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March 7, 2011

I Saw Kevin Smith's Red State... And Now I'm Gonna Blog About It!

One of the benefits of living in a big city like NY is that we are privy to a ton of shit that other places in the country may not get a shot at. Case in point, Kevin Smith is taking his newly completed film Red State on a 15 city tour around the country. This is only a big deal because the movie is not due in theaters for another 6-7 months and he is following up the movie with a huge Q&A session featuring himself as well as cast members. Anyone who has ever seen the DVDs or attended one of Kevin Smith's speaking engagements is sure to be able to attest to how cool they are, and this helps to justify the 50+ dollar ticket price. Plus the screening is in Radio City Music Hall, and they rarely (if ever) screen a movie there. I had to go... but I just never got around to getting the tickets. Enter the best girlfriend in the world, Tara.

Tara surprises the shit out of me with what might end up being both the best surprises and best gifts I have ever gotten. She purchased us two tickets for the Radio City screening for my Valentines Day present... wow. This is super cool because not only did she remember how much I wanted to go, but she would endure what was sure to be a "Mike acting like a total fanboy & film geek" night. That takes a lot of patience. That's why I appreciate this gift so much (Love ya Taaa!). Anywho, lets get to the actual night of the film.

We arrived at Radio City around 7pm for the 8pm start time. I was sure it would be packed, and I wanted to be situated in time for the start of the film. Good thing we came early. We headed up to the mezzanine section (upstairs), which were the cheaper (54 bucks) seats. The downstairs seats were over 100 bucks! When we got upstairs, we were met by an usher who asked us if we wanted a free upgrade to lower level orchestra seats. What? Sure... don't mind if we do!!! We headed back downstairs and found our awesome floor seats. Now this is a reason I love a guy like Kevin Smith. He controls every aspect of this tour (where it is going to be shown, who will appear at the Q&A, etc), so I know he probably told them to open any other floor seats to the people with the upstairs seats. Very cool gesture... and beneficial to us. Just another reason to love my man Silent Bob!

Smith came out to tell a short story about how this movie is a labor of love for him 3 & 1/2 years in the making. He also brought out co-producer Jon Gordon out, who has helped Smith get the movie made. They brought out Gordon's dad because it was his 70th birthday and had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to him. Very cool... then the movie began. Wow...

The movie was very good. A lot better then I thought it would be, and I love Kevin Smith. So my expectations were high... really high. Billed as a horror movie, I fail to see it that way. It's not horror in the sense of slasher or monster based... no, it's much worse. These people who provided the horror could be real... shit they do exist. Michael Parks brings Pastor Abden Cooper to life as a god loving but hate spreading madman who is modeled in the tradition of real life Pastor/monster Fred Phelps. This Pastor, and his congregation of loyal (some might say brainwashed) followers provided  us with a glimpse on just how crazy shit could get when peoples beliefs can get too controversial. That's what makes the movie so scary... this could happen. Rather easily. I am not going to ruin the movie at all by discussing who does what or who is killed... that wouldn't be fair since the movie does not come out until October. I will say that Smith did a fine job assembling a awesome cast to bring his story to the screen. Oscar winner Mellisa Leo & Parks were wonderful as religious nuts, and Gentleman Broncos star Michael Angarano is a standout amongst some of the younger actors/actresses in the movie. John Goodman steals the movie in the role of ATF officer Keenan, and Stephen Root & Kevin Pollock provide excellent cameo roles to compliment the rest of the cast. Also, I will add this: The ending was one of the best and most satisfying endings I have ever seen in my entire movie watching career. You will be blown away. Trust me.

After the film concluded, Smith came out and said a few words. One of the coolest things he pointed out was that he started shooting Red State on Sept 21st 2010, and just 6th short months later he was sitting at the 1st public screening of the film (which is a miracle by modern Hollywood's normal timetable). He then brought out the people who would be joining him for the Q&A. Wow. This was a testament to how his actors felt about him and the success of this film. He was joined by: Mellisa Leo, John Goodman, Stephen Root, Ralph Garman, Nicholas Braun, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishe, and his wife Jennifer Swchwalbach (who also has a part in the movie). Basically, everyone of importance except Parks. Smith explained the stars absence as a case of Parks not being a good flyer. He couldn't drive to NYC in time, and they couldn't get him on a flight. No worries... there were more then enough stars up there to aid Smith. I got up to join the line to ask a question, and the Q&A began.

