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SXSW Snapshots: 'The Oxy Kingpins' and 'Clerk'


This is the final entry in the SXSW Snapshot series!


“The Oxy Kingpins” tells a cautionary tale about the opioid epidemic and how it can be traced back to pharmaceutical companies. Produced by media company The Young Turks, and executive produced by Chris Smith and Adam McKay – of which the latter’s “The Big Short” provides a good chunk of creative inspiration – “The Oxy Kingpins” highlights a national tragedy and how easy it is for giant cooperation’s to get away with murder. There’s a variety of narrative’s competing for screen-time ranging from drug dealer confessionals to acquiring fake ID’s for “pain clinics.” But the most compelling argument follows a lawyer making a case against big pharma’s role in the epidemic.

“The Oxy Kingpins” is pieced together competently, though the injection of stock footage and some awkward interviews dampen the mood. Nevertheless, the documentary gives a slew of damning evidence and shows we’ve still got a long way to go from eradicating this crisis.

Grade: B

The OXY KINGPINS debuted at the SXSW Film Festival and is currently seeking distribution


Taking viewers on a trip down memory lane, “Clerk” tackles notorious comic book geek and genre filmmaker Kevin Smith’s uneven career. Everything from “Clerks” – his crowning debut – to duds like “Cop Out” and “Yoga Hosers” get a shout-out in this 115-minute love letter. And fans of Smith will eat it up as he recounts the glory days of cheap, independent filmmaking and how “Clerks” paved the way for an arsenal of cult hits ala “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” and “Dogma.”

Directed by Malcolm Ingram, “Clerk” won’t convert any new disciples to the Smith camp, but I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stories about George Carlin, Stan Lee (which is featured in what was his last on camera interview), and battling the catholic church. The film doesn’t always gel, and a brief interlude about Harvey Weinstein financing Smith’s career hits a sour, wonky note, if only because it’s mentioned for approximately two minutes and then quickly forgotten.

Still, Smith is a larger than life character who isn’t afraid to engage with his fans and be open about his health issues – including a near fatal heart attack. Interviews with Richard Linklater, Jason Reitman, Justin Long and Jason Mews buff the runtime with candid stories about their experiences with the director. It’s obvious that Smith has touched plenty of folks in the entertainment industry, but “Clerk” finally puts him on display for all to see. Snoochie Boochies!

Grade: B

CLERK played at the SXSW Film Festival and is currently seeking distribution.

All above photos courtesy of the SXSW Film Festival


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