Aug. 18, 2021

Midweek Mention... Clerks

Midweek Mention... Clerks

Kevin Smith takes occasional time out from swooning over us on Twitter to make movies. 

One of those films forms the subject of this week's Midweek Mention. We watched Clerks and if you listen closely to this podcast, you can overhear four men discuss that very movie.




Reegs: Are we

Howie: Maybe your sex tape.

Reegs: Dan, you chose a movie from our Twitter stalker Kevin Smith

Dan: for my youth, as much as anything else. We are very fortunate that that Kevin Smith is, has noticed

Sidey: big fan, big, big supporter of the pod.

Dan: yeah. And and so I thought it was about time. We, we reviewed one of his movies,

Reegs: chose the very first one.


Dan: clerks, Clarks clerks, not the shoes, the

Reegs: First of all, can we get this out of the way? Because I don't know how to say the title of this movie clerks, but we don't say you wouldn't say that there's a clerk.

Would you in a, you would say he's a Clark.

Sidey: I know.

but it's spelled a X. Yeah. What's the, what's the.

capital of France.

Reegs: Okay. Yeah. Clerks 1990. Well, you, you were the historian on this way, right?

Dan: Well, I guess within a year or two, it was 1994. It's around about what? 90 minutes long, maybe just over that.

Sidey: I can tell you because I've got that 92 minutes.


Dan: you go. Just over

Howie: Mine was 18 minutes.

Sidey: Yeah. you had a bit

of shocker.

Howie: So I wait with bated breath as to the actual ending because my version that

Sidey: You didn't say the spaceships

Howie: fuck,

Dan: machine guns or anything like that.

Howie: do you know what I thought it was twisting that way?


Dan: you could see it going in you it's, it's Kevin Smith's debut movie in which he chose black. To tell the story of a two guys or one guy really isn't it.

Reegs: I think this has done taste story.

Isn't it really.

Sidey: It's a day in the life

Dan: a day in the life of a clerk in a convenience store and he shouldn't be a clock.

It who shouldn't be there that day. He's he's got the day off.

Sidey: a few times

Dan: He calls in. Yeah. He's called in to man the store because somebody is ill and being the diligent worker, he is, he goes in and the day begins.

Howie: He's in an absolute shit hole of a situation in the mornings. He asleep in the cupboard. Yeah. Yeah.

Reegs: it just reminded me of my student days. And he laces up his doc Martins as well. I enjoyed that little one and then off he goes to work and his work is so fucked that he can't get the shutters open. So he has to get some shoe Polish out.

Doesn't he? And he scrolls. I assure you we're open on

Dan: somebody put gum in the locks that

fixed their shutters.

So yeah,

Sidey: do you know, do you know why that, that, that was sort of forced on them because they, Kevin Smith worked there and the day and they were allowed to shoot at night. So the shot has had to be down cause it was at night when they're doing all the filming.

Dan: I Y oh,

Sidey: they had to be down.

Dan: this is, this is a budget movie. You can see that he's brought in his mates to help this he's bought in any favors and things, but that doesn't detract for this movie at all.

For me, I think actually it probably adds to it and it adds to the character of.

The feel of the film. So plot wise, it's just a day in the life. There's little episodes and things that happen.

Reegs: Well, there's simultaneously quite a lot happening and not a lot happening at the same time. Isn't it? Because it's a lot of it is about the Kevin Smith's dialogue.

Dan: Yes. Exactly. Yeah. It's a there's CA the characters there is, is one of those movies that's just filled with interesting characters and almost little snippets of a comedy show or something that make up the film

Howie: like a play isn't it with the act one, Dante, and then you get introduced to that story.

And then the next one it's it's it's

Reegs: Well, it is interspersed with title cards that say stuff like

Dan: the name of the character who were then going to go and learn a little bit more of, and you're right.

I can imagine this would have been round the table in a room and they would have just practiced their

Reegs: think a lot of that though comes from the fact that although the cast are all really good, none of them are particularly good actors. So I don't

Howie: Yeah. I would agree. It's a student film when that's.

Denigrating the quality. That's what it is. It is. It is, is it like you said, it's his first foray into the world of significance for film. And obviously with budget constraints, contacts, it comes across as initially a student based film. The dialogue is very heavy.

Sidey: There's

a lot of friends,

turn out in this. There there were 50 actors, credited. only two of them had been in anything beforehand And some of

Reegs: were they? Do you know?

Sidey: Yes.

Gary Stan and Mitch Cohen. I don't know.


Reegs: got a little history on what every, the main cast got up to

Sidey: after that because

Reegs: is quite interesting. Should we crack through the plot really such that it is

Sidey: it's kind of relationship the stuff. Yeah.


Dan: So Dante, he's got a girlfriend.

Reegs: Veronica.

