Kevin Smith

Back to the Future 2

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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If you’ve kept up with Kevin Smith recently, you’ve probably noticed that he was never really clued in on the news of his retirement that he announced. While it was once reported that Clerks III would be the writer and director’s final film, he’s since started crafting a whole new slate of films With Tusk, the story of a podcaster who goes missing and winds up in the clutches of a lonely seafarer just looking for someone to fill his human-sized walrus suit for awhile (bummer), Smith has his thriller quota almost completed. After production wraps, he’ll be moving on to the long-awaited Clerks III on April 7. And eventually, we’ll also be getting the apocalypse flick Helena Handbag — that one where mankind and Hell team up to defeat a vengeful, murderous Jesus. It might be awhile before we see that one. Just in case you thought he might be slacking on the production front while playing shuffleboard, Smith has another project in the works that came about based on a conversation on the Edumacation podcast; that makes this the third screenplay to come out of podcasting, with Tusk and Helena Handbag being the other two (maybe we should all get one?). Smith and comedy writer Andy McElfresh have teamed up to make Christmas a little bleaker by finally bringing the tale of The Krampus to the big screen.

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Clerks_1

This Friday at Midnight, Kevin Smith‘s Clerks will return to Park City for a commemorative screening. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival 20 years ago, showing for the first time at the Holiday Village Cinema on January 22, 1994, at 10pm. Two more screenings were held the following week in the same theater, with a fourth and final appearance at the Egyptian. The festival guide entry, written by Bob Hawk (who would go on to be a producer on Chasing Amy), called it “the film equivalent of a garage band” and “an essentially serious work that refuses to take itself seriously.” According to John Pierson’s book Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes, the film was already in play ahead of the premiere, with an advance screening set up for Miramax in December. Although they would end up distributing Clerks, apparently Harvey Weinstein walked out after 15 minutes, allegedly because of the anti-smoking sequence. He later gave it another shot at the Egyptian following a build up of strong word of mouth and some very positive reviews, and was heard laughing this time. A deal was made quickly, and by the end of the fest Clerks also received the Filmmakers Trophy for the dramatic competition, sharing the award with Fresh. Smith’s career was born, and the rest is history. That history has had its ups and downs, of course, but whatever you think of the filmmaker and any of his works from the two decades since (especially this film’s terrible […]

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All this business of staring at screens can be a little tiring. Film and television are incredibly entertaining mediums (as is the act of frenetically refreshing various websites for the latest news about film and television), but every once in a while, it can be nice to find a show that’s not a brightly-colored image projected onto something. And like most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by leaping to one’s feet and belting out a showstopping Broadway musical number. It turns out that it’s a fairly common issue because all your favorite stars are rapidly making the change from Hollywood’s sound stages to New York City’s actual stages, and that statement is 100% factual as long as “your favorite stars” are Kevin Smith, the various creative folks behind Frozen, and Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

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Kevin Smith

After completing his Evangelical cautionary tale Red State in 2011, Kevin Smith talked a bit about taking a breather, stating that there weren’t any more movies he wanted to make at the time. But we should all know by now to take what filmmaker says with a grain of salt, especially since the time following Red State‘s premiere has been spent developing  several new projects. Smith took to his Facebook page to update his fans on his long-awaited horror flick Tusk. For a refresher, Tusk is the story of a journalist (Justin Long) who goes missing in Manitoba while interviewing a sea captain (first red flag). His best friend/podcast co-host and his girlfriend team up to go find him, but they may not want to know the gruesome truth — the seafarer has sewn him up inside a giant walrus costume to keep him company.

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IntroGenre

By no means are directors expected to make the same movie over and over again – but they also don’t tend to fly genre to genre like some kind of bipolar carnival game either. Here are a few directors who – if they were to put on an autograph signing – would find themselves in the midst of a very polarized crowd of fans.

