What do you not like about what is going on with film criticism in this day and age?
To talk about the status of film criticism today, some people cannot thread that needle so they make it personal. They decide they don’t like Ben Affleck because he dated Jennifer Lopez and they review his movie based on the fact that they don’t like him rather than what the quality of the movie was. It’s a lot of personal grudge criticism that I don’t like.
I really like that you brought that up in An Askew View 2. You talked about the personal issues that Kevin Smith had been going through and reviewers glomming on to those issues instead of really reviewing his films. It seems like we are in a time where many journalists don’t know where the line is between gossip and real facts.
I agree with you. There are two points in Kevin Smith’s career where that happened. It happened with Jersey Girl and the Bennifer thing. Then it happened with Cop Out with the Southwest thing. Any critic can respond to either of those films positively or negatively. But whether Kevin Smith was booted off a plane for his weight doesn’t play into the quality of Cop Out. If you don’t like buddy-cop movies, say you don’t like buddy-cop movies and this doesn’t work for A,B, and C. But you don’t go after a guy for his weight and make that the headline…focus on the work. I think the fact that we pass judgement on actors or directors based on the flow of information through gossip sites and gossip tv shows is very problematic.
Do you feel a connection to Kevin Smith since you are both from New Jersey?
The thing that appeals to me about Kevin Smith is, yes I’m from New Jersey, but beyond that the generational thing is important to me. As a director, he speaks to the issues that interest me in a way that interests me. Like wow, he’s talking about these things as I’m going through them. As he’s faling in love and getting married, I’m falling in love and getting married. As he is contemplating his religion and faith, that’s what I’m doing. As he has a child, now I have a child. It’s like wow he’s going through it right there with me. That’s why I don’t want him to quit. Because when he’s going into the nursing home and I’m going into the nursing home, I want that movie.
There is a kinship I feel with Kevin Smith. The examples he uses in his films, the films he alludes to, just his whole manner of being. The way the men and women in his films talk is the way that me and my buddies and my wife talk. Hopefully not as foulmouthed, but that’s what makes it funny. This is a guy from my generation who made it and who is making the movies about us and our lives and what we are going through. That is the thing about Kevin Smith for me. He creates these universal stories but gives them touchstones that we can recognize being from that generation.
In the year 2002, An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith was the first book to gaze at the cinema of one of New Jersey’s favorite sons, the independent and controversial auteur ofClerks (1994), Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Dogma (1999) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). Now, a full decade after that successful original edition, award-winning author John Kenneth Muir returns to the View Askewniverse to consider Kevin Smith’s second controversial decade as a film director, social gadfly, and beloved media “talker.” From Jersey Girl (2004) to the controversial Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), from the critically deridedCop-Out (2010) to the incendiary and provocative horror film Red State (2011), An Askew View 2 studies the Kevin Smith movie equation as it exists today, almost two full decades after Smith maxed out his credit card, made Clerks with his friends, shopped it at Sundance, and commenced his Hollywood journey. In addition to Kevin Smith’s films, An Askew View 2 remembers the short-lived Clerks cartoon (2000) and diagrams the colorful Smith Lexicon.