Dan: yeah. Who's who pops into the store and

Reegs: brings him food. She cares about him. He's this sort of, he's this sort of early twenties, like generation Xs slacker. He's got no, he's got no prospects and he's got no motivation either. So

Dan: and he's not the worst of the lot, really, because out of the other people that work in the, in the stores, he's actually turning up and has some sense of responsibility for the store. Whereas

Reegs: Randall, who is the he, the sort of, he's the guy who owns the, where he runs the video store around the back geographically. I could, I never really figured out exactly where this was in relation to the,

Dan: Yeah. I assumed it's just next door, but Rhonda will pop in and he's like a true slack guy. Randall doesn't give a fuck about anything and will quite happily tell the customers to fuck off if he doesn't like them and

Reegs: which he doesn't, they, none of them like any of the customers really do they. And there's a funny scene earlier on where you might understand why, where Dante gets ambushed by a guy he's trying to sell cigarettes and A guys throws a lung on the table and he's like, oh, that's, you know, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a physician.

That's what a lung looks like. So we stopped all these people. Smoking

Dan: that's what's going to happen to

Reegs: should have gum instead. And it turns out later in the movie that you worked for the gum company, which was a good little,

Howie: Did you find how

Items within the film really dated it. The video store. Yeah. If you, if, if people, if we're, if we recommend this film for people to the watch and, and it's targeted at that age, age range still for today, people of that age range today will go, what the hell rent videos?

And that's such a foreign concept. And that's what makes it a peaceful that time, the cigarette salesman, the, the, the video store, those sorts of things in our lives. You don't really get, we don't get them at all. There's like one blockbuster left in the world now, I think, and that's like a nostalgic

Sidey: an Airbnb. Yeah. There were a lot of smokers.

Reegs: Yeah.

Yeah. Everybody smokes in this, including Jason muse and silent Bob who were outside

Sidey: Kevin Smith was a non-smoker. Right. But because of this, he then got a

two pack a day habit.


Dan: Wow.

That is commitment to the core. So yeah, the director obviously plays a part in this being silent, Bob which is one of the drug dealers outside the store.

I mean, it's that kind of area. It's that kind of characters around that. You get all these strange characters? The one that made me laugh when I first watched this first time around and I watched it at a friend's house and we all had a few drinks and a few numbers and we were watching it, laughing our heads off over this.

But the scene that stayed with me most was the guy who went to use the toilet.

And as I say, this, this film is made up of lots of.

Comic scenes and things that are put

Reegs: almost like one of your vinaigrettes, isn't it. Then

Dan: one of those. I didn't want to even attempt the words, but it's kind of what I wanted to say.

And the, this take it a bit where the trap, it goes to the

toilet and they say, no, it's just for staff, but he, he plays on, it says, look, I'm a bit old, you know, can you let me in? And, and then he comes back and asked for a better toilet paper,

Sidey: So this is going to be handle my hemorrhoids.

Dan: Then he comes back and asked for a magazine, cause it can take him a while.

Then he wants not that magazine, but you know big tip monthly or something that's going over there. So he wants some poor mark to turn into.

Sidey: he says, Can I kinda have that one? Because the tits are bigger in that one

Howie: and

Dan: He gives it to him and they go, and then you forget about that guy for ages and ages until he turns up a little bit later on.

And yeah, there's. A few obvious things because Dante is, is I on another girl? Who's

Reegs: it's his high school, sweetheart. Isn't he, he's still kind of, I think strongly implied his first girlfriend. He was with her for like five years.

And he still kind of hung up on

Sidey: him.

Reegs: He's clearly not over her, even though he's got Veronica who is clearly a woman, who's not

Howie: blow jobs

Reegs: but and he's very good at blowjobs. Yeah.

Howie: 36. Is it 36 blowjobs.

Reegs: 12 women and she's only slept with three.

Dan: three

Reegs: Three guys this an interesting little dynamic about gender stuff here, isn't there.

And then she, yeah. And then he finds out she sucked 36 penises. And he is quite horrified, but

Dan: it. He feels, it was less of a start about his, his is 12 and it's three. Don't worry about it, baby.

It's okay. But when he found out

Sidey: he's got double standards, Is there a blazing row in the store and she storms off and

walking down the street, trying to suck anyone off on your way.

Howie: I like the, I like the way she tries to diffuse it by going, but yeah, but you're 30 you're number 36. Oh, great. Yeah. Yeah.

Dan: And I'm Randall, his friend, obviously great sympathy there with all the

Sidey: Yeah.

Dan: sounds that are coming from for me. And there's lots of.

Very laughs like that. And moments that, that just knit this film together nicely for me, you know what happened? Well, they opened the store, the closest store. They, they managed to get a game of hockey on top of the roof.

