Kevin Smith

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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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the next big thing, the opening night every night, the closing ceremony before the event even starts. It’s also a contender in the 100-meter dash. We begin this evening with a great new image from Rian Johnson’s Looper featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his next breakout role. I say next because this guy seems to be on a hot streak of break-out roles. How many breakout roles can one have, anyway?

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There used to be a time when only die-hard comic book fans knew what Stan Lee looked like. His likeness appeared in many of the Marvel comic books for the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but to the average person, he was nothing more than a guy with some shaded glasses. Then Hollywood started putting the guy in some movies. He’s never had a very big part, but to honor the man for helping to create some of the most legendary superheroes (and some of the biggest moneymakers for the movie business), Lee has been given customary cameos in almost every major movie that has been made from characters he helped create. Those who have seen The Amazing Spider-Man (which should be most of you faithful readers, by now) were treated to one of his best and funniest cameos yet. And with more Marvel movies coming down the pike, he’s sure to show up many times again. This gave us a chance to look back on his many appearances over the years and assemble a list of his ten best cameos. Excelsior!

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Channel Guide - Large

In 2010, after the release of the largely panned Cop Out, Kevin Smith tweeted a short but passionate polemic against movie critics (that most loathsome subsect of the human species who sit up in their ivory towers and pass judgments), writing, “From now on, any flick I’m ever involved with, I conduct screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free [?] Why’s their opinion more valid?” In the interest of full disclosure, I have attended free press screenings, but I still think that Smith’s gripe had merit. Spoilers with Kevin Smith, a new Hulu original series that debuted on the site Monday, is the director’s attempt to fix the “backwards system” that perturbed him so. The web talk show’s mission? As Smith puts it on his blog, “we don’t review movies on Spoilers; we revere them.”

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Video Game High School

The absolute, must-read article of the week is “Disrupted: Indie Filmmakers” from Brian Newman at Sub-Genre . The week isn’t over yet, but the article that shows how popularity on YouTube has sidestepped the traditional indie film festival track will be tough to beat. It may sound a bit counter-intuitive because videos that get millions of views on YouTube are How To Videos and shots of cats wearing monocles and stuff, but there are a handful of popular users that are translating a massive subscriber list (and an even bigger amount of views) into funding through KickStarter (the above image comes from Video Game High School) and IndieGoGo to raise funds for more projects. Meanwhile, filmmakers trying to find funding are still going through festivals like Sundance and, often, falling short. It’s a fascinating theory because it seems plausible. It might not make immediate sense that making mash-ups and quirky spoofs could lead to big screen bliss, but all the elements are there.

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Back in the late 1990s, you only had two options for discussing movies. You could hang out with friends in the parking lot or late night waffle hut afterward, complaining about nipples on Batman, or you could go online to sites like Aint It Cool and Movie Poop Shoot to give unbridled, anonymous opinions slathered with as much cursing vitriol as you pleased. That’s what the internet has given us. A tool to help social uprisings, and a forum for hiding your identity while calling Joel Schumacher a “douchenozzle.” That wide-ranging usefulness is a thing of beauty, and Kevin Smith is seeking to tap into it with his new show, Spoilers. The set up is simple: Smith will amass a crowd of 50 movie fans to watch a film and then discuss it afterward. Smith will play ringmaster, and members of the opinion-loaded audience will get to share to their heart’s content. In short? It’s the comments section come to life. Of course, that’s not all the show has up its sleeves.

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If Jesus or Tupac ever finally return like we’ve all been saying they will, they should probably do it in a Judd Apatow film or something like that. We love cameos, don’t we? It’s especially delightful when it’s extremely unexpected, and of course extra points if they are playing themselves – or better yet some kind of silly version of themselves. It’s all about recognizing the kind of person you are perceived to be, and then playing off that in a way that makes the audience realize that you are in on the joke. If a celebrity is able to do that, it’s instant coolness.

