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July 25, 2006


Clerks II, Mad Cowgirl

Clerks II

Over the weekend, I went to see Clerks II. I had low expectations.

The reviews in Time Out and in the tabloids were terrible, and even though A.O. Scott at the NY Times liked it OK, I suspected he was just trying to show how down with the people he could be, since he just wrote a long piece about how audiences regularly love movies that critics are disdainful of. But since I liked the original Clerks, and hadn't seen a Kevin Smith movie since the unfunny Dogma, I figured I'd better go for my own good.

Well. Clerks II was everything I ever could have wanted it to be. You've got to remember here that this is 1) a summer movie, 2) a sequel, and 3) a sequel to Clerks. Saying that the movie is a failure because the humor is juvenile is not really a valid argument. Not every joke is funny, a lot of the banter is stupid, and just about every scene with Dante and the Rosario Dawson character talking goes on for too long, but it was still one of the funnier movies I've seen this year.

Clerks was all about Dante, the long-suffering Quick Stop employee, and his girl troubles. The other characters were peripheral. But Clerks II is really Randal's movie, the guy who worked at the video store in Clerks. The scenes between Randal and the young guy that he and Dante work with at the fast food restaurant are relentlessly and hilariously mean and abusive, and his visual interpretation of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is now my favorite rip on those movies. I didn't see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, for the same reasons hardly anybody else saw it, but in Clerks II, Jason Mewes as Jay is as good as he's ever been.

I'm not like the guy sitting a few rows behind me in the theater, who apparently thinks that every single thing Kevin Smith writes is uproariously funny, but I do think he's good at making a certain kind of movie. What is so good about Kevin Smith's movies about the losers in Clerks is that he really knows and understands his characters. When I was watching Dogma, which I didn't like, I kept getting the sense that he was working with characters that he didn't really relate to. He got so wrapped up in trying to make a point about religion and being kookily blasphemous that the movie doesn't go anywhere.

But when his movies consist of scenes that go nowhere about some guys fucking around at their crappy jobs in a town they hate, complaining about their lives but fearing change, you get the sense that he really knows what these people are all about. Mostly they're about filthy sex jokes and really offensive insults. As long as he sticks with what he knows, Kevin Smith can still make a good movie.

Mad Cowgirl

I also went to the Pioneer theater to watch Mad Cowgirl [official site]. I was expecting some pretty weird stuff in this one, and I got it. The movie is about a young woman who works as a meat inspector, who is becoming increasingly paranoid about BSE, and also going through a lot of confusing relationship stuff with her creepy middle-aged televangelist boyfriend, and with her brother (played by the smoking hot James Duval.) Incest!

There's a lot of other stuff with television martial arts programs and religion and some kind of brain tumor that the woman gets diagnosed with (which may or may not be BSE) and eventually she sort of enters the martial arts show through her own insanity and frustration and there's a murderous rampage. It's an incoherent movie, and all of its various themes don't seem to be connected to each other in any way, but I liked the main character very much, which in this case counted for a lot. In case you ever plan on eating meat again as long as you live, this is not a good movie to see.

Mad Cowgirl is only playing at this one theater in New York now, no news yet about any other cities.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 9:26 AM | #

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