Friday, July 21, 2006Moves
Kevin Smith is a weird case.
I do like him. There are times when I don't really want to like him, but he's so damn likeable that it's hard not to. He's an interesting personality made even more interesting by the reflected charisma of the people he keeps around him (Ben Affleck simply being the exception that proves the rule.) But here's the problem: I don't think he's a very good filmmaker.
Which isn't to say that he's a bad filmmaker. He's not M. Knight Shyamalan bad. He's competent in most of the important ways -- except one. He can't write a plot to save his goddamn life. That would be okay if he would just realize that and quit trying, and take the Euro-artsy road instead. It would cut back on his box office, maybe, but then again, most of his audience is too baked to follow a plot anyway, much less recognize the lack of one (which probably tells us something right there.)
But the weird thing is that he's a fantastic storyteller. His movies -- apart from a few in-jokes -- generally leave me cold; but An Evening With Kevin Smith is astonishing, and the first time I saw it I felt like the secret to Kevin Smith had been revealed to me: the guy's in the wrong line of work.
Let's face it: if it weren't for the Weinsteins, Smith would still be sitting in New Jersey watching cartoons. But Bob and Harvey took a liking to him, and Bob and Harvey can do any fucking thing they want. And so the world got Mallrats and Dogma (a film that had about fifteen too many characters.) They weren't without some charm (the latter considerably more than the former), but they're the prime cases to point to as evidence that Smith wasn't really meant to be a Hollywood director. But as a monologist, he's pretty entertaining. How is this possible? How can someone so clueless about narrative structure in film be such a gifted verbal storyteller?
(I hope you're not waiting for an answer to that question, 'cause I haven't got one.) |