We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.
Cody checks out Wes Anderson's latest and sees Kevin Smith live once again.
MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)
1965. Sam is a recently orphaned Khakhi Scout with excellent survival skills, Suzy has depression issues and sometimes "loses her temper with herself", resulting in self-harm. These two troubled youths meet, connect, and decide to run off into the wilderness with each other, disrupting the laidback lives of the residents of their small New England island community. Sam's Scout troop, the island cop, and Suzy's parents search for the young couple, who are determined to stay together no matter what, as the storm of (the second half of) the century approaches.
Wes Anderson is one of the quirkiest, most unique directors working today. He has his own specific style, and his stories tend to take place in a world that exists only in his own mind. Anderson's style isn't widely accessible, even I as a fan and supporter can't totally get into every one of his movies. I've been following his career since discovering his first film, Bottle Rocket, on VHS in 1997, and that is still my favorite of his. It has the most entertaining humor to me, and I like its indie aesthetics, before his work totally entered his altered reality.
Moonrise Kingdom is near Bottle Rocket toward the top of my Anderson list. His style is in full effect in this, his seventh feature film, and the world he has crafted is amazing to look at. It's incredibly detailed, like a painting come to life. Nothing seems caught on the fly or by chance, it's like Anderson knew every frame before it was shot.
I think it's a more accessible film than some of his others, with a heartwarming, endearing story that members of the general audience should be able to enjoy.
The ensemble cast is great, and the child actors at the center of it all give strong performances in their debut film, which will be a hard one to follow up.
JAY & SILENT BOB WATCH A MOVIE
Back in 2010, Kevin Smith started taking his various podcasts out on road tours, recording episodes in front of live audiences in venues around the country. I've gone to these shows each time they've come within a reasonable distance inside the borders of Ohio.
On April 27, 2010, the first tour brought Kevin and Scott Mosier to Cleveland, where they recorded two episodes of SModcast at a bar called Peabody's. I had tickets to the first show of the night, and was accompanied by my mother, who was also celebrating her birthday that day. If you know Kevin's brand of humor, it may seem strange to you that I would take my mother along to such a show, but she didn't mind, she's a fan of him as well. If you're around me for any amount of time, you'll likely be exposed to a whole lot of Kevin Smith, so during my teens mom became a fan by proximity. She's gone with me to many of his events over the years, including a three hour Q&A and multiple trips to New Jersey for screenings and Vulgarthons. The first time we went to a Vulgarthon, in 2000, she and 16-year-old me were even interviewed for a local paper while waiting in line.
The first SModcast that I was in the audience for the recording of was eventually posted online as SModcast #115. In a perfect world, the episode of CHiPS that Kevin and Scott dreamed up that evening would've already been filmed by now.
Two months later, the second SModcast tour brought Kevin and Scott to Columbus, where they first entered the doors of Studio 35. Opened in 1938, Studio 35 is an awesome theatre that I've been visiting sporadically since 2001, when it was the home of an earlier iteration of the Shock Around the Clock horror marathon called Nightmare at Studio 35. I've spent many hours in Studio 35 over the years, so it was great to have Kevin and Scott on such familar ground.
My oldest nephew, then just shy of 21, accompanied me to the first Studio 35 shows. Like I said, if you're around me, you'll get roped into my obsession. We had tickets to both recordings that night, which ended up online as SModcast #122 and SModcast #125.
Kevin fell in love with Studio 35 that June 22nd. When he and Scott were joined by the Tell 'Em Steve-Dave crew (Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan of Comic Book Men, Brian Quinn of Impractical Jokers) on a third podcast tour just one month later, even though the tour was mostly focused on locations in the southwest of the country, they made sure to make a stop in the theatre while busing the TESD guys back to New Jersey.
I was in the Studio 35 audience again that night, again accompanied by my mother. It was July 31st, just two days before Kevin's 40th birthday, so the night started off with the crowd - each person given party hats - singing "Happy Birthday" to him as he entered the room. Kevin and Scott then joined forces with TESD for SModcast #128: SMod 'em, Steve-Dave! 2, followed by Kevin, Bryan, and Walt recording Highlands: A Peephole History #6.
Within three months, I had been in the audience for live recordings of five SModCo podcast episodes. It was feast before famine, as it would be almost two years before I was in the room for another one.
In the meantime, the Red State tour did give me a chance to see Kevin in person in 2011, at the Ann Arbor screening, and the launch of the S.I.R. online radio station had me listening to more hours of his network's podcasts than ever. I bought a smartphone just so I could have S.I.R. streaming through the Stitcher app and pumping podcasts into my ears while I took long walks around town.
In February of this year, I attended the Fathom event Kevin Smith: Live from Behind, which featured a Q&A with Kevin and Jason Mewes, and a recording of Jay & Silent Bob Get Old #68. It was cool, but not quite on the same level as being there in person as they did it.
I finally got my chance for that on May 17th, when Kevin made his long-awaited returned to (the newly renovated) Studio 35 with Mewes in tow.
The night's event was called Jay & Silent Bob Watch a Movie. During their recent tours, Kevin and Mewes have done a few shows where the podcast recording was preceded by a screening of one of the movies in which the characters of Jay & Silent Bob were prominently featured, like Mallrats or Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. At Studio 35, Kevin and Mewes took seats in the back of the theatre and watched Dogma with us.
This was my third theatrical viewing of Dogma, having previously seen it on the big screen when it was first released in 1999, and at the 2000 Vulgarthon, where the extended Cannes cut was shown. It's not one of my favorite Kevin Smith movies, but I enjoy it and will probably write more about it someday. It is a really good movie, with a great story, some wonderful dialogue, a nice perspective, and some very strong moments that bring tears to my eyes.
Rewatching Dogma after the advent of S.I.R. added a whole new level to it as I spotted the podcaster cameos. Nooner/Tuesday SMorning Show host Dan Etheridge as a priest. Young Brian Quinn in the background of the airport scene. I Sell Comics' Ming Chen as a strip club patron. Scott Mosier as the smooching seaman. 100+ episodes of Tell 'Em Steve-Dave and a season of Comic Book Men make the sight of Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan as Steve-Dave and Fanboy even more entertaining.
The things that hold the movie back from being one of my favorites are also issues that Kevin pointed out himself during the podcast recording after the screening. The scope of the story exceeds the budget, Kevin wasn't visually prepared for, or interested in, handling some of the bigger action and effects moments, lead actress Linda Fiorentino was hard to work with and at times wouldn't even speak to her director, and I don't think she comes off very well in the finished film.
Kevin and Mewes talked about Dogma and reminisced about the times they had making it for about an hour, then wrapped the show up with a half hour of Q&A.
It was a fun night, I always really enjoy seeing Kevin live. I guess that's obvious, since I keep going back for more. It's taken me two months to mention it because the resulting podcast was just posted online last week, as Jay & Silent Bob Get Old #88: Mewes Belong to the City.
Kevin said that he would return to Studio 35 again someday, possibly bringing Ralph Garman along to record an episode of Hollywood Babble-On. That would be awesome, I'd love to be in the room for one of those. I'll be there no matter what show brings him back to Studio 35, but whichever it is, I'm just hoping that the wait is shorter than another two years.