Interview: Kevin Smith

He’s been called the voice of a generation, an indie icon, and one of the funniest men in America. Kevin Smith has been entertaining audiences for nearly two decades as an award-winning writer, producer, director and comedian, earning additional fanboy praise for his now legendary Q&A series, podcasts and Twitter feed.

With his latest film Cop Out hitting DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday, Film Junk’s Adam Volk recently spoke with geekdom’s Great Bearded Hope to discuss the highs, lows, and creamy middles of show business, his upcoming films Hit Somebody and Red State, and the Golden Age of the Hollywood nerd.

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Top 10 Worst Performances from Oscar-Winning Actors

Yes, it seems that once again the Academy Awards have come and gone, with Hollywood coming out in full force to participate in the annual spectacle of red carpet glamour and industry self-fellatio. In the champagne aftermath, both critics and movie-goers alike are now busy dissecting the winners, losers and wannabes. Of course, if Mickey Rourke’s puckered mug and Phoenix-like career recitation has taught us anything it’s that in Hollywood you can be on top of the world one day and scrubbing toilets in an Arby’s bathroom the next. Yes, it’s a slippery slope between critical acclaim and public disdain and even Oscar-winning actors and actresses can take the occasional misstep or two. Don’t believe me? Below is a veritable who’s-who of Academy Award winners who gave performances more deserving of a Razzie than the coveted Golden Naked Guy Statue. So without further ado… The envelopes please…


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Screenplay Junkie #7: I Heart Script Girl

Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.

Remember that hot, yet surprisingly nerdy girl you used to go to high school with? You know, the kind of chick who could rock a mini-skirt and angora sweater while still quoting Star Wars and debating the finer points of old kung fu movies? Now imagine she grew up, filled out, and ended up working for a film production company in L.A. where she hosts her own popular web show, and you have something of an idea as to who and what Script Girl is all about.

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Top 10 Chick Flicks That Men Secretly Love

Those of us endowed with penises and oriented somewhere in the heterosexual spectrum are a proud and noble lot. We’re also surprisingly easy to please. Just give us a six pack, a Victoria Secret catalogue and reruns of The Dukes of Hazard and we’re as happy as pigs in shit (which incidentally, is what most straight men resemble without contact with the fairer sex). And while we men may bemoan the day when we’re forced to take our significant others to see horrible “chick flicks” such as the recently released He’s Just Not That Into You, the truth is we might actually be lying. Because here’s our darkest secret, ladies: deep down inside each and everyone us is a frightened little boy just waiting to break loose and blubber like an overly hormonal school girl. What I’m about to tell you could get me kicked out of manhood and forced to turn over my badge and testicles, but here are just a few movies that we men pretend to hate but secretly love with every fibre of our manly testosterone-driven beings…


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Screenplay Junkie #6: The 2008 Black List

Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.

Two years ago — or so the story goes — a young executive at Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, decided to forgo giving Leo his daily frappuccino enema and instead emailed a large number of Hollywood executives asking them to send him a list of their 10 favorite unproduced screenplays of that year. The list soon started circulated through the ranks of L.A.’s movers and shakers eventually making the jump from insider obscurity to becoming a fledgling Hollywood tradition. Since then the Black List has grown in size and prominence (this year over 250 studio schmoozers were asked to pick the best of the best). In true Hollywood fashion of course, the list has also become a glorified pissing contest between studios and talent agencies hoping to make a name for themselves.

For industry outsiders however, the Black List is also a chance to get a sneak peak at some of the hottest scripts most people have probably never heard of. It’s also a chance to see some of the many films which are likely to be serious box office and critical contenders (the 2007 Black List for example, featured the scripts for The Wrestler, Valkyrie and Slumdog Millionaire, and that’s before the films were in the very earliest stages of production).

