Review by David Baldwin
Kevin Smith was working as a clerk at a convenience store when he released Clerks way back in 1994. Director Malcolm Ingram’s Documentary about the iconic Director takes its title from this life altering moment in Smith’s life, and then presents a chronicle of the director’s work from that Film through to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and everything that happened in between.
CLERK is a delight for fans of Smith and all things View Askew. Ingram packs in interviews with almost everyone you can think of (Jason Lee is suspiciously missing as is Clerks’ Jeff Anderson) to talk about their relationships with the fan-favourite director. Ingram was even able to include interview clips with the late Stan Lee prior to his death. While some of these moments are self-congratulatory, others are more candid and honest. The treasure trove of behind the scenes footage and stills is impressive to say the least, and it is quite moving to see Smith be reduced to tears multiple times by some questions (specifically in regards to his heart attack back in 2018).
My only issue with CLERK is with its pacing. Ingram covers every single one of Smith’s 13 films, placing a sliding scale of emphasis on each one (not to mention his podcasting work, his pioneering style of fan interactions and talks, his relationship with his family and longtime Producer Scott Mosier, and the heart attack). I can appreciate the scope Ingram places on the project, but it gets to be too much and becomes rather unwieldly all too quickly. And where I was hoping for more depth on certain sections, Ingram ended up cutting to something else entirely. Why not just emphasize the most important achievements and merely reference the others? It would have made for a more concise Film and still left room for those immense waves of nostalgia that course through its veins.
CLERK screens at SXSW Wednesday March 17, 2021 starting at 1 PM.