Director Kevin Smith, guest hosting on Ebert and Roeper this week (he was sitting in for Roger Ebert, who is still recovering), waxed rhapsodic on Half Nelson, which opened today. How much did Smith love Half Nelson? Check out these quotes (courtesy of the PR firm repping the film):

"This pops. This pops in a big bad way. And also, when you look at it, it's the work of people who haven't made a lot of flicks. Like this dude, Fleck, this is, he took the short film he had, blew it up into this feature and it holds . . . You know, like it's an amazing piece to look at where, I sit there as a filmmaker and I'm like, this dude's way better than me. I've been doing this twelve years. This dude is phenomenal."

and ...

"There aren't enough thumbs in the world to do HALF NELSON half the justice it deserves. This is just simply an incredible film."

I have to agree with Smith that Half Nelson is great filmmaking. I'm curious to see how it does, box-office wise. It's opening against another indie flick, Conversations With Other Women, which stars the more well-known Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham-Carter, Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, family-flick Zoom, Pulse (which I haven't seen, but it doesn't seem to be the same demographic as Half Nelson anyhow) and dance extravaganza Step Up, which likewise caters to a different crowd. If Half Nelson can build up a little momentum in its release, star Ryan Gosling might very well be one to watch for come Oscar time. He certainly deserves a nod for this performance, but will he get enough notice to rate one?

By the by, no quotes from Ebert and Roeper co-host Richard Roeper were provided by the PR rep, which makes me wonder ... did Roeper not like the film? Or is his opinion just not considered as important as Smith's?