Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Road to Red State

The Film                     

      In March me and my girlfriend made the trek from Tampa, Fl to Concord, NH. We planned a few stops along the way, one for a film, one for family, and some for beer. But mostly for the film and the beer. Enjoy!


      I had been waiting to see "Red State" the moment that Kevin Smith had revealed that he had written the screenplay, which was almost four years ago at this point. Being such a non-commercial film, it was obviously very hard to find financing from anybody, let alone a major studio. Luckily, Smith and producer John Gordon were able to find two people willing to cough up the cash to help get this film made, which was around $4 million.
      So finally after the long wait (for me and for Smith), i was able to make the trek from Tampa, Fl all the way to Washington D.C. to view the film along with a Q & A with Smith on the "Red State USA Tour". The setting was at the beautiful Warner Theater, which very much set the mood for the evening. Kevin Smith spoke briefly before the film started just to set up what we were about to see.
Now, Smith himself calls "Red State" a horror film, and i will agree with that, seeing as though what's being shown on the screen is very much horrific. Is it "Halloween"? No, but it's scary none the less.

      With out revealing too much, the plot is basically this, three naive high school boys look for sex on a website similar to Craigslist. They set up a meeting with an older women who agrees to meet them in a secluded area. Obviously things are not what they seem, and for the boys it's all downhill from there.


      First i'll start with the casting, which for me, was pretty much spot on. Melissa Leo was great as Sarah Cooper. She really brought a lot to a character who doesn't play a huge part, but gave a lot of depth, showing not only that she was an awful person, but really cared for the ones she loved. The fact that she recently won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Fighter" shouldn't hurt this film either. John Goodman shows up as Special Agent Keenan of the ATF. I mean it's John fucking Goodman, who doesn't love John Goodman, the man can do no wrong, and he delivers a number of memorable lines that remind you that dialogue is still Smith's strong point. There's also Kevin Pollack, who also pops in for a brief, what i would call cameo, and gets the job done for the small role he was given.

      But the obvious stand out was the amazing Michael Parks (From Dusk till Dawn, Twin Peak mother fucker!) who plays the pastor who hates just about everything, Abin Cooper. His sermon in the first act made you completely forget about everything that was going on, which at that point was a lot. All that existed at that point was Abin Cooper, whether you agreed with what he was saying or not, there was no more Michael Parks, just Abin Cooper. It was truly breathtaking. If you get the chance check out "Red State of The Union Podcast", Episode 12, which is Kevin Smith basically interviewing Michael Parks. The stories this guy has are similar to your Grandfather's, only if your grandfather taught Johnny Cash how to ride a motorcycle. Knowing that Smith cut from the 15 minute (give or take) sermon Parks' delivered makes me hope for a sweet Directors Cut chock full of deleted scenes. It was this scene, that if you listen to Red State Podcast, one of Smith's many, many Podcasts, you hear where the low budget held them back and they had to cut out the use of a rams head. But in all honesty i've never seen a lack of money help a single scene so much. Once you see it, you'll know what i'm talking about.

      As Smith says (in many of his Podcasts) this film is almost like three films smashed into one, each act acting as a different film. Which, i feel why people (critics) reacted so badly to it. We're not used to films jumping around, changing genres with each act. We like to be comfortable. At the beginning, we are, with a bunch of boys talking about getting laid. Which is very comforting, especially in a Kevin Smith film. Then everything falls apart. I really enjoyed this moment, almost a though Smith was killing off all the foul mouthed characters of his past and moving on to a new chapter (in the film and his career). Then, all of a sudden it's a Horror film, then just a soon as it changes to that, it changes again, into an action flick. As movie goers we like to know that a horror film is a horror film, and an action film is an action film. But when they're put into one film, and change almost immediately we don't like it, cause we're not accustomed to it.

      Even attempting to compare this film to Smith's others is completely fucking pointless. If it wasn't for me knowing that it was his film and i just happened to see it, knowing nothing. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that i would have no idea that it was a Film by Kevin Smith. I mean, there's no Jay, no Silent Bob. But wait, Affleck will pop up at some point? Nope. This one is completely different. Now, not to say he didn't know what he was doing before, but this film is wonderfully directed and looks damn beautiful. It's not a "Hey, you two stand there, and we're going to film you guys talking about Star Wars" (not that i had a problem with that). No, the camera moves with quick, fierce action, as the characters run for their lives. It's crisp, it's clean, it's just looked fuckin' beautiful, and you can chock that up to the amazing camera work of long time Smith cinematographer David Klein (who's currently working on the 4th season of "True Blood"). It was amazing to see what this guy could do when Smith loosened up, and almost let him decide what he wanted to with the cameras.

