Written by Film Society
Its Monday morning, and we crawl out of bed and exit into the soggy outside for another day at Uni. But what’s this? How magical – the Film Soc is back again! Once more, lets chill with friends and watch some masters of cinema do what they do best – cinema…ing. Our main attraction – 1994’s “Clerks”!
Kevin Smith’s first foray into film is still his most accomplished and adored by critics, and its understandable as to why. Rather than babbling on about his downfall and how, even with his new film being a critical flop, he’s still one of the smartest, most influential and nicest filmmakers working who’s actually still breaking new ground, lets just get into why Clerks is so good.
Clerks’s achievement stems from its characters. Clerks doesn’t really have a storyline, its just a series of isolated events which end up stringing together in little ways, so its characters are the most important aspects of the film as they’re what ties the entire thing together. So what does it do so right that so many other comedies do so badly? Its characters are all caricatures of themselves.
Comedies that think they’re far smarter than they are have the most boring characters ever. The characters are 1 sided and dull, and undermine the intelligence of the audience. Take for example The Hangover 2 (2011), a film which, after a genuinely good first movie, ends up going “Aren’t we smart, aren’t we funny, look how funny this is!” whilst also giving is the most samey and dull film I think I have ever seen. No character is interesting anymore, and the filmmakers seem to get repetition of the first film’s events and solution of basic problems as “character growth”. Clerks, however, understands, like any good comedy, its audience is actually incredibly smart. And, with a smart audience, comes great caricatures that allow for each character to be recognisable and, thank the Lord, gives us running, reoccurring jokes that reference both the film itself and further pop culture icons and therefore reward the audience. Thisker works so much better because now the audience doesn’t feel unappreciated, and instead feel like they’re part of an inside joke that, as it is referenced and repeated, actually gets funnier. So, by having the characters be caricatures, the characters become like old friends, relatable and stupid. They’re consistently nudging you and saying something genuinely funny because you’re in on the joke.
One way to look at Clerks is like a car crash that leads to the characters actually healing rather than being hurt. Bad things happen to each character, and these are all their own events, yet they come together in the end because the characters learn something from them. Dante learns that he can’t undermine others and blame everyone else for his desire to be safe – that he has to step outside and do something to change his life. This makes for a masterful connection of events that all seem to tie together in a way that turns them from horrifyingly awkward and cringe inducing moments and into something else entirely – character development.
This all discounts that bit in the toilet. That’s…that’s not character development at all *shudders*.
Next week the Film Society will be screening one of Christopher Nolan’s multiple masterpieces “Memento” (2000). Come down to watch one of the greatest movies ever made!