L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz


Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

The LensView Home Theatre:




Clerks II (2 Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

(aka "Clerks II Passion of the Clerks")


(Kevin Smith, 2006)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: View Askew

Blu-ray: The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment



Region: All

Runtime: 97 min.

Chapters: 16

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 3, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1080p

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ about 25 Mbps



English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. English & French Dolby Digital 5.1



English SDH & Spanish



• Feature Commentary with Director Kevin Smith, Producer Scott Mosier, and DP Kevin Klein

• Feature Commentary with Director Kevin Smith, Producer Scott Mosier, and Actors Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Mewes, Brian O'Halloran and Jennifer Schwalbach

• Podcast Commentary with Director Kevin Smith, Producer Scott Mosier, and Actor Jeff Anderson.

• Deleted Scenes Prepared by Kevin Smith (38:24)

• A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica (8:58)

• BD Live

• Disc 2:

• Documentary: Back to the Well: Clerks II (97 minutes)

• 10 Train Wrecks: Video Production Diaries (50:47)

• Clerks II: VH1 Movie Special (19:33)

• Blooper Reel (29:55)



The Film: 7
If you prick us, do we not bleed? Even though we talk dirty and are high on living the life of a slacker, do we not love? Can we not love? Should we not love?

If we wondered why Lucky (Fred Astaire) keeps Pop (Victor Moore) around as a pal in Swing Time, considering how much damage he does, what do we make of Randal (Jeff Anderson) who absentmindedly causes the fiery destruction of the Quick Stop managed by Dante (Brian O'Halloran). But no matter, Dante is about to be married to a rich sexy lady (Jennifer Schwalbach) and move from dreary New Jersey to sunny Miami – without Randal. These guys have been best friends since the original Clerks a dozen years ago, but all that is about to go bye-bye.




But before the big day, both Dante and Randal put in a month at Mooby's fast foods, doing what they do best, which is as little as possible. Dante gives off all the signs that he's ready to give up his previously pointless life and do the grownup thing, but Randal, like a heat-seeking missile, finds any and every possible opportunity to make himself obnoxious to any customer that does or doesn't not give him an opening, but most relentlessly to his fellow clerk and lifelong nerd, Elias (Trevor Fehrman).

While "12-Step" Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) stand guard out front, Mooby's manager, Becky (Rosario Dawson), drops by. We see that Dante appears to have an easier relationship with her than with his intended. Moreover, it is she who brings to the movie what level of maturity it musters. Director Kevin Smith has his hands full balancing the silliness, the smut,the drug-related humor and relentless dueling cultural riffs on the one hand with questions about what to do with one's life after 30 – really. But he manages better than we might expect given the first fifteen minutes.

The question that comes up for me with movies like Clerks, Zack and Miri, and Knocked Up is: what is the takeaway for the target audience? Do the people (mostly guys) that roll on the floor in nonstop laughter, respond to the romance as written, or do they interpret the outcome simply as: smutty shlub gets hot girl. Or, are these movies, intentionally or not, instructional: Do they introduce the notion of romance to guys who never gave it a thought and maybe even affect their thinking and behavior without their even being aware of it?

I haven't quite made up my mind about Kevin Smith, but I'm inclined to believe that the lazy, who-gives-a-fuck persona that he projects in interviews and the bonus features on this and other videos is just a cover. Not that he isn't laid back, but that I think he doesn't want to let on how much skill and discipline is necessary – even for grossout comedy.



Image: 6/7
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Kevin makes a point in one of the commentaries that what we see is what was intended. That's nice, because as far as it goes, the transfer seems just fine, even if the material transferred is pretty thin stuff much of the time. I'm delighted that the outdoor/indoor exposures and color balances are as correct as they are, but the result is still flat and uninteresting.














Audio & Music: 7/7
Clerks II is a dialogue-driven affair with dollops of pop music thrown in for good measure. It's good that we have the option of uncompressed audio so that we can hear all that is intended, not that any of it is demonstration material. On the other hand, we wouldn't and shouldn't expect otherwise. I figure anything that doesn't drive me to watch a movie with subtitles in my own language is a plus, especially when it comes to overlapping dialogue.

Operations: 6
Along with Zack and Miri Makes a Porno this is among the longest loading discs in recent centuries, and just when you think things have settled down, there's another file set to load. Happy am I for having a PS3. Aside from that I'm delighted with the checkboxes for selecting the desired extra feature on the main feature window, but puzzled why a different and far less clear methodology is presented for its other feature windows.




Extras: 8
In more than you could ever want to know about the making of Clerks II on two discs, across three (count them!) full length audio commentaries – one of which was recorded at about the same time as the movie release as a podcast (listen while at the cineplex); and in variable quality standard def: the 90-minute "Back to the Well" which explores Kevin's history in film from the failed Jersey Girl to this point, a half-hour blooper reel (with or without Kevin's comments), and video production diaries – all very entertaining, dude.



Bottom line: 8
For fans of the genre and of Kevin Smith and his pirate company in particular, this Blu-ray edition of Clerks II is indispensable. Added to the hours of extra features, this is as good a picture, such as it is, as we're going to see for some years to come – and beyond, I imagine. A must own.

Leonard Norwitz
February 1st, 2009









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