Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Red State Predictions

Before reading this post, you should probably read this story to make sure you're up to speed.

Kevin Smith's next movie, Red State, is a horror movie, and I think that's cool. For one, anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes on my blog knows that the only thing I love more than my fiancee is horror movies. (Sorry, honey.) But also, despite my tastes in film growing ever-more erudite with each year, I'm a fan of Smith's and have been for a long-ass time. Even as I become more and more aware of the man's flaws as a filmmaker, his movies still make me laugh, and still tap into certain truths about a place/time/mindset that I wasn't too far removed from as a teenager. I saw Clerks when I was 14, and it was kind of a milestone for me. Heck, there's still a Clerks poster I bought a 10 years ago hanging above my fiancee's and my bed. (This is more a matter of the fact that I haven't bought any posters in a good decade. There's also a Titan A.E. poster still hanging up in our room.)

Recently, some of us were slagging on Smith a little bit on, mostly for what we perceived as a lack of ambition and growth on his part. Truth is, though, Red State is a sign of serious ambition on the man's part. It's way out of his comfort zone, and it sounds like he had to fight tooth-and-nail to get funding after all the major studios passed on it. I have my doubts as to whether or not Smith has the cinematic chops to pull off a horror movie (he failed pretty spectacularly when he tried to make an action movie), but that doesn't mean I'm any less excited for the film.

Thing is, 12-ish years of being a Smith fan means you become prepared for each new release to become a bizarre, Smith-induced media storm of hype, ass-kissing, backlash, controversy, back-tracking, finger-pointing, and so on and so on until it all turns into a witty anecdote one of those An Evening with Kevin Smith DVDs. Red State isn't even out yet, and Smith has already managed to stir up a minor frenzy over the film because his distribution plan, and because of negative comments he's made about critics and critics' screenings.

I hope it's an awesome movie, and that if it's an awesome movie that it's also a financially successful one. However, based on my history with Smith's films, here are some predictions about the release and reception of Red State:

- Early word on the film, from the fan screenings, will be overwhelmingly positive, which Smith will proudly announce at every opportunity. Despite his refusal to allow press screenings, Smith will gladly quote any professional film critics who do see his film early and give it a positive review.

- The Westboro Baptist Church, to Smith's dismay, will protest (in embarrassingly small numbers) at the early Red State screenings. In fact, Smith will be so dismayed by this that instead of ignoring them, he will go out of his way to address them as publicly as possible, much like with those who protested Dogma. Any publicity this generates will be completely incidental, I'm sure.

- Although Smith will do no press, he'll be very actively promoting his film on his website, Twitter, etc. He will have nothing but glowing things to say about the film, the cast, and the crew.

- The media will grow tired of covering the Westboro Baptist Church "controversy." Once this well runs dry, some other "controversy" surrounding the film or Smith's personal life will pop up around the time of the film's official release. Maybe a cast member will become infamous after impregnating one of the Obama daughters, or maybe a Taco Bell employee will refuse to sell Smith a Cheesy Gordita Crunch because it's no longer technically on the menu. Whatever the issue, Smith won't necessarily start the controversy, but he will sound off on it loudly and frequently.

- Although no critics' screenings are held, many major film critics will see and review Red State after its official release. The critical response will be mixed, with some believing that Smith has turned a new corner in his career, and others finding the film to be an awkward mismatch of director and material.

- Smith will cite the disconnect between Red State's rapturous reception from its early screenings and the more measured critical response as a clear example of film critics being out of touch with modern audiences. This despite the fact that all the enthusiastic early buzz was generated entirely by die-hard Kevin Smith fans who love his movies so much they were willing to pay $100 to see one, instead of waiting 6 months to pay normal prices. Smith still won't hesitate to quote the good reviews.

- Smith will also imply that the critics who wrote negative reviews were just upset about comments he made in the media and by the fact that no critics' screenings were held for Red State. Most film goers will not see any signs of such a bias in the negative reviews, but the die-hard Smith fans will glom on to the argument. They will use it as a blanket dismissal for all negative criticism when discussing the film online, instead of actually addressing other peoples' points.

- Smith's much touted distribution plan will not yield great results, and it will be his lowest grossing film since Mallrats Chasing Amy. Smith, convinced his film was going to be a runaway success, will be disappointed and will accuse the major studios of sabotaging his film because they were afraid of his self-distribution plan.

- However, due to the low cost of the film and robust DVD sales, the film ultimately will turn a healthy profit. Smith points to this as a sign of success, and he's not wrong, but it doesn't end up revolutionizing the industry in any of the ways he initially claimed.

- Some time well after the film's release, Smith admits that his incessant praise for everything Red State was a little overblown. The film has it's flaws (although he's still fiercely proud of it), and there were a lot of production problems. For instance, maybe it turns out the younger cast members were a bunch of vain assholes who were difficult to work with. The hilarious trials and tribulations of Red State end up as an hour long monologue on A (S)E7ening With Kevin Smith. Even people who hate Kevin Smith movies agree that it's pretty funny.

- And for my final prediction: when I finally see Red State, I enjoy it and appreciate Smith's ambition, but think it lacks the needed atmosphere and tight directorial craft that make for a truly special horror film.