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Editor’s Note: This review first ran as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage, but Comic-Con Episode Four hits limited theaters this week. Delivering a massive event with his trademarked smile behind the camera, Morgan Spurlock‘s Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope is the kind of joyous celebration that might also serve as a gateway drug for those not initiated into geek culture. It’s a documentary that easily straddles the line between service to those already fascinated by the subject and to those that haven’t ever heard of a comic book. It could have been annoyingly fluffy, but Spurlock has crafted a film that doesn’t just act as advertisement for the largest comic book/multimedia convention in the country. In fact, the question of whether the convention is still faithful to its comic book roots is at the center of the multi-faced exploration that gives the movie much more dimension than it initially lets on. The doc is composed of several stories – a pair of artists looking to break into the business, a costume designer and her crew looking to make a mark, a young couple who fell in love at the event, and a comic book dealer who is trying to justify coming back financially. All are woven together with expert timing (and a fun, comic book style art element that turns them into characters of a different sort).

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I make no effort to hide my love and appreciation for Seann William Scott. I’ve always thought he was hilarious and on top of that, he broke my journalism cherry. My first ever interview/junket experience was for Role Models where I was seated, along with two other journalists, and Seann William Scott. To put the sweet love icing on the cake, Scott complimented me while I sat there quietly, in a bit of audio I’ve kept ever since. Why am I telling you this? Just so you know, because I’m about to gush all over Goon. You can make your own judgement call whether or not my view is too tainted, but when you weigh this review against other reviews, you’ll find that in all likelihood, this is just a good movie. Goon currently has a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Now that the unpleasant awkwardness of my manlove is out of the way, Goon is the story of very talented ass-kicker and mediocre hockey player Doug Glatt as he makes a bloody splash on the ice. Early in the story, Glatt moves from fan to fan who kicks a hockey player’s ass to low level hockey star to semi-pro star enforcer.

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Recently, Kevin Smith went back to the Angelika Theater in New York to reminisce on the empty screening that launched his career. It’s an incredible story that he shared with me in detail on the event’s 16th anniversary, and it comes amidst the news that he is interest in making Clerks 3. He’s just not interested in making it as a movie. According to /Film, the director (a career he’ll be retiring from soon) is interested in continuing the story of Randall and Dante, but instead of rolling cameras, he’d rather it be a stage play. He cites seeing “Seminar” on Broadway (which starred Alan Rickman and is currently starring Jeff Goldblum) as one of the main reasons he’s looking to the theatre instead of the theater, but it’s also unclear as to how serious he may be about it. The question is how serious fans might be about it. A play might be the right medium for Smith’s wordplay, but it would still require him to work with someone who could develop a compelling visual on the set design front. No doubt it could be minimal, but in a world where theater is being invaded by movies (possibly including this), the visual component is still going to matter to a director who isn’t the strongest in that department.    

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Channel Guide - Large

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash—or simply “the Stash,” if you’re down—is a comic book shop in Red Bank, New Jersey. The sheer existence of the store when so many others are closing, in and of itself, might be noteworthy but what really gives this place some cachet is its owner: Kevin Smith. A comic book shop is a comic book shop, but when it’s in some way connected to the tour de force that I (and other people, probably) like to call Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, who isn’t going to want to visit? The new show Comic Book Men’s appeal is similarly tied to the Jersey Girl director—the unscripted series is set in the Stash and produced by Smith. I like Clerks, I like Chasing Amy, I like most of Dogma, I’ve gone to (and enjoyed) one of Smith’s live Q&A shows, so I think I fall within AMC’s target audience here. Despite being a part of this demographic, or maybe because I’m a part of this demographic, the network shouldn’t have put all of their eggs in the bespectacled, be-bearded, be-hockey-jerseyed filmmaker basket.

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Nerdist Late Night

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie and entertainment news column that brings you all the stuff you should be reading that hasn’t already been published on Film School Rejects. We admit that we’re honored to be an inspiration to every person, writer and sentient being mentioned in the links below, and would like to pay them back with a link. Also, it’s a column whose author is going on vacation for a week starting tomorrow, so you’ll be seeing some fresh faces pinch-hitting over the next week. It’s likely that they will do a much better job, but lets not tell them that. We’re already having problems with their egos, as it is. We begin this evening with an image Tweeted by Chris Hardwick, king of the Nerdist empire. It’s a preview from his appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, in which he will assuredly be pimping his new book, hitting on Zooey Deschanel (because who wouldn’t) and talking about nerdy things with another nerdy famous person. If Questlove plays the drums with lightsabers, I’m in.

