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The M Cluster Dicsusses Clerks

Desson Howe of the Washington Post said, “Much of ‘Clerks’ is extremely funny and dead-on—in terms of its intentionally satirical, Gen-X-istential gloom”. Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle described the look of the film as “resolutely low- budget, full of shaky camera work, the occasional less-than-perfect edit, and a few sound glitches. Conveniently, though, all this shoestring filmmaking technique only adds to the film’s desperate charm”. Dante and Randal are both adults still working at the Quick Stop and showing no signs of improving or changing their situations. Dante complains repeatedly about his life, highlighted by the films mantra – “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” without doing much about it. Randal however, is content with his situation and simply deals with what every day brings. The focus is on their personalities and overall attitudes which Smith uses to presents a message of getting on with life, regardless of the life situation.

Clerks’ structure doesn’t possess a plot, but rather shows events throughout the course of the day. It plays more like a series of occurrences that ultimately tie together the day depicted and the film itself. Smith uses a director’s interpretive point of view. Some scenes are merely conversations about Star Wars, stupid customers, and porn, while most of them progress the relationships of the characters. But they all add perspective to the characters’ personalities. Smith communicates two problems of the slacker culture: those who are satisfied with their life and those complain but don’t do anything about it as Randal says – those who “need to shit or get off the pot.”

Then we also have an examination of Dante’s relationships. He is torn between two women: one is his current girlfriend (Veronica) who truly loves him and pressures him to continue his education. The other is a promiscuous woman he went out with in high school named Caitlin. Veronica is the driving force that could move Dante’s life into a new, successful direction, while Caitlin represents his high school days. This presents the conflict of whether Dante should keep the status quo with an old high school sweetheart who has cheated on him in the past, or move on in life with the woman who wants him to succeed and loves him. His inability to choose highlights the reality that Dante doesn’t really know what he wants from life.

The cinematography is pretty straight forward, with the main use of objective point-of-view. Many conversations between the two lead characters take place behind the counter of the store. Smith frames the shot in away so it is centered on the two standing behind the counter. This creates a feeling of them being trapped. Clerks changes the way you look at people stuck in these jobs, and the way you treat them. It gives the audience more perspective in terms of what these people go through, even if it be dealing with personal problems or fighting boredom.

In many ways, Clerks is why I do this show, resonates with me on levels many other films can’t and represents that which I love about movies most. The entire production is driven by dialog (as profane as it may be). The dialogue is realistic, funny, and relatable even if you have never worked in a corner convenience store. There is a charm to the amateurism and simplicity of the story, and the intelligence behind the dialogue. Centered on a day in the life of two typical slackers of the early 90’s (a lifestyle which I may not live but certainly can identify with), Clerks shines a light on the day to day monotonies of the under-achiever.

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