So without further adieu let’s take a look at this year’s Black List, starting off with the Top 10:

1. THE BEAVER by Kyle Killen
The Plot: When a depressed toy manufacturer named Walter Black loses his family and his business he tries on a hand puppet—a chatty British rodent called “The Beaver”. Walter’s personality is soon transformed and eventually The Beaver begins to take over Walter’s personality completely. The script has been described as a quirky, dark comedy and a cross between “Liar Liar” and the cult horror movie “Magic”. Currently Steve Carell has signed on to play the lead.

2. THE ORANGES by Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer
The Plot: Two New Jersey families are thrown into comic turmoil when their estranged daughter returns for Christmas and falls in love with her parents’ best friend. The script is being described as a cross between “The Graduate” and “Meet the Parents” and while the film hasn’t been cast yet it’s being helmed by Anthony Bregman (who recently produced Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York”) and “Entourage” director Julian Farino.

3. BUTTER by Jason Micallef
The Plot: An African-American foster child named Destiny, faces off against Iowa’s reigning dairy diva – the beautiful but venal Laura Pickler – in an epic butter-carving competition. The feel-good comedy has been compared to quirky films like “Election” and “Best in Show” and DreamWorks has begun early negotiations for the project with Jennifer Garner in talks to play one of the leads.

4. BIG HOLE by Michael Gilio
The Plot: An aging and surly ex-cowboy named Lee, loses $30,000 to a fraudulent sweepstakes company and sets out to gain vengeance on those responsible. Lee’s son, the local sheriff, is soon charged with stopping him and a cat and mouse game between father and son begins. The film is already being compared to “Falling Down” and “No Country for Old Men” and the project has been picked up Aversano Films.

5. THE LOW DWELLER by Brad Ingelsby
The Plot: Charlie “Slim” Hendrick, a hard-ass ex-convict, returns home to find that his girlfriend has moved on and his dead beat brother has accrued a sizable gambling debt. When a disfigured, dog-loving thug beats his brother to death, Slim finds himself thrown back in a world of violence and revenge. The script is described as a modern “Unforgiven” and Tony and Ridley Scott will co-produce.

6. F***BUDDIES by Liz Meriwether
The Plot: While having the greatest movie title since “Young People Fucking” the plot follows the exploits of Emma and Adam, two best friends in their early twenties who are (as the title suggests) the ultimate fuck buddies. Their no-strings-attached arrangement turns south however, when Adam falls in love with Emma. The film has been compared to “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” and “Harry Met Sally” and is currently in development by Ivan Reitman.

7. WINTER’S DISCONTENT by Paul Fruchbom
The Plot: When 75 year old geezer Herb Winter becomes a widower after 50 years of marriage he decides to make up for lost time by nailing every willing and able woman he can find. He soon moves into a retirement community and attempts to start a new life as an elderly swinging single. Viagra jokes ensue. The script has been picked up by Sony Pictures, although as of yet no director or cast has been brought on board.

8. BROKEN CITY by Brian Tucker
The Plot: Ex-cop turned private investigator Billy Taggart, finds himself in a world of trouble after he is hired to find out if the Mayor of New York’s wife is having an affair. His investigation soon uncovers a relationship between the mayor’s wife and the campaign manager of a corrupt mayoral candidate who wins up dead. Taggart must then stay one step ahead of the law in an attempt to expose corruption and conspiracy. The film is being developed by Mandate Pictures and John Malkovich’s production company Mr. Mudd (both of whom previously collaborated together to produce “Juno”).

9. I’M WITH CANCER by Will Reiser
The Plot: Based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s real-life battle with cancer, in this unlikely comedy, a 25-year-old single Jewish guy named Adam is diagnosed with spinal cancer and decides to use humor as a way of dealing with his rapidly imploding life. The project is being helmed by Mandate Pictures and Seth Rogen has signed on to play Adam’s best friend in addition to working as a producer on the film.

10. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS by Peter Straughan
The Plot: An elite team of American political operatives are ordered to Bolivia to help manipulate the presidential election while facing of violence and social upheaval in the explosive Latin American nation. The film is loosely based on a 2006 documentary of the same name and George Clooney will be producing the project.

