Five Favorite Films with Kevin Smith

We get the films that influenced the foul-mouthed filmmaker.

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Kevin Smith

Coming off his most accessible comedy (Jersey Girl) and his most vulgar (Clerks 2), writer-director Kevin Smith concocts a mixture of the two styles for his latest, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, opening this Friday. In a film by turns thoughtful and juvenile, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks star as two roommates who embark on a porno shoot to pay off debts, while slowly realizing the possibility they could be more than just friends, roommates, and on-screen amateurs.

RT spoke to Smith for his five favorite films ever, and followed up with an interview about the process of creating the Zack and Miri universe.

Jaws (1975, 100% Tomatometer)
JFKCome on, it's common sense. Jaws is a fantastic film. Maybe the second film I saw in my life -- I saw The Gumball Rally prior to Jaws -- but Jaws is the first one that made a deep, deep impression. I saw it a drive-in with my parents when I was five, which is kinda weird in retrospective. It was PG at the time.

My kid's nine and my wife still won't let me show her Jaws. I made the mistake of showing my kid Gremlins when she was six and I have heard no end of it from my old lady. She's all, "She's still afraid of Gremlins." Gremlins is a harmless f--king movie.

JFK (1991, 84% Tomatometer)
JFK Brilliant writing. Brilliant performances. Fantastic editing. That is the most well-edited film I have ever seen in my life. I like a lot of Oliver Stone stuff in general.

A Man for All Seasons (1966, 85% Tomatometer)
A Man for All Seasons A Man For All Seasons is basically porn for people who love dialogue. Paul Scofield's brilliant performance. Robert Shaw's equally brilliant performance as Henry the VII. It's always appealed to me. I was 13 years old the first time I saw it. Absolutely fell in love with it because it's wall-to-wall language with compelling performances. And [it's] about something to me, in terms that I was raised Catholic. So Thomas Moore's decision to not sign the oath of succession appealed to me as I was growing up because this is a dude who's martyred for his beliefs and whatnot.

And people will always compare that movie to The Crucible for some reason. But I never felt the same connection to The Crucible because in that instance John Procter is just going to great lengths to try to keep his name. Whereas Thomas Moore went to great lengths to keep, what he felt was his soul, intact. By taking that oath it would've been selling out on his soul, it would've been lying. He couldn't do it and I always found that insanely admirable and the life one wants to emulate to some degree, without being crazy Catholic at the same time.

Do the Right Thing (1989, 100% Tomatometer)
Do the Right Thing Spike Lee's finest movie. One of the movies that made me want to get into the movies as well. I knew I was never going to make Do the Right Thing, to do what he did with cinema and tell a story comedically but also dramatically. Very intense. That movie goes from a fun comedy -- I don't know if you can say fun comedy, but it's a funny comedy -- to a dramatic shift in tone. It's a slow burn. You don't notice it when it happens. It comes out of left field but it's keeping in what has come before. You realize how masterfully it's put together.

That movie informed Clerks to a large degree: it takes place all in one day, in one particular block, in one very specific city. So that was the model I used for Clerks. So much so that the original version of Clerks Dante gets killed because I was like, "I want to do something like that." Then I realized I'm not Spike Lee.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, 81% Tomatometer)
The Last Temptation of Christ I was raised Catholic and I still consider myself a fairly spiritual person even though I have a hard time identifying with most Christians in this country. But I still maintain a belief in God and in Jesus, and that gets tried on a daily basis. The older I get, the wiser I get, the tougher it is to believe in a divine power or whatnot. So that movie appeals to me on that level alone.

To take it beyond, it's just a fantastic Martin Scorsese picture. Great performances in it. The first portrayal of Christ where I was, "Wow, this might be what it was like." He wasn't a guy of all beatitude and perfection. He was a man, first and foremost, who just happened to be the son of God.

Our interview with Kevin Smith continues as we discuss the MPAA, the process of movie appeals, and making comedies during a Judd Apatow era.