Thursday, November 04, 2010

Silent Bob speaks

Last night we went out to An Evening with Kevin Smith. For those of you who don't know of him, Kevin Smith first came to fame as director of Clerks - a classic movie, and one that made him the voice of the slacker generation - and more recently directed Cop Out and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. He also plays Silent Bob in many of his early movies.

Microphones had been set up in various places throughout the theatre so that people could ask him questions. Those questions served as fodder for him to go off on a completely different tangent and tell all sorts of stories. Fortunately, the stories were compelling so it wasn't frustrating or annoying that he wasn't answering the questions. These rambling stories unfortunately meant that only 12 questions got asked in the four-hour show.

Yes, the show was four hours with no intermission. I don't know how all the stoners in the audience made it through the whole thing. Smith apparently started smoking a lot of weed a few years ago. Stoners have always liked his movies and they like Smith even more now because he smokes weed himself and is honest and up-front about it. Then again, he's honest and up-front about everything.

As I said before, Smith told some very compelling stories and some of them were really funny. Ian and I were both laughing so hard we couldn't breathe while he told the story about smoking much too much weed for the first time and going poo and ordering too much food in that state. It was way too much TMI but hilarious.

Don't get me wrong: I don't approve of making drugs funny because that doesn't show the whole picture. I don't like the idea that kids hear how hilarious these experiences can be without also hearing how awful some of them are, too. Apparently this particular experience did put him off of weed for quite some time and it was only later that he had more positive experiences with it and started smoking all the time. So at least he tried to make the story a little more responsible.

My favourite parts of the show were when he talked about what it was like behind-the-scenes on the movie set. I love hearing about how things work and getting glimpses into these other worlds. One story that stayed with me was about his recent experience directing Cop Out and his attempts to direct Bruce Willis. Apparently the studio knew something Smith didn't, because they repeatedly questioned whether or not he was prepared to work with Bruce Willis. That should have been a red flag, because why would they keep asking?, but Smith had worked with Willis on another movie and he was a big fan of Bruce Willis so didn't see any problems.

Then while directing the very first scene - the one that was supposed to open the movie - Smith asked Willis to deliver his lines just a bit differently in the next take. Willis changed nothing. This set the tone for the whole time on set: in fact, Willis refused to change his interpretation of the script at all, did not respond to direction, and sometimes told Smith how to direct certain scenes. He also apparently gave Smith the "Bruce Willis look" - the one that he gives in movies when he's angry - which started and scared Smith.

Smith very charitably said that Willis behaved this way because Willis is a Movie Star, but I think Willis did it because he was (is?) a Spoiled, Selfish Brat. I can easily believe that Willis would behave badly, especially if he didn't want to do that movie or felt that the Smith wasn't as experienced as he is. But Willis has been making movies for 25 years, so I think it's not at all unreasonable to expect a higher level of professionalism from him on-set. I am not impressed by this kind of diva behaviour

It was clear throughout the evening that Smith has recently gone through a crisis of confidence: at one point he felt that his work had no value and as a result he became despondent and angry and sank into a depression. Smith has come through that experience stronger and more focused about his life and his work. I admire his honesty about this experience and its aftermath. I think him talking honestly about what happened will help those fans of his who will go through the same thing. After all, that kind of crisis happens to almost everyone and when it happens it can seem like you'll never get through it.

I enjoyed the show and I'm happy that we went. Kevin Smith is an interesting person and has a lot to offer his audience - in spite of all the swearing, and talk about weed, sex, and bodily functions - making his show definitely worth seeing.

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