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Look, I know we all love Batman. His cool gadgets. His imposing figure. The way he dresses like a diminutive winged mammal and punches people in the head. And with the latest non-LEGO incarnation of the caped crusader still a few years away, things can be a little tough sometimes. We all need our coping mechanisms- maybe revisit earlier Batman films, pick up a comic book or swallow fistfuls of gravel in an attempt to sound more like Christian Bale.

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Losers Take All

While Kevin Smith has busied himself with the upcoming Clerks III and the horror film Tusk, he’s also tackling a number of smaller, indie projects as producer and distributor. Losers Take All, directed by Alex Steyermark, is one of those side projects, the story of a 1980′s band called The Fingers that has to (what else?) choose between sticking with their original sound and selling out. It’s the age-old tale of small town heroes trying to make it big while also not giving in to The Man. The finally have people with authority who believe in their dinky basement band, but where do they draw the line at keeping things in their control? It all seems a little heavy-handed though; it took about 15 seconds for the 80s Jocks to show up and call them losers. Of course this means they’re going to be famous and stick it to everyone back home now. Of note: The Fingers may be a fake band, but they play all of their own music in the film, as heard throughout the trailer. Check out the trailer here:

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Michael Parks Red State

Since dropping out of film school, Kevin Smith has learned how to be a director in the public eye. However, that process has really only taken shape with his last two movies — Cop Out and Red State. Everything before was like watching a friend who’s naturally good at drawing make comic books that everyone seems to like. Smith had the walk-and-talk down, and he’d tapped into a realistic brand of slackerism that came with grand romantic gestures, but he hadn’t pushed to where real learning happens: outside his comfort zone. Cop Out was definitely outside, and Red State became the equal, opposite reaction to the maligned studio comedy. There were flaws (Smith still doesn’t know how to frame or edit a shootout), but the good ideas and potential were there the way they’d be with any student trying something new. That’s why it was disappointing when he announced his retirement just as he was entering adolescence. Fortunately, it seems like his retirement is a bit like Steven Soderbergh’s “retirement” — Smith is making another horror film before launching into the capstone course of Clerks III. Oh, and it sounds as crazy as the neighbor who has binoculars on the windowsill facing your house. According to Indiewire, Smith will be reteaming with the astoundingly talented Michael Parks for Tusk, the story of a mad man who lures a guy (presumably Justin Long) to his house to turn him into a walrus using fake blubber. They’re shooting this October with an […]

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The Dirties

Matt and Owen are making a movie — a comedy about getting high-caliber revenge on the bullies that make their lives hell at high school — and one of them wants to take the plot more seriously. Coming out of Slamdance as the Grand Prize Jury winner and spurred on by Kevin Smith, The Dirties could be a powerful look at a terrible phenomenon in a world where we thought movies like Elephant, The Standard and Zero Day had said everything to say. Now with a meta media twist. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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silent running drones

If you’re going to see Despicable Me 2 this weekend, there’s a good chance it’s because either you or your children mostly want to see the Minions. Who cares about Gru and the human children let alone whatever the plot is this time around when those little yellow blobs are running around causing trouble? This is just a hurdle until the spin-off movie that’s centered just on the Minions comes out next year. Why do we love them so much? Movies.com writer Perri Nemiroff gave a few likeminded reasons earlier this week, comparing them to pets and plush toys come to life. She also notes that their gibberish is always “immensely more entertaining than any line of human dialogue.” The lack of intelligible dialogue is the reason I believe they’re so popular, combined with their slapstick antics. They’re Keystone henchmen, basically, characters that continue the tradition of silent comedy well into the era of sound cinema. In fact, they are cinema, almost purely visual treats (without their gibberish and occasional English word they would still be as funny). They’re reportedly modeled after the Jawas from Star Wars and the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, while Steve Carrell (the voice of Gru) believes the Minions “are as close to a modern day version of the Marx Brothers as I’ve seen.” One of the Marx Brothers in particular, for me. Harpo was one of the earliest figures in film to maintain the tradition of the dumbshow pantomime once […]

