DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Clerks X - 10th Anniversary SE - Highly Recommended

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Sep 7, 2004.

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  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]



    Clerks.
    X

    10th Anniversary Special Edition
    Studio:Miramax Year:1994RunTime:92 minutesAspect Ratio:16x9 encoded 1.85:1 (OAR)Audio:5.1 DD English, French Subtitles:French, SpanishSpecialFeatures:More than you can imagine. Read the review… ReleaseDate:September 7, 2004





    Preface...

    Please accept my apology for this review coming out the same day as the DVD street date. I only received this set a few days ago and have spent the better part of this weekend combing through the extensive special features so I’d really be prepared to write a review that focuses on what most people interested in this new release would want to know about…the special feature content…. My first thought upon receiving this 3-disc set was “how could anyone fill up three DVDs with special feature content for the movie ‘Clerks’-- an admittedly low-budget film that wasn't even produced under a studio's care?” After spending many rewarding hours with this DVD set, that initial attitude has transformed into an enthusiasm for what has probably been one of the best, if not the best, special-edition DVD sets to cross my reviewing path. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.



    The Feature...

    Clerks is Kevin Smith’s first and, in my opinion, best theatrical works. It’s down-to-earth and gritty. It's unconventional without becoming pompous or avant-garde. It’s fresh without feeling dated or trendy. And these 10 years hence its theatrical debut it still feels solid and curiously innovative. For those of you who have never seen Clerks, it’s a low-budget, grainy black-and-white 16mm production about an everyday joe who works as a clerk in a convenience store. His low-brow gen-x life (a day in the life of) is depicted with candid dialogue, unscrubbed cynicism, dark-edged wit and understated-yet-confident humor. He may be “Silent Bob” on-screen, but when it comes to a screen-play Director/Writer Kevin Smith lacks no articulation. Clerks is a movie that will have you re-winding because you’ll want to indulge yourself by hearing some of these lines over again. Perhaps most impressive, Smith manages to deliver dialogue that is provocative without ever sounding pretentious.

    The judges at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival felt that Clerks deserved serious recognition, and I concur. Clerks has developed quite a fan-base and has justifiably earned a place high on the shelf as a cult classic. In an age of digital Jaba-the-Huts and $$$ special effects, it’s refreshing to watch a movie that’s good because…well…because it’s a good movie. I’ve given you my opinion. I invite all you Clerks fans to post your own comments in this thread as well.




    Picture...


    Taken from a new HD master transferred from the best available 16mm source, this new 16x9 1.85:1 presentation of Clerks is the best-looking video incarnation the film has received. What that really means is that this grainy, low-budget movie looks grainy and low-budget in good detail with no harsh electronic artifacts like EE intruding into the mix. That’s right, I noticed no obvious edge-halos or ringing from EE from my 1.6 screen-width viewing distance (though the excessively grainy film materials have very few hard-edges that would apply). Detail is good though I imagine that the native film-source, even though it’s only 16mm, might look a little sharper/clearer. I’m making that assumption as given the challenging nature of this material, the compressionist probably applied some HF filtering to reduce MEPG artifacting. The end result is still a satisfying image that looks reasonably film-like. Contrast is strong, and black-level solid. Grayscale seems lacking however, and the image seems to contain lots of extremes…strong blacks and strong whites…without much subtle in-between gradations (whites appear a bit crushed...I recalibrated my PJ just to make sure I wasn't contributing to the impression by having my white balance pushed too high). However, I suspect that this is the appearance of the film-source material so the DVD is not to be faulted.

    Comparing this new 16x9 image to the 4x3 – letterboxed image of the former single-disc DVD some curious differences appear. Firstly, the older DVD appears to have a different tonal look…like contrast is different somehow…slightly more “gray” but I wasn’t sure if there was a clear winner in terms of shadow detail (gradations of grayscale). Detail is better in the new 16x9 version, though not dramatically so, and perhaps most interesting of all is that the new 16x9 version offers a bit more picture information on all four sides of the 1.85:1 image making the older DVD look slightly cropped by comparison. For all of these reasons the new DVD wins the picture-quality contest with the former disc…but I’ll admit that the image of the old disc comes in at a very close second place and for image-quality gains alone I wouldn’t try to compel anyone (even wide-angle viewers) to upgrade.

