Barry Jenkins cements himself as an essential voice with "If Beale Street Could Talk"                "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is the best animated film of the year                Snubs and surprises mark the Screen Actors Guild nominations as "A Star Is Born" leads the way                2018 Critics Choice nominations led by Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Favourite"                Nicole Kidman: Boy Erased and Destroyer - Hollywood Film Tribute                “Beautiful Boy” – Timothée Chalamet: Hollywood Film Tribute                “First Man” by Damien Chazelle: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy - Hollywood Film Tribute                Natalie Portman shines in the otherwise confounding "Vox Lux"                Golden Globe nominations announced! "Vice" leads the charge!                “Green Book” - Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali: Hollywood Film Tribute                "Mary Queen of Scots" can't live up to its royal lineage                "Ben Is Back" sees father and filmmaker Peter Hedges direct his son Lucas Hedges to a brilliant performance                Hollywood Film Tribute: GLENN CLOSE for her excellent performances                A final crack at Golden Globe nominations before Thursday's announcement                “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Once Upon a Deadpool”: Films to see in December        

Kevin Smith continues to evolve with a contribution to the horror anthology “Holidays”

The Paley Center for Media Los Angeles 2012 Benefit - Arrivals
It’s no secret whatsoever that I’m a pretty big Kevin Smith fan, which is something I’ve said more than once on this site. Perhaps to some degree that’s why I’m so delighted by his recent foray into horror/genre work, but I’d also make the argument that Smith is exercising new muscles of late, and that’s indisputably exciting. Today, the anthology horror project Holidays is transitioning from its run at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival this month to a limited theatrical release, with Smith helming one of the segments. It’s one of the better ones in the flick too, so it’s a great excuse for me to pay tribute to a favorite in Smith once again.

The movie is, as previously mentioned, an anthology horror tale, with different filmmakers taking different holidays and giving them a scary or just twisted spin. For example, Smith’s one is using Halloween as its jumping off point, with Harley Morenstein in one of the main roles. Segment wise, others are directed and/or written by Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Ellen Reid, Gary Shore, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, and Dennis Widmyer. It’s sometimes hit or miss stuff, but it does manage to entertain, with Smith’s standing out as one of the top three best shorts of the bunch.

Smith’s segment in Holidays is a strong companion piece to both the incredibly underrated Red State as well as his most recent efforts Tusk and Yoga Hosers. I haven’t seen the latter, as it’s so far only played at the Sundance Film Festival, but he’s following the beat of his own drum, while exploring more eclectic work than ever before. This short doesn’t skimp on the blood, but it’s more a clever joke, seeing cam girls turn the table on their “manager” during Halloween. Morenstein gets put through something else, and kudos to Smith for actually going through with it. Is this awards worthy? No, not in the least, but it’s fun and again shows Smith testing the waters of something new. For that alone, he gets a tip of my cap.

Here’s a select bit of my piece on Smith from a few years back, all of which still holds true today: “Smith has been a trailblazer in this business. From his independent film beginnings with Clerks to his embracement of the world of podcasting, he’s ahead of the curve. He was ahead of his time in selling himself as part of the movie experience, doing Q and A sessions before or after screenings of Clerks, sessions that became so popular he still sells out venues to this very day, two decades later. He helped launch the career of Affleck, Jason Lee, and others. Smith’s impact on Hollywood has been rather wide ranging, frankly.

If you take a closer look at his work than most do these days, he’s shown an ability to handle multiple genres and themes, more so than many realize. The aforementioned Chasing Amy melded LGBT issues into a raunchy romantic comedy. Dogma fused comedic sensibilities with serious Catholic church issues. Red State was a biting satire of both government and religious fundamentalism. Smith’s work has much more to it than meets the eye. Now, with a release coming later this year of Tusk, he’s shot one of, if not the first, movies based on a podcast. He’s blazing a whole new trail as we speak. Moreover, he’s shown better taste than many realize. He turned down opportunities early in his career to make a Green Hornet adaptation, which judging by how that one turned out, wasn’t a bad decision at all. He knows his strengths and plays to them, something more filmmakers should be aware of. There’s nothing wrong with branching out, but not everyone can make every single type of movie, plain and simple.

I could go on and on about how a seemingly ordinary romantic comedy like Zack and Miri Make a Porno is actually a love letter to independent filmmaking or how Jersey Girl is one of the smarter father/daughter movies out there, but you get the gist by now I’m sure. Smith adds something extra to his work that not everyone takes the time to notice. It’s there though, and worthy of some commendation.”

Overall, I liked Holidays and especially like what it represents for Smith. Going forward, we’ll be getting a look at Yoga Hosers in a few months, with one more horror tinged outing to go next year for him in the aptly titled Moose Jaws. From there on, we’ll see what Smith opts to do, likely Mallrats 2/Mallbrats and Clerks III, but the energy he’s bringing to cinemas of late is really something. Smith remains an acquired taste and note for everyone, but if you dig his stuff, this is sort of a secret second Golden Age for his work. Enjoy it folks, I know I will…

Be sure to check out Holidays, in theaters starting today!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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