16 September 2011

Andy's Friday Five: Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith is one of those love him or hate him filmmakers. Hell, there's some who wouldn't even call him a filmmaker. Personally, I love the guy. And not because I enjoy me a dick and fart joke. It's not that. Sure, I enjoy the occasional dick and fart joke, but it's not as if the entirety of a Kevin Smith movie is about that. It may be surprising to some to say that Smith's movies have heart. They're raw, honest. I don't feel like I'm being spoken down to. These are exceptionally crafted, character driven movies that have a style all their own, and never feel corny or phoned in. I respect Kevin Smith, and I like the work that he does.

Thus, now after having just had the opportunity to watch his recent flick RED STATE, I present for today's post my five favorite Kevin Smith movies in order of loveness. Once you take a gander, I'd love to hear your thoughts on his flicks. Next week, hoping to get back to the 'Year in Movies' thing I was trying to cultivate. Until then, enjoy, and check out RED STATE!

1. Clerks II, here Kevin Smith accomplished what is normally impossible: made an sequel that is, in this bloggers opinion, superior to the original. In fact, I look at this flick as Smith's crowning achievement - his best told story, most visually pleasing presentation, and flick that boasted the best performances. This is a real, honest, raw, and quite friggin' hilarious day in the life of Dante and Randal as they make life changing decisions in their 30's/40's (?), reaching the end of their ropes and finally choosing to make some forward movement in their directions. The clerks' story is nicely padded by the absolutely spectacular Rosario Dawson, who fits right in with the Kevin Smith universe and makes it impossible for any man in existence not to fall in love with her. Jay and Silent Bob even have their own integral part to play in the narrative, culminating in a great, 8-minute prison sequence that is just mesmerizing to watch. All in all, everything is simply done right, I feel, with Clerks II. Smith had a story to tell, and he accomplished that expertly. The best script he's written, the best movie he's made, this is his best.

2. Dogma is another one of Smith's 'controversial' films, but that entirely depends on the viewer. Obviously, consider this is my number two, I'm not offended by anything here; instead, I'm head over TARGET-shoes in love with it all. Specifically Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the two Angels trying to get back into heaven after a loophole is revealed to them. To say they own this movie is an understatement. Everything without them is still fun in its own right, but once these two get back on screen, Dogma has a energy about it that sucks you up. One of my favorite Kevin Smith scenes is featured here: Damon and Affleck's banished Angels visit the Heads of Moobys, as in the chair heads behind the Moobys franchise, and they wreck vengeance upon them in a tense, hilarious 7-minute monologue.

3. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a movie that was hit with a lot of negative press over its title, and unfortunately ended up not doing well box office-wise, which is a real shame. I'm a real sucker for those romantic comedies/dramas that see two friends realize that they may have a thing for each other. Cliched to the max, but I'd rather watch that scenario play out a dozen times than see another Katherine Heigel romcom. And take that cliche and give it to Smith - you got a compelling movie (not to mention a load of cultural references, which there are many). A slimming Seth Rogen and comedy gold Elizabeth Banks are awesome as Zack and Miri, respectively. You believe they're best of friends, and the chemistry between them is brilliant. Once again, there's loads of scenes I love, but above them all is probably the Brandon Routh/Justin Long cameo. Watch this movie just for that, if for no other reason. Naked women are great and all - and the movie has that plenty - but Zack and Miri's story, as told by Smith, is hugely entertaining, and contains just the same raw honesty of his Clerks II.

4. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the ultimate geek movie. First and foremost, anyone who is a fan of Smith's films will find interconnected subplots and characters from other flicks popping up over here, making this an big budget inside joke, basically. Luckily for me, I love his flicks, so that extra flavor of pointing and going "aHa!" is just gravy on the top. Secondly, it's cameo city. I'm not going to ruin it, but anyone who was popular back in 2000/2002ish show up in cameos or extended roles. Thirdly, geek culture is front and center here. No series/saga is left untouched. It's hilarious. It's Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes making a buddy movie, and we're all invited to the fun journey. Not for everyone, but this flick does more good than bad.

5. Clerks at the bottom of the list is probably blasphemy, but at least it's on the list, right? I'm not nearly in love with the original as I should be, but it has loads of great scenes in it, and Kevin Smith's dialogue is crisp and brilliant as ever. Dante and Randal are characters I love, and their debut is actually quite solid filmmaking. Nice use of hand held, nice framing, etc. Only thing a bit dodgy about the whole thing is the lighting, which can be dark at times (although understandably so). What I love about this movie is the dialogue and the characters, and mesh them together and you got gold. Conversations about Death Star contractors, number of people Dante's slept with, paying attention to customers at your store, etc. - pretty entertaining stuff at the hands of Smith. And Jeff and Brian, the actors playing Randal and Dante, are instantly likable. My only lack of love stems from not being entirely engulfed in the film as I am with Smith's other works. Perhaps I'm not as grabbed onto the situations, or it does hit home personally for me yet (although Randal's video store stuff does mightily so), but nonetheless, I love and respect the original.

How about y'all? Speak your mind about Kevin Smith!

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