    The image on the new disc is also properly letterboxed inside the 16x9 frame, preserving with great accuracy the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio image, though most viewers will likely never notice these very small letterboxing bars due to overscan on their displays.

    Given the unique nature of the image of this movie…an intentionally, excessively grainy 16mm film…I’m going to depart from my normal routine and simply forgo trying to assign an arbitrary numeric score. You’ve read my comments and hopefully that will give you an idea of what to expect.




    Sound...


    Remixed/remastered from the best available source, the 5.1 mix on this disc sounds very, very good considering the budget and technical limitations that determined the audio for Clerks. Dialog is clear, musical-overlays sound satisfyingly full-bodied and natural. The impression is open and non-fatiguing, which is a credit to Scott Mosier who not only produced the film, but also handled audio recording/mixing for the original version as well as remastering for this tenth anniversary DVD.

    I noticed no obvious surround activity but that wasn’t anything I was expecting or even hoping to find. This film reads more like a good Woody Allen movie which has a strong dialog-driven agenda that doesn’t want multi-channel mixing to “get in the way” and distract the viewer. The audio, just like the video, reveals limitations of the source elements that conspire to serve, rather than detract, from the film’s effectiveness.

    For reasons similar to the video review, I’ll refrain from suggesting a numeric audio score.



    Special Features...


    Wow. I had thought that it would be impossible to fill three discs with special feature content. Miramax sure proved me wrong. In fact, most everything they provide in the way of bonus material is something substantive and of genuine film-fan value. Very impressive. I am not usually one who gets excited about special-feature content…I tend to be a “movie priority” kind of guy and get my giggles from a stellar image and sound presentation…with my interest in bonus material motivated primarily from a “better watch it for the review” point of view. Well, Clerks X has succeeded in convincing me otherwise…and next to the Lord of the Rings extended sets, I have yet to come across a DVD SE that has engaged me the way the content on this set has done. I hope that fans of the film feel as enthusiastic about this set as I do.

    Update: Please review Vincent's quoted text below my original comments here:

    Don’t throw away or sell your old DVD copy on ebay...
    Inspite of the exhaustive 3-disc presentation here, there are some deleted scenes on the former single-disc set (that I believe were lifted from the laserdisc) that are not represented here. Die-hard fans will want to hold on to both copies.

    Vincent:



    Disc 1:

    [*]Feature Commentary: This Screen-specific Commentary track with Kevin Smith and other Cast members is duplicated from the previous DVD and laserdisc. It’s generally a well-done commentary that bridges the spectrum of technical, anecdotal, and behind-the-scenes recollections of the crew. Many of you are already familiar with this feature having owned the previous DVD or laserdisc so please share your own thoughts.
    [*]Animated Lost Scene: This color animated sequence was produced for this DVD to represent a scene that was never filmed due to budget and time constraints during production. It depicts the scene inside the funeral home where Dante and Randal go to view the body of their deceased highschool friend. It’s outlandish and fun, and you’ll enjoy wondering what the movie would have been like had it been originally filmed and placed in the theatrical film. There is a “play inserted into the movie” option that I didn’t explore which presumably inserts this animated sequence into the film at the point at which it would have originally appeared. However, given the nature of the color animation, it would seem to me to be a bit jarring to view integrated this way and so I preferred it as a separate bonus feature.

    [*]Flying Car Short Film: A “short” that Kevin Smith produced with the characters Dante and Randal in a car where Randal explicates one of this take-it-to-the-logical-extreme discussions and mind-F’s Dante in the process. Very enjoyable.

    [*]Jay and Silent Bob MTV spots: Brilliant. These alone are worth the price of this new DVD SE set. There are a lot of these shorts…I count eight in total. They each appear to have been some sort of MTV promotional effort but are in every way entertaining and well conceived. The “Li’l Alanis” sequence was my favorite. Pull these out at parties and you’ll have everyone rolling. You get a play-all feature too. Bravo.

    [*]Theatrical Trailer: Also on the former DVD. It’s 4x3 and it’s here for the fans…

    [*]Sould Asylum Music Video: Also from the former DVD, this “Can’t Even Tell” video doesn’t impress me personally. Basically it’s a hockey game on the store roof with Silent Bob and Jay playing air-guitar to a boom-box. It’s 4x3 lbx with 2.0 DD audio.

