Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 7/29/99
Collector's Series - 1993 (1999) - Miramax (Buena Vista)
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
92 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
dual-layered (no apparent layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging,
commentary track featuring Kevin Smith
(director/writer/co-producer/co-editor/Silent Bob), Walt Flanagan
(actor), Scott Mosier (co-producer/co-editor/actor), Brian
O'Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jason Mewes (Jay), Vincent Pereira (View
Askew historian/actor) and Malcolm Ingram (writer for
Film Threat magazine),
theatrical trailer, alternate ending and other deleted scenes with
introduction by Kevin Smith, Soul Asylum music video directed by
Kevin Smith, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters),
languages: English (DD 3.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned
How many times has
this happened to you? You're sitting at home on your day off... and
the phone rings. You hesitate for a moment, thinking it MIGHT be
work calling you in, but shrug and decide that that would be stupid.
As you reach for the phone, you think it must be one of your buddies
asking you to hang out, or some such. You begin your salutations,
and to your horror, you find that it actually IS work calling you
in. It's early, and you can't think properly, so what happens next
affects your life for the next 12 hours -- you say that you'll come
in, but only for a little while, until someone else can make it.
For countless people, that's the way things go down every once in a
while. But for Kevin Smith, this is how his character Dante Hicks
began his life as a pop culture icon. It was how Kevin Smith, and
everyone who fell in love with Smith's View Askewniverse, began what
looks to be a long cinematic, television, and comic book
relationship. This is the set-up for Kevin Smith's Clerks.
Clerks follows Dante, a
hapless convenience store clerk, through what could easily be called
a day from hell. He engages in trivial conversations with his video
store clerk best friend (and seemingly worse enemy) Randall. He
tries keeping drug pushers (Jay and Silent Bob) away from the front
of the store. And he struggles with the age-old dilemma: "which
girl is good for me?" All this is played out in one day, with a
heaping shovel-full of dialogue straight from that acid-tongued
bastard himself, Kevin Smith.
I have to say, I like Clerks.
I liked it the minute I saw it. I see some flaws in it, sure -- some
bigger than others. I see some bad acting choices, and I see a young
filmmaker trying to make it... and sometimes failing. But I also see
a magic that is really hard to fake. Smith has found great success,
and based solely on Clerks, he
deserves every bit he has grabbed for himself. Like Jim Jarmusch,
Robert Altman, and Spike Lee, Smith makes movies about people. The
people he creates deal with problems all of us face. Sometimes he
tackles problems that some will see as total fantasy, but fantasy on
his part or not, I've experienced some of them myself. I've been
called in on a day off, and had a horrid day. I have lost my
girlfriend, and fought to get her back. And believe it or not, I
have fallen for a lesbian, and had to learn the hard cold fact that
love doesn't always work out the way we plan. You can say what you
want about Kevin, but he creates real people, doing real things.
Okay, so maybe this whole argument will go out the window when Dogma
comes out in October. All that says is, it's easy to identify with
Smith and the world he creates.
The best illustration of this, is to note how, when his characters
speak about something as fantastic as Star
Wars for example, the whole thing is brought down to a
human level. Who ever thought about the construction contractors
killed when the Death Star exploded in Return
Of The Jedi, or the racial implications of Darth Vader in
the trilogy. Not many. But Smith bases everything in the real. Even
his comics are about reality in a surreal world: Clerks,
Jay and Silent Bob... hell,
even Daredevil is steeped in
the real. That's the most appealing thing about Smith. I can't wait
to see Dogma just for that --
how will he make a story about angels, demons, and a monster made of
fecal matter real? Most likely by having Jay and Silent Bob there to
keep it anchored into our world.
With all of that said, do I like the Clerks
DVD? I mean, who cares what I think about Smith -- anyone reading
this wants to know about the disc. Well, go pick it up if you
haven't already done so. It's a pretty stellar disc. The print is
black and white 16mm, and on DVD you can see every bit of grain that
ever existed on the print. It's a good transfer nonetheless.
Sometimes it's hard to discern what is noise and what is grain, and
it's even harder when you're looking at B&W 16mm, but believe
me, there isn't too much noise on this. It's most likely analog
artifacts from the laserdisc transfer, but I didn't see too much
junk -- it's a fairly solid print and transfer. The sound quality is
fine, a nice surround track that serves the film well.
Anyone buying this disc shouldn't be buying it for the print or
sound quality though -- it's all about the DVD content. Clerks
is a pretty packed special edition. There's about 15 minutes (maybe
less) of excised footage -- mostly talk -- that slowed the film
down. The best piece of actual cut footage is the original ending,
that was quite a shock. If you know what it is, you know what I'm
talking about. If you don't, go get the disc. Aside from that, there
is the original trailer (a very sweet piece of film in its own
right), the video Smith directed for Soul Asylum's end credit song,
and a commentary track. I wasn't as thrilled with this commentary
track as compared to the ones done for Mallrats
and the Chasing Amy laserdisc.
I think the Ben Affleck factor makes Smith come alive on his
commentary tracks. The two of them bust on each other, and really
make the whole thing a nice experience. On this one, Smith seems
grumpy, dropping facts and nuggets. Jay is laying on the floor,
apparently drunk, shouting stuff at the microphone, and everyone
else seems scared to say anything. That's not to say that it's bad
-- it's filled with interesting knowledge, and some bits of comedy.
But overall, I'm sticking with Mallrats
as my favorite Smith track, although Chasing
Amy is a close second.
Speaking of commentary tracks, and Chasing
Amy, I have to ask: Kevin -- knowing what you said in the
opening seconds of the track for the Criterion Chasing
Amy laserdisc, I hope you don't still feel that way,
given that two of the best DVDs released this year are of your
films. Can we DVD fans get a retraction of those sentiments, please?
Maybe on the currently-in-the-works Chasing
Amy: Collector's Series DVD? FYI, for those of you not in
the know, Kevin opens with his Amy
laser commentary with, "F**k DVD!" -- NOT a very cool
thing to say in these here parts.
All said and done, I'm proud to own this disc. I know that a great
many out there are buying their first DVD players because of this
disc, and Mallrats. Good for
you. Go for it -- you won't be disappointed. Clerks
makes a nice addition to any collection, and it's got enough on it
to keep you busy for hours on your days off (if you get any). Now if
only Miramax would hurry and get that Chasing
Amy disc done....
That's it for now, film-fans. Until next time -- keep it real.