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Kevin Smith — comic-book guru, writer-director of Clerks and Chasing Amy — shares some of his must-see movie and TV recommendations with NPR's Steve Inskeep. Smith is the latest guest in Morning Edition's series Watch This.
The show, a mockumentary in the style of The Office, follows a once-famous actress who has the chance to regain relevance and popularity on a new sitcom while simultaneously starring on a reality TV show.
Despite only running for one season, the HBO comedy, starring Lisa Kudrow, earned the actress an Emmy nomination — and critical acclaim — after her long-running hit Friends went off the air.
"It is, like, pitch-perfect Hollywood satire" Smith says. "It's hysterically funny, in places really touching and heartbreaking. But it was a really clever and well-done idea that didn't really get enough attention or exposure."
This 1976 film stars Walter Matthau as the coach of a terrible Little League baseball team. "People go, 'Oh, I've seen that story before.' And then you go, 'Well, yes, but this was the first time," Smith says. And that's what makes this film one of his picks.
Smith not only appreciated the originality of the film when he first saw it, but also admired its heart.
"It had incredible honesty, authenticity and edge. Nobody seems like they're acting."
Where the film really shines, according to Smith, is in its frank characterizations of children in the 1970s. "The kids are cursing, dropping racial epithets. The kids are bullying one another," Smith says. "It was literally a movie you'd watch and say, 'This doesn't even feel like a movie. This feels like my Little League team.' "
"This, to me, is a show that every man who's married needs to watch," Smith says. Now in its seventh season on the Oxygen network, Snapped features the stories of real women who have been accused of murder.
Smith admits that he uses the show for research.
"I sit there and watch it with my wife. I constantly look over at her to see if she's taking down notes," Smith says.
"It's crazy how many of these chicks break out the antifreeze," Smith says. "Because — and this is something I learned from Snapped — it's sweet," he adds as a caution.
The Walking Dead, based on the graphic-novel series of the same name, follows a group of zombie apocalypse survivors. Smith believes the AMC drama is best enjoyed with its talk-show counterpart, Talking Dead.
"The beauty of The Walking Dead is that they take their time telling the story. It's literally like a soap opera," Smith says. He compares his attitude toward The Walking Dead to his grandmother's love of The Young and the Restless.
The appeal of the companion show, Talking Dead, in Smith's opinion is in its similarity to sports commentary.
"For years, whenever you watched sports, man, there's like, an hour of the game and two hours of people pontificating about the game. Now, with Talking Dead, you've got a program that's kind of the same thing."
The CBC's 10-episode documentary series, produced in 2006, traces hockey's history through re-enactments, archival footage and interviews with some of the game's greats.
"It's a really wonderful telling of the story of not just the game that Canada created, but the land that spawned it and the people that populate it."
Smith is not Canadian but is a self-proclaimed "Canadaphile."
In the series, hockey is serious business.
"They show you just how important that game is to that country, and how it actually helped create a national identity," Smith says. "I've not seen a miniseries that engaged me so thoroughly."
Former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the ACLU are supporting legislation that would limit the ability of law-enforcement and regulatory agencies to collect information and build databases without a warrant.