I have been mulling over my thoughts and views of Red State. Admittedly after the single screening at Sundance and the not so hot reviews it got (which were terrible) I was excited to see it. Kevin Smith who directed the movie is a hero of mine. A fat kid who loved superheroes and sophomoric humor who like another Jersey native did it his way and continues to do it his way. While most movie critics have written him off most of them have never read his story lines for different comic books. His arc on Daredevil was awesome. He is, as he would put it, a verbose mother fucker. The man can write.
So when I heard he was doing a psychological-suspense-thriller I was excited. I knew based on his comic book story lines he could pull it off. So when I heard the reviews at Sundance and how most of the viewers didn’t like it I knew he nailed it. But those viewers were looking for a movie that would bring in money, not actually be true film.
Here is where Kevin Smith wins more than Charlie Sheen. He is choosing to not distribute the movie through a company. It was his movie, he wanted sole control over everything and he doesn’t believe that a movie he made for 4 million dollars should cost 25 million to distribute. So he is taking it out of his own pocket and bringing the movie on the road. Not only that but the actors in the movie are going with him and talking to the crowds about the film, he is bringing back movies to a time when they were art and the fans could interact with the cast to learn more about it, get a few laughs, and feel a real connection to the film.
Was it amazing to walk through a lobby and have John Goodman say “Hey, nice hat!” and for me to nonchalantly reply, “Thanks Mr. Goodman, looking forward to your performance in the film”? Yeah, it was, and it made me feel a personal connection to the movie I was about to view. Knowing these guys were sitting in the crowd and watching the movie with us made it more enjoyable. The crowd clapped, laughed, and gasped throughout the film and we knew that our reactions were not falling on deaf ears, but the actual people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into the film.
So the film….
I realized halfway though the film I was barely breathing and I wasn’t sure if my heart had stopped beating. I am not going to talk much about the details of the movie, because Kevin did such a masterful job with it. For one of the few times in my life I did not see the plot unfold in my brain before it did on the screen. Kudos Kevin, you are one of the few directors to pull the wool over my eyes. The only other two movies to do that were Fight Club and The Sixth Sense.
Here is the short of it. A fundamentalist Christian group based on the real life Westboro Baptist Church who protest the funerals of gay individuals and hold signs that read “God Hates Fags” as a grieving family carries their son out of a church in a casket (that is really true). Real righteous assholes who besmirch the name of God for their own hatred. The fundamentalist group in the movie lures people in under a false pretense and brings them to their compound…….an intense, INTENSE story unfolds and culminates with an epic performance by John Goodman as the head of an ATF field unit who end up in a Waco style standoff with the group. David Klein the cinematographer of the movie does a MASTERFUL job with the camera work and gave me a whole new appreciation for the intimate detail of a rapidly firing AK-47. He literally puts you in the middle of the movie and won’t let you out.
That is all I am saying. If you choose to watch this movie (and unless you have tickets for his city by city tour you can’t until October) then be prepared for a emotional ride that will shake you up and leave you alone feeling like you need a hug….and I am not even a hugger.
However I will leave you with this brilliant line.
John Goodman and his ATF partner are outside the compound looking in at a large cross mounted on the building.
Partner: “How much do you think a cross like that costs?”
John Goodman: “In dollars or common sense?”