 good movie, that would be 1 good movie more than I've made. Turns out he has several good movies, so I have nothing negative to say about the man.

Michael Bay is another story.


Michael Bay has made 1 more good "Got Milk" commercial than you've made.
posted by grobstein at 12:47 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure that how human relationships work in Chasing Amy is any more divergent from how human relationships work in any other romantic comedey, but my god, they were so fucking serious about it...
posted by Artw at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2011


New England, too - this was as the Sex Abuse scandals were coming to a head. It allowed Catholics to be critical of the church in a moment when it looked like folks were going to start circling the wagons to shut down all criticism, but in a way that encouraged dialog and discussion with those inside and outside the church.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:52 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I loved mallrats, but then, I also loved bongs while watching mallrats. Haven't seen mallrats in years, or smoked a bong. I think it would be too painful an experience to revisit either.
posted by twistedonion at 12:53 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Romcoms depend on keeping a couple apart for most of the movie. That's hard to do, and I usually find it to fail. Someone does something unforgivable, gets dumped for good reason, and ultimately gets forgiven for no good reason, and I think one of them's a monster and one of them's a doormat, and don't really find it a happy ending. Or someone does something innocuous, the other overreacts crazily, they spend an hour failing to have a single grown-up conversation about it, and thoy get past it some time after I concluded they're both idiots and had long since stopped caring whether they have a happy ending.

In Chasing Amy, Holden did the unforgivable... and didn't get forgiven. I've always really appreciated that about it.
posted by Zed at 1:37 PM on November 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's easy to hate on Clerks II, but it was worth the rental to watch Jeff Anderson's acting breakthrough when his character realizes in jail that his life is passing him by.
posted by dr_dank at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2011


The modern equivalent of Chasing Amy would appear to be Scott Pilgrim saying "you had a sexy phase?" when he finds out Romana used to date the woman who does the voice for Tinkerbell in the Disney movies, and then the movie just keeps on going on being about his crushing insecurities and jealousies without much further reference to that detail.
posted by Artw at 1:43 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


A stunningly mediocre post, and mean spirited too.
posted by caddis at 2:03 PM on November 4, 2011


What did this guy think he was going to do? Convince people not to go to Kevin Smith movies? The horse is pretty much out of the barn with that.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2011


How many paint-by-numbers, misogynistic, formulaic romantic comedies are churned out every year? Who even writes or directs them? I wouldn't know - does anyone? Does anyone pay any attention? Just to pick one at random from IMDB...who the fuck is Donald Petrie any why isn't Salon putting out articles calling him talentless and saying he's only propped up by his fans?

Oh. It's because no-one gives a shit about him.

Smith makes some bad movies. Certainly my appreciation for them waxes and wanes - Chasing Amy very quickly became cringe-worthy. I watch Zack and Miri without even realizing it was by Smith. Cop Out wasn't as horrible as I'd been led to believe...to me, it just seemed as bad as every other cop action flick ever made. But he seems to enjoy what he's doing, and there are people who seem to enjoy him. And the haters will be happy to know he's got one more movie (in two parts) lined up then he's retiring from film making.
posted by Jimbob at 2:07 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Salon != Slate
posted by The Tensor at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2011


Clerks was important for me as an individual. Weirdly enough, it helped me get out of a really unhealthy situation. Mallrats is fun, Chasing Amy insufferable and Dogma hit the spot for the 17 year old me. I saw Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as kind of a farewell to that universe. And, it turns out, it was my farewell to Kevin Smith.

There are directors who have made fewer important movies and if he can keep going with his niche fan base, more power to him.
posted by Hactar at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like most of his movies fine but his standup and podcasts are way too far over the top for me. I can see how listening to him speak might make you never see one of his movies. The dude needs to dial it back. Still I agree with others that this article just hates him for the sake of hating him.

I was in fact a mallrat at the mall (Eden Prairie Center in Minnesota - 3 miles from home for me) where and when Mallrats was filmed. It was surreal to see storefronts that only went a few feet deep for stores like "Rug Munchers" and "Time for Cookies" there until we found out what was up. I am somewhere in the back of the crowd scene of the dating show, but I've never been able to find myself on the video. That was an odd night.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


That mall is consecrated by the feet of Stan Lee!
posted by Artw at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2011


I do find it plausible that the Hollywood machine is trying to smear Smith because he threatens their existence. I never had as much disagreement with the critics over a movie than I did with Cop Out. It's a pretty funny enjoyable movie compared to the rest of the Hollywood dreck.
posted by gyp casino at 3:27 PM on November 4, 2011


It's a pretty funny enjoyable movie compared to the rest of the Hollywood dreck.

