8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, November 10 , 1994
'Clerks' director is in the express lane to success
By ALEXANDRA TWIN
Filmmakers, like all artists, come
a dime a dozen. Yet, few come with as
much energy, innovation and pure
sass as 23-year-old Kevin Smith. In
just one feature, the scathingly origi-
nal convenience store epic "Clerks,"
Smith has proven that for all its ca-
pacity to transcend reality, film is
often at its best when its just about
regular life. Particular life in the
"Growing up, I was nothing spe-
cial," said the director in a recent
phone interview."I played little league
but I sucked. The thing that made me
want to be a filmmaker was seeing
"Slacker" on my 21st birthday. I was
like, 'that counts as a movie?' It was
dialogue heavy, there was no car
chase, there was no villain. It was just
life as it happens. I thought, 'if this is
filmmaking, this is what I want to
Yet, the transition from high school
graduate to filmmaker was not an
easy one. Aside from having attended
the Vancouver Film School and hav-
ing watched a lot of movies by direc-
tors like Hal Hartley and Jim
Jarmusch, Smith was by all accounts
a rookie. "I really relied on my cin-
ematographer and producer," said
Smith. "Basically, the only thing that
I learned in film school was that I
hated film school. But that's the beauty
of the field. You don't have to be
anything in particular. My forte is
dialogue, so I use that. I'm more of a
writer than a director."
Like his idols, Smith is part of a
new wave of filmmaking that stresses
sharp dialogue, character-heavy nar-
ratives, little camera movement and
even smaller budgets. "Clerks" was
made for $27,575 and shot in black
and white over 21 consecutive days.
It featured a cast of unknowns. "Which
I think was really good for the film,"
said Smith. "I mean, could this have
worked with Joey Lawrence?"
Probably not. Set in Smith's home-
town of Leonardo, N.J., "Clerks" is
the story of two guys, Dante and
Randal, who work at Quick Stop, the
store Smith worked at on and off for
the last five years. It was also the site
of the film. Didn't the owners mind?
"Well, we shot at night, so it basically
didn't affect business. Also, I was
working 12 hours a day, opening and
closing the store for them, so even if
they did have qualms about it, I don't
think they would have said anything."
Surprisingly, the most difficult as-
pect of production was not getling
started - "I had the credit cards, I had
the people backing me" - but keep-
ing the momentum. "The first week,
everyone was like 'Wow. We're mak-
ing a movie,' by the third they're just
totally disenchanted with the whole
process, particularly Jeff."
Jeff Anderson, who plays the cryp-
tic Randal, was a high school buddy
of Smith's. He had never acted be-
fore. He dropped by the store one day
to hang out and ended up getting cast.
"By the time we were done," laughed
Smith, "he declared that he never
wanted to act again." Yet, Anderson's
performance is arguably the freshest
and most genuine. "I think that he got
that when he finally saw the film. He
was like 'Wow, I'm pretty cool,' and
now he wants to be an actor."
Next up for Smith is "Mall Rats,"
followed by "Dogma." While
"Dogma" will be released by
Miramax, the same independent com-
pany behind "Clerks," "Mall Rats"
will be released by Universal, a major
production company. This begs the
question of compromise. Must it nec-
essarily accompany a move to the
"Our peers are wary of the majors,
but we want to try it and decide for
ourselves," said Smith. "If we don't
like it, we won't do it again."
However, Smith sees the freedom
of the independents. A recent issue -
in which the film was given a com- 0
mercially unmarketable "NC-17" rat-
ing, due to the explicit language -
comes to mind. "The ratings board
never pinpointed the problem," said
Smith. "All they said was "extremely
sex-related dialogue." It's like, come
on, that's throughout the whole film.
Where would we even begin to cut?"
Miramax was supportive. The rating
has now been changed to an "R."
So the film stands as is. And what
an achievement. It was the hit of last
year's legendary Sundance and
Cannes film festivals. Were Smith
and his crew surprised? "We knew it
was a good film for us, that it made us
laugh, but that wasn't saying much.
Each step, we never quite realized
what we had. We hoped there were a
few people out there with the same
sense of humor as us. Apparently
CLERKS is playing at the Michigan
Theater through November 21st.
Here we see Quick Stop Groceries, home of the clerks in the film "Clerks."
