Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Clerks" the start of a generation

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "Clerks"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1994
DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith
STARS: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes
EDITOR: Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith
AWARDS: Award of the Youth (Cannes), Mercedes-Benz Award (Cannes), Filmmakers Trophy (Sundance)
BOX OFFICE: $3,151,130
RUN TIME: 92 min.
RATING: R
VIEWING FORMAT: Netflix Streaming

SUMMARY:
"Clerks" is a simple movie that covers one day in the life of two store clerks. Their interactions with each other, and their customers, give the audience a hysterical and unusual take on American culture of the 1990's.

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
Kevin Smith's "Clerks" is a film that came out of the early 1990's independent film movement. Filmed for an ultra low budget, with friends and family, this film launched the career of the filmmaker, who's impact on popular culture has become iconic.


Smith shot the film over 21 days, for a budget of roughly $27,000. He was a working clerk at the store in which the film is set, and was only able to shoot during the store's closed hours (hence the gag where the store front shutters stay closed all day, to hide the fact that it was night). Smith sacrificed his own health and only got an hour of sleep each day between filming and working the store.


To save money, and time, Smith cast family and friends in small roles, and even had some actors play duplicate roles (he himself plays Silent Bob). This is also why the film was shot in black and white.


Smith brought his film to both Sundance and Cannes, where it had positive and award winning receptions. Miramax bought the film, and released it theatrically. Even though it never played in more than 100 theaters at a time, the film grossed over $3 million.


Smith went on to become a successful director, writer, actor, and producer. He makes public appearances, has more than one popular podcast, launched the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and Jason Lee, and even has his own panel at the annual San Diego Comic Con. His impact on pop culture, especially geek culture, has remained strong over the past two decades, all thanks to this "little" film.


It is worth noting that not only did "Clerks" get it's own direct sequel, it also had one successful spin off television show, a series of spin-off films, and talks of another sequel are still circling.

CRITIQUE:
"Clerks" is hilarious. That's just it. The film has flaws, but they are easily forgivable because the characters are so loved by the end of the film, any shortcomings don't seem to matter.


It is obvious that Smith is a first time filmmaker, but his attention to performance, and his writing stand out. Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson give one-of-a-kind performances, while they simply talk about things of no importance. It doesn't matter though. What is important isn't the content of what they say, it is belief they have that what they're saying is interesting. And guess what? It is interesting.


"Clerks" may not be the best film of 1994, but there is a reason it launched an incredibly successful filmmaker. It is funny, honest, and enjoyable. "Clerks" is the reason movies are made. I would highly suggest this film to anyone interested in a laugh.

MY IMDb RATING: 7 out of 10

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