      The reason this film took so long to find backing was because of this reason and this reason only. This is definitely not a film for everybody. But to me, that kind of goes without saying for all of Smith's films, and he knows this.  But in all honesty, if you're a fan of film, a fan of stuff that doesn't really fit in to a genre, or is a bit different, you should give this one try, i'm sure you'll find something enjoyable about it. I won't say if you're a fan of horror to go see it, because like i said earlier, it's not a "normal" horror film. But i will say this, the first act left me feeling more uneasy, more shaken than any "normal" horror film has ever done.

       So with this being Smith's second to last film, it's very much an upgrade filmmaking wise for him, which is sad, it's seems that he's ready to take chances, and this film seems to have reinvigorated his passion for the craft. But if this is the way he chooses to go out, i have no problem with that. He was so pleased with the cast of this film that he is hoping to bring back most of them for his Final film "Hit Somebody", A song written for Warren Zevon by Mitchell Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie). Which i'm already looking forward to, seeing as though every time i listen to the song i cry like a fuckin' baby, so all i'm hoping for is that Smith's film will do the same. Also, I just heard from Smith himself (on the podcast he does with his wife, "Plus One"), that he would be releasing the "Hit Somebody" screenplay long before the film is released, as an e-book. So keep an eye out for that.

      I personally enjoyed this film very much, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it on my own. Due to the fact that during the showing i went to (and mostly all the showings), there was a lot of cheering during certain parts, which was fun and exciting to see that many people get into it, but also took you out of it a bit. But I'm very glad i got to experience that, because i can watch a DVD anytime, and i highly doubt movie goers at a cineplex are going to tolerate the loud Smith fanboys screaming and cheering every 10 minutes. As for me, I am proud to say that I was (and will be). 

The Beer

      The plan for the trip was to hit a bunch of films and breweries, but sadly we were not able to. Not so much sadly. because we had such a great time in Asheville, there was no time to spend walking around a large building. I do not regret that. What i do regret, is not being able to make it to one of the best beer sellers in the USA, Bruisin' Ales. The second i saw that, i knew i had to go, which we planned on doing, but sadly they were closed on Mondays. So we did the next best thing. Hit a bunch of pubs/clubs in town that sold the local beer and guzzled them down like nobody's business. First was "Jack of the Woods" which is the restaurant that originated as the home of Green Man Brewery. Seeing as though Asheville has a large movement of local business owners using locally grown products, that means the restaurants in the area have very fresh products in their establishments. The same goes for the beer. The Green Man is what I'm focusing on right now. 

       I sit here, listening to some Lady Gaga, which isn't too bad. But, really, have people not realized she's basically Madonna. I'm guessing when the kids do it'll blow their fuckin' mind. Honestly, I'm more of a Katy Perry fan if we were to compare the two.

      Well, enough of that bull shit, on to the beer! Which right now is the Stout from the Green Man Brewery, which luckily they had in stock at Jack of the woods.

      There's not much to say about the Green Man Brewery's Stout, it tastes like a stout should taste, which is creamy, a slight hint of coffee and a hint of chocolaty sweetness. It also looks the way a stout should look, which is very dark with about an inch of tan head to it. Compared to a Guinness, it's a little lighter, which by that I mean you can drink more than two and not feel like you've just eaten a loaf of bread. A solid choice for a stout.

      Now the Pale ale and the India pale ale, to which i have yet to really figure out what the difference is between the two. One is more hoppy than the other. Which is basically like trying to figure out who's more metal, King Diamond or Slayer (King Diamond by the way). I mean they're both metal, but one is a little more metal than the other. So i'll cut this a little short, if you get the chance check out there IPA before the Pale ale, unless you don't like too much hopiness, which if that's the case you're probably better off staying away from all IPA's.

      Now, to what i consider one of the Green Man's best. Their Porter. Now this was easily one of the best beers i've had, never mind just the best Porter. So fuckin' creamy with just the right amount of sweet chocolate taste that i like to expect when drinking a porter. With that being said, this porter was straight from the cask, which basically means after the initial fermentation, it's poured straight into the cask with out any other preparation. This is a big reason why this beer tasted so good.

      I'm not sure if you can get any of these outside of the State of North Carolina, but if you like beer and amazing Irish pub food and you're in the Asheville area, stop by Jack of the Woods pub. I'd recommend the bangers and mashed with some fried pickles paired with the porter. It's wicked good. 
Now i'm getting my metal on with Diamond and finishing up the last of this Green Man Pale Ale. Take it easy.

       Also Slayer is pretty wicked (trust me, I've seen them), but don't take my word for it, listen to this guy.

      "That riff at 0:30 was so awesome that my Rubik's cube fell off my desk and completed itself, neighbors called the police and they got arrested, my cat barked, ʇxǝʇ ʎɯ oʇ sıɥʇ pıp doɹp ssɐq ǝɥʇ, made 217 people miss the like button, mom walked in and I switched to porn, it became my neighbors favorite song, Hitler got his gas bill, I pressed F13 for extra bass, my water turned into wine, I clicked 720p, my woofers gone BOOM, the God prayed to me, and i want MORE!! "

       Me personally, Still more of a Katy Perry fan.