Kevin Smith

Tusk Movie

Editor’s note: This review was originally published on September 9, 2014 as part of our TIFF 2014 coverage. In 2011, Kevin Smith took to the Sundance stage after the premiere of his then-latest film, the horror-cum-satire-cum-action movie, Red State. The film, in conjunction with a 33-minute rant about Hollywood and the death of the indie film world, led many to declare that Smith had totally lost his mind. Deadline called in “an implosion,” and Business Insider said it was time to put the director “on Hollywood crazy watch.” With all due respect to those reputable publications, after watching Tusk in Toronto earlier this week, one thing is absolutely clear: until you see this movie, you have no idea how crazy he’s capable of being. Where to even begin with this thing? Tusk started life on Smith’s weekly podcast, sparked by the discussion of a lodging ad of a most peculiar kind. An old man is offering a room in his mansion, rent free, on the condition that his tenant, for a few hours a day, dress up and act like a walrus. Fascinated by the listing, Smith remarks, between giggles, that the ad sounds like the premise for an old-school Hammer horror film; the tale of a deranged old loner constructing a flippered companion out of human skin. “The Human Centipede…only cuddlier.” So here we are, some fifteen months later, and the movie actually exists; the product of a filmmaker to whom no one apparently says no. A hodgepodge of different horror B-movies, Tusk is messy, indulgent, tonally spastic, meandering, ludicrous and entirely grotesque. It plays […]

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The Boxtrolls

Summer 2014 has come to a thudding close. These past four months have had their ups and downs, but overall this summer wasn’t as bad as the headlines are making it out to be. Despite a significant dip in attendance, there were all kinds of good movies. If you were disappointed by a film this summer, odds are that whatever film you saw next likely left you satisfied. Plus, even though there wasn’t a ton of originality this summer, at least there was variety. This fall is packed with both variety and originality. The remainder of the year should get any film fan excited since we’ll be seeing films from Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Bennet Miller and other beloved storytellers. We’ll have reviews for some of those films as festival season rolls along, so keep an eye out. All of that kicks off this month. So let’s get started with the 10 must see movies this September.

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Yoga Hosers

Absolutely terrible title aside, it sure sounds like Kevin Smith‘s next film — no, no, not Tusk, not the one about a guy who tries to turn Justin Long into a walrus, which still sounds like the most demented thing we have to look forward to this year and perhaps ever, but the one after that — could be a whole lot of fun. After all, the film is going to be a family affair and the closest thing that Smith has ever come to a comic book movie. It’s also called Yoga Hosers. Oof. The Hollywood Reporter shares that Smith has enlisted the star power of Johnny Depp for the feature, who will also be bringing along his daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, for a leading role. Convenient, really, considering that Smith has also added his own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, to the cast. Cute! Nepotism-tastic! Somewhere in between! The younger Depp and Smith are actually the true stars of the feature, as the film “centers on 15-year-old yoga nuts Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith), who have an after-school job at a Manitoba convenience store called Eh-2-Zed. When an ancient evil rises from beneath Canada’s crust and threatens their big invitation to a Grade 12 party, the Colleens join forces with a legendary man-hunter from Montreal named Guy Lapointe (Depp) to fight for their lives with, according to the producers, ‘all seven Chakras, one Warrior Pose at a time.’” So, they love yoga and they are going to use it to fight an […]

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A24

Three years ago writer/director Kevin Smith pushed himself as a filmmaker with Red State. The quasi-horror movie was polarizing for both Smith’s fans and critics. Good or bad, it’s definitely far more ambitious than Smith’s previous movie, Cop Out. He was trying something new. Red State was a 180 turn in the director’s career. With his new picture, Tusk, Smith is continuing down the road he set out on back in 2011. A trailer for the film was released shortly after its Comic-Con debut. From the looks of it, Tusk features the old and the new Kevin Smith. That’s a good thing, because when Red State turned into a shootout, the old Smith was missed. Smith’s finest work generally involves characters talking around a table. Tusk doesn’t seem to stray too far from Smith’s dialogue-heavy past, since the film does feature two characters stuck together in a house, so we should expect a good amount of dialogue from Smith. If you don’t want to know whether Justin Long’s character does actually get turned into a walrus, avoid this discussion with Smith. And, even though I call it a discussion, it’s not really that at all. When you interview Kevin Smith, he’s never at a loss for words. It’s best to just let him say what he has to say.

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A24

Kevin Smith‘s attempt to reinvent or re-brand himself as a genre director began in 2011 with the uninspired and fairly forgettable (aside from Michael Parks) Red State, and now three years later he’s ready to take another stab at a dark and possibly horrific story. But while his last film featured extreme members of the religious right as the villains his latest appears to be focused on someone even nuttier. Tusk is about a man (Michael Parks again) who lures a podcast host (Justin Long) into rural Canada on the pretense of telling a weird and mesmerizing account involving a disaster at sea and the walrus who saved his life. The man is after more than just one night’s companionship though, and the podcaster discovers too late that he’s become a part of the tale… and the tail a part of him. Check out the first trailer for Kevin Smith’s Tusk.