Other top picks after the jump:

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Top 10 Movies That Could Have Kick Ass Sequels

When it comes to Hollywood, originality has been practically kidnapped, beaten and forced to turn tricks on Rodeo Drive by Brett Ratner and the CG versions of Alvin and the Chipmunks. After all, why bother to create something genuinely new and innovative when you can scrape together the remnants of older, rehashed ideas and mold them into a tent pole franchise? Enter the movie sequel, the perfect opportunity for Hollywood to recycle a cast and story and squeeze out a steaming fresh one for movie-going audiences.

The problem of course, is that most sequels tend to be the kind of movies that make you want to gouge your eyeballs out with your thumbs; with travesties like Jurassic Park 3 and Ghostbusters 2 stinking up theatres — not to mention perennial series like Police Academy spreading like the cinematic equivalent of a venereal disease. Yet, every once in a while the stars align and a truly entertaining sequel emerges which captures the same spirit and imagination as the original. Below is a list of potential sequels which – assuming they’re handled correctly and ever get made – might actually kick a little ass…


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Screenplay Junkie #5: Breaking Into the Biz

Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.

Imagine trying to simultaneously pass a kidney stone, ride a unicycle and put together an IKEA filing cabinet — all while being chased by an amorous 300 pound gorilla — and you probably have a rough idea of what it’s like to try and make it as a professional writer. I mean, let’s face it, as a potentially glamorous career writing is somewhere up there with canine proctologist and McDonald’s fry cook; a grinding, demanding and often frustrating experience where success is measured in rejection letters and the number of times someone calls you a talentless hack. But if Darwin has taught us anything it’s that fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly and socially inept masochists become writers.

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Top 10 Movies About the Porn Industry

Ahhh porn. Lifeblood of the internet, sustainer of the sexually frustrated masses, giver of both abnormally large breasts and Two Girls One Cup. Yes, whether you love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that porn is big business. Which is why it’s no surprise that Hollywood has whole-heartedly embraced the world of XXX (and no we ain’t talking about Vin Diesel). Over the years there have been numerous mainstream films which explore the seamy underbelly of silicon and sex: from P.T. Anderson’s legendary Boogie Nights to Kevin Smith’s upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno. And it seems that Hollywood is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to its fascination with porn. So close the curtains, grab your three-pronged Swedish vibrator and a pop open a fresh tube of KY as Film Junk Presents…


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Screenplay Junkie #4: Inglorious Bastards Script Review

Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.

When it comes to scripts that have been circulating in the void of cinematic purgatory, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards has achieved an almost cult-like status among fanboy culture; an elusive face-melting Ark of the Covenant which — if Tarantinoites can be believed — will be the greatest thing to grace the silver screen since Vincent Vega accidentally shot Marvin in the face. Now, after nearly ten years in development and countless promises from Tarantino himself, it seems like the film is finally becoming a reality.

I recently got my filthy little mitts on a copy of the script, which was leaked onto the internet a few months back, and if the screenplay is any indication the film is likely to stir up the same kind of controversy and criticisms that circulated around Tarantino’s last outing in Grindhouse. Tarantino fanboys will love Bastards for its trademark dialogue, bizarre over-the-top violence and subtle reverence for all things pop culture. Conversely, critics who think a post-Death Proof Tarantino is past his prime will likely blast it apart as a self-indulgent exercise in masturbatory filmmaking.

