Silent but Deadly
by Stu Connolly - 3D World Magazine, Sydney, Australia
With his shoestring budget debut Clerks, a Cannes Film Festival winner with its mixmash of shrewd characters,witty dialogue, stark black and white photography and the 90s greatest comedy team, Silent Bob and Jay, part time Director, comic book store owner and wannabe cartoon writer Kevin Smith achieved what must be every filmmakers dream. To make a film from personal experience with no bureaucratic or financial pressures with success both critically and financially...and pay out the general public without backlash!
In this case it was his lunch money earning job behind the counter at a 7-11 where his unique character perception, keen ear for wacky situational comedy as well as wry social skills developed and in turn provided the basis for the film. His second, and pressured outing was the sadly outed but in turn hilariously funny Mallrats, which came from two places, the mall ... and John Hughes films. Smith has hit back with his third, and most successful feature yet, the 90s take of boy meets girl, Chasing Amy. In this case, the boy, Holden (Ben Affleck) meets the girl (Joey Laurey Adams) who turns out to be gay, and then falls in love with him despite their `differences' but it's these differences that start to plague him. "It's a common theme in what I've done so far, " comments Smith, "In Clerks it was a pretty large aspect; in this movie it's kind of like taking that scene ... and making a whole movie about it and playing it a little more seriously. There's definitely a lot of me in that Holden character, I was pretty much a guy who really had hangups with people's past. The movie was either a very inexpensive or expensive therapy for me."
Smith integrates a lot of himself into both the storylines, and of course his wonderfully animated characters. "I think they come from ideal world" discusses Smith, "In each of the flicks there's always these two guys who've been hanging out forever. I unfortunately don't have that in my life; I've never had a friend from the sandbox on. Basically Jay comes from knowing Jason Mewes; when he was a kid he was this bizarre little sonic dude with dirt on him ...and the need to have a character stand next to him and say nothing? That's where the Silent Bob character comes from." These characters come to life with Smith's unique and perceptive dialogue which has its share of detractors. "My movies are all about dialogue" says Smith, "I'm a horrible, horrible visual stylist, the movies I make are really flat looking, but `God they sound great!' Its nice to sit there and hear people having conversations - it either strikes people as dead on, real or very theatrical or fake or something. For me it seems very real cause that's how I hear people speak in my head, or I think more to the point that's how I'd wish people would speak probably."
All the same, he's received flack, however for his portrayal of female characters, in particularly Alyssa, who proclaims herself gay but then finds love with a male, which she states as her finding her special one - she never counted out females in her early sexual experiences so why count out males? "There's definitely a large populate of the lesbian community that felt I was the antichrist" Smith notes, "But probably an equal amount who didn't have a problem with it at all. I think its unfair to assume I'm speaking for the entire gay community, I'm speaking for one fictional character." Also there's the discontent that Alyssa isn't played by a lesbian actress.
"It's not the same as say, having Gary Sinise playing a guy with no legs in Forrest Gump" says Smith, "To me its just an actor's acting. It's kind of like saying, `how can you have an actor pretending he's in love with an actress who he's not in reality'? C'mon it called acting. They're making pretend, and you pay for it."
Next for Smith is the religious black comedy Dogma, he's also writing the script for the new Superman film, which is "creating what Warner Bros fondly refer as `a superman for the '90s.'"
Like what they did for Batman, I inquire.
"A completely different sensibility" says Smith indignantly, "Batman's more about avengence and justice and angst while Superman's not, he's about hope, truth and justice but a different sense of justice."
Please send any comments on this article to email@example.com.