Monday, October 24, 2011

Red State bloody, pointed

Director Kevin Smith name-checks “Unitarians” in his latest (last?!) movie, “Red State.” A violent fundamentalist preacher shouts that his flock must fear God, because God is *not* a loving God, not like those Unitarians believe.

This film is much darker, and much bloodier, than Mr. Smith’s earlier “Dogma.” For example, the extremist preacher includes the torture and murder of gay and “licentious” men in his “worship” services; and a surprising number of people are killed, usually in bloody ways. That said, the movie is often wickedly funny, and includes a rant about the Patriot Act and the tragically fractured state of our current U.S. politics. A large part of my recommendation hinges on the fact that I agree with this rant. Folks who disagree probably would not like the film (but probably wouldn’t be caught dead at a Kevin Smith film in the first place).

Because the film has so many surprises, I don’t want to write much about the plot. There are over-sexed boys, and a Waco-type shootout, and a great deal of profanity. Religious exttremists are skewered without much sympathy–and there is a moment where we see a simple authentic faith ritual that, for me, kept the film as anti-extremist but not anti-religion.

I would recommend the film as a feature for young adults to watch and discuss, with a caveat up front about the violence. I could imagine showing it to some teenagers, but the language and violence (and a little nudity) should be considered. Perhaps families would be more successful than a youth group.

Mr. Smith calls this a “horror” film, making yet another point about politics. It is probably more accurately described as a thriller. I will watch it again, and I look forward to discussing it with my (thriller-embracing, blood-desensitized, leftie) friends. I found the overall tone of the film to be slightly hopeful. I look forward to hearing what others think.

(original post, with links, at So May We Be)


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