Kevin Smith

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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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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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
D+


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