Wednesday, July 13, 2011



Honestly, I don’t where to begin. At first, I thought I’d start with Roger Ebert’s comment on writer-director Kevin Smith in reaction to his 2008 sex-comedy ‘Zack and Miri make a Porno’ as “a man who can tell Dirty jokes so fast, Dangerfield-style, that you tend to laugh more at the performance than the material” – well, I don’t even have to say how right he is, the man having left me astounded with what was supposed to have been his very beginning. The indecision on where to start stems from a higher keenness on not to do injustice to the content and its delivery, a whirlwind of wit, weirdness and verbosity, with the occasional dice of earthly emotions that mark a day in the life of his two ‘Clerks’ – well, one of them, at least, the other feels naught but a fetish for hermaphrodite porn. For I have neither Randal’s proficiency at finding the right swear word to insert in the right sentence to make it both intellectually stimulating as well as extraneously ‘cool’, nor do I have Dante’s redundance or the tone of his whine when he maintains that he wasn't supposed to be there in the first place.

It was my decision to have picked the film up with an intention to get introduced to the man who so charmed me with his last sketch. Bearing that in mind, I should say ‘Clerks’ came out to be this nascent supply of laughing gas by poker-faced assailants that’s so concentrated it’s lethal – it’s dynamite! The only times I stopped laughing were in retrospection of an earlier laugh, hitting the pause button only to laugh all the more all the same. It’s like the classiest performance by a humorist wherein you laugh twice at a joke – one for the money and another because it’s… well, funny.

The film is set in a late-80s-early-90s ambience – the music suggests the latter, though, and so does the release date, distinctly marking the emergence of grunge and metal music and their ways. It’s a convenience store with a video-rental department as well in a sort of side-by-side premises where the two clerks Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) find themselves stationed. They talk like Athenians in debate but work like Sloths on vacation in an immediate establishment of over-competence. “We push effing buttons! Anyone can do our Jobs!” as the wise Randal is to contextually lament towards the very end of the film, as a sign-off to an hour-and-a-half of wholesome entertainment. The whole thing could very well have been a series of cartoon strips as an extrapolation of ‘the Lost Scene’ if only it hadn’t been for the hairpin bend towards the end – I was actually startled to see ‘Silent Bob’ (Kevin Smith) come up with a line of his own, not uncharacteristic of the recent hit-series ‘Phineas and Ferb’, which, unless I’m mistaken, is supposed to be an invention that dates right back to when ‘Clerks’ was conceived. A striking coincidence that only added further to my excitement.

All said, ‘Clerks’ is not the kind of film that you walk out on with a clear idea on how to praise it – like I said, it’s the insecurity of lauding the wrong man for the wrong reason(s) wherein both become victims of a catastrophic mistake. I wouldn’t want Mr. Smith laboring under the assumption that I think of him as genius, and I wouldn’t want to return his poker-face either. He seemed to me a writer of endless possibilities, piling his ideas on a straight line and thus fattening it, making the experience chunkier than I supposed it would be. What of the effect? I felt it was somewhere between ‘complete’ and ‘stuffed’, as sumptuous as the meal could have been – the dose of tragedy was dessert but then I learn it could have been worse (in an alternate version: I watched the First Cut). But then whether you wrangle out of the door with Randal, or stay behind with Dante to lock the place for the night, you’d find yourself saying exactly what they’re saying as they make their exits. “What a ****ing day!”

(the last time I swore in a review was for 'Zack and Miri make a Porno', a Kevin Smith film. Trust the man to wheedle you for his worth!)

No comments: