This week, in an effort to curb my tendency to yammer on, I’m going for a shorter entry. Short and sweet, because I’m talking about one of my favourite movies of all time, Clerks. Clerks came out in 1994, and a sequel, Clerks II came out in 2006. It was made for extremely little money (around $27,000, not including licensing right for the soundtrack, if I remember right). The director, Kevin Smith, sold his comic book collection and maxed out all his credit cards just to get it made. The movie went to the Cannes Film Festival, and Smith has gone on to moderate success (he’s made 7 movies and has an 8th coming out this Hallowe’en.
Clerks is an indie movie through and through. It was shot in black and white, 16mm. The movie was rehearsed extensively and features several very long takes with the actors spitting out some tricky dialogue. This was done mainly to save on film, but it works for the indie feel that the movie has, because the actors aren’t always perfect. There are quite a few takes where actors fumble slightly over lines, but the takes had to be used. Again, it all adds to the effect.
Speaking of the dialogue, it is excellent. The movie really doesn’t have much visual appeal, so it’s a good thing. As time has gone by, Kevin Smith has really become known for his funny and dirty dialogue. Or what he self-deprecatingly refers to as “dick and fart jokes”. There’s a lot more to his lines than that, believe me. There’s a whole conversation about the number 37, which I won’t spoil, and the two main characters discuss Star Wars at length. Those main characters are Dante, played by Brian O’Halloran, and Randall, played by Jeff Anderson. Dante is the prototypical wimp. He constantly complains about his life and his situation, but never does anything to change it. Randall is the sarcastic, cynical, best friend. I like to think of them as a modern-day Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
One of the other fun things about this being an indie movie is the use of the same actors in multiple roles. Try to count how many times you see the same face pop up over-and-over. One of Smith’s best friends, Walt Flanagan, appears at least 4 times, in various different outfits and hairstyles.
Basically, if you don’t care much about how a movie looks but love hilarious and filthy dialogue, this movie is for you.
Seeya next time.