Clerks III review

In 1994 Kevin Smith directed a movie with a few of his friends called Clerks. The gang reunited again in 2006 for Clerks II. And finally, the time has arrived. The gang of misfits, bizarre humor and clever pop culture jokes is finally back. That’s right, Clerks III is here. The film is a monumental achievement of comedy that pushes the envelope in the obscenest, yet funniest ways. The laughs and gags continue, but even more so than ever before in the franchise.

Some may find the humor in this and the previous Clerks films over the top, but that is what makes it genius. And no film in the franchise is more genius than Clerks III. There are tons of one-liners, and many topics that I could relate to and recall as they revisit many portions of the previous Clerksfilms through satirical conversations and discussions on a variety of gag topics.

In Clerks III the characters we all love are back, including Dante (played by Brian O’Halloran), Randal (played by Jeff Anderson), Elias (played by Trevor Fehrman), Jay (played by Jason Mewes), and Silent Bob (played) by Kevin Smith. They all bring giggles and laughs with gags that are memorable and pure genius. Even Silent Bob shows his funniness through his facial expressions. My mind was rambling with laughter from the very start and there is a punch line around every corner in Clerks III.

This is how the fun continues in Clerks III. After sixteen years Dante and Randal have departed from the Mooby’s fast-food restaurant and are back working at the Quick Stop. Jay and Silent Bob are still doing their usual loitering and Elias is still around. So the normal from the original Clerks has returned, but everything changes when Randal has a heart attack. Randal recovers and he decides to make a movie based on his life from Clerks and Clerks II. Randal is determined, and he even says, “I worked in a video store for twenty years, and I watched movies all day long—I went to my own film school!” I have not laughed so hard with a film by Smith in a long while.

Mewes and Smith have kept the franchise strong as Jay and Silent Bob. In Clerks III, they are the center of much of the revisited scenarios from Clerks and Clerks II, and they bring in lots of the perspective, as they bring their humor to the table with the wittiest attitudes and gnarly adventures. Clerks IIIwould certainly not be the same without Jay and Silent Bob. Despite their crazy disagreements with Dante and Randal, they are all a knockout of joy.

Although Clerks III is, again, incredibly funny, it does not take a formulaic approach to its humor. And I love how none of what is important from the previous films is forgotten. In one scene they are all talking about the process of moviemaking, and Jay shows everyone a videotape. But he does not actually have a VHS player, so they attempt to watch the film by holding it up to the light. It’s bizarre and stupid, but it’s also a clever reference back to the VHS days and to the first Clerks, when Randal worked in a video store. Randal still argues movie franchises with Elias. Jay and Silent Bob still loiter to a ridiculous extent. Dante is still just Dante, making crazy decisions but ultimately being Randal’s best friend. All of these guys were born to be in the Clerks films, in a franchise that is spectacularly funny. Can Randal make his movie? Catch Clerks III and find out. But be prepared for sore lungs from laughter. Four stars for Clerks III.

Cache Revisited in 35 MM Projection

Cache is a film that demonstrates artistic filmmaking at its finest. It also makes me appreciate the vision of Director Michael Haneke. I revisited Cache in the 50/50 Film Series that is held at the Gene Siskel Film center in downtown Chicago. The presentation in 35 MM projection is how the film should be experienced because of the layers of realism it creates for its diverse audience. Cache is a thriller filled with tension that is thought-provoking and intriguing.

The movie was released in 2005 and takes place in France. The film centers on Georges (played by Daniel Auteuil) and his wife, Anne (played by Juliette Binoche). Georges is a TV Literary reviewer and Ann is a publisher. They seem to be a couple with a normal life and successful careers, along with one young son. However, their life sees a shift in patterns as they begin to receive videotapes at their doorstep. The tapes contain footage of themselves, and this means there is a stalker out there surveilling them somewhere. As the situation begins to heighten the family’s anxiety, and with authorities being of no help, Georges decides he must address the problem. He feels he must take risks to piece together why someone is surveilling them.There are reasons but the reasons are hidden, hence the title Cache.

If fans know Haneke’s background, they will better understand his approach to creating tension in his films.  Haneke is faithful to testing the waters of characterization and playing out situations that seem life-threatening. Cache is scary in part because Haneke knows how to add layers which contribute to understanding the stalking behavior that Georges and Anna are encountering. During the film, my mind kept wondering who has secrets to hide since even the secrets are Cache.

As the more hidden gems of footage cause increased anxiety and  paranoia becomes the central theme of the film. Georges loses his cool with work, and Anne has her own moments as well. Their young son starts to feel like he is not important to his parents due to their distractions. The challenge is to figure out who is watching them, but can they still be a strong family? Even the element of a happy family is Cache.

The trail of questions that Cache leaves viewers with is mind-boggling. Along the way, there are more shocking discoveriesand issues at hand with the careers of Georges and Anne. Haneke is filling a bucket of harsh waters and waiting for it to spill in Cache. I kept wondering when the resolution would finally come.

Despite the tension, Cache is a representation of brilliant directing. The actors do an excellent job portraying their characters as they make their discoveries. During the film, the audience gets a clear picture of what it would be like to deal with threats that seem real and unavoidable. Haneke knows how to find the realism and make his audience keep asking what they would do if faced with the situations explored in his film. The authenticity in 35 MM was purely and visually audacious. Four stars.


Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul is a supposed comedy about a scandal at a megachurch. I found very little humor in the film. In fact, I would call it mega-ridiculous.

In the film, Regina Hall plays Trinitie Childs, the First Lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, and Sterling K. Brown plays Lee-Curtis Childs, Trinitie’s husband and the pastor of the megachurch. At one point their megachurch had tens of thousands of attendees, but after a huge scandal they must find a way to rebuild their following. They pursue every measure to help regain their following but, sadly, they do a rather terrible job at this task.

Even though the film is quirky and not very funny, its character development between Hall and Brown is excellent. The subject matter is the problem. There is not enough detail regarding the scandal to know how serious to take the film. And overall it is just an obscure and harsh film, and rather blunt and out of focus. I also found this film to be off-putting. Some fans may find it funny, but I am sure many will find it offensive or a waste of time. My expectations going into the film were neutral, and I left disappointed.

I am not extremely religious, but my relationship with my religion is important. I didn’t find the title of this film, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul particularly appealing, and I will say it is a film of consistent mediocrities. It is one of those films where I was questioning my laughter based on its rather off premise. The film tries to find its hysterical elements, and it doesn’t do a good job at that. I had my times where I felt intrigued and laughed here and there, but it was more from the humor of Brown’s ego. With that, I will say just two stars for Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul.

Treating cinema in many forms of art!

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