Well yeah. Everyone says it was crap. Smith says it was crap. But I've seen a lot worse movies...
posted by Jimbob at 3:36 PM on November 4, 2011


I read this article earlier today and wondered if someone would post it...it's an insightful little hatchet piece if nothing else, and I'm sure it echoes many people's feelings about Smith. I don't think anyone would have written it who wasn't at one point a fan, now disappointed, wondering when the second coming of Richard Linklater turned into the Gen X Howard Stern, et cetera, but at the same time? There has never been a wider array of great movies and comics and TV shows and novels just a click away, and if Smith still has his juggalos, what of it? He isn't sucking the air out of my room. I don't have the time or money for all the great art I would like to enjoy. Who has time to waste complaining about bad art?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:51 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


but my god, they were so fucking serious about it...

Oh god, that cry-scream-talk they had in the rain when he professed his love? The level of pathos was above and beyond anything ever depicted in a holywood movie.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:22 PM on November 4, 2011


Another low point...
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also I listen to Smodcast, and yes, there is way too much discussion of tonguing Jen Schwalbach's arsehole. But it's fun. Lowbrow. Very, very, very lowbrow. But as I've said here before, there's something cool about listening to a Noted Hollywood Film Director just shooting the shit, talking about smoking pot and sitting in his editing suite, giving a bit of a revelation into the actual mechanics of what goes on there, talking about his struggle when his daughter goes to a "play" with one of her friends and it's actually a bunch of Fundies trying to get her to accept Jesus into her heart. Talking about taking Jason Mewes to rehab, multiple times, then coming and chasing him when he escapes. He is an everyman, who made it good, but who is willing to take the piss out of himself to an extreme degree. He probably should talk less, I know. I love the idea of Smodcast Internet Radio, but I'm kinda alarmed that for months now he's managed to pull his arse out of bed to do live internet radio every. single. day. There's part of Smith that is extremely dumb - maybe deliberately so, I dunno. There's also a part which is extremely driven.

The comments above about how "he had connections" doesn't really gel with the Clerks story. They signed up to a bullshit college course (legend has it, "How to cook a sucking pig") in order to get a discount on film stock, then quit the course before they had to pay. In order to get the Clerks film processed, they took it to an incredibly cheap-arse processing lab, hidden away down a back alley, where you put the film in a hole in the door and hoped for the best. When they ran out of money on Smith's credit cards, they asked Mosier's father for some more money - and he insisted they pay it back to him with real interest. A lot of the "actors" in Clerks were people they pulled off the street.

Geez, I'm sounding like such a Kevin Smith apologist now. He does make bad films. But no-one, least of all Smith, calls them art. And I can't help but like him.
posted by Jimbob at 6:01 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


"I do find it plausible that the Hollywood machine is trying to smear Smith because he threatens their existence. I never had as much disagreement with the critics over a movie than I did with Cop Out."

What are you talking about? "Cop Out" was a "Hollywood Machine" movie. It cost $37,000,000 to make, it starred Bruce Willis, it was produced by Warner Bros and Smith didn't write it, he was just a director for hire. It was widely panned because it was rubbish.
posted by joannemullen at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2011


What are you talking about? "Cop Out" was a "Hollywood Machine" movie.

And that was about exactly the point in time where Smith took a dump on the Hollywood Machine...
posted by Jimbob at 6:11 PM on November 4, 2011


I listened to the SMODcasts when Zack and Miri came out. Smith faithfully related his daily experience including his disappointment when the film flopped at the box office. In fact, he dissected that disappointment over the next several shows. I don't like Smith or his movies much, but that display of honesty won my grudging respect.
posted by telstar at 7:34 PM on November 4, 2011


Like most directors, Kevin Smith has an uneven filmography. The bad: Cop Out, much of Mallrats, much of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The good: Dogma (Smith's best film), Reaper. Debatable: all the rest.
posted by zardoz at 7:34 PM on November 4, 2011


It's not an unfair article about Smith, really. Smith has had a spotty career and talks a great deal.