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CLERKS 2

Now that we’re past the point of established Hollywood talents going to fans for funding projects, is it only a matter of time before Kevin Smith reaches out to his cult following via Kickstarter? Not quite yet, and maybe he never will. Talking to Kim Masters on the KRCW radio program The Business, Smith admitted, “I love the idea and I want to do it so desperately, but I think I’ve missed the window based on the fact that I do have access to materials, I do have access to money.” Let’s not forget that Smith was almost a pioneer of feature film crowdfunding three years ago when he looked into the idea of fan-based financing for Red State, a creative departure for the director and one that even his friends at The Weinstein Co. weren’t interested in. Of course, the idea of him crowdfunding was blown out of proportion and the possibility was met with great disapproval on the web, not unlike what occurred more recently with Zach Braff’s campaign. One website in particular called Smith a “beggar,” which hit the filmmaker deep. He commented on that to Masters: The moment I saw that I froze. That high school part of me, the last vestiges of high school that said, “Oh, I care what other people think about me,” seized me… And, I can’t even remember the name of the website or the person that wrote it, but I do remember that it was the last moment of my life […]

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nicholas-cage-superman-lives

Few franchises have crashed and burned as spectacularly as the Superman films, which reached their nadir with 1987’s fourth installment, The Quest for Peace, which grossed barely a tenth the box office of Richard Donner’s classic origin story a decade earlier. SUPERMAN’S DIMINISHING RETURNS Superman (1978) $134M Superman II (1980) $108M Superman III (1983) $60M Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) $15M With Tim Burton’s dark, gritty Batman demolishing box office records in 1989, Warner Bros. had no reason to think audiences would respond to the brighter, more colorful Man of Steel mythos – at least, not until 1992, when DC Comics’ bestselling “The Death and Return of Superman” cycle put The Daily Planet’s most famous reporter back on the front page. In the comics (later turned into a 2007 animated film, Superman: Doomsday), Superman is killed by a creature called Doomsday, before being resurrected after a three-month publishing hiatus which became a publicity magnet. Deciding that the death-and-rebirth story merited a movie, Warner placed a full-page ad in the trade press announcing a working-titled Superman: The New Movie, with Batman producer Jon Peters at the wheel, and screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin (Lethal Weapon 4, Devil’s Advocate, Demolition Man), at the typewriter.

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therep

As you may know from our weekly Movie Houses of Worship feature, we love to celebrate cinemas and the act of seeing films on the big screen. Part of that column focuses on these favorite theaters’ repertory programming. Most of the businesses and non-profit organizations we showcase play classic films, some of them solely doing so. And that’s because so many of us like to see these oldies on the big screen and with fellow cinephiles — even titles we own on Blu-ray and/or have seen a million times. We hate to see any of these cinemas close down (see tomorrow’s MHoW), and we love to see communities band together to save and re-open local theaters, both for the preservation of the history and the continued experiences that shall happen there. Fans of the feature and hopefully other readers will be interested in a new documentary titled The Rep. It’s about those independent repertory houses and the struggle they deal with in order to keep the pastime of moviegoing alive. In addition to theater owners and patrons (mostly those of the Toronto Underground Cinema), the film features interviews with Kevin Smith, John Waters, George Romero and Edgar Wright. Following a world premiere last fall at the Austin Film Festival, The Rep is now ready for a theatrical release. And its distribution plan is quite uncommon: filmmaker Morgan White is offering the doc to any movie theater interested in booking it free of charge.

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IntroRelatives

Being on a movie set can be a blast – especially when you don’t have to do anything. It’s not hard to imagine that with every great actor or director there’s probably a nagging cousin or sibling who wants to be part of that sweet sitting around action. And how the hell are they going to say no? Giving mom a line is a small price to pay for 18 years of guaranteed food and shelter, right? How can an actor resist sticking their kid in a shot or two? It happens a lot – so much so that the following 15 are only the tip of the iceberg.

