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Jersey Girl

What is your favorite Kevin Smith film?  

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I know there are at least a few Kevin Smith fans on here so I thought I would ask what people think about his newest film, Jersey Girl.

According to Kevin it's gonna be his first PG-13 rated film and more of a drama/comedy. Could be interesting. It's starring Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, George Carlin, Liv Tyler, Jason Biggs and some new child actor as the title character.

Entertainment Tonight had this clip of the trailer which is in on the View Askew website.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Chasing Amy is probably the only Kevin Smith film that I regard as a real "movie". The rest tend to fall back on overexaggerated and overcomplicated gags and conversations and such; actually, Chasing Amy had some of that too, but it was also the only film that had some actual "heart" -- a quality it openly as-much-as-admits to stealing from the classic Canadian juvenile TV show Degrassi Junior High, so hey, I gotta love it. (Smith apparently became a huge fan of that show during his aborted stint with the Vancouver Film School in the early '90s).

FWIW, I just saw the trailer for Jersey Girl yesterday, and I think it looks cute. Seems like Smith is turning into a real softie, now that he's a dad. smile.gif


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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A new and different Jersey Girl trailer is up on Apple. Finally get to see a little bit of George Carlin.

On the surface this film seems a major departure for Smith, but on the other hand it also seems very reminiscent of Chasing Amy because of the relational stuff. I'm actually more excited for this film now.

Also, they list Stephen Root (Office Space, O Brother, Where Art Thou, News Radio (TV series)) as part of the cast. Hehe.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Saw Jersey Girl last night.

It is, at first glance, painfully formulaic. Daddy's too obsessed with work to be a good daddy. Until he loses his job. Then he's forced to face the truth. But when he gets a chance to get his old life back, will he take it? Will he be late for his daughter's school play? What do YOU think?

But the familiar framework is so stuffed with passion for what the film is about... namely, the importance of family... that Kevin Smith's first "grownup" movie proves ultimately irresistable. I was shaking my head over how painfully predictable the plot was... but then, in the culminating scene, he got me and tears sprang to my eyes. I HATE THAT!

The movie's filmed far more beautifully than it deserves to be. That's a good deal of what makes the movie work.

Affleck does a fine job. This is the kind of thing he's best at... the typical guy forced to deal with extreme situations. (Changing Lanes, Bounce)

His scenes with J-Lo are good enough to make you like both of them again, good enough to make you feel a bit sad about the overpublicized breakup.

But Liv Tyler's good too. It's so great to see her set free of the soft-focus and slow-mo of Lord of the Rings. Having met Tyler, I must say that her manner here is pretty much her manner in person. Her chemistry with Affleck is good enough to make the movie work.

The kid's alright, but her character is too smart a talker to be completely convincing.

Note: This may be Kevin Smith's most mature film, but he's still not interested in cleaning up the way the characters talk. It looks like a family movie. IT IS NOT.

Smith's faith is evident in small ways, and I appreciated the way that he allows his characters to plunge headlong toward the typical pre-marital indulgences, only to find a way to steer clear at the last possible moment, and then leaving a faint sting in the dialogue to point out that, had they indulged, it might not have been a wise move. He consistently refuses to judge his characters for their sins, even as he points out that there are better, more rewarding roads available to them.

The film is such a mix of sappy Hollywood product and moments of that old Kevin Smith obscene-honesty that I can't decide whether Smith is morphing into a better director or developing into something disappointingly typical. Is he the next John Hughes, or something smarter and braver? His next couple of movies will be interesting.

Tip: READ THE CREDITS.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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You comments are actually encouraging Jeffrey. As a fan of Smith's work, I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

Speaking of weird, I just realized that this is the second time that Affleck and Tyler have been an on screen couple, the first being Armageddon. I wonder, did Smith cast ladies that his buddy Ben knew already because he felt they would have better chemistry? How is the chemistry between Ben and Liv? Oh, and how is George Carlin?


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Carlin's pretty much a one-note grouch in the film, but that's the script's fault, not his.

