Red State (2011)

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Original Theatrical Release Date: September 01, 2011
Director: Kevin Smith

In middle-America, all is not as sleepy and peaceful as it would seem. A fundamentalist church called The Five Points Church, led by pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), preaches anti-gay and almost anti-everything hate gospel. Unfortunately, their bite is worse than their bark and when three teenage boys; Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) – find an older woman soliciting sex on an internet site similar to Craigslist – they agree to meeting up with her for a foursome, which lands them squarely in the hungry religious jaws of the Cooper clan.

This movie blew me away. If you’re a Kevin Smith/View Askew fan like myself, you’ve come to expect a certain quality and tone of movie from the man and the studio behind him which produced films such as Clerks, Dogma and Chasing Amy. Red State is NOTHING like those other films. This is intense, this is gritty. As Smith himself points out – the Jay and Silent Bob films are like a smooth milkshake while Red State is like drinking straight whiskey. This is a film that none other than Quentin Tarantino strongly endorses, if that gives you any sort of idea as to what the tone is.

First of all, the film is especially poignant and is almost like a satire of the Westboro Baptist Church. We see it in the news every day, but in reality – the crazy religious zeal of some of these people is one incident away from an actual, real-life horror film. Red State is part horror film, part thriller and absolutely riveting.

With Michael Parks as Abin Cooper – the charismatic and terrifying patriarch of the Five Points Church – Smith hit gold. Everyone cast in this film not only does their jobs, but does them well. This movie is often overlooked because it goes beyond the fandoms of the Jay And Silent Bob/View Askew universe, which is understandable in some ways because Red State is so different from those others that it’s almost like another director is at the helm – though Smith can definitely be felt within the context of the film by the acerbic dialogue.

This film is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. You’ll be uneasy for a long while and it’s perfect for a Halloween horror movie night.

JOE Rating:  ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Red State

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Clerks (1994)

Clerks (1994)

Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) is supposed to have a day off from his job as a convenience store clerk, but when a co-worker calls out, he ends up having to go in and deal with a massive amount of problems when he’s not even supposed to be there.

If you haven’t seen this movie, then c’mon…really?! It’s been out since 1994.

This was Kevin Smith’s directorial debut and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s hilarious, raunchy and poignant with a lot of heart. Some of the sequels in the slew of films Kevin Smith created weren’t as great or well-received, but this is what started ALL of the View Askew productions.

The black and white film and gritty quality really set it apart and it still holds up to this day. If you’ve ever worked a day of retail in your life, this should really hit home with you. It has humor, it has philosophy and it has drama, even. The characters are all really well-put together and the quality of the storytelling is really nice.

Watch it, now. You can find it on Netflix at the time of this review.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Original Air Date: February 12, 2012
Stations Airing: AMC
Number Of Episodes In Season: 6

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a comic book store located in New Jersey where many familiar faces from Kevin Smith’s films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc.) are employed. Touted as being unscripted, Comic Book Men centers around the staff’s exploits as well as trying to capture the essence of fanboy culture in the comic book world.

Overall, the first season (and by extension, the show) was interesting. but even though it’s supposed to be unscripted, I can’t imagine that it’s NOT unscripted. Each episode fit neatly into a different theme and many customers came in with items seemingly relevant to the episodes as well. Other reality shows seem to be able to hide the scripted feeling a little better.

The best part of the show is actually the podcast portion, which is usually the only part where you get to see Kevin Smith (for those of you who are fans of his) and is also the only part of the show which feels unscripted and genuine. It’s just a bunch of friends hanging out and talking about geek culture.

Getting to see all the neat back issues and rare toys and artwork is another great reason to watch Comic Book Men. The comic collector in me squeals with joy in seeing the issues that I own being haggled over on television. There is a happy nostalgia and fanboy appreciation that the show encourages and succeeds in fostering.

If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith and/or enjoy Pawn Stars type of programming, or are a fan of seeing comic books and/or toys and artwork, this is the show for you. I will give the second season a chance but I will probably only do so at this point in order to check out all the rare and weird finds.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Trailer For  Comic Book Men

 

TMNT (2007)

TMNT (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: March 23, 2007
Director: Kevin Munroe

The movie takes place after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and is the fourth and final movie in the series, (at least for now) though this entry disembarks from the live-action method of the previous three films and goes to CGI. The plot revolves around ancient creatures coming to wipe out mankind, starting with New York City, and the TMNT must fix their differences if they don’t want to end up as turtle soup.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are pretty hard to mess up.

Initially, I was dubious about the CGI. My worries were unfounded, however, as the CGI was one of the best things about the entire movie. As much as the animatronics and rubber suits get me all nostalgic, the TMNT were brought so much more to life and we could actually get a better picture of their ninja skills.

Almost all of the best scenes in the movie were fight scenes, and I felt like there was a lot of wasted opportunity with the story. Sure, it’s nice to see the Turtles in action but the majority of the attention focused on Leonardo and Raphael. Not that those two aren’t cool, but I always hated how the wooden-weapon-wielders, Donatello and Michaelangelo, (say that five times fast) are never shown kicking shells as much as Leo or Raph.

Some of the voice talent was awesome like Sarah Michelle Gellar (April O’Neil), Chris Evans (Casey Jones), Patrick Stewart (Winters) and Laurence Fishburne (Narrator) but again, lots of it wasted on no story. I did like Leo and Raph’s standoff but it took too long to come to a head and the other characters seemed largely ignored. Kevin Munroe, the writer/director, seemed to have a clear vision of what he wanted to do but it doesn’t seem like it was enough to satisfy.

Overall, it’s fun (and is better than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III) and your kids will love it because it’s very much a cartoon in guise of a full-length feature film. It’s worth watching if you love the TMNT but in the end, you’ll be wanting to just go back and watch the older stuff.

Also, check out my review of the Nintendo Wii game tie-in (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up) that smacks of this movie’s artistic style, HERE

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For TMNT