An Askew View: The Films Of Kevin Smith - By John Muir
When CLERKS opened at cinemas across the country in 1994, it took everyone, especially the film industry, by surprise. Filmed on a shoestring budget after hours at a convenience store, it was crude (in technique and language), realistic and, above all, hilarious. The movie's nationwide success helped launch the indepedent film boom of the 1990s and catapulted its director, Kevin Smith, to full-fledged stardom. Smith's work is explored in AN ASKEW VIEW, the first ever study of his films. John Kenneth Muir examines all of Smith's movies. including MALLRATS, CHASING AMY, and the hugely controversial and variously interpreted DOGMA. Muir discusses Smith's themes and obsessions in depth: his New Jersey boosterism, the cast of characters that pop in and out of all of his films, and the references to STAR WARS and other icons of pop culture. AN ASKEW VIEW is a fascinating and detailed history of the art of this visionary filmmaker, New Jersey's favorite local-boy-makes-good since Bruce Springsteen.
From Publishers Weekly:
Taking its title from Smith's View Askew production company, Muir's latest offering is a guided tour of the iconic New Jersey filmmaker's cinematic oeuvre, from short synopses of Smith's films to behind-the-scenes stories of how they were made and how Smith himself has evolved. Muir (a contributor to Cinescape and Filmfax) creates a compelling-and somewhat inspirational-portrait of Smith, who shot to indie-fame with his 1994 debut Clerks, which Smith financed with his own credit cards and shot after hours at a local minimart, in part because he thought his friends were funny and wondered if others would think so. They did. Since then, Smith's trademark characters, Jay (played by Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (played by Smith), have appeared in increasingly ambitious, popular and profitable films, such as Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Muir does an admirable job of capturing in print the appeal of Smith's films, and some of the stories behind the films are both telling and hilarious. For example, Dogma, Smith's irreverent take on Catholicism, was almost nixed by Disney Corp. because of protests by Catholics. Smith responded by anonymously joining a group picketing Dogma in front of a New Jersey theater and trashing his own film to an oblivious local reporter. Although Muir occasionally sprinkles the book with others' criticisms of Smith, there is unfortunately little of Muir's own critical voice in the narrative. But that shouldn't bother Smith's legion of fans, who-especially those in film school-will enjoy this effort.
Our take: We highly recommend this book (or else we wouldn't be selling it here) for any fans of Kevin and his movies. For the casual fan or for those of you out there looking for detailed information to use in class projects, this book delves into almost every detail of Kevin's professional life and the making of the movies. (Everything from the early drafts of CLERKS to how heavy the wings were in DOGMA and how Rickman threw his back out wearing them) For the zealous fan (you know who you are) this book includes interviews with almost everyone in the View Askew family, informative information from Vinnie and Mosier and loads and loads of information. We highly enjoyed it.