Sunday, March 06, 2011

Kevin Smith Red State Tour @ Radio City Music Hall 3/5/11

Last night, Kevin Smith kicked off his Red State USA tour at Radio City Music Hall. He screened the film and followed with a Q&A session featuring most of the cast. I went with Jim and my lady, and it was exciting as it was my first Kevin Smith "event" since the Clerks 2 advanced screening at the IFC theater years ago (check out Clerks 2 disc 2; I'm interviewed on a bonus feature).

For those who don't know, Red State is set to make its theatrical debut this October, but until then, Kevin's taking it on the road starting in New York and ending in LA. The bookend screenings will most likely be the only two with the cast present for the Q&A. Red State officially premiered at Sundance along with Kevin Smith's "Jerry Maguire" moment. The reviews that followed were mixed, although it seemed that most critics had a hard time separating the art from the artist. I went into this screening mostly cold turkey, but I was aware that some slight pacing edits had been made so this wasn't exactly the same film screened at Sundance.

Jim and I outside of the theater. What's with the woman (?) on the right there?

So as expected, the event starts with Kevin Smith taking the stage. And you can't help but get in a good mood the moment he starts talking. He's often accused of being overly sensitive on the Internet, especially when he defends his work on social networks, but in person that man is just plain likable. I've seen him many times over the years and that hasn't changed.

From here he screened the film. I don't want to get into a full review because I think it's best to go in with little expectations and few plot details. But I will say I really, really enjoyed it. The acting across the board was stellar. The black comedy/satirical elements were a far cry from Smith's usual "dick and fart" jokes. And I feel like this needs major acknowledgment: David Klein's cinematography was great. The man has come along way since Clerks, and his shots, combined with Kevin's editing, creating moments of tension and anxiety that today's horror films and thrillers mostly lack.

The film wasn't perfect and it definitely won't attract every film lover. But about the worst thing I personally can say about it was Kevin made some editing choices I didn't favor (cutting to unnecessary title cards or flashbacks, I assume to bandage bad edits). Other than that, this might be my favorite of his films since Chasing Amy. It's the first one I find myself still thinking about the next morning. I can't help but compare it to a Coen Brothers movie (maybe because of the John Goodman presence?), and in all honesty, if this were one of their films and not Kevin's, I feel like critics across the board would've loved it. So there's my mini-review.

After the film, Kevin presented the cast for the Q&A session.

So from left to right: Kevin Smith, Jennifer Schwalbach (his wife), Melissa Leo (Academy Award winning actress for The Fighter), John Goodman (!), Betty Aberlin (Mr. Rogers!), Stephen Root (Office Space), Ralph Garman (Family Guy), Nicholas Braun (Sky High), Michael Angarano (also Sky High), and Kerry Bishé (Scrubs).

I might've taken 200 pictures. These are just a few.

As with every Kevin Smith Q&A I've ever been too, most fan questions went to him. And for every 1 good question were probably 2 dumb ones. Still, Kev and the cast seemed to have a real good time and make the best of it.

The highlight for me might have been when John Goodman dropped a "Shut the fuck up, Donnie" for the Big Lebowski fans in the audience.

The young members of the cast.

I do miss the days of seeing Kevin at private screenings; usually for free. But I guess the fact that he's in Radio City speaks for how far he's come from the days of having an exclusive fan base. Plus, I got to see some of my old friends from the days of View Askew past. These are people that have known me now for almost a decade, and have seen me grow from a guy who did dumb Internet skits, to a guy who did dumb web comics, to a guy who made a dumb feature film. Yet they still stand by me, and we all still stand by Kevin. But with Red State, he really gave us a movie to be proud to stand behind.

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