Things I Get Wrong –

Kevin Smith is a good filmmaker. I just watched Red State (2011) and as ambitious movies go that deal with right wing religious/politics, homeland security and the impact on due process, and then the smaller themes of self hatred, self righteousness, repression and oh, yeah all wrapped into a horror movie model, then this movie hits the mark. (Sorry about the long sentence.)

I short changed Kevin Smith as a filmmaker a long time ago. I thought Clerks (1994) was okay. Not great. I didn’t really like Mallrats (1995) or Chasing Amy (1997). I liked most of Dogma (1999). I always liked him, though. I think he is funny and affable and smart. I read John Pierson’s book Mike, Spike and Reloaded (2004), a producer’s take on the 1990s decade of independent filmmaking. And I like where Kevin Smith came from and what he achieved. I just didn’t fit all the pieces together until I watched Red State on demand last week. That’s how I am, though. It sometimes takes a long time for me to be in on the latest craze. This one took me twenty years but I am a believer now. This guy can make movies.

Red State is terrifying and shot like a horror movie. It involves a cult of way, way righties and torture victims encased in Saran Wrap. Wow, heavy stuff. It is great seeing Michael Parks in a new movie. I haven’t seen Michael Parks in a movie since the 1980s. He was always so intense yet still understated. In this film his character is way broad and over-the-top. He nails it. Melissa Leo, current darling of the independent scene, is absolutely scary and dead on as a hate-filled creep. I remember Leo from the TV show, Homicide, and always thought in another time she would be a star. And now she is! How cool.

So, to sum up I was wrong about Kevin Smith which makes me think I might actually be wrong about other things. Thanks Kevin Smith!

Note to self –  I need to re-visit 1990’s movies in general. I know I can stay away from the junkie, soul-less movies. Is that really filmmaking or is it just being really, really bleak and hoping people see it as art? There I go again! What if I’m wrong about those, too? I am feeling ambivalent now about any criticism I have held from that decade. Maybe bleak junkie movies are where it’s at. I doubt it, but I have made some mistakes so I’ll keep an open mind. Maybe I’ll watch High Art (1998) again. It does have Patricia Clarkson.

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12 Responses to Things I Get Wrong –

  1. notatypicalmom says:


    When you told me Red State was super scary I thought it was because it was about right-wing nuts. Then I watched it – alone – and was terrified because it’s a friggin horror film! Like Last House on the Left scary.

    Kevin Smith is a good filmmaker. And – it is great to see Michael Parks in anything.

  2. dangillotte says:

    I’ve been debating about seeing this. I am a Kevin Smith fan, though there was no need or excuse for Cop Out. Is it really torture porn? Cuz I ain’t down with that.

  3. Anthony says:

    Hey Betty, I completely agree with you on your take of Kevin Smith and his films! I hadn’t planned to watch Red State but after your review how could I not?

    • notatypicalmom says:

      Anthony – You read Smokingatthemvies? We are honored.

      • Anthony says:

        You are too kind, ha ha ha! This is actually the first one I have read.

      • Anthony says:

        You know, oddly enough, for as long as we’ve known each other this isn’t a topic that we ever talk about… I think the last time we talked about a movie it may have been KIDS and that was, what, 1995?

      • notatypicalmom says:

        Good grief! I am almost got fired for that one! We did show you kids Clerks as well if I remember correctly. See it’s full circle now. Keep reading! You should read all of them in fact. K

  4. boots1965 says:

    Anthony!! Wow, so cool you are reading this.

    And Brother Dan, to your question. I would have to say Mr. Smith has watched some Hostel and Saw movies. Maybe a Rob zombie or two, too. Oh, geesh! Yes, I believe parts approach torture porn.

  5. dangillotte says:

    OK- I watched it tonight. I don’t think it reached the level of torture porn in that it wasn’t really about what it seemed to be about. And at the risk of spoiling, didn’t dwell overly long on the captivity and there was no real torture. (Ok cattle prod, but still…) Less than expected based on the trailer.
    I liked it a lot. Very grim. Very interesting. Great performances. Loved the new haggard looking John Goodman. Ånd the preacher is so god damned affable and charismatic that its terrifying.

  6. boots1965 says:

    I completely forgot to give props to John Goodman. One of my most favorite actors (his character on the Roseanne Show was Dan and he called her Rosie so I always think of you two when I see him in a movie!). Anyhoodle, he is just so great.

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