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Since we all have a million dollars, our minds are almost always tuned to the day dream of what kind of movie we’d make with all that loose cash just lying around (since banks do nothing but lose things). Would it be a romantic horror film? Would it be a silent action film? Would we blow of all of it on lighting and forget the other elements of production design? Probably. Fortunately, we’ve all had a few filmmakers tread before us in using their million bucks with efficiency and artistry. In a world where Michael Bay needs 200 suitcases full of $1m, these directors made it happen with only one of those suitcases (or no suitcases at all), and they created a lasting legacy despite their lack of foldin’ money. If they can do it, why not us? Here are 8 great films made for under a million dollars that we can all learn from. (And if you enter our contest sponsored by Doritos, you might actually win that $1m you need for all those lights.)

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By now everyone knows that after his upcoming two-part hockey flick Hit Somebody, Kevin Smith is done making movies. If Red State is any indication, the time’s right for his exit. Smith’s Westboro Baptist Church-inspired horror-thriller has been making headlines since his ill-fated fake auction following January’s Sundance premiere. He’s taken it on the road, showing it to packed houses across North America. It played a week at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. The filmmaker’s tweeted about it incessantly. Now, it’s on DVD. And it’s still really, really bad, a simplistic, poorly-constructed exercise in low-rent genre moviemaking. It’s as if Smith made the movie just so he could promote it. Horny Midwestern teens (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun) sneak away one school night to have sex with an older woman they’ve met online. Turns out the woman, Sara (Melissa Leo), is the daughter of the psychotic fringe preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and Abin really, really doesn’t like fornicating.

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Much talk has been circling Kevin Smith these days, especially now that his new film Red State is available to everyone (well, everyone in the U.S. for now) on VOD. And in addition to Red State, the man has successfully built his very own internet radio station (S.I.R.) and put two TV pilots into production, and today we get an update on at least one of them. Back in June it was announced that AMC had commissioned a “presentation” for a Pawn Stars style reality series set within Smith’s N.J. based comic book shop, Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The series was set to star Smith’s longtime friends Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson and would feature the day-to-day lives of the two (in addition to the other employees of the Stash) as they ran the shop. Today it was announced that AMC has indeed green lit the series, Secret Stash. The first season will consist of six episodes (as per usual with most AMC programming) and will begin airing in the first quarter of 2012. There is no word yet on what day or time the series will air, but if one were to make a safe assumption, it will most likely air on Sunday (which is the only night thus far that AMC has ever aired original programming) nights along with the returning Mad Men. Of course, it’s just as likely that AMC will want to create some competition for the likes of The History Channel or A&E with their respective similar type […]

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What if there were a shirt that would drive women around you into an uncontrollable sexual stupor? That’s the central conceit behind Chick Magnet, and of course the second big question is how to explain to her why you want to keep your shirt on during sex. The trailer for the low budget sex comedy definitely shows its limitations, but there’s at least a little bit to chuckle at here and a heart that will inevitably be involved (since one of the characters wants to use the shirt to get his crappy ex-wife back). Plus, somehow the production tricked Tracy Morgan, Kristen Bell and Rosario Dawson into making appearances as themselves. For those keeping score, an unknown writer/director and writer/producer (named Ryan R. Williams and Jeff Venables) created a movie where every woman wants to sex them up, and they somehow convinced Bell and Dawson to be two of those women. So, yeah, check it out:

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Rumors that Hit Somebody – Kevin Smith‘s forthcoming final film about a young man named Buddy making his way up through the ranks to play pro hockey – would be two movies have been floating around, so we decided to go to the source himself for confirmation and a few questions over the old email machine. As for the rumors, we can confirm that they’re true, and Smith had a brief plot outline of where the split would be, saying, “It’ll be one flick cleft in twain. Looking like part one ends at the close of Buddy’s first pro game, 1972-ish. Flick starts in 1954. Part 2 ends in 1980.” No matter how many movies it’ll be, this project is definitely his last. To that end, I asked why he didn’t want to make a trilogy, and he responded, “Everybody does trilogies. I’d rather end with a less predictable closer. Predictable would be Clerks III, but a two-part hockey epic that’s largely about Canada, featuring an all-star cast? That’ll have some scratching their heads and others saying ‘It’s kinda perfect.’”

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