Still Working: Our Review of ‘Clerk.’

Still Working: Our Review of ‘Clerk.’

As the release of Kevin Smith’s Clerks 3 looms later this year, the arrival of Clerk, a new documentary on the filmmaker hitting VOD this week, seems expertly timed. Smith’s childhood friend and the occasional butt of on-screen jokes, Malcolm Ingram, wrote and directed Clerk. It takes a deep dive through the director’s career using some never before seen footage. This dive also includes personal anecdotes from the closest people around Smith.

Starting with the video Kevin left his parents as he left for film school in Vancouver, Clerk starts right at the beginning of Smith’s career, going over this making of Clerks. It also lets viewers meet the cast of real characters that help him create his on-screen ones. Some of those people include producer Scott Mosier, Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran and more. Through the progression of disappointment with Mallrats and his eventual return to indie glory with Chasing Amy and beyond. It goes all the way up to the current incarnation of Smith as more of a podcast entity. Lastly, it covers the story of the massive heart attack that almost killed him and changed his life.

Packed with information that most fans will already know, and more that they won’t, Clerk is a welcome treat and a well-made tribute to its subject. What shines through is the level of friendship that exists between director Ingram and Smith. The same goes with other friends of Smith that have also known Ingram for decades. The filmmaker manages to get a lot more personal with his rest subjects. For the most part, he allows for a more intimate portrait of the filmmaker. But Ingram does also makes sure he doesn’t overstep that intimacy and cover over more difficult and less popular areas of the director’s life.

That said, Smith himself is usually the first to ‘take the piss’ out of himself with and wry and self-deprecating wit that naturally flows out. The film is after all about him, so being center stage for everything is key. But thankfully with all his public speaking and touring experience, Smith is more than up to the challenge. The film also delves into other aspects of Smith’s life as well. It delves into, for example, his level of involvement in helping Good Will Hunting get made. He talks about how he never actually was a marijuana enthusiast until after making Zack and Miri Make a Porno. He discusses his conversion to veganism and much more.

A well-made and caring portrait of a lifelong friend and cultural zeitgeist in his own right, Clerk does an admirable job in disseminating the career of Kevin Smith while it’s still in bloom. The timing certainly calls for it. After his heart attack, there seems to be e renewed vigor in Smith getting to tell all the stories he wants as well as his own. For fans of Smith, Clerk is a must-see, but non-fans of the man should also seek this out as well.

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"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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