So that's my checklist, and I think if it's 75% or above in accuracy, I'll finally buy myself a new HD TV. Please feel free to make your Red State Predictions in the comments below, and come its official release, we'll see who was the most accurate.


Shenan said...

If I had a nickel for every time that poster has fallen on me in the night....well, then, I'd have enough nickels to play a game of Pac Man. And if it fell on me another five times, I'd have enough for another round. Five cents for every poster-fall....that's 25 cents.

Shenan said...

(sorry, I don't know why I chose to turn my comment into a reference completely unrelated to Kevin Smith)

Dan said...

That's probably for the best.

Dan said...

We should buy new posters soon.

Joseph said...

That sounds about right. I honestly have a lot of love for Smith's movies and even defend his craft from time to time, but the man's obviously taken leave of his senses in recent years. He's always been unable to resist feeding the internet trolls, but his bizarre correlations of bored basement lurkers with legitimate toughtful critics and his almost pathological paranoia that everyone is out to get him, personally, really seems to suggest that our boy has finally gone off the deep end into Prince territory. I mean, he's not just wrong; its bordeline delusional behavior. His messiahnic attitude towards his new distribution plan is equally delusional -- even in the unlikely scenario that it works, it will work only because he already has a massive built-in fanbase who will go out of their way to support him. How he imagines this plan could ever apply to anyone else on a wide scale is completely baffling.

That said, I like the trailer for RED STATE and am looking forward to paying regular theater price to see it. I'm really hoping for Smith to hit one out of the park. In my mind, all his movies are at least unique and have some merit (only COP OUT is truly hardly worth the effort of watching, let alone writing about). He's got plenty of obvious problems, but he still represents a truly unpredicatble and identifiable voice in cinema, and thats something I'm always excited about.

Dan said...

I don't want to speculate too much on Smith's mindset, but I'm not sure if he's as crazy as he seems. I think he knows this is garnering a lot of publicity for him, and he's playing it up. Like I allude to in this post, the man has a long history of fanning the flames of controversy in order to get press for himself and his films.

Every time a movie of his comes out, his name always ends up in the paper for some reason. Like the whole Southwest Airlines thing happening right before COP OUT was released. Which isn't to say that he deliberately starts shit (clearly he wasn't staging a hoax or something), more that he's savvy about playing shit to his advantage.

Either way, I'm still excited for/cautiously optimistic about RED STATE, even if I'm kinda taking the piss out of Smith in this post.

Joseph said...

That's likely true, but I still think his flipout at critics over COP OUT was inexcusable, even if he didn't mean a word of it. I mean, I don't want to be too hard on Smith when plenty of my artistic heroes seem like genuinely awful, hateful, toxic individuals. But throwing a childish tantrum in such a public way is genuinely embarrassing. Since there's so much of Smith in his films, it's a little harder to separate him and his public persona from his art than it is with, say, Mel Gibson or Quintin Tarantino.

So, what I'm saying is that anyone knows how to court publicity by creating a ruckus, but Smith ought to be a little savvy enough to know by this point that it's slightly more complicated than saying "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

Dan said...

The guy comes across as thin-skinned to an almost comical degree, especially considering how often he takes potshots at others in interviews, monologues, podcasts, blogs, etc.

I still remember that whole thing when Joel Siegel walked out of CLERKS 2 and Smith basically tried to start a shitstorm over the whole thing. I understood why he was upset, I think most filmmakers would have been. But whereas other, classier folks might have discreetly sent Siegel a letter or something, Smith wrote some nasty blog posts and then went on a radio show to call Siegel out (and the hosts literally got Siegel on the phone to put him on the spot).

I don't think Smith's anger was feigned, but he has a habit of airing this kind of stuff out as publicly as possible, conveniently always in proximity to the release of one of his films. You're right, he's a big crybaby, but he's a crybaby like a fox in some ways. He has a knack for getting his name in the papers at convenient times, and his public feuds help rally his fanbase strengthen the cult of personality.

He wrote a really sweet post apologized to Siegel after Siegel died, but when you google "Joel Siegel" the third page that comes up is "A Dick in a Mustache is Still Just a Dick," Smith's long screed on his blog against Siegel. I'm not really a fan of Siegel's, who always struck me as exemplifying a lot of what is wrong with mainstream film criticism, but I have no reason to dislike the guy. Smith's post kinda tarnishes the guy's legacy in a small but indelible way.

If you read Smith's most recent blog post, he talks about the whole RED STATE distribution thing in far more reasonable terms, painting it more as an experiment that might fail rather than the revolution he claimed during his big announcement. Which makes me think that st least some of his bluster is calculated and not so much a sign of delusion.

Patrick said...

Prediction: After someone close to Kevin Smith points out that the qualities that at first endeared him to people are now driving them away, he takes a long hard look at his life while listening to 90s alternative rock. Just when all seems lost he makes an emotionally raw, self-critical speech without the Star Wars and Comic Book references he trades in and perhaps even hides behind. Smith leaves as a more mature adult, Jaws pops out of the water.

Dan said...

If only.

Patrick said...

For a serious prediction, the movie ends up being agreeable, good dialogue, otherwise nothing special. He "retires" and shortly after makes another view askew universe movie. I end up really liking that movie.

Dan said...

Hahaha. Yes, good call.

Giuseppe said...

I remember when you got that Titan A.E. poster. My god man, that movie wasn't even that good.