Monkey Musings: ‘Red State’

I was lucky enough last week to catch a screening of Kevin Smith’s new film ‘Red State’ at The Astor here in Melbourne. For those of you who have never visited The Astor, I’d urge you to go. One of the last of the classic old theatre’s in Melbourne, it comes complete with booze, a swaggering herd of gen-u-wine cinephiles, and it’s own honest-to-God resident Astor cat (named Marzipan, apparently). Just the kind of traditional, cozy, comforting environment to see one of the weirdest, most discomforting films of 2011.

Now, first thing’s first, I’m a big Kevin Smith fan. Huge. Watching ‘Clerks’ for the first time was a formative experience in my life. I’ve seen all his flicks. I listen to his podcasts. I have a Silent Bob bobblehead in my home. I’m even one of the 9 people in Victoria who paid hard currency to see ‘Cop Out’ at the cinemas.

So with that in mind, yes, I’m probably inclined to be quite generous in my reviews of all things Smithian. You have been forewarned.

I’d heard a lot about ‘Red State’ prior to seeing the flick, about the making of, about Michael Parks’ incredible performance, about Smith’s decision at the Sundance Film Festival to self-distribute the movie, and about his many colourful run-in’s with the Phelps family, upon whom several characters in this film are based. And yes, I could quite easily have watched an illegal download of this film weeks ago. But something told me this was a flick that would play much better if experienced with an audience.

I’m glad I waited.

Michael Parks as Abin Cooper

Because ‘Red State’ offers what so few movies do these days – the chance to get lost in a film where you have little to no idea where the narrative might be going next. There’s definitely an ominous sense of foreboding, and in your heart of hearts you’ll know that this story cannot end well, but beyond that… ? It takes storytelling chances, never being afraid to make a reversal or even to kill off a character who only seconds before you were sure was finally going to be OK.

It’s brutal, without ever crossing the line into ‘Hostel’ styled gore-nography. It’s honest in its depiction of human nature. And it’s somehow horribly, horribly believable (thanks again, Westboro Baptist Church).

And best of all, it’s the kind of movie that’ll not only make you think, but will stick in your mind for days afterwards. This isn’t the movie-going experience that I believe Stephen King once described as a ‘popcorn fart’ – all noise and no smell. This is… well… lets just leave it at that before we devolve into a few hundred words on some other more suitable fart-related analogy, shall we?

I’m not going to say it’s the best Kevin Smith movie, or even my favourite. But it’s an impressive left-turn in the final stages of Smith’s filmmaking career, and is damn sure worth checking out.

Because in a world where we can now look forward to a ‘Transformers 4’ & ‘Transformers 5’ very soon, I’ll take all the weird, undefinable, genre-bending cinema I can get.



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4 Responses to “Monkey Musings: ‘Red State’”

  1. tikaistuff Says:

    Funny, but I literally just finished watching the movie. I like those type of out of the box and unpredictable thrillers. If you like this movie too, you may be interested watching Megan is Missing (still gives me shivers) and The Perfect Host movies.

  2. Evan Says:

    I’m hoping his new method of distribution allows him to keep making movies like this.

    • buttonpushingmonkey Says:

      Sadly Ev, Smith has been pretty adamant about the fact that his career as a filmmaker will be over once he shoots his next 2 part flick, ‘Hit Somebody’.

      But then it wasn’t so long ago he was kinda vocal about not really being into marijuana, and he certainly wasn’t the wake ‘n’ bake kind 🙂

      So we’ll see. Who knows, maybe he changes his mind. Dude has earned the right to follow his bliss for as long as he wants, methinks…

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