I'm a little stunned, in the article and here, at what seems to be folks upset about his twitter feed, his podcast, and his "speaking tour" - and who are able to go on and on about how awful they are. All those 3 are filled with dick and every other scatological joke you could possible make. Like many media people, these are easy enough to *not* consume, so the rancor about them seems like overreaction. It reminds me of the overreaction people have to Tyler Perry movies which they have not seen or Twilight books one has not read.

For myself, I enjoyed Clerks, hated Mallrats, enjoyed Chasing Amy a lot (yes, it is fucking earnest as hell, in some ways it reminds of of Love Story from the 1970s). I really liked Dogma - it manages to take moral-high-ground taking and Catholic mythos and turn it into something interesting. The throwaway line about Alanis Morissette does not represent that film nearly well enough. His others so far

Lastly, I'm not 100% sure it's fair to compare Primer and Clerks in terms of budget -- film production and distribution and promotion -- 12 years apart. Also, Primer, despite being considered brilliant by some, I found to be tedious and self-important. Clerks, meanwhile, was funny and managed to capture the way twentysomethings talked in 1994.

Now, "He’s become the suburban stoner equivalent of Charles Foster Kane, his faculties dulled by the nattering of yes-men and the uncritical embrace of eager acolytes." -- I'm not sure his faculties are really dulled -- if anything, Smith is so consistently vilified critically and online that it's caused him to reject all criticism.

It's really a shame there's not more actual constructive criticism - because constant hatefests about folks who work in the popular arts doesn't tend to cause those folks to improve their output.
posted by artlung at 9:45 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


His others so far... since then I've not been impressed by. I didn't hate Zack and Miri and actually just added Red State to my todo list on Netflix. So, middling career, he makes a living. Welcome to a world where middling people can make a living by cultivating their own fans without going through mainstream media. We all love it pretty well for people we like, for people we don't -- well, it seems to make people pretty upset.
posted by artlung at 9:54 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I generally like Kevin Smith. I like Clerks and even Mallrats. I liked Chasing Amy better (for the point that Holden doesn't get forgiven, among other things) and I really like Dogma. That's a crazy-ass movie that also makes you think, and I love it when people mix the shallow and the deep. I enjoyed his random stories on the "Evening with Kevin Smith" DVD's. I used to listen to Smodcast when it was only weekly (though see below).

I didn't like the ones after it so much. Jay and Silent Bob is silly fun, Jersey Girl is just okay (I don't hate it, other than J. Lo, mostly just find the idea that Ollie can't possibly do more with his life than be a garbageman kind of ridiculous). Clerks 2 was all right. I kind of like how it ended with a little bit more depth than before. Wasn't too into Zack and Miri, but then again I am not a fan of Seth Rogen, so whatever.

And that's pretty much where I'm stopping until I find out if "Hit Somebody" has potential or not. Cop Out and Red State sound godawful bad and I am not going to see them. I stopped listening to Smodcast when it seemed like most of the show was now dedicated to plugging the Fleshlight-- good god, man, if I had a dick, I would totally buy one by now, but THIS IS GETTING OLD. (Also, doesn't Smith have enough money to pay for his own podcast? If he doesn't, who does?) I also am kinda tired of his constant fascination with gayness, to the point where it uh, makes you wonder how bicurious the man is. And it seems like he's gotten a little...unhinged? weird? something? in the last few years. Which seem to be coincidentally the years where he took up smoking a lot of pot. Hmmmmm.

Now, I'm impressed by the dude's drive, his loyalty to his friends, his blatant honesty, the fact that he and the wife uh...still seem to be enjoying each other there. I'm impressed that he is somehow managing to professionally podcast for a living somehow. And when he tells a story, it's pissed off, weird, and funny. Still like that. But...lately he seems like he needs a few screws tightened in his brain or something. And that makes me sad.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:19 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was Primer shot on digital? That'd be a big difference.
posted by Artw at 10:26 PM on November 4, 2011


Primer was shot on film, I remember reading that Carruth found ways to obtain cheap film stock. See here. It's a shame he hasn't directed anything else.

I generally like Kevin Smith though I missed his last few films and yes, way too much tonguing in his twitter stream for me to follow him. Not because I find it offensive but because he's so prolific. But he doesn't claim to be Orson Wells and he's makes better movies than I ever could, so props from me.
posted by beowulf573 at 5:37 AM on November 5, 2011


So for Primer they were able get half-price "remaindered" film stock through an online source -- am I reading that right?