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IntroDirectorCameos

The beauty of being a director is that you can get killer screen time without the hassle of actually knowing how to act. Being a good director, however, is knowing not to haphazardly stick yourself in your films – at least not unless you’re Spike Lee or Woody Allen. Really it’s all about identifying your limitations. So here are some neat ways that a director opted to show up in their film without taking the spotlight at the same time. These are creative little cameos that you might never notice in a million years of watching.

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Death of Superman Lives

Thanks to Kickstarter, there continues to be an increase in documentaries being made about movies. On top of that, there also seems to be a trend lately for filmmakers to look at failed movie projects, as if inspired by the heartbreaking 2002 release Lost in La Mancha. Currently on the festival circuit is the must-see doc Persistence of Vision, which is about the decades-long disaster of The Thief and the Cobbler (see my thoughts on that and some clips here), and recently funded and now in the works is Science Fiction Land about the canceled movie that wound up at the center of Argo. Now, we may get to learn the full story on another collapsed production, Tim Burton‘s Superman Lives, via the proposed new project of director Jon Schnepp (The ABCs of Death; Cartoon Network’s Metalocalypse). It’s another “unmaking of” doc titled The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? And yes, Schnepp is attempting to finance this movie through Kickstarter, where he formerly had a hand in one of the most successful crowd-funding campaigns for film ever (for the animated Grimm Fairy Tales series, which he’s directing). He’s already amassed a lot of background material and concept art for the failed Superman movie, since he’s been collecting the stuff passionately over the years, and now he just needs to conduct interviews and put it all together to tell the story of what went wrong. He hopes to talk to attached stars Nicolas Cage and Sandra Bullock, as well as […]

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commentary-clerks

When given the chance, most sane people flee the colder areas of the country in favor of tropical locations in January. However, movie fans turn away from the dreadful selection of films in the marketplace and focus their attention to Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival. While our elite writers are checking out the many films at Sundance, it’s time for another commentary on a film’s commentary. The choice this week is Kevin Smith’s breakthrough picture Clerks. Clerks wasn’t discovered at Sundance, but it was a breakout hit at the festival in 1994. This week, let’s forget about the Red State auction shenanigans, feuds with Southwest Air, and various Twitter explosions. We can turn back the clock to 1995 when Smith sat down with his cohorts to record the commentary to what is possibly his best-known film. For fans of the film, and Smith’s career, much of the information might be repetitious. However, even if you’ve listened to the Clerks commentary before, there’s a few gems you might have forgotten or not noticed until now. And on to the commentary…

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Christopher Nolan at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the largest independent fests in the country, but it probably has the best reputation for launching filmmaking careers and being the only thing in January that will be remembered around Oscar time 13 months later. It’s debatable just how “indie” it is — especially with studio shingles routinely picking up audience favorites for distribution — but it’s difficult to deny the raw directorial power that’s moved through Park City over the years. Names like Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, The Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh can count themselves amongst the Sundance ranks, but there are many, many more. In that (independent) spirit, here’s a double-size list of tips (for fans and filmmakers alike) from 12 directors who made a name at Sundance.

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Director of film and builder of podcast empires Kevin Smith has been talking about his retirement as a movie man for quite a while now. The plan, until very recently, has been for him to go out with a film called Hit Somebody, an epic in scope hockey movie that follows a sports career from its beginning in the ’50s all the way through to its end in the ’80s. What wasn’t quite clear was exactly what form Hit Somebody was going to take. At first it was thought to be one film, then it got confirmed that it was going to be split into two films, and then, just a couple days ago, Smith confirmed on Episode 99 of his ‘Jay & Silent Bob Get Old’ podcast [via /Film] that it’s now going to be split into six hour-long episodes of a mini-series, to be aired on a yet to be named TV channel. That’s not the end of the story though. Apparently Smith still wants to make one big final film that he can market as his retirement project, and earlier today he took to his Twitter account to fill everybody in on what that would be. He started things off by explaining to his followers that, “Since HIT SOMEBODY is now gonna be a mini-series, yes – that leaves room for a new final flick before I retire from directing feature films.” And then followed that up by dropping the fairly big bombshell that, “ … the […]

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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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