As usual, start struck people often rambled and stammered instead of asking questions. Smith is funny and often obliged these numbskull's who never even had a real question to ask. But we did get some great insights on how the movie was made and what it was like behind the scenes. When someone expressed there love for Goodman in "The Big Lebowski", Goodman immediately responded with "SHUT THE FUCK UP DONNY!!!". He was hysterical. When someone ask Goodman what it was like working with Smith, Goodman said it was "One big pot party in space"... which elicited a laugh from the new to pot smoking Smith (he rarely touched the stuff back in the day, now he is a full time stoner).

Newly minted Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Leo kept up her Oscar form by cursing several times. Seems like the word "fuck" is a big part of her vocab and was not just a simple error that night!!! Nicholas Braun also had two great stories from the set. One involved how Leo stayed in character as her country hick/religious freak role on set in between takes, and they would often have explicate sexual conversations at the catering table just to hear her talk dirty with the accent (which Leo confirmed to be true but then told Braun to shhhhhh!!!) . Braun also asked her if there was any shot of those sex stories coming true.... which was funny. Braun also shared a story about him getting injured on the set. (SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD) It involved a scene where his character is shot. So they put the makeup on him, and he shoots the scene. After he fell onto a padded mat (which was placed there for him to fall on), a 40 lbs case fell off a shelf and landed right on his face! He was knocked out, so they rushed him to the hospital. When he arrived, he was conscious and told the admitting nurse he thought he may have a concussion. When she looked at his head and saw the makeup bullet wound, she jumped back in horror and confusion on how he could be conscious with a gaping bullet wound in his head!!!! These are the kind of things that made the Q&A so great.

Smith also took some time during the Q & A to address the rumors about him not directing any more movies. He stated that he was going to be finished with "directing" films after his next (and 10th) movie, the hockey comedy "Hit Somebody". He said he is about to gear up for filming that in the fall, but after that he will focus on running his Smodcast empire of Internet radio broadcasts and producing films for other people. He says he still loves film, he just doesn't want to direct them anymore. I believe him... which makes me sad because I love his movies so much. But the popularity of his podcasts is huge right now (they are great) and I could get behind this move if he was still going to write movies for others to direct (his writing is one of his strong points). I am sure this is going to lead to Smith writing more comic book runs and books as well, which is a great thing since his stories in Daredevil, Green Arrow, The Green Hornet, and Batman have all been wonderful.

The evening ended with a bit of a sad note. As I got up to the mic ready to ask my question (I waited for an hour!!!!) Smith thanked everybody and wrapped up the show. I was literally standing at the mic. I was next!!!!!!! God damn!!!!!!! I know it can't go on forever, but I can't help but say "Fuck You" to the retards who wasted time babbling and not asking any real questions. I had a good one to. I planned on saying that I was a huge Kevin Smith fan for a long time, was going to point out my very cool Count Cockula T Shirt that I got from Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash Comic Shop in NJ, and then ask my question. I wanted to know how Smith chooses the actors he has worked with on his last few films. The reason I wanted to know is because in his first 5 or 6 movies he used alot of the same people (Affleck, Lee, etc) and in his last couple he has made some interesting choices. I love that he used Angarano for Red State (Honestly, Gentleman Broncos is one of my faves!!!) and his choice of Tracy Morgan for Cop Out was another interesting one. Also, Goodman as the saviour cop & Parks as the Pastor were two choices I wanted to know about. It would have been great to ask him. Well, better luck next time I guess. Not the end of the world... (tear).

So, all in all a great night. The movie is wonderful, the Q & A was even better, and this should be one hell of a DVD/Blu-Ray release if they film any of these screenings proceedings for the extras. It was worth the 50 bucks, and I wish Kevin Smith luck on this risky endeavor. If it works, then great.... maybe we will see more movies released in this fashion. Either way, lookout for Red State. Here is the list of towns the screening tour will hit, and the official release of the film will be sometime in September or October. Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend Tara for making this happen for me. I love you.... your the best!


  1. I look forward to reading this once I see it. And not a second before!