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Tim Burton in Death of Superman Lives

I’m not going to rehash the story of when I met Kevin Smith while working a movie theater box office in the mid ’90s and how he told me about the experience of writing a Superman movie (those days filmmakers didn’t have to be guarded about things being easily spread on the Internet after chatting with fans). You can read what he said then in a piece I wrote early last year on the Kickstarter campaign for The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? Now it’s time to see what Smith says now, in the first trailer for the documentary, which is about the failed project. Also in this trailer are a lot of other prominent people who worked on Superman Lives, including director Tim Burton (who is nearly driven to suicide talking about the sad fate of the film on camera), Lorenzo di Bonaventura (then the Warner Bros. exec who greenlit the movie; now producer of the Transformers and G.I. Joe film franchises), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Oscar winner for Burton’s Sleepy Hollow), Wesley Strick (screenwriter who took over from Smith), special effects artist Steve Johnson (who went on to do Spider-Man 2) and costume designer Colleen Atwood (a three-time Oscar winner, including one for Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). There’s no interview with Nicolas Cage, unfortunately, but there is footage of him being fit for his costume, and some test footage of his version of Superman flying. Check out the trailer below.

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batman-v-superman-logo

Here’s something that is true: filmmaker Kevin Smith is a consummate comic book fan, one who almost got to see his own vision of Superman hit the big screen a couple of decades ago (the film that would have been titled Superman Lives, a failed feature that was so tweaked, rewritten, and run into the ground that it was eventually in the nineties), one who has also penned some special series about another favorite comic book superhero (that would be Batman) and someone who is clearly excited about what Zack Snyder‘s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice holds for DC Comics’ most beloved superheroes and the DC universe at large. Here’s something else that is true: Kevin Smith is not involved with Batman v Superman, and the proliferation of rumors that link the busy filmmaker to a film that he’s not even remotely attached to have become so bizarre and bloated that it’s incredible that anyone could discuss them with a straight face, no matter how desperate everyone seems to be for information on the much-hyped film. The latest Smith-centric rumor that recently hit the web held that Smith penned an entire fake script for the production, which was then purposely leaked it to the press to throw them off the trail of the film’s actual direction. This is, of course, not true. Smith himself took to the Internet today to straighten out a rumor that gained significant traction, well, on the Internet. Cinema Blend clued their readers in to a Smith announcement (Smith-nnouncement? Smod-ment?) earlier today that vowed to clear up the […]

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MIchael Dougherty on Superman Returns Set

Good news for people who like being tied up and thrown in a big sack: there’s a Krampus movie in the works. Different from that other Krampus movie in the works. A new one, this time from director Michael Dougherty of the horror cult classic Trick ‘r Treat. This second project about everyone’s favorite child-abducting goat man is titled Krampus and will be produced by Legendary Pictures. Dougherty, who is directing, will also share screenwriting duties with Todd Casey and Zach Shields. The Krampus, just in case you don’t know (or didn’t Google him when the last Krampus movie was announced) is a European folk legend that goes hand in hand with Santa Claus. You’re a good little boy or girl? You get a treat. You’re a bad little boy or girl? You get the Krampus, a horrible half-man half-goat abomination that abducts children and beats them with rusty chains. According to Deadline, Krampus will be a “twisted horror comedy set around the Christmas holiday” (as opposed to the many horror comedies that poke fun at graphically violent and terrifying situations, but are not even a little bit twisted). Here’s where things get awkward. Last month, when Kevin Smith was talking about his Krampus movie, now titled The Anti-Claus, he mentioned that part of his drive in making it is that there are no good Krampus movies here in the States (he even pushed back the filming of Clerks III to get to Anti-Claus first). In his words: “I wanna see THAT [Krampus-related] Christmas movie. So […]

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Charlie Chaplin in A Busy Day

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the release of A Busy Day, a half-reeler in which Charlie Chaplin plays an angry suffragette (an alternate title was actually A Militant Suffragette) who becomes jealous of her husband during a parade of some kind. It probably isn’t the first instance of a man playing a woman in cinema (there’s no way it took 20 years), but it is the first film that’s really known as the original precursor to something like Tyler Perry‘s Madea character and others like it. Note that this isn’t the same as a Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire type, though Chaplin would do parts of that sort, playing a man who dresses as a woman, later on. Interestingly enough, he’s much prettier in one of those parts, that of The Masquerader (100 years old this August), than he is in A Busy Day. When I claim in the headline above that Chaplin began his filmmaking career as the Perry of his time, I am not really just referring to their comparative angry women characters. Chaplin didn’t direct A Busy Day, contrary to some claims, for one thing. However, he did helm a one-reeler around the same time titled Caught in the Rain. That was in fact his directorial debut, and its own 100th anniversary was this past Sunday. The reason I compare it to Perry’s own first film as a director is that both featured the filmmakers on screen as the iconic characters they’re most associated with. For Perry that’s Madea. For […]

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Oscilloscope Pictures

Kevin Smith‘s retirement seems like a moot point. Right now, the director has four projects in various stages of development: the walrus horror romp Tusk, the Christmas horror romp Comes the Krampus, the apocalyptic comedy Helena Handbag and Clerks 3, which Smith swears he’ll shoot, at some point — just not at any foreseeable point in the near future. Oh, also there’s Hit Somebody, which went from a movie to a six-hour miniseries, but hasn’t been mentioned much lately. Tusk is already rolling towards a vague late-2014 release, which means it’s on to the next film in the great Kevin Smith retirement-o-rama. Which is Comes the Krampus. Or was Comes the Krampus, anyway, because the film is no longer titled Comes the Krampus. Now, it’s the much more user-friendly The Anti-Claus. Probably a smart decision in the long run, given that the Krampus is less than a household name (excluding, of course, the rash of Austrian households with missing children and hoofprints in the foyer). Tell some schmoe on the street about Comes the Krampus, and chances are he’ll become confused and hostile. The Anti-Clause is more schmoe-friendly; it conveys that for every Santa, there is an equal and opposite evil Santa. Much like how The Santa Clause used Santa to teach us about emergency provisions in binding legal documents.

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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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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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