Smith is touring with his film Red State and lived up to his reputation as a world-class raconteur. I was particularly glad to briefly share with Smith my all-time favorite scene from one of his movies. Smith's work is known for pop references, druggie comedy and/or ribald discussions of sex practices like "the Dutch rudder." But I like one of the subtlest, quietest moments from his subtlest, quietest film, 1997's Chasing Amy. Here's the trailer, which shows a couple of frames from the scene in question (and has a great example of "generic movie trailer narrator"):
If memory serves me right, the sequence falls in first half-hour of film, not long after Joey Lauren Adams' introduction as Alyssa. The other main characters, comic book writer/ilustrator Holden (Ben Affleck) and his inker Banky (Jason Lee) are in their studio, working quietly on the latest issue of their popular title Bluntman and Chronic, a superhero spoof modeled after Smith's recurring characters, Jay and Silent Bob. Banky breaks the silence.
Banky: "This is a great lamppost. This may be the best lamppost you've ever done."
Holden: "It's the one in front of the post office."
Then the phone rings and moves the relationship plot forward, but consider all the implications of that little exchange.
1. Despite producing a rude, silly comic book, Holden and Banky have responsible, professional work habits.
2. Banky and Holden have known each other and worked together long enough that they have an easy rapport with each other.
3. Holden can draw on mundane details of the community around him while making art full of drug jokes.
4. Banky's a supportive creative partner who plays close attention to the little touches Holden's work.
Pretty much every thing you need to know about their profession and relationship comes across in that short conversation. Ever since I saw Chasing Amy, I've frequently used that as an excellent example of how a film can build character by showing people going about their jobs. Seldom in movies or television shows do you see people actually working, unless they're surgeons, police officers and trial lawyers.
So when I finally got Kevin Smith on the phone, I briefly told him about that, and it said, "That rocks. It gives me chills to hear you say that. Chasing Amy came out in 1997, so it was 1996 when we filmed it. I remember that day, and how we started the scene with just the phone ringing. Then I thought about it and said, 'Hey, start out by saying something about his work. Compliment his lamppost,' and that's what we used. For you to remember that and say something 15 years later, that's where the payoff is."
Part of the reason I mentioned it at the time, and why I mention it now, is because Kevin Smith has announced his impending retirement as a filmmaker. He'll lay out compelling reasons why he'd rather focus on podcasts and more direct, immediate forms of entertainment than film. But if I had to make a list of filmmakers I think should retire — and believe me, I could — Smith wouldn't be on it.
Unfortunately, many gun-owners see their weapons as part of themselves. I don't know how this…
"We're getting beat up online."
Ooh! Ooh! Was that our cameo?
I could have wrapped all of this up in "We're leaving" and "Good-bye." I agree…
I moved from Inman Park to (very) East Cobb County this year (2.5 hour reverse…
@InAtl I do grasp the nuance and difference. What I don't think some people (including…
Bread and Circuses...yes, let's focus on a few words written in an internal email! Anything…