Sunday Matinee: A Better Place [Film]

With the anticipation of the upcoming premier of Christopher Downie’s Shooting Clerks that I know we are all crazy excited for, it has been a very Kevin Smith filled week in the hearts and minds of hardcore View Askew nerds. I’m sure everyone is going back to watch Clerks for the 337th time…just in case you missed something in the last 23 years, ya know? And I was half tempted to dedicated this Sunday  Matinee to the film for all appropriate rhyme and reason. But, I thought I would try and dig a bit deeper. Not that I had to search for anything, as I have watched this wonderful piece of cinema magic several times. I wanted to talk about A Better Place, one of my favorite additions to the View Askew library that I feel deserves more recognition.

For merely casual View Askew fans, A Better Place writer/director Vincent Pereria is a critical force in the early years of the View Askewnverse. Some would argue that there wouldn’t have been a Clerks without this man’s influence and inspiration. I mean, I definitely say that, knowing the history of how this film came to light. Vincent appeared in Clerks in multiple roles, and was a key member of the crew that helped make the whole thing possible. Vince would go on to appear in and work on several other films in the View Askew world, including Kevin Smith’s seminal classics Chasing Amy and Dogma, which probably receive the majority of Kevin’s critical acclaim.

But there was a whole other brilliant chapter in the View Askew universe that simply cannot be ignored. When Smith broke out into Hollywoodland, he brought his friends with him. The late 90’s and early 2000’s saw View Askew Productions putting out some of the finest independent cinema the world has ever known, in my humble opinion. Specifically, I can call out three films individually that still make my regular rotation: Malcom Ingram’s Drawing Flies, Bryan Johnson’s Vulgar, and, you guessed….Vincent Pereria’s A Better Place. All three of these films are brilliant in their own right. Beautifully written, gritty and controversial, just all around brilliant films. And A Better Place may very well be my favorite films from the View Askew universe, and one of my favorite films in general.

Vincent Pereria, circa 1998, courtesy of view

Every review or showcase that you will find about A Better Place is bound to have some very similar statements about the film’s premise. Opinions have simply led to fact at this point, which is a rare feet in the world of cinema. It is a story about teen violence and alienation in America during a time when it wasn’t being as widely covered as it is now. The story revolves around a young boy who simply wants to exist in the world without humiliation and deterrence from society, but feels the strain of a public who doesn’t want to give him a chance. And violence ensues. Opinions have led to fact when reviewers state that Vincent “called it” long before the mainstream American media began showcasing such violence in regular news reports. No longer an opinion, it is clear facts. The infamous Columbine shooting wouldn’t occur until 2 years after this film was released, but the hatred and mistreatment of awkward teenagers had been going on for decades, and Vincent was all to well aware of the hatred and incoming violence that was sure to ensue.

Now obviously, a story of this magnitude is quite different from the whimsical adventures of Jay and Silent Bob that we were used to from the View Askewniverse. So many fans may have been deterred. But, the majority of us were enthralled. The film is beautifully shot on a modest budget, and features an absolutely amazing cast featuring Eion Bailey and Robert DiPatri as the two boys who lead us on the terrifying journey that is A Better Place. The film also stars Joseph Cassese as the character who bares the blunt force of two teenager’s rage. EDITOR’S NOTE: Be on the lookout for a TWS Interview with Mr. Cassese in the coming months! Within the cast viewer’s will also find several other regulars from the View Askew world we all know and love like David Lynch, Carmen Llywelyn, Jason Lee, Scott Mosier, Ethan Suplee, and even Vincent himself!

As per usual, we are not going to give too much away about the actual plot of the film, well, any more than we already have in the previous paragraphs. I just want to state that A Better Place is one of the finest films I have ever seen. 20 years later, I am still in love with this film. It is shot wonderfully, is brilliantly written, and as we stated before, is well ahead of its time in so many ways.

Vincent Pereia’s has announced that he will be in attendance at the premiere of Shooting Clerks this coming weekend, August 5th at the Atlantic Highlands Cinema 5 inn Highlands, New Jersey. Vincent has a cameo in the film, and will be portrayed by Dale R. Murray within the film as well. This event is one that has been thinking something I never thought I would think: “I would fucking kill to be in New Jersey this weekend!” Several cast and crew of Shooting Clerks will be in attendance, as well as Kevin Smith himself. And come back around here at TWS for a great interview with Shooting Clerks writer and director Christopher Downie. Pick up tickets to the event right HERE.

So, if you are one of those smart and fortunate souls who will be at the event, and are planning on binge watching everything from the View Askewniverse, be sure not to forget about A Better Place!

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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