The Gandy Dancer: everyone seems to go there, and there's a reason
By PAUL BARGER
Some things in life are guaran-
Death, taxes, Michigan beating
Ohio State - and when parents ar-
rive 'in droves during home football
weekends they eventually take their
children to the Gandy Dancer.
There is only one way to ad-
equately describe the Gandy Dancer:
it is flat-out the best restaurant in Ann
Arbor. But those of you that have
been there already know that. For
those of you that have not, take the
next chance you get and head on over.
One cannot do justice to the Gandy
Dancer without discussing the atmo-
sphere. The restaurant is located in a
building that once housed a train sta-
tion. The old-fashioned charm com-
bined with the hospitality of the staff
make for a great dining experience.
Many people believe that the best
part of the Gandy Dancer is the trains
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that pass adjacent to the back of the
restaurant throughout the evening.
Everyone applauds as the trains come
into view through a series of large
Personally, I feel that the best part
of the Gandy Dancer is the pate and
matzah that comes as you are seated.
This is a nice change from the bread
and butter that most restaurants serve.
The Gandy Dancer's menu offers
a wide-range of choices, including an
impressive selection of soups and sal-
ads. Charley's chowder ($3.00) is a
house specialty and highly recom-
mended. Other soups include black
bean ($3.50) and vegetable ($3.00).
The caeser salad is outstanding and
patrons are given the opportunity to
order a small ($3.25) or a large ($4.25
since the latter is big for even the
heartiest of appetites).
The menu changes from day to
day, but customers will find similar
choices on any day they decide to
dine. Specials include anything
from barbecued whitefish ($15.00)
to potato horseradish encrusted
salmon served with acorn squash
($18.75). There is always a large
selection of fresh catches that range
from $14.50 to $19.75.
The Gandy Dancer has a wine
cellar that allows customers to choose
from Chardonnays, Cabernet
Sauvignons and many others. The
wine ranges from Paul Mason
Chardonnay ($2.95/glass) to Chateau
LaLoubre Bordeaux ($6.50). The Raw
Bar is another favorite, featuring a
large selection of oysters and various
On the weekends the Gandy
Dancer is saturated with people hop-
ing to feast on the famous prime rib.
Unfortunately, it has occurred in the
past that too many people want this
item and it has run out. There is no
reason to be upset, however, because
there are plenty of other items that can
serve as outstanding substitutes.
The Gandy Dancer offers filet
mignon ($21.50), shrimp fettucine
verde ($16.75), lobster ($25.50) and
lamb ($21.50) to name just some of
the many possibilities patrons will
All of this food and selection leaves
diners with one minor problem: des-
The most difficult part about an
evening at the Gandy Dancer is hav-
ing to turn down the many delicious
options. The dessert tray varies from
week to week, but it always contains
some type of mousse, a fruit dish
(such as key lime pie) and a cheese-
cake. The restaurant has its own pastry
kitchen and desserts are made fresh
daily. So save room.
The Gandy Dancer is the type of
restaurant that you should look for-
ward to dining at weeks in advance.
However, reservations are scarce due
to the high demand so it is wise to call
as soon as you know when you will be
dining. For all of you who are think-
ing about going to the Gandy Dancer
this weekend be warned: once again,
Hours: Dinner: M-Th 5-10 Fri.-Sat. 5-
11, Lunch: 11:30-4 Mon.-Sat., Brunch:
Sun. 10-2, Early Bird hours: Mon-Sat.
4:30-5:30, Sun. 3:30-4:30
Price:Appetizers from $3.0, Entrees
up to $25.50
Can be vegetarian friendly (but tell
Visa, MC, AmEx
Dress: Casual to dressy
May want to call ahead or make
reservations on weekends
4S A n
WHNA IAN Lvs
9 pm atState Theatre
Fart of U of M Alcohol Awareness Week
funded by the VII of Student Affairs Office,
the Housing Division, and UHS.
it is ookedsolid.
215 S. State St.
. u I
' i t
Darts + Dart Supplies
Darts starting at only $12.00
Boards, Shafts, Flights, + Parts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Monday, November 14, 1994
University of Michigan
Michigan Union - Anderson Room
Auditions: 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
M- - APOS/FI'S
U A AV A L Ar