“*waves! Hi there internets! Today’s Expletive Dleted write up is a bit of a special edition. Its special because Im writing up a film that’s not actually released until October. Jigga wha?! Okay, lemme break it down.
Kevin Smith, one of my all time favorite writer/directors (just below Tarantino and Rodriguez, above Cameron Crowe and P.T. Anderson) has a new film called Red State that he premiered at Sundance. Skipping the details and the reasons behind it, he’s touring the country doing big one-night-only showings with a Q&A session afterwards. Tonight was the Boston show.
When I heard about it, I was kinda torn about going. The tix were pretty \m/ expensive, even when you factor in the Q&A time with the man himself. I’d been to one of his general Q&A’s a few months ago and bought two tix for little more than what I paid for this one. But, I figured getting to write up a movie so far in advance of its release date would earn me some street cred. Then when I saw what seat Ticketmaster offered me, it totally made it worth it. I was right in the \m/ front, up against the stage, two feet away from Smith. Damn.
I am a huge Kevin Smith fan. I own every one of his movies and I \m/ love each of them (admittedly, some more than others). Its no big secret that Im not exactly the girliest of girls. Im sorry if I dont accept the shit that Hollywood throws at us girls as reasonable entertainment. I prefer the boy movies: action flicks and offensive bromance comedies. In that latter category, Smith is king. Dialogue is the prolly the most important part of a film for me, and when it comes to comedic dialogue, he’s tops.
So what did I think about the movie itself? Honestly, Im still not quite sure what to make of it. I wanted to love it. I really did. Something was just kinda off.
Now when you hear the name Kevin Smith, you inevitably picture a certain style of comedy, particularly featuring Jay and Silent Bob. This was not that. I knew that going in. The idea of him veering so far from his usual course both intrigued and concerned me. Its always very interesting to see someone branch out from their niche, but it can easily go very badly. Damn, I wanted to be really clever and say it could either be *insert-movie-title-from-a-director-who-went-out-of-their-genre-and-it-worked* or it could be *insert-movie-title-where-that-failed-miserably* but its late and Im tired and I got nothing.
Ultimately, I felt like it didnt quite work. Maybe it was too ambitious. Maybe it just wasnt a good fit. Maybe I just \m/ missed something. Clearly, the rest of the audience appreciated it more than I did.
It started off promising. I knew some of the bigger names in the film: (the now Academy Award winning) Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Michael Parks. But one of the many things we’ve learned about me since I’ve been blogging my ramblings on movies is that I very easily get very excited by unexpected appearances from lesser known actors that I enjoy (often for semi-obscure work). This time around, it was Michael Angarano that got me giddy. I know and love him as Elliot on Will & Grace as well as Will Stronghold in Sky High. Im always more than happy to see that boy. Was also sweetly surprised by Nicholas Braun, also from Sky High. And then there was Kyle Gallner from Smallville and Jennifer’s Body. Yeah Im calling out all the young and pretty boys. Oh and Marc Blucas (Riley on Buffy!) showed up later. That made me very happy 😀
Anyhoo, I loved those three main boys and the fun banter between them. Then, shall we say, shit got real. That was all well and good to start, but then things never really seemed to go anywhere. I felt like a lot of what was happening was shock value just for the sake of shock value. And as much as I love to be emotionally tasered by jarring scenes on screen, it needs to be anchored in some substance. The earlier scenes (the whole hate crime drive of the uber Christians) did work, but later it seemed like Smith was just throwing things in because he could. As it turns out, in his Q&A he did admit that that’s a lot of what he did–just kinda experimented seeing what he could get away with. While I do admire the balls that takes, it just didnt do it for me.
Something else that made this film unique was that while there’s a few genres you can definitively say it DOES NOT belong to, its hard to pick where to categorize it. Not that I need to put a label on it, its just sometimes easier to describe a film when you can give a generalized summary. It starts off with some horror elements. Although personally, I didnt find that too scary. Suspenseful, yes. What I did find scary was just the motivation of some of the characters. The thought that there really might be people out there with such strong hate in their hearts sickens me. I should also point out (as I have before) that I am quite the fag hag, so the overzealous bigots really did enrage me. From there, we had some action, although not enough to where I would classify it as an action film. You’d need more than just gunfire to qualify it as such in my book (says the action junkie). IDK, maybe I’d go with psychological thriller as its classification? I know that’s gonna be a source of great debate once the film starts getting seen more.
One thing that struck me as strange was the dialogue. The main reason I love Kevin Smith is his brilliant wit and way with words. He did take a few opportunities to throw in some choice quotables, as previously stated this was not a comedy. It seemed like some characters rambled on for too much (the first spot where the film lost me was Michael Parks’ really long sermon) or their words just didnt fit them. I dont know, it seemed almost forced I guess.
Maybe I was just expecting too damn much. Again, the rest of the crowd seemed to love it. Smith (who is not ashamed to admit when a film of his didnt work) is incredibly proud of it. I think I just need to give it another watch. I didnt like Clerks at all the first time I watched it, and now its in my top 15. Ultimately, it was a pretty amazing movie watching experience, and I know I woulda been upset with myself if I hadn’t decided to go overall.
Red State – \m/ \m/