Stephen Root plays one of his buddies, and the guy's almost unrecognizable in his city-worker uniform and unshaven, grizzled look.

Affleck and Tyler's chemistry is, as I said, good enough, but the nature of their courtship conversation is rather... uh... R-rated and unnerving. Smith's characters are so obsessed with sex talk, it's weird to think that the guy's a happily married family man.

I'll get to ask him about faith, family, and filmmaking this afternoon, if the round-table talk allows me to get my questions in.

I'm giving the movie a B, which is a bit generous, I think.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I like this one better than Jeffrey does. I haven't quite thought through it yet (writing the review this weekend), but I was really touched by the movie. The family dynamic is wonderfully handled, J-Lo's cameo is nice (Jeffrey's exactly right), and I was more impressed with the young girl than Jeffrey (and I have a low tolerance for Hollywood child actors). Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck have a nice sense of chemistry, and it's especially fine how Kevin Smith doesn't push too hard. In fact, despite yet another standing ovation near the conclusion, the movie is surprisingly low-key, which gives Ben Affleck a chance to shine. Jeffrey's right (again) that this is the sort of role Affleck is great in. He needs to give up the big action-hero stuff.

Jersey Girl is reminiscent of Chasing Amy, but I like this one even better. It won't be on my Top10 at the end of the year, but it'll definitely be an honorable mention.

J Robert

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I'm with Jrobert. It's been a while since I saw it but I found it to be extremely touching - a fitting tribute to his late father (to whom he dedicated the film)

Liv Tyler was wonderful - and I'm not that much of a fan, but I may be from this time forward. Affleck was fine and the young girl that played his daughter was adorable.

To quote from my review (which will be posted on opening day): "This film is about learning what one's priorities are and living life according to them. Ollie (Ben Affleck) thought he had life figured out but he set his vision too low. He focused on career as the measuring tape for his sense of self-worth and value. There is a far greater yardstick that can be used. Ask any parent."


Michael Elliott

Movie Parables

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Caught this one this morning. Found myself thinking of SDG's criticisms of The Family Man, though this film was certainly more appreciative of non-Manhattanite life. It's good to see Smith exploring actual characters again, for the first time in years, but he's still stuck in that celebrity-in-joke culture (which is something I DON'T think can be said of Chasing Amy), and when the inevitable 'money cameo' came, I was disappointed to see that it wasn't anywhere near as self-effacing as some of the cameos in Smith's other films have been.

From Jerry Maguire to Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, I'm a sucker for films about adult-child relationships, so I responded to those parts of the film very well -- I even choked up just a wee bit over the film's final image. But I don't know that the film really earned this emotional response. Kevin Smith is evidently trying to go for some sort of melodramatic career-vs.-family thing, but he shifts too abruptly from one of these things to the other; we don't really see these competing forces woven together throught the Affleck character's life. One second he's a high-flying publicist who has spent months assuming his dad will look after the kid, and the next second, in a scene that I didn't quite buy (though I'm still trying to figure out why), he's tearfully promising his baby he'll be the best dad ever -- and so he seems to be, until he reverts into career mode, and then he has to undo it all by Driving Really Fast and then Abandoning His Car At The Obstacle In The Road And Running Really Fast and making sure he gets to the church on time (well, okay, not really a church, but you know what I mean).

I'm also not sure what to make of Affleck's romance with Tyler. I think Tyler's character says she's a student, though we don't actually SEE any evidence of this in the film, and I'm not sure I can buy into the film's romantic hopes for these two, when Tyler, at least, is clearly the sort of person for whom sex and commitment appear to be two completely separate things. Her character definitely has "male fantasy" written all over her. But I did like the fact that the movie makes a link between her approach to sex and Affleck's thing for porn -- but where she (and, knowing Smith's proclivities, perhaps the film) would seem to be saying that both things are equally valid, I would say both are equally INvalid. I also liked how the film drew attention, in a non-judgmental way, to the hypocrisy of parents telling children they must wait for marriage, when the parents themselves clearly don't believe in doing so themselves.

