|Yellowtail - an excellent, must see "classic", great flavor|
|Tuna - good, but slightly ordinary with occasional flaws|
|Shrimp - fair, bland with no surprises|
|Octopus - less than average, minimal redeeming qualities, tough to chew|
|Sea Urchin - horrible, not worth it at all...has one asking "Why did I pay for this?"|
What is better to accompany a great dinner (or lunch) of wonderful sushi? Well, my second choice is catching a flick.
My DVD Pick
starring Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Jason Lee, Wanda Sykes, Ben Affleck
directed by Kevin Smith
It has been over ten years since a low-budgegt black and white film, Clerks, was distributed by Miramax onto screens nationwide. Its director, Kevin Smith, was part of a film revolution that occurred in the mid-90s, which also included directors Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers; a revolution that made big budget movie studios nervous to the delight of critics and audiences. Clerks will be remembered as one of the greatest movies of the last 20 years. Now, days after its opening weekend, I was one of many fans excited to see Danté (O'Halloran), Randal (Anderson), Jay (Mewes), and Silent Bob (Smith) reunited once again in the sequel. Kevin Smith's follow-up films kept the familiarity of characters and themes through his follow-up projects...some I enjoyed (Dogma, Chasing Amy) and some I disliked (Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back). I even got a kick out of the short-lived ABC animation...which got the boot after just two episodes. With all that said...I got to be honest: I had mixed feelings about a sequel. Would I like it as a stand-alone film? Would the great dialogue and laughs be as frequent as the first film? Has Kevin Smith, dare I say it, gone too Hollywood for his fans and characters?
In the first five minutes of the film, the fate of the Quick Stop convenience store has been established...and in the ten years that have passed during the opening credits, Danté and his friend Randal (employed by neighboring RST Video) have since switched career direction to the fast food industry. Dante is engaged, and is "enjoying" his last day before moving to Florida with fiancee Emma (J. Smith). There are unresolved feelings, though, with the restaurant manager Becky (Dawson). Jay & Silent bob (Mewes & Smith, respectively) reprise their roles as drug dealers...but now they're sober, sporting new tunes on the boombox...and hanging out in front of Mooby's. Oh, and did I mention that they found Jesus?
The story is predictable...unlike the original. Emma and Becky, both tugging at Danté's heart, followed the theory of hundreds of romantic comedies before it. I became slightly annoyed with Elias (Fehrman), the constant target of Randal's sarcastic abuse. His name tag said "naive" - getting into debates about religion as it pertains to the Transformers, quoting Lord Of The Rings, and still lives with his parents. To me, the geekdom was alot more amusing and loveable in The 40 Year Old Virgin. The bestiality discussion, and subtle showing of it, was more disturbing than funny. Then again, I think that was Smith's point which was lost on critic Joel Siegel. The plot ending is totally predictable, and can I say...sequel-ish? I was really close to saying "Oh, c'mon" out loud with the ending scenes. More disappointment came when former characters were not in the film; Dante's ex-girlfriends Veronica & Kaitlyn, for example.
So, why am I giving it a favorable rating? Well, for the most part, I enjoyed the great dialogue, which made me laugh out loud more than once. The "troll" exchange between Elias and Randal, was priceless; with Anderson's comic facial expressions (similar to the scene in Dogma, where he has a cameo as a gun shop clerk). His acting ability, though, was quite memorable towards the end. In "One", he had a similar scene with Dante expressing anger. In "Two", he takes a more sentimental stand to wake his friend up to reality. The great thing about Clerks is how friendship conquers all - including working together (or near each other) in crappy jobs. Also, I have to admit that I was a sucker for the sentimentality of the story; I enjoyed, once again, spending time with these characters...and as the camera pulled away, we were once again reminded of an annoying customer, which had to make fans smile right before the credits rolled. I really hate to be cliché by stating that because the film is in color and done by a major studio that it was horrible. It wasn't. It was entertaining, and really...that made me feeling good, even though it was disappointing on some levels. I didn't have the heart to sink it to a "shrimp" rating.
My recommendation to the Clerks virgins out there; rent the original, and watch the made-for-TV animated series on DVD. To save yourself a possible let down of the sequel, watch the original director's cut of Clerks (available on the tenth anniversary special edition DVD)...as it has an ending which makes a sequel impossible. Maybe that's being too harsh on "2", but in all fairness, indy film fans really deserved better.
My DVD Picks are a handful of my favorite films that have been released, or are set to be released, on disc.
The World's Fastest Indian - a film that didn't get noticed on screen, for lack of publicity. To be honest, I originally had no desire to see it...but when I did, it became one of my favories! Anthony Hopkins plays Kiwi Burt Munro, a motorcycle enthusiast who in the mid 60s travelled to Utah to break a speed record. Truly inspiring.
Thank You For Smoking - not yet released on DVD, you still might have the opportunity to catch it on the big screen. Aaron Eckhart is perfect for this role as the demonized tobacco executive, who uses fast talk and charm to turn negative publicity and scolding criticism around to his favor.
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle - this has been out for a while, and I'm anticipating the sequel to this funny homage to the yummy slider hamburgers, and the two ethnic stoners who go through quite an adventure to enjoy 'em.
Jazz - this documentary by Ken Burns is quite addicting. The ten-disc documentary is quite a time commitment, but its intense in detail and rich in music from the roots in New Orleans through swing, bop, fusion, and contemporary jazz. This is a must for fans of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. Personally, I'm a Miles Davis fan...and I can't get enough of this historic story!
Cinderella Man - Russell Crowe, possibly the greatest actor of our generation, portrays James Braddock, a boxer and family man hit hard by the depression...only to rise back up and shock the world. Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti also have wonderful performances.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, And Spring - this import from South Korea is a set of five short films, all centered on a monestary. Truly moving and beautiful.