Clerk (2021)

Clerk is an extensive all access documentary examining the life and career of indie filmmaking icon Kevin Smith. If there’s someone that had any connection with him and his films, they show up in this film to discuss his films and what it was like to work with him.

Directed and written by Malcolm Ingram (with Sean Stanley) — who also made Phantom of Winnipeg, a movie about how Phantom of the Paradise became a local sensation in that Manitoba town — this movie shows everything from where Smith grew up to how he met the friends that would be in nearly all of his movies to how he went from indie filmmaker to being part of Hollywood to his spoken word, comic book and podcast careers. It even touches on his romantic relationships and how his life has changed since his heart attack.

If you’re a fan of Smith, you already know all of these stories, but perhaps those fans will love to see his whole story again and celebrate him. He certainly seems happy with life, kind to his fans and devoted to making the films he wants to make, even when films like Red State and Tusk push his usual Jersey hangout films into different directions.

At one point in my life, Mallrats was the most important movie to ever speak to me. That feels like a long time ago, but I can’t deny that so many of the ways that I look at film and life come from the movies of Smith, even if our sensibilities went in opposite ways when it seemed that he would continually just make the same Jay and Silent Bob films again and again.

My lack of fandom doesn’t keep me from thinking that this is a fine film that has plenty of access to its subjects. Sure, it doesn’t dwell long on his failures — there’s always a reason — and also doesn’t get into some of the wilder stories like working on the Superman film or Cop Out, a movie that Smith claims he experienced total darkness while working with Bruce Willis. I guess the multitude of spoken word shows — and DVD releases — can tell those stories.

You can watch Clerk where you find streaming movies.

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