review by Jon
Dante is a convenience store clerk. It’s a typical summer
job for a college age guy like him. The only problem is that
he’s not going to college. This is essentially his career,
and he’s slowly going insane from the people he has to
deal with. Plus, now he has to come in on his day off. Randal
is in a similar situation. He works the video store next door.
Only Randal doesn’t care as much. He locks the store
regularly to come in and chat with his best friend Dante. And
they have a lot to talk about this particular Saturday. It
seems like Murphy’s Law is in full effect. Will Dante
survive the day? After all, he’s not even supposed to
be here today.
You really haven’t seen an independent movie until you’ve
seen one on the level of “Clerks.” This film was
made completely separate from any industry persuasion or influence.
The budget is minimal; the crew, even smaller. The result is
what looks like a feature-length student film that hit the
big time, and for good reason. Rarely do you see DIY filmmakers
actually make something that the general public would want
to see. It’s easy to see right off the bat, that this
was not just made for a group of friends, but rather as an
essay (albeit intelligently juvenile and crude) on the dumbing
down of society and the ridiculousness of our menial everyday
lives. The message comes across loud and clear through Dante
and Randal’s reprehensible actions and misadventures,
but also through their taut diatribes.
Kevin Smith (writer/director/portrayer of drug dealer Silent
Bob) could have given us dialogue that was a little more conventional
and conversational, but it would have lost a lot of its appeal.
I know I certainly don’t know anyone who talks like that,
with that type of structure and language use, nor do I speak
like that. But the rhythm and flow of the words give the sex
jokes an almost iambic pentameter feel. The other plus to this
manner of speaking is to really separate the clerks (that many
would deem as lowly creatures) from the “smarter” customers.
It helps to give them a sense of false superiority and disdain
towards everyone else. They think they’re better than
everybody, because in this world, they are.
The dialogue moves quickly, but the plot line moves quicker.
The editing is pretty good, not because of any spectacular
cuts or balance acts between scenes, but rather for simply
keeping the pace moving at a nice steady pace. You’ll
never know exactly what to expect next, but you can be sure
that it will happen sooner than later. It’s good that
the script works so well, because the visual side of it all
falls pretty flat. The cinematography is downright awful. Aside
from one scene while the two leads are in the car, where the
camera swishes back and forth, the camera lies stagnant. The
composition is as basic and un-artistic as it gets. I’m
glad it didn’t feel pretentious, but it also felt unskilled
or perhaps even as if the camera were unmanned. I didn’t
like how they felt the need to put those cheesy musical stings
at the end of a couple of the jokes either. That completely
detracted from the generally consistent mood of the picture.
Lastly, the acting is completely horrible as well. Brian O’Halloran
(Dante) and Jeff Anderson (Randal) are new to the acting scene
and the inexperience shows. I understand the dialogue is tough,
but it’s precisely that reason as to why these two are
so bad. I also didn’t really find the movie overwhelmingly
funny. The script is sharp and extremely witty, but not gut-busting
hilarious. It certainly has its moments and can easily be quoted
to death, but being able to empathize with the characters doesn’t
make it funnier. Still, despite its faults, “Clerks” is
great for accomplishing what it did with so little. Are there
better unknown films out there? I sure hope so, and if not,
hopefully this will inspire more people to make one.
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