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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

DOCUMENTARY INFO
Director:
J.M. Kenny
Cast:
Kevin Smith
Writing Credits:
NA

MPAA:
Not Rated.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English, French, Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 225 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 12/17/2002

Bonus:
• Bonus Trailers
• Easter Eggs


PURCHASE
DVD

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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


An Evening With Kevin Smith (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 29, 2003)

Who thought it might be fun to listen to a tubby dude chat for almost four hours? I suppose it depends on the tubby dude in question, but in the case of An Evening With Kevin Smith, the prospect becomes pretty darned entertaining.

A simple package, Evening actually comes from a series of shows, not just one individual night. During the fall of 2001, filmmaker Smith – the man behind flicks like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Chasing Amy and others – toured college campuses for “Q&A” sessions with students. This package edits together different occasions for one fairly seamless set, though jumps sometimes seem somewhat awkward.

For the most part, we simply watch the kids ask questions to Smith and hear him answer them. During the early parts of the program, we also get shots of crowds prior to the shows as they discuss their thoughts about Smith and their expectations for the performances. Smith also interacts with the audiences, so the presentation doesn’t seem as static as it might sound. He chats with the folks who ask the questions and he also reacts to some of the audience hoots and hollers.

Most of the focus remains on Smith’s responses, however, as he proves to be very chatty. Anyone who’s listened to his audio commentaries knows that he can talk, and he provides some very extended statements at times. Smith covers a lot of topics. For example, we hear about his early days with actor Jason Mewes, conflicts with Ben Affleck about the movies Daredevil vs. Jersey Girl, flak over Dogma, financing movies, his brief stint as the writer for a new Superman flick, and his encounter as the documentarian for Prince.

Smith goes over many other subjects as well, but those are some of the highlights. Actually, his material seems generally compelling. Even though Evening runs for nearly four hours, Smith remains lively and interesting from start to finish.

The only real weaknesses stem from some of the crowds. For one, Evening director J.M. Kenny cuts to audience shots way too frequently. I understand the reason for this decision, as the program otherwise could become very static; it’d be dull to just watch Smith for four hours. Nonetheless, the cuts occur too often and occasionally become a distraction.

In addition, the crowds include some really annoying characters. Worst of the bunch are the dorky Jay and Silent Bob look-alikes at one show; they belong to some college sketch comedy group, which may qualify them as the biggest losers on the planet. The shouted obscenities get old after a while as well.

The pacing seems somewhat choppy at the start, but once Evening establishes the different venues, it calms. That occurs mostly after the program establishes the various locations and doesn’t show pre-show crowds anymore. Smith sweats like a pig as well, which creates another distraction, but this doesn’t seem like a real problem.

Despite some minor issues, An Evening With Kevin Smith provides a very stimulating experience. The filmmaker proves chatty and amusing virtually throughout the whole long piece. Fans of his flicks will definitely love it, and others may get into it as well. Smith proves to be such an able storyteller that it’s hard to imagine anyone who won’t find something to entertain them.

Actually, I need to offer one caveat: if you get offended by profanity, you won’t want to watch Evening. Admittedly, I doubt many folks who don’t already like Smith’s flicks will express any interest in Evening, and if you’re accustomed to his movies, you’ll know what to expect from him here. Still, I wanted to offer this caveat, as the swear words fly freely during Evening.


The DVD Grades: Picture B- / Audio C / Bonus C-

An Evening With Kevin Smith appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The simple production looked fine and displayed the original material acceptably well.

Sharpness appeared decent. Some of the wide shots came across as slightly soft, but those created no great concerns. For the most part, the image failed to deliver great detail, but it remained acceptable. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no problems, but a little light edge enhancement appeared. In regard to source flaws, I detected some mild video artifacting, but otherwise the picture seemed clean.

Given the generally monotone auditorium settings, Evening provided adequate but unexceptional colors. The brownish palette seemed somewhat dense at times, but the hues generally came across as acceptably natural and distinct. Black levels were reasonably deep but not great, while shadow detail seemed a bit thick for the crowd shots. Ultimately, the image remained watchable but unexceptional. The visuals seemed adequate for this material.

The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of An Evening With Kevin Smith also appeared decent but bland. For the most part, the mix remained monaural. The front side and rear speakers came into play only on occasion. When we saw the pre-show clips, we’d hear music and ambience emanate from the other speakers. Otherwise, the track stayed firmly anchored in the front center channel, which seemed fine for this material. Speech provided the majority of the track, so the lack of sonic ambition didn’t create any problems.

Audio quality also seemed fine but unexceptional. The original recordings displayed some thinness, mostly due to the reverberation from the auditoriums. The level of echo varied from hall to hall. Speech remained acceptably natural and distinct even with these issues, and crowd noise sounded accurate. During the interstitial sequences, the music and ambience also seemed clear and reasonably vivid. Again, An Evening With Kevin Smith provided a very low-key auditory experience, but the DVD replicated the original material acceptably well.

Only a few extras appear on An Evening With Kevin Smith, and most take the form of hidden features. On the obvious side, DVD Two includes trailers for Dogma, Spider-Man, Stan Lee’s Mutants, Marvels and Monsters, and Mr. Deeds.

In addition, both DVDs include extra tidbits from Smith Q&A sessions. It looks like a total of nine clips in all that get strewn about the package. These make for a nice little bonus, though it’s too bad you need to work to get them.

While I normally don’t care for animated menus, the ones found on Evening seem fun. Smith himself wanders onto the screen and displays various forms of irritation if you don’t make a selection. It’s fun to simply let it run to see what Smith will do.

“Fun” nicely describes An Evening With Kevin Smith. A consistently intriguing and often amusing discussion of the filmmaker’s work and viewpoints, it provides a lively and entertaining program. The DVD offers perfectly adequate picture and sound as well as a few decent extras. With a list price of almost $28, Evening seems a little pricy, but Smith fans will definitely want to shell out the bucks for this witty set.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2682 Stars Number of Votes: 41
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