    [*]Restoration: Three shorts total. One for audio restoration (good info). One for video restoration (short but talks briefly about the HD master), and one where Kevin Smith makes some wonderful digs at Lucus by talking about how for this tenth aniversary DVD of Clerks he resisted the desire to make some changes to the film like inserting a digital Jaba and having Randal shoot first. Gotta love that guy… [​IMG]

    [*]Audition tapes: For the lead Actors. Funny to see these guys audition…and honestly none of them look that good!
    [*]DVD-ROM: content that I can’t view on my non-DVD PC. You tell me.


    [/list]


    Disc 2:

    [*]Original Film-Festival Version of Clerks: Fans rejoice. See the original version of Clerks as it was presented at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. It’s open-matte 4x3 (as it likely was projected there) looks like it may have been dubbed from a Beta or VHS tape, and it contains the original audio soundtrack (without music overlay and remixed/mastered dialog) and…are you ready…it has the original ending with Dante getting shot behind the counter (which was one of the deleted scenes on the former single-disc DVD). The film is introduced with some discussion by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. I'm sure that die-hard fans will be enraptured to have this "festival cut" of the film.

    [*]Commentary: The festival version can be watched with or without audio commentary…and the audio commentary has corresponding video of the crew during the recording session which can be accessed by changing angles on your remote. Very cool. The commentary here is new…it is NOT the commentary from the first disc. But is isn’t screen-specific, though I found it very interesting. I suggest you watch it using the alternate angle so you can view everyone talking together and treat it more like a recorded rap-session since it doesn’t really connect to the on-screen action of the film anyway.

    Fans will enjoy this feature to be sure.

    [/list]


    Disc 3:


    [*]Snowball Effect Documentary: Really well done. A very professional, engaging, and informative documentary about Kevin Smith and his surrounding entourage. This thing starts all the way with Kevin in Grade School and is 95 minutes long! At first I thought it would be too self-aggrandizing with Smith being touted as some prodigy or brilliant mind…but after a while I relaxed and really found myself engrossed in the documentary…being sure to pause it if I had to get up for any reason so I wouldn’t miss any part of it. Well done and you’ll learn more about Kevin Smith and the history behind Clerks than you thought there was to know. Oh and get this…they mark the documentary with chapter stops…a total of 39…making it easy to skip to where you want to go without having to fast-forward through it ad-hoc when you want to show a friend one thing in particular. Two thumbs up.

    [*]Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary: This is the coveted 10-minute documentary project that Kevin and Scott made in film-school class which capitalizes on nothing less than their own ineptitude as directors/producers. Loved it. Fans rejoice.

    [*]10th Anniversary Q & A: This 45 minute Q & A session was hosted for this tenth anniversary DVD edition, and I found myself yet again impressed with the quality of the bonus material on this set. The panel consists of Kevin, Scott, and the primary acting crew and the discussion is catalyzed from questions asked directly from fans in the audience. The questions are not planned, and the fans are merciless in asking some really hard (and often rude) questions which, to my astonishment, the panel answers with candor and directness. At times I actually found myself feeling emotionally uncomfortable…as if I was watching some live reality-TV show where people are forced to expose their inner demons for all to see. But even these moments of discomfort only increased my level of respect for the creative team behind this film.

    Fans yet again should be well pleased…

    [*]Still Photo Gallery: Nice but you have to scroll through them one by one which can take a while…and why don’t they make it so those still photos fill the screen? Lots of resolution lost to background-graphics taking up most of the pixels/screen real estate. Just my general criticism for image galleries in general…

    [*]Original Kevin Smith Journals: Very intersting. You get two…one before and one after the film festival. Kevin’s writing style is very impressive, and seems remarkable given his laid-back manner of speech.

    [*]Outtakes for Snowball Effect: Basically what amounts to deleted scenes for the 95 minute documentary. Some good stuff here…a total of 13 scenes! You get a play-all feature.

    [*]Aritcles: A total of eight articles pronouncing the artistic success of Clerks during its film-festival and theatrical debut. The text can be easily scrolled through. Well done and fans will enjoy it as I surely did.


    [/list]


    All Together...


    Clerks is a one-of-a-kind movie that anyone able to enjoy dark-edged humor should enjoy. But more than just a great transfer of a great movie, this DVD captures that rare honor of bringing the fan a true treasure of bonus material that is substantive, engaging, and really worth the hours of dedication to fully explore. Out of all the SE DVDs that I’ve enjoyed reviewing, Clerks X has impressed me the most. The special feature content not only entertained and educated me, but it increased my enthusiasm for film and the DVD format. The cost of this DVD set seems nominal in comparison to the experience that it offers.



