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Red State review (spoiler-free)

Kevin Smith made headlines by deciding to distribute his latest film on his own. I wasn’t all that sure that I wanted to see it, since he’s made it clear this isn’t one of his usual Jay and Silent Bob comedies. But I was intrigued by what I heard on his podcasts, and, frankly, I’m happy to support him any way I can. Lord knows I’ve laughed to hundreds of hours of his podcasts for free. So when Red State became available on demand, I decided I’d shell out the $6.99 and watch it. Hey, that’s less than the $10 I’d have to pay at the theater.

First things first: this isn’t a Jay and Silent Bob film. It doesn’t feel like any Kevin Smith film you’ve ever seen, and, more importantly, it doesn’t look like a Kevin Smith film. Smith has said he’s going to make one more film after this and then quit the business. Pity, because after 17 years and 10 films, he’s finally a pro. The story is solid (more about that later), and, if a director’s job is to get true performances out of his actors, Smith has done it with Michael Parks and John Goodman, who deserve best actor and best supporting actor nominations, respectively. Top notch. More importantly, if Smith wants to quit writing and directing, fine. But he needs to keep working as an editor for action films. Here, he ratchet-up the excitement to a fever pitch. Smith would not be out of place editing a James Bond film. This is a far cry from the locked-down camera pan shots of Mallrats.

The story centers on the Cooper family, a group of religious extremists a la the Phelps family. They protest the funerals of gay kids, things like that. When three high school boys go looking for a little fun, they get more than they expected. BUT THEN . . . this film takes turns and twists that I certainly did not see coming. Just when I was starting to say to myself, “OK, so how long are they going to keep this up? I got it. I’m starting to get a little--" POW, Smith would change it up, and I was right back in the action. I won’t say more because, truly, the less you know going in, the better.

Is it violent? Yes. Is there blood? Yes. Do I need to see it again? Probably not. But I’m glad I did. The banality of evil (kids playing in the church, the jarring contrast of hymns and violence) will stay with me for a while.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
daytonward
Sep. 24th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
We saw the film back in the spring, when KS was taking it around the country and doing a Q&A session after the screening: http://daytonward.livejournal.com/647650.html

I liked it, but you're right: It's nothing like the typical KS flick.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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