Reegs: roof Yeah. One of the customers who's a bit annoyed gets involved and then just comes along and the ball away. And it is the only ball they had. It's very

Dan: and they all go home after 10 minutes after all the hassle of trying to set it all up. But yeah, that's, that's the, the repeated line. I shouldn't be here today. I shouldn't be here today when all the the shit starts hitting the fan.

Reegs: One of the things that really strongly resonated with me when I watched this one and I would, would have been, yeah.

17 or 18, I guess, was when they have the conversation about star wars. And it's easy to forget that at the time, people in movies didn't really talk about movies, referentially like this.

And they weren't the sorts of conversations that you might have had with them. About whether or not the contractors who were building the death star were innocent

Dan: Yeah

Reegs: You know, in a terrorist. And that, that conversation that they have is really funny. And it's still quite good today when you look at it, but this was three, three years before the star wars special additions had.

Even released. So he was like tapping right into something zeitgeisty right. With what he was doing. And it was, you know, it was early stuff,

Sidey: Yeah. he is a huge, huge nerd.

And he's he does comic books. He financed part finances by selling some of his comic book collection as well as maxing out their credit cards. So he's he's from that world. So it makes sense, to put it in. but I agree. with you. It's really interesting. And it.


new. Brand new at the time.

Reegs: It doesn't feel as fresh when you saw it this time. I mean, I enjoyed this movie maybe for different reasons than I enjoyed it 20 years ago when I watched it this time. But it doesn't feel fresh in that way, but it was absolutely brand new when you saw it,


Dan: Was it human traffic watch a little while back in having the conversation in the kitchen about a similar kind of thing, you know?


Yeah, 10 years before and more. And I think it's the writing really here. It's the, it's the dialogue the conversations that really knit this together and really move the, the movie on towards the, the, the closure, the day in the club, but it's just got for me, I laugh every kind of five or 10 minutes.

There's something to look at and You know, you can see why that should be now doing a clerks three aren't they? I mean, it's,

Reegs: I haven't seen any of the sequels.

I don't think of Kevin Smith as being a hugely strong director, particularly, but he does do quite a lot in this movie considering the whole thing is set in a shop. I mean, there's a couple of exterior shots, but you don't feel bored visually, you know, and some of that is because it's in black and white and


Dan: It's kind of grainy black and white as well. Isn't

Reegs: well.

I was going to ask about that because I, on Amazon, my tr my transfer was rubbish. I couldn't believe. The film that I remembered was the film that I was watching. Quality-wise cause this looked really shit.

Howie: Do you think he used the same film as bait? Whether it was the Jenkins

Dan: it, it kind of had that, that, that older Sydney film feel

Howie: it.

It might have been shot on,

Sidey: Yeah,

well it was shot

it was shot at night with no light, no additional lighting and it only cost $27,000 to make.

Howie: So they've worked up the contrast,

Sidey: going to get there.

The reason they chose black and white was because it's just looks better than you Because you've shooting color at night.

wouldn't work.

So that would be part of it.

It probably, suspect it. probably did look like that the first time he saw it, but you just, weren't looking at it

as critically

as we probably look at things now.

But like, say atmospherically, you know, the way it looked, I thought it looked fine. It's not the sort of film where you need to, you know, some incredible HD master of

  1. it

works just fine the way it is. I really liked that.

I know what you're saying about Directorial Style or whatever, but I realize that he's kind of like the self-made man, you know, he didn't he didn't go through some other channels or, know, someone will be involved.

So He just said, fuck it. I'm going to make this, I'm going to do it my own way. And he did it and it worked and it's probably those people who try and do it and it doesn't quite pay off, I think that's great. when you just are able to be successful on your own.

terms. It's

Dan: Yeah, it's exactly that, you know, I mean, this, this movie then launched his, his career and got the interest in it. It got that cult following and, and, you know, if you can do that on 27 grand, what can you do with, with more? And

Reegs: well, this was the beginning of the, the sort of view of skew universe where I didn't, I hadn't remembered that it was a man farting on another man's head, but at the beginning I did, I was like laughing as soon as it started.

Yeah, you're right. And Kevin Smith, when he's, when he's good is, is given. So. Incredible stuff that you've not really seen, like red state as well, you know, task we've liked. You've talked about on the podcast a lot. Red state was another really good movie, even cop-out I would put, I know

Dan: I've not seen that one.

Reegs: Yeah. I mean, it's not amazing, but I won't, you know,

Dan: it's interesting that there's a, there's an eye that he has and there's a style that he has that I think appealed. Maybe not all the time in, in every film, but certainly for this one, I can see where the excitement in, wow, this guy's just made this film. He's done it with his mates and it's worked.

It's it's been a hit. Here we are. You know, getting on for what, 20 years later or more. And it's still a decent film, you

Reegs: Hey, it's lots of laughs and that sort of mumbling. But very self-assured dialogue. That's right. And Kevin Smith's voice, you hadn't heard that at the time.