    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
     
  2. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Very thorough review once again, David. [​IMG]

    I'm buying this mainly for the 16x9 transfer anything else is a bonus. It looks stacked but i'm finding myself with less time to watch special features. Excellent film.
     
  3. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

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    I just bought this, and I was piss to see the little mini-book that comes with it, on the cover there are rips on the bottom[​IMG]
     
  4. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    hehe I was hoping this would be the first title I would test my DVB-318 on, but as it stands, looks like it will be the last one I oficially watch on the trusty Panasonic DVD-A110 before it gets taken off the FProj and gets attached to the trusty 27 incher in the bedroom.

    I am heading downstairs now to tear in to this thing, I can't wait! :)
     
  5. adrian b

    adrian b Stunt Coordinator

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    great review and thanks for answering the question I hadn't asked yet: Is it okay to get rid of the 1st DVD release?




    Just a side note that I thought Randall would appreciate: What the hell is rewind on a DVD?
     
  6. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    David, thanks for the excellent review. I was debating whether to wait on this set, as I wasn't sure how good the extras really were going to be. DVD extras also rarely sell me on a set, too. But after all the good things I've read about Clerks X, I think I'm going to pick it up this week. The docs on disc 3 sound fantastic and I just love Kevin Smith commentaries.
     
  7. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I picked this up tonight. I haven't even begun to get through all of the material and yet I am already blown away! This set is amazing! If you're a fan of the film, or of Kevin Smith, you must own this DVD set! This is the Clerks DVD that fans have been dreaming of for years. This modern classic is finally given the treatment it deserves.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As for the film, it's a classic. It's among the best major independent films of the '90s. Smith clearly takes influence from such torchbearers as Jim Jarmusch and Richard Linklater, yet displays a definite mainstream pop-culture perspicacity (if a may borrow a term from Clerks) that allows him to mesh well with Hollywood. I believe that Chasing Amy is Smith's best work as a filmmaker, but Clerks is not far behind.
     
  8. RomanSohor

    RomanSohor Second Unit

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    Watched the Snowball Effect last night - very entertaining and interesting, and watcheda bit of the Q&A... I was a little surprised that they were both 16X9 letterbox, instead of anamorphic - oh well, my display is 4X3 anyway ... still this looks like a great effort, actually it's only my second DVD of a Kevin Smith movie - I have Jay & Silent Bob... I always heard all this talk about the awesomeness of his Laser Discs, and now I am beginning to understand why. I will be picking up the rest of the Jersey
    flicks soon. I don't know about Jersey Girl though :)
     
  9. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    I have never seen a Kevin Smith film...is this a good place to start?
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Yes. In fact, it is THE place to start.



    Yes, and if anyone skimmed the review and missed it...DO NOT throw away your old DVD...there are deleted scenes on the previous single-disc DVD that are NOT on this new SE. Just keep'em both...

    [​IMG]
     
  11. George See

    George See Second Unit

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    Wasn't really planning on picking this up...too many other movies to buy...but this review has convinced me.
     
  12. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    As far as I know, all the deleted scenes are in "The First Cut", but Kevin's audio intros are not on the new set.
     
  13. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Bill...by the "First Cut" do you mean the "Festival" version on disc 2?
     
  14. Shane D

    Shane D Supporting Actor

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    i went to best buy and circuit city today, wednesday, both had already sold out
     
  15. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I picked this up yesterday, thanks for the great review I can't wait to sink my teeth in to this one...I'm working on a backlog of titles.
     
  16. Drew Mertz

    Drew Mertz Stunt Coordinator

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    Good review, but the Laserdisc of clerks was just a Miramax release not a Criterion. Criterion only rleased Chasing Amy.
     
  17. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

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    My Best Buy was out, so I went to the one in Tampa, where they also happened to have the recalled Star Trek: Generations on the shelf. [​IMG]
     
  18. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Drew,

    thanks for the correction. I'll update the review to reflect.
     
  19. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    Yeah, "The First Cut" is actually what it's called on the packaging.
     
  20. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Ill definitely have to check this out then. Thanks!
     

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