******WARNING: Spoilers Ahead! ******

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The Top 10 Biggest Movie Douchebags

When it comes to the big screen there’s almost no shortage of memorable assholes to choose from. Yet, it takes a special kind of character to piss off audiences using nothing more than their own inflated egos and ability to make snide comments about women’s asses. Enter the movie douchebag, those classic characters who blend arrogance, sleaziness, misogyny and a general air of obnoxiousness, into one despicable personality. Movie douchebags are characters that go beyond simple antagonism, achieving such levels of blatant idiocy, annoyance and moral reprehensibility that they become characters we truly love to hate. So get ready to plum new depths of depravity as Film Junk presents…


10. Caledon Hockley from Titanic
A douchebag is bad enough on his own, but give a douchebag money, an undeserved sense of entitlement and his own personal butler and you’ve got some serious trouble on your hands. Enter Caledon “Cal” Hockley (played by the perpetually type-cast Billy Zane). Here’s a guy who shits on the lower classes, throws around cash like he’s fucking Suge Knight and spends most of the film trying to sleaze his way into Kate Winslet’s corset. If that wasn’t bad enough the guy blackmails the retarded kid from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, indiscriminately opens fire with a handgun inside the ship and then kidnaps a little girl to secure his place on board a lifeboat. Yup, douchebag, thy name is Caledon Hockley.

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Screenplay Junkie #3: Who the Hell is Justin Marks?

Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.

As an obsessive compulsive movie geek I’d like to think that I have some abstract sense as to what’s going on when it comes to the wacky world of Hollywood screenwriting. After all, I read my monthly issue of Script and CS magazines, drool over the weekly Script Girl video updates, and pour through the daily rumours and ramblings on the interweb. Yet for all my attempts to try and stay on top of screenwriting news, one mysterious name seems to keep cropping over and over again: Justin Marks.

Yes, these days it seems I can’t do a random Google search without seeing the guy’s name mentioned in passing half a dozen times. I flip through an issue of Variety and there he is again. The very next day is busy pimping out his latest script -– hell the guy even appeared on a panel at this year’s Comic-Con! Yes, everywhere I look there’s Justin fucking Marks! Just who the hell is this guy?

Well, as it turns out Marks has become the de facto go-to screenwriter when it comes to some of the biggest franchises in geekdom, inking major six figure deals with Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Rogue Pictures – and he’s done it all without having a single script ever produced into a feature length film. So I decided to do a little digging to see what I could find out about the enigmatic Mr. Marks. For all the positive buzz about his screenplays the guy maintains the kind of low profile normally employed by Osama bin Laden and Howard Hughes during his crazy urine-collecting phase. From what little I could find about his past, it turns out that Marks started out as a production assistant on a few films, had his name attached to a couple of shorts and spec scripts, and was eventually discovered by the wife of legendary filmmaker and geek hero David Goyer. So just who is Justin Marks?

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Weapons of Laugh Destruction: The Top 10 Greatest War Comedies

War. Huh. Yeah. What is it good for? Well, if 70s Motown Funk Master Edwin Starr is to be believed: absolutely nothing. Yes, at first glance combining the horrors of war with fart jokes and prat falls hardly seems like the best idea, but if Hollywood has taught us anything it’s that it can take even the most unlikely of concepts and somehow make them work. Enter the war comedy: that rare cinematic sub-genre which blends both heavy weaponry and hilarity. Of course, the war comedy was been K.I.A. for a number of years now, but if the following list — and the recent box office smash Tropic Thunder — are any indication, it seems you can’t keep a good soldier down for long. So grab your M-16 and whoopee cushion and lock and load as Film Junk presents…


10. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966)
If John Wayne demonstrated anything during the Cold War it’s that the only way to deal with a no-good dirty Commie is to wrap an American flag around your size-nine combat boot and shove it straight up Ivan’s ass. Of course, the alternative is Norman Jewison’s Academy-Award nominated flick The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming; a comedic look at Cold War era Soviet-American relations. Starring comedy legends Carl Reiner and Jonathan Winters along with a show-stealing performance from Oscar-Winner Alan Arkin, the film follows a group of bungling Russian sailors who find themselves in a world of trouble after their nuclear submarine runs aground near a sleepy New England town. With misunderstandings, machine guns and plenty of mutually assured laughs, The Russians Are Coming remains a classic of the genre; proof that despite their oppressive vodka-fuelled policies and soul-crushing Siberian gulags, those wacky Soviets weren’t really so bad after all.

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