Smith returns to roots with Red State

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Kevin Smith’s latest feature, Red State (Smodcast Pictures, 2011) has been in the works for several years now, originally announced by Smith in 2006.  The film stars Melissa Leo , John Goodman, and Michael Parks, who delivers an especially legendary performance.

I won’t give too much away about the plot, but it begins with three friends who go on a trip to find sex but end up crossing paths with the film’s villains, the clergy of the Five Points Church and their sadistic pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks).  Smith’s inspiration for the film seems to draw mostly from the fundamentalist actions of the very real Westboro Baptist Chuch.

The film has lots of great dialogue, a staple in most of Smith’s films, but what sets this film from others is the intensely haunting atmosphere.  Smith has stated numerous times that while there are so many different types of films that he would like to make, realistically thinking he would not be able to make them all.  With Red State, Smith combined three films ideas into one crazy epic. In my opinion, he succeeded.

With the inclusion of many experimental elements in the film, many average moviegoers may not enjoy the experience that is Red State, but the film wasn’t made for them. Smith has also announced that he is self-distributing the film, which is a very brave and bold move.  Knowing how much he would actually have to pay for advertising to audiences that would not even sneak into the film, Smith has decided to tour the film in different cities to raise money to help pay for costs. Smith wanted to reach out to an audience that he already knew would enjoy his film.

The film surpassed all of my expectations and I can say that it is one of the best films that I have seen in years.  Smith is someone who always makes his work personal, and it can hit close to home for those who keep on coming back.  It is very hard to me to express my fondness for View Askew and Red State, but I can say that Smith made such an amazing piece of work that I felt moved after viewing it.  While the history and controversy surrounding Red State are interesting, it would take me a very long time to explain most of it and I highly suggest that you go to Smith’s podcasting website, smodcast.com to hear the whole story.

Next to Clerks and Dogma, this is one of Smith’s most personal films, crafted by such a hauntingly beautiful narrative that deserves kudos. The villains of this film are so dark and cynical that once you are swept up in their world, there is no going back.

Red State is the first film I have seen to ever perfectly merge the elements of mainstream film and independent cinema in such a great way.

Red State is most certainly a game changer. I would highly recommend checking out the film during its next tour, or if you don’t have the cash, wait until it is released in normal cinemas on October 19.

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