Posts Tagged ‘ Kevin Smith ’

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Twenty-Four

The home stretch continues, even with my temptation to write several lengthy rants about Christmas.

This is probably better. You’re just going to have to trust me on that.

30 Day Movie Challenge

Day Twenty-Four: Movie with the Best Soundtrack

Clerks (1994)
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Holloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti

It’s possible I’m being way too literal, but I kind of wish this category had been a little less specific. I’m probably wrong, but I do tend to differentiate between a soundtrack put together for a film as opposed to a score created for a film. Literal is probably not the right word for this. Insane, asinine are probably better ones.

Nonetheless I’m going with soundtracks that were culled from previously crafted material. I’m at a loss to explain why I’m interpreting the category this way. We’ll just pretend we all understand the reason. It could be that I just like playlists more than scores.

I’m not taking that second group into consideration, but I’m still pretty sure Clerks would come out on top. It was one the first soundtracks I ever went out of my way to buy, and the one that has probably spent more time on my playlist than any other film soundtrack. Every scene with one of these songs is enhanced because of that song. It’s impossible to imagine any of them not being there.

It’s pretty impossible to imagine these guys not being there either.

Music is the first thing that really gets the ball rolling in the film. Silence can be wonderful in a movie, and I can think of countless films with scenes that would have been ruined by music. Of course, there are just as many with scenes that are unforgettable. In part because of the song being used (Martin Scorsese movies have a lot of those scenes). Clerks sets a fantastic tone for what we’re about to watch. It’s an energetic theme song for Dante’s introduction ad half-dead morning routine. Bringing all these elements together instantly infuses the film with a personality that appealed to me even more than the first Kevin Smith movie I saw, Mallrats several months earlier (I was ridiculously pleased to learn that Kevin Smith had made other movies). From there it only gets better. Of course, we’re paying attention to Kevin Smith’s phenomenal, breezy dialog, the seemingly laid-back pace and style, the amazing, natural performances by Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Holloran, Jason Mewes, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonhauer, Smith himself and numerous smaller roles filled by Smith’s friends, family and local actors. I saw the movie in 1996, and the impact it had on me was immediate and tremendous. It had never truly sunk in before that point that a movie could be so strong on pretty much dialog alone.

Things do happen in Clerks, but it’s generally nothing significant. This is a day in the lives of these characters, and there’s certainly a plot to be found, but in the end the appeal for Clerks as a film (besides the music) comes down to that dialog. Credit Smith’s screenplay, but also credit the actors. Could someone else have played Dante and Randal? Maybe. Possibly. It’s certainly not worth putting a whole lot of thought into that. O’Holloran and Anderson are not only solid actors, but the chemistry they create from Smith’s script is some of the best in all of Smith’s movies. The formula of two buddies rambling largely about nothing in particular as they go about their day is a staple found in many of Smith’s movies. Jay and Silent Bob make their first appearance here, and they certainly qualify as two buddies rambling largely about nothing particular (in spite of the fact that Silent Bob, obviously, rarely opens his mouth to speak), but my favorite pairing in all of Smith’s movies remains Dante and Randal. In Clerks, the tone of their friendship is established as soon as Randal wrangles into the store. O’Holloran and Anderson from the first moment on deliver some of the greatest casual conversations I’ve ever heard in a film while simultaneously building on that relationship. Watching them banter is as funny to me now as it first was nearly sixteen years ago. I never get tired of it, and therefore I never get tired of the movie itself. This is a critical aspect of why I love Clerks.

I’ve come to appreciate the inner workings of a facial expression like this.

But at the same time we’re also aware of the music. At least I know I was. I read somewhere once that Clerks has a soundtrack that can be best summed up as “The Golden Age of Grunge.” I guess that works, but I don’t think that term should be applied as a means of dating tracks like “Kill The Sex Player” (there is not a better song out there to introduce us to Jay and Silent Bob for the first time) or “Leaders and Followers” (which fits perfectly with the moment where Dante and Randal’s visit to a funeral parlor goes horribly wrong). It’s always been my assertion that good music in your opinion is good music in your opinion. Changing tastes of the world have no say in the matter. You don’t have to take into consideration the year the song might have come out or whether or not people still view it as relevant. All you have to do is enjoy the song.

There isn’t a single track in Clerks that I don’t enjoy. As both a part of why Clerks remains one of my favorite films of all-time, and as music I enjoy in general. I don’t even like Fleetwood Mac all that much, but I can’t help but dig Seaweed’s cover of “Go Your Own Way”. Maybe, it’s because for the better part of fifteen years now I’ve come to associate the track with a guidance counselor smashing eggs (and that’s an image that eerily matches the personality of my old high school guidance counselor). The same thought goes for Golden Smog’s cover of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star”. I actually like Bad Company a lot, but this is one of those rare times when I’ll take this cover over the original any day. Good luck listening to it, and not bringing to mind the hilarious tragedy of Randal’s poor, idiot cousin. Thinking about it even now makes me smile. Very few things as simple as that have kept up such an act in my life for so many years and counting.

“Chewbacca” is the best song I’ve ever heard about Star Wars. I refuse to consider any opposing arguments (and I know at least what some of those arguments would already be, and I still stand by this opinion).

I also don’t think any song could have better ended the movie than “Can’t Even Tell”. The music video is a worthy companion to the film, and it’s worth watching a couple of times. The song ends the film on a flawless note, and the video itself jams a good deal of the movie’s humor into a song that’s over in less than five minutes. Watch the video after the movie, and you may even want to go ahead and watch the movie itself all over again (if you’re evening social calendar is looking kind of sparse). You probably won’t, but you’ll be tempted to. It’s a classic movie besides, but the soundtrack is an absolutely essential part of that. Something vital would be missing otherwise.