It was completely new, really as a way of, and, and it was so exciting really wasn't it. And the dialogue just fits his and crackles in this, in this

Howie: I don't think that you would get that level of dialogue in a film that reflected that group of people today because of the fact that there's lots of, without those guys talk. In the sin scenes and the acts that you seen there would be silence and not much going on.

If you were to film it. Now, what I'm trying to say is you'd have people on the phones. Yeah. It would reflect the social time now. And it would be a very odd difference film. So where the characters are interacting and talking, I think to the detriment of what's going on with. People today and we're guilty of this as well.

We look at our phones, we don't engage as much. The dialogue is quite complicated. The conversations they're having is quite deep, but at that time, It just seems like pretty much normal flow to, and from a conversation nowadays, if you were to write that in, it would seem quite pronounced in OTT, I

Sidey: yeah kids don't, talk like

Howie: yeah.

Kids don't talk like that.

Sidey: The dialogue is what makes it.

for me. And it's also what led to it originally been given an NC 17 rating, which would be a bit of a death knell. A lot of things. So they, they fought they had to fight to get that reduced. and they actually, they hired Alan Dershowitz who was

on OJS OJS defense


and they got it taken down to an art, which makes it a little bit more you know, opens the audience up and. I think NC 17 is normally porn, basically

Howie: mainstream cinema.

Sidey: snuff Movies. Yeah.

They do they moan? I try to remember the moaning about things being 99 cents or 95 cents.

Reegs: He says everything ends in a nine and the stuff behind him ends in a five.

It was really bothering me.

Sidey: Do you know why that is?

Reegs: What is the thing that it's about?

Sidey: No it's because you have to give change. and then the tail records is sales. so the people with buying the store can't Nick the money and pretend that Nothing happened.

Reegs: Oh, well, no, I never,

Sidey: There you go.

Reegs: Yeah, this is about the drudgery and boredom of everyday life and it's still pretty strong.


Dan: yeah, it is. I, you know, I think if.

Wants to watch this again. Maybe it's one of those ones that it will come out on Netflix and it will come out on, on Amazon prime it at some stage maybe in the lead up to clerks

Sidey: it's about say just that. yeah.

Dan: then it, they might find a spot.

And then I would take you know, an hour and a half and go and watch this because there's some really, really fantastic moments in it.

Reegs: I think considering the talent involved, you know, the Mo of the main cast of Brian, O'Halloran a hand and a Highlander I had ever had, who is the guy who played Dante. He went on to being other Kevin Smith joints like Mallrats and chasing even dogma as well as RevPro reprising his role in the clerks.

Clerks animated series. And he also played a Jeep driver in Shama lands the happening. Jeff Anderson was Randall. He was in dogma and clerks too, but not the animated series. He was the one when I watched this, I thought, oh, maybe he would have the bigger career.

Dan: I, I did. I thought he was stole the scenes. He was in

Reegs: but he went to nothing. Veronica. She was in some director, video horror movies with titles, like flesh eaters from outer space and roadkill that I haven't seen. And she's also credited with stylist and makeup roles on some of those movies. Obviously Kevin Smith went on to become Kevin Smith. Jason muse was the real

Sidey: colorful

Reegs: I guess he struggled with substance abuse, right?

From his early twenties following this movie really. And he, he had similar turns in, in Kevin Smith's other work he cameo does is himself in scream three and fanboys. He was in Zach and MIRI make a porno, but it does mean when you look back and see all the. Issues that you had with substance abuse, Jay.

Dan: J oh

Reegs: So he has had a long history of substance abuse and obviously a NYSCI plays a guy who is a drug dealer, and he's played for laughs. I can remember watching this and laughing along it, everything he said he was brilliant, hilarious alert, blah, blah. It's a bit sad or in retrospect now,

Sidey: it clean now, Did I?

Reegs: I don't, I don't actually know.

Dan: it

did seem that it was I'd say a lot of his friends that, that did this and it would have been a labor of love.

As you said, maxed out his credit cards, sold his car.

Collection to get this done. And I'm just so pleased that it works because you would have got it right there. There there've been a ton of these films that people have done and that haven't worked, but similarly in the way of other you know, budget filmmakers I've, I've made fantastic films.

We, we saw coherence, you know, I mean, it was a real budget film and absolutely fantastic. Bait another one primer and another one. You've got an idea. You were a director, you've got a load of friends. You max out your credit cards and you make a film. I think it's fantastic. That 20, 25 years later, we're still talking about that film and it's still well worth watching.

Sidey: also.

Do you see where.

it was set? Nah, that's pretty park.

Bruce Springsteen

Reegs: yeah, of course.

Dan: The boss.