Also, Filmmaking Advice from Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi (NSFW) is pretty inspirational - basically the technology now, digital, desktop editing tools, changed the game for indie filmmaking.
posted by artlung at 6:48 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Welcome to a world where middling people can make a living by cultivating their own fans without going through mainstream media.

I'm sorry and I know you mean well and all, but I really must gently call bullshit on this, at least w/r/t the example of Kevin Smith. Smith's career is predicated on early adoption by the Weinsteins, whose company was at that time already a division of Disney. We are not talking about some struggling underground artist here who got where he is because of aggressive flyering. We are talking about someone who legitimately put his nuts on the chopping block to make a movie with all the resources he had, admittedly...but once that paid off, that paid off to the tune of getting a huge multinational corporation to throw its marketing muscle behind his work. I'm not sure media gets more mainstream than Disney.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:35 AM on November 5, 2011


In Chasing Amy, Holden did the unforgivable... and didn't get forgiven. I've always really appreciated that about it.

I also liked that he wasn't forgiven, but I was never entirely convinced that he actually understood what he had done wrong, and that always bothered me. Other than that, I generally like Chasing Amy. As for the rest of Kevin Smith: some parts of Dogma are quite good, Mallrats I have seen once but totally forgot, Clerks will forever be one of my favorite movies, and I think those are the only ones I've seen.
posted by naoko at 11:55 AM on November 5, 2011


I was never entirely convinced that he actually understood what he had done wrong, and that always bothered me

I do think that he never got it, but I didn't see that as a flaw in the movie, just in Holden.
posted by Zed at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's also the only genuinely great, genuinely independent film I know of.

Eraserhead took David Lynch seven years to make. He paid for it by getting a paper route and sleeping on the set.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2011


The thing I find so interesting about Kevin Smith's movies is in any discussion of same there is nothing even approaching agreement over which of his films is the best. I liked Clerks, I'm kinda Meh about Mallrats, thought Chasing Amy was brilliant, had many a good discussion spawned out of Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob is my go to veg-out movie. Clerks II was a little too surreal for my taste and I enjoyed both Jersey Girl and Zack and Miri though the latter more than the former.

But the guy is, to my sensibilities, shockingly open about his sex life (and as is usually the case it really isn't all that interesting). So I rarely enjoy any of his real life antics.
posted by Mitheral at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2011


whuppy: "Seconding BitterOldPunk: Red State didn't hold together, but parts showed promise. Reframe the movie around John Goodman's character and it just might work.

("More John Goodman" is my answer to pretty much anything.)
"

Have you played iD Software's RAGE yet?
posted by Samizdata at 8:16 PM on November 5, 2011


But...lately he seems like he needs a few screws tightened in his brain or something. And that makes me sad.

On the one hand, he's been smoking a hell of a lot of pot lately.

On the other hand, we didn't used to get daily updates on every aspect of his life. Maybe he's always been like that.
posted by Jimbob at 8:48 PM on November 5, 2011


I was gonna give RAGE a miss, but if I can play as John Goodman . . .
posted by whuppy at 8:08 AM on November 6, 2011


I'm with @artlung on the outrage at KS's Smodcast/Twitter output. People seem to be making a judgement on grounds of taste or decency rather than discussing what he actually says. Maybe he's making a point about exposing the prudishness of (some in) the USA?

Or perhaps because I'm an Englishman, I laugh rather more heartily at willy and poo jokes than I should (I see some similarities with the British comedian Richard Herring) but Smith does always give me food for thought along with those smutty giggles.
posted by Myeral at 3:33 AM on November 7, 2011


Well, I like Kevin Smith. I have enjoyed all of his films (except one: I still haven't seen Red State). And I'm not an idiot or someone who doesn't appreciate a good film. This really is a matter of taste, and anyone who spends that much time and effort arguing against someone else's sense of taste seems to have problems of their own they should work out.
posted by grubi at 6:50 AM on November 7, 2011


People seem to be making a judgement on grounds of taste or decency

Nope. On the grounds of repetition.
posted by Trochanter at 7:10 AM on November 7, 2011


Wait. An expert is suggesting that a group of fans is wrong?

I'm shocked.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:31 AM on November 7, 2011


Nope. On the grounds of repetition.

People seem to be making a judgement on grounds of taste or decency...

Sorry, joke. Sometimes repetition works as a comedic device though, I think.

And there are a couple of comments on this thread referring to Smith's profanity, cheap dick jokes, etc. So it's not all about repetition.
posted by Myeral at 7:36 AM on November 7, 2011


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