On Kevin Smith and burnt out directors

Steven Soderberg, director of Sex, Lies and Videotape, Traffic, and Contagion, has been flirting with retirement so he can take the time to tackle other art forms. 

True, Soderberg alternates between saying he’s retiring and taking a “sabbatical,” but another director who also claims he’s done with with making movies is Kevin Smith.

Smith was saying this on the eve of the release of his acclaimed new film Red State, that he’s going to make one more movie, a hockey film, Hit Somebody, then he’s calling it a day. 

As reported on The Daily Beast, “You could trace the beginning of the end of Kevin Smith’s movie career to a fateful day in Pittsburgh in 2008, when a lungful of marijuana smoke transformed the writer – director’s professional focus.”

Yes, thanks to Seth Rogan, who he was directing in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, he smoked a joint, and said, “That dude gave me the greatest gift I’ve had in the last five years.” 

The Beast headlined their story on Smith, “Burned Out?,” and given his bizarre behavior at the Sundance Film Festival, his new love for doobage, and him drawing lines in the sand with so many people may in fact be his own form of career suicide.

One of Smith’s most glaring contradictions is how much he says he’s not that good of a director, but is very thin-skinned about anyone criticizing his work. Like a lot of people who can’t handle criticism, he loves dishing it out, but sure can’t take it. 

You may have seen him insulting a fan at Comic Con that facetiously asked, “You ever plan on making an original movie without rehashing any of your old characters [from Clerks] that doesn’t suck?” (We can’t print Smith’s response here, even with a lot of asterisks covering up the words).

The Beast report also claims part of this is from the box office failure of Zack and Miri, and similarly Quentin Tarantino also went into angry hibernation and smoked a lot of pot when Jackie Brown didn’t do well, hence his many years between projects. (Tarantino’s another director who thought the world would collapse without him making movies, and he came perilously close to the world passing him up and forgetting about him before he came back with Kill Bill.)

I’ve always enjoyed Clerks, and thought Chasing Amy was also a terrific film, but like a lot of directors of his generation, the guy should stop whining and realize that making movies isn’t a God given right, but a privilege. Not to mention that even the greatest directors have had bombs, and brutal criticism leveled against them, even Spielberg hasn’t been immune from it, and you just gotta roll with it cause it’s an all or nothing deal.

As a source told The Beast, “You don’t turn your back on the business after two failures and expect to be a success. Where would Steven Soderberg or Woody Allen be if they quite after making films nobody went to see? How do you become successful without failing?”