Friday, March 25, 2011

Coming Soon: RED STATE w/ Kevin Smith

Hot on the heels of the wildly successful run of films during SXSW, The Paramount Theatre is hosting a special screening of a movie not due for release until the fall of 2011. The film is Red State, the latest from independent filmmaker, writer/director and all-around joker Kevin Smith. You know, the guy from Red Bank, New Jersey who burst onto the scene with his mini-budget indie hit, Clerks in 1994. In the years since, Smith has served us with many tales that (depending on whom you ask) are: silly, gross, offensive, charming, or even heart-warming. Although not a test answer, the answer is, of course, all of the above.

His filmography has consistently been comprised of comedies since his debut. Movies like Mallrats and Zack and Miri Make a Porno offer candy-coated silliness with a warm and gooey center. Kevin is probably best known for his "New Jersey Saga" of five movies that featured his signature characters, Jay and Silent Bob (played respectively by his friend Jason Mewes and Smith himself). A pair of stoners, their misadventures were the core of Smith's cinematic universe for many years, ultimately culminating in 2001's madcap adventure Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Often pushing the boundaries of good taste in his comedies, Smith stamps each of his films with his trademark quirky and witty dialogue. His characters always seem to have a unique sense of vibrancy that are, although occasionally appalling, still grabble with problems we can all identify with. With the exception of Chasing Amy (by far his most steady and mature film), Smith's work can be safely be described as "puerile cinema," populated by the likes of slackers and burger flippers. Although garnering a cult following over the past decade and a half, there are many who yearn for Kevin to expand his boundaries and venture out of his cinematic comfort zone. He has dabbled in a more tender fare before (Jersey Girl), which yielded mixed results. His most unique work is Dogma, a comedic adventure story steeped in Catholicism. It's safe to say that devout Catholics did not find it very funny.

So what's a guy to do? How can Kevin Smith evolve his cinema? Can he leave these silly stories of misfits and slackers behind him as he pushes forward?

Funny you should ask, because we're about to find out. Red State is not your ordinary Kevin Smith release. You're not going to find any Star Wars references or chocolate-covered pretzels in this one. For the first time, Smith has ventured into a new genre: the horror film. It's an interesting choice and a complete tonal departure from his earlier work. Have a look.

I think you'll agree with me. This looks NOTHING like a Kevin Smith movie. This looks more like a Eli Roth flavored fright fest. Red State, huh? Color me interested.

After debuting at Sundance, Kevin Smith bought the distribution rights from himself and decided to take the film on tour. He's raising awareness and funds to release Red State this fall, under his own banner and on his own terms. Although it's different subject manner, this bold strategy harkens back to Kevin's debut, where he made Clerks on his own terms. The film features a cast that includes: John Goodman, Stephen Root, veteran character actor Michael Parks, and recent Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo. Judging from the trailer, it looks to be an terrifying tale about something that really can be pretty damn scary... religious fundamentalism.

For a man whose career has been a vapid stroll through his own "ViewAskewinverse," this appears to be a promising reinvention. Here's hoping that the man who has served audience with Mooby burgers can now cook up something a little more... red.

Red State screens on Monday, March 28 at 8:00 p.m.
See what happens when Mr. Smith goes to Austin.

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