Archive for Kevin Smith

Red State

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2011 by Parker Connell

Who knew foul-mouthed, king of the slackers Kevin Smith had a movie like Red State in him?  Once known pretty much exclusively for masterful creation of dick and fart jokes Mr. Smith has come out with one of the best thrillers in recent memory.

After the cinematic turd known as Cop Out I was ready to cast Smith aside, and any hopes I had for his next film Red State were pretty much thrown out the window. Then the first trailer came out. It looked gritty and visceral, more Rob Zombie than Kevin Smith, and that creepy voice over by Michael Parks, had me interested, but then thoughts of Bruce Willis telling unfunny jokes during poorly shot and edited car chases danced in my head and I filed my curiosity away.

Well here I sit eating my words.  Red State is an expertly made thriller about religious fanatics think Fred Phelps meets Waco. Three teens are kidnapped after being tricked with the promise of sex. Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and his flock intend on punishing the three deviants for their wicked thoughts and actions. Soon things escalate and ATF is called to the scene

The story is something that has been seen before, but not in movies very often, this sort of thing happens in the news. Where Smith surprises is in his direction. Usually Smith focuses on the writing and the direction, cinematography, and pacing are left on the back burner. In Red State we have dynamic camera work, and one or two scene that are tenser than anything I’ve seen in years. Never before has Smith had me on the edge of my seat but here I was hold my breath, can’t look away, holy shit what is going to happen, tense for long stretches of the movie.

That isn’t to say that the writing suffers. Red State features some of Smith’s best writing since Dogma (it seems religion gets the best out of him) and it seems he benefits from the almost complete lack of dick and fart jokes.

As far as acting this is really a one-man show for Michael Parks who is allowed long speeches about scripture and “the homosexual” and it’s really enthralling and disturbingly entertaining. John Goodman does well as the ATF agent in charge and Kevin Pollak has a good moment followed by a great moment. The teens are good and Kevin Smith seems to understand how actual modern 18 year olds act and talk.

Perhaps Red State is a fluke, or a momentary rest from his standard output, either way I feel safe in saying that aside from Clerks, Red State will be the one Kevin Smith is remembered for in the long term. Short term it’s a great movie.

Cop Out

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by Parker Connell

Let me start by saying I saw Cop Out the day it was released in theaters. I went with a couple of friends, expecting a sub-par Kevin Smith experience. We all left feeling let down from that expectation. Upon watching it at home recently I now realize just how wrong we were. We went in expecting something that wasn’t very good so we left feeling let down. In reality we should have gone in expecting the best from Kevin Smith because that is what Cop Out is, Kevin Smith’s greatest work as a director, and a strong contender for best comedy of the past 10 years.

Cop Out takes the tired old mismatched buddy cop genre and turns it around making it vibrant and fresh again. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are partners in the NYPD and they play by their own rules, and sometimes their rules are no rules at all. As a for instance take the stake out scene where Tracy is dressed as a giant cell phone. What perfect comedic invention made even better by Smith’s decision to let Morgan riff freely. Tracy Morgan is hilarious in shows like 30 Rock and SNL where he is reigned in and controlled by television censorship but given the Kevin Smith seal of unmitigated swears he is revolutionary. He bounces comedy off everything on-screen.

Bruce Willis is also used perfectly. He’s a grizzled old cop, like John McClane if he hadn’t had all those run-ins with greedy Germans and just became jaded and sarcastic. As a straight man for Morgan’s antics he is amazing, but don’t worry in the realm of comedy Bruno is no slouch. Smith and the writers give Willis ample opportunity to stretch that comedy muscle.

The story is all over the place, which is a welcome departure from Smith’s usual linear way of telling a story, but at the center is a baseball card worth enough money to pay for an elaborate wedding for Bruce Willis’ daughter’s wedding. Needless to say things aren’t so simple for our heroes. I won’t spoil anything (because I highly recommend you see this) but let me just add that this has one of the most menacing villains I’ve ever seen in a comedy!

The look of this film is pretty great. It reminded me so much of old cop flicks like The French Connection and Serpico. Very down on the street, gritty, which made juxtaposition of comedy pop even more.

I could go on and on about this movie, from Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody as Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan’s rivals on the force with a weird predilection for cowboy wear, or the out of this world action set pieces, but I won’t I want this revelatory comedy experience to be a new and fresh experience for you.

I promise you will not be disappointed!