All in all, not a bad film, but not a great one either -- it throws in just a few too many hackneyed gimmicks and devices to be the pure, simple story about father-daughter love that it could have been.

Chronology question: The moment when Affleck's character loses his job is said to be just a month or two before the released of Independence Day in 1996. The rest of the film takes place six or seven years later, depending on which scene we follow. But there is a reference to Will Smith's "robot movie", as though it has already come out -- which would mean this movie takes place some time after Summer 2004 (I, Robot opens this July, and the school scenes indicate the film takes place during the school year beginning this September). So wouldn't this film actually be taking place eight, maybe even nine, years later? (I'm also wondering, was Bad Boys considered a hit when it came out in 1995?)

Oh, and I almost forgot: the perfect movie-geek line: "Punch it, Chewie!" Ah, that's what I look forward to, some day -- raising children on the important films. smile.gif

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: But the familiar framework is so stuffed with passion for what the film is

: about... namely, the importance of family... that Kevin Smith's first

: "grownup" movie proves ultimately irresistable.

You wouldn't call Chasing Amy "grown-up"? True, it was partly inspired (emotionally, at least) by a Canadian TV series about high school, but still ...

: The movie's filmed far more beautifully than it deserves to be. That's a

: good deal of what makes the movie work.

Yes, Smith himself has admitted that he has no real visual sensibility -- it's all dialogue, dialogue, dialogue to him -- but when I saw Vilmos Zsigmond's name in the credits, I thought, "Whoa!" He's the cinematographer who won an Oscar for his work on Close Encounters (he was also nominated for The Deer Hunter and The River). So I figured THIS film of Smith's would at least look half-way decent, compared to his others.

: His scenes with J-Lo are good enough to make you like both of them

: again, good enough to make you feel a bit sad about the overpublicized

: breakup.

Hmmm, I dunno. I never saw Lopez's character, only Lopez -- especially when she said she was worried about her appearance next to Janet Jackson and Sheryl Crow. But you're right, the two characters do seem genuinely (if perhaps somewhat indulgently) in love, here.

: The kid's alright, but her character is too smart a talker to be completely

: convincing.

They do explain this, though, by showing how Affleck teaches her big words. Carlin's character even asks Affleck why he teaches her words like "subtle".

: Smith's faith is evident in small ways . . .

Or big -- just look at the size of that Madonna! smile.gif

: His next couple of movies will be interesting.

Indeed.

Michael Elliott wrote:

: It's been a while since I saw it but I found it to be extremely touching - a

: fitting tribute to his late father (to whom he dedicated the film)

Yes, that was good too.

: . . . the young girl that played his daughter was adorable.

Isn't it kinda creepy just how believable she is as J-Lo's daughter? smile.gif I wonder who was cast first.

: There is a far greater yardstick that can be used. Ask any parent.

Unless, of course, that parent is trying to keep a career afloat while letting his father look after the child, etc. ... smile.gif


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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but when I saw Vilmos Zsigmond's name in the credits, I thought, \"Whoa!\"  

8O

I may have to tone down my Smith-bashing.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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...when I saw Vilmos Zsigmond's name in the credits, I thought, \"Whoa!\"  He's the cinematographer who won an Oscar for his work on Close Encounters (he was also nominated for The Deer Hunter and The River).  So I figured THIS film of Smith's would at least look half-way decent, compared to his others.

If you go to ViewAskew and then scroll down the page I'm linking to, there are two files where Kevin makes a video diary of the Jersey Girl shoots. There's one point where he's jokes with Zsigmond about how bad the director is.

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Saw this one this afternoon, and I must say I liked it a lot.

Kevin is definitely getting back to the more character driven things like Chasing Amy, and I think that's good (seeing as that is my favorite of Smith's films). But at the same time it has lots of humour in it too. I thought it delivered some pretty solid laughs.

I think I approach this film similarily to how Ebert did, saying that even though a lot of stuff in this film is clich


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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