The Golden stock literalizes what I've always thought was Smith's primary appeal. The secret of Smith’s enduring popularity is how friendly his vision of the world is. The title Smith chose for his company, “View Askew” was spot on, his world is our world, but just a bit off. Our world in which everyone is just a little bit smarter, funnier, stranger, kinder and on the whole less mundane. A world that is in this case literally brighter. For all the potty humor Smith's world has always been a surprisingly innocent place.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
(One Day I cut an alphabetical swatch through my DVD collection for shits and giggles. This is the result.)
Nothing has made me feel older then the decline in Kevin Smith's reputation. Not to get all "Back in my day" but back in my day liking Smith was a matter of course. Among a certain strata he was ubiquitous as Vans, Alex Garland's The Beach and Elliot Smith. Not only was he crude, funny, and talked about Star Wars, but he was the indie filmmaker who made it, one of us.
Now fifteen years in his career, on the backside of Zack And Miri Make A Porno, which earned Smith some of the best reviews of his career while tanking and Cop Out, which well do I even have to talk about the fall out from that one, Smith is looking like a very different filmmaker from the friendly, unassuming guy who made Clerks.
But still, even though I haven't like all of his movies, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back doesn't really work for me, and it almost goes without saying neither do Mallrats, Jersey Girl and Cop Out, I've been kind of shocked by the glee that people take in being allowed to ignore Smith. True he's painted a big target on himself, but is that really a reason to ignore an entire body of work? This is let me say, despite my bet hedging a firmly positive piece on Smith, which is part of why I wanted to write it. I have a feeling they'll be in short supply.
There's no way a director who can communicate such levels of longing and apprehension with a simple fucking two shot, a slight push in and a fifteen year old pop song isn't worth some serious consideration.
But this is not the moment I want to explore from Clerks 2. A flawed but ultimately rewarding movie that has waiting inside it a perfect three minute gem of a scene, that is as perfect an expression of happiness as I've seen in a film and sums up everything likable about Kevin Smith as a filmmaker.
Clerks 2 takes as it's unlikely premise that Rosario Dawson is in love with Brian Halloran. Well look if I can believe in Jedis for two hours...
At the start of this scene, Halloran has confessed his apprehension about dancing at his wedding, so Dawson's taken him up to the roof to show him a few moves...
Enlisting the help of Jay and Silent Bob and their Jambox. Because of course it's a Jambox. Which in another nice Smith touch takes a second because the tape deck refuses to close. It's not much, not even a gag really, just a bit of business. But it's a great little detail, that speaks to the tactile working class nature of Smith's best films.
One of the things I love about Rosario Dawson as an actress is how utterly transparent she is. Yes I know she's an actress, but the way she lights up when she hears the opening bars of ABC (Remember this was pre Michael Jackson death and reputation resurrection. Something that made this choice probably several million dollars cheaper) belies a pleasure that seems so genuine, that it makes the moment beautiful.
Brian Halloran may never be a great actor but he is a perfectly good reactor. Which is fine because that's all Smith's scripts ever really call on him to do. In this case all he has to do is convincingly fall in love with Rosario Dawson...
Which is kind of hard not to do.
The burst from the de-saturated palate we didn't even know we were in, to this beautiful magic hour light is startling and kind of perfect. Anyone accusing Smith of lack of visual style is doing so out of habit at this point. Unfortunately that includes Smith himself.
Though it wouldn't be Smith if we didn't get a little scatological...
I want to touch on this later but, note the goofy abandon of the moment. Smith is probably the lease ironic Gen X filmmaker out there. It's disarming of him and yet another element of his style that feeds his fan's affection of him.
Remember what I was saying with about "Goofy Abandon"?
Seven film's into his career and Smith still hadn't lost that "Let's put on a show!" vibe that has always been a part of his work. And I think, that is at the end of the day what separates good Kevin Smith films from bad ones. When he makes a film like Cop Out which is just process, you know it. Because when it comes to Smith there is perhaps no other filmmaker whose love of the filmmaking process is more palatable.
And if the following moment doesn't make you a little happy, then I think you might actually be the grinch.
That's one of the most appropriate launchings of a cheerleader I've ever seen...
What I love is that while some of these people are obviously professional dancers just as many of them are obviously not. Smith has always had an eye for people and this sequence rewards a close watch.
Like the woman in the I Heart NJ shirt. Look at that smile. This shot is only two seconds long but it's always stayed with me. It's a moment of perfect happiness that crystalizes the feeling of the entire scene for me.
Of course the real world and it's problems rear it's ugly head. And we're back to the de-saturated world. This time with an acute awareness that we are in it. But it's the promise of that sequence that stays with us. The promise that all of Smith's films make, echoed in the lyrics of that perfect song choice.
That's how simple love can be/
That's how simple life can be/