Review Roundup: 'Clerks III,' 'Confess, Fletch,' and 'The Silent Twins'
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Review Roundup is a new segment designed to give bite-size reviews of current movies in release either in theaters, on-demand, or streaming.
Writer/director Kevin Smith returns to the series that made him a household name, but his “Clerks III” is an exercise in massive ego-stroking and almost makes you question any allegiance to the first “Clerks” which lit the indie world on fire in 1994. Yet another bloated and undercooked entry in his “View Askew” cinematic universe, “Clerks III,” which is doing a roadshow type rollout as opposed to a wide release, will likely appease diehard fans of the franchise, but casual watchers should steer clear.
Using his own 2018 heart attack as the obvious basis for this third (and let’s hope) final entry in the dormant “Clerks” franchise, the latest installment picks up a decade after “Clerks II” came and went without so much as a whimper and follows Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) who are still working at the same Quick Stop, only now they own the place. One of them suffers a heart attack and, with a newfound emphasis on how precious life is, they both decide to make a movie about their Quick Stop exploits, complete with Jay (Jason Mews) and Silent Bob (Smith, reprising a fan favorite role).
Plenty of surprises and eye-rolling cameos ensue throughout the film, which includes 2022 recreations of the exact same scenes from 1994’s much better and far richer “Clerks.” It all builds towards an emotional catharsis that never feels earned and O’Halloran and Anderson, sadly, don’t have the chops to elevate the stingy material.
Perhaps it’s time to close up this shop for good.
CLERKS III will be releasing in select theaters on September 13th and 15th with additional dates and an eventual digital release to follow.
Courtesy of Miramax/Paramount
Taking over for Chevy Chase, Jon Hamm steps up to the plate in “Confess, Fletch,” Greg Mottola’s long gestating entry in the popular cult-hit franchise. Obviously not as witty or smart as the previous “Fletch” incarnations, Hamm still finds a sure-fire-way to make the role his own even if Zev Borow and Mottola’s conventional screenplay struggles to match the moment. Put another way, the mystery takes a back seat to Hamm’s juvenile and wise-cracking performance, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Based on Gregory Mcdonald’s 1976 novel, “Confess, Fletch” finds the former journalist-turned-sleuth Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher caught as the prime suspect in the murder of a local girl in his rented townhouse apartment. Nobody knows why or how the girl ended up where she did, but lead detectives (Roy Wood Jr and Ayden Mayeri - hilarious and smarmy) have their suspicions. John Slattery, Marcia Gay Harden, Kyle MacLachlan, and Annie Mumolo co-star playing a pot-head neighbor, a crotchety old boss, the seductive and gorgeous girlfriend and a persnickity germaphobe. All are suspects, though it won’t be hard to ascertain who will be revealed before the final curtain call.
“Confess, Fletch” could use more urgency (especially in the latter half) and if not for Hamm showing up and understanding the assignment, they’re might not be much here. But Mottola, directing his first film since 2016, keeps things gelling and dialed in enough to appease both old and new fans alike.
CONFESS, FLETCH opens in theaters and on Digital Friday, September 16th.
THE SILENT TWINS
Courtesy of Focus Features
Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s adaptation of journalist Majorie Wallace’s book on identical twins Jennifer and June Gibbons entitled “The Silent Twins” has sprawling ambitions (and a dense visual palette/imagination), but ultimately fails to provide context or use those techniques to create a memorable motion picture. Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance headline the picture as June and Jennifer (exceptional young actresses’ Leah Mondesir-Simmonds and Eva-Arianna Baxter play them in their adolescence), two extraordinary women who loved writing, art, and creating stories and never spoke to anyone but themselves. This resulted in various issues growing up: bullies, intense scrunization, and poor treatment from teachers.
Many attempts are shown throughout “The Silent Twins” (as was in the book) to have the girls separated, and while they were allowed to stay together, later run-ins with drugs and frivolous crimes got them locked up in Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, a UK institution known for its questionable living arrangements and hostile staff.
Wright and Lawrance bring levity to these roles, but “The Silent Twins” never encapsulates the viewer in their worldview. The inconsistencies in the crafty visual sequences (the movie opens with a stop-motion scene and recurs throughout as inspired by diary entries and stories the twins wrote throughout their childhood), ends-up creating a weird bridge for how we’re supposed to understand them.
It’s all done in good faith on Smoczyńska’s part, but the inherent lack of putting the UK’s treatment of these women on notice, as well as disregarding the likely racism they endured undercuts Jennifer and June’s incredible story. Their tale deserved an adaptation worthy of the talent, patience, and heartache that was so prevalent to them; instead the narrative canvas is painted with broad strokes and minimal depth.
THE SILENT TWINS opens in theaters Friday, September 16th.