Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kevin Smith - RED STATE

I LOVE Kevin Smith.  I became a huge fan instantly upon seeing his fourth movie, "Dogma" in theatres back in 1999 and I've never looked back.  All of his movies mean something to me and I listen to his many podcasts on an almost daily basis.  So when I say that I was looking forward to his latest feature, "Red State" you understand the context.  Kevin Smith is something of a hero and a role model for me and I'm always tremendously excited to see what he's planning next.  So on Labour Day weekend, when "Red State" became available to the world through Video-On-Demand I couldn't wait to finally check it out (two nights in a row!). What did I think?  Find out after the jump...

"Red State" was NOT your typical Kevin Smith movie.  If you have heard even a tiny fraction of the hype behind this movie, you are already aware of this.  As a matter of fact, if his name wasn't on the movie, it's unlikely anyone would ever even GUESS that Kevin Smith was involved.  

Send the Sinner straight to HELL!!
Red State is the story of  the Cooper family, a ultra fundamentalist Christian group of jackasses much like the real-life Phelps family.  You know, the human excrement that proclaim "God Hates Fags" and picket the funerals of gay people.  That sort of scumbag.  The ones who give normal, every day religious people the worst possible name.  

Of course the Cooper Family, led by patriarch/pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) takes this train of thought to it's conclusion in crazy town and decides to "send the sinners straight to hell" via the use of a large collection of firearms.  Police and local townsfolk get involved and hi-jinx ensue.  You don't need to know any more than that going in.  This movie isn't so much about what happens, but the personalities involved and the actors that bring those personalities to life.  

Michael Parks as Abin Cooper is one of the most convincing performances I've ever seen in any movie.  You can see the crazy in his eyes.  He has that "born again preacher" down so well that it frightens me just to watch.  Flashbacks of an ultra-religious childhood, the preacher up there talking in his sing-song, oh-so-convincing voice, getting into your head even though you KNOW that there is something VERY wrong with what he's trying to say.  Parks nails it.  Took my breath away.  It's riveting and deeply, deeply disturbing. 

And then there is his counter-part, Agent Keenan, remarkable well played by John Goodman.  I've always loved Mr. Goodman in everything I've ever seen him in, but he really seems to shine in this movie.  Every actor in this movie really shines, actually.  They all seem to want to make this movie the best that it can be and it really shows.  I really can't explain why Agent Keenan is awesome in this movie without getting too spoilerific, but the part he plays is just incredible.  

Lest we forget, Oscar winner Melissa Leo is also a huge part of this movie as Abin Cooper's daughter and fellow bat-ass crazy person Sara Cooper.  Another amazing performance.  You would not BELIEVE how creepy this woman is.  There is a scene between Sara and HER daughter that  moved me in ways that I still don't fully understand.  The mindset of this woman and her inability to open her mind even a fraction of an inch.  Christ.  Speaking of which...

...Kerry Bishé, who plays Cheyenne Cooper, also did an amazing job playing the part of a cracked, broken child who maybe has retained JUST enough of her sanity to be redeemable.  Maybe.  After the performances of the above three actors, I think Miss Bishé could almost be overlooked in this film, but I just found her character really believable and sympathetic.  Perhaps I simply relate in some way.  

In any case, "Red State" was quite a ride.  I watched it twice in two days, as I said earlier, and it really made an impact on my mind.  The first time I watched it, I wasn't too sure that I liked it at all.  It did keep me up that night, tossing and turning for several hours as I couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards.  I had to watch it a second time just to absorb everything a little better.  I still don't know if "like" is the right word for how I feel about this movie, but I am definitely glad I saw it.  It's not the kind of Kevin Smith movie I grew up on, but it feels almost as if it were important for me to watch.  It's the sort of movie that will stick with me long after viewing.  If nothing else, Michael Parks should get an Oscar for his performance.  

For more information about this movie, the controversy around it, where to see it and whatnot, you can visit the official web site at  I recommend everyone at least give it a shot.  At the end of the day, whether you love or hate the movie, it should certainly give you a lot to think about.  You may be haunted.  Just saying....

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