January 23rd: Clerks

clerks

Release Date: 1994
Director: Kevin Smith
Why I picked this: Recommendation, and lack of Kevin Smith movie watching

While I certainly enjoyed the movie by the end, I had a rough start with it. Kevin Smith’s first feature length movie, one that would begin a series of movies set in the same universe (featuring the characters of Jay and Silent Bob) features vulgar humor, long stretches of conversational dialogue, relatable life lessons, and a clearly low budget, it may take a while for the movie to draw you in if you aren’t used to this kind of movie. “Clerks” follows Dante Hicks, played by Brian O’Halloran, a store clerk at a convenience store, who is suddenly called to work on his day off. O’Halloran is a decent leading man, and I found myself relating to his character more as the movie progressed. The movie features a series of events in this day of the life of a store clerk, with many unrelated and sometimes bizarre incidents involving customers. The acting isn’t very top notch, and it’s clear that many of the minor characters aren’t played by professionals. Marilyn Ghigliotti as Dante’s girlfriend Veronica looked like she struggled with some lines. Who did impress me however, was Jeff Anderson as Dante’s best friend Randal Graves, who works as a clerk at a video store next door. Randal is thoughtful and perceptive, but also careless and insensitive. A strange combination on paper, but Anderson makes it work, making him the most interesting character to watch. I only sometimes found myself amused by the short interactions with customers, and I mostly focused on the conversations between the primary characters. This is a very well written movie by Kevin Smith. Supposedly pointless dialogue builds these characters, and they touch upon some interesting themes. Dante complains about his apparent bad luck, how he is at the wrong place at the wrong time, how this inconvenience has led to the worst, but Randal keeps him in check. Everything that comes up in this movie eventually comes back, an element of the movie that I appreciated. Themes mentioned early on found their way into the events of the movie, and actions taken have their later consequences. The movie is shot in black and white, a decision that I think was more budgetary than artistic. It adds nothing to the movie. Most of the conversations are static and still, simply being long takes of the characters talking. However, it works well with the dialogue, and the delivery of the dialogue is what makes the frame interesting.

It takes time to sympathize with the characters, and not all of the vulgar humor works, but it is sharply written with a few good performances, and it is surprisingly thought-provoking.

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