Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Bostonian Adventure. And KEVIN SMITH'S RED STATE. Plus blading of a footular nature

I don't usually just do a blog post that isn't about toys - after all, my main focus is the Glyos toyline - but I wanted to tell you about some movie and video game related fun from this past weekend.

What started everything off was a simple question. My wife came into my toyroom (or at least, poked her head in) and said "what do you think about going to see RED STATE?" Red State is the newest film from Kevin Smith, a filmmaker I have both a love and hate relationship with.
Some critics have dismissed him as a hack, or someone with a myopic view of the world. I have liked the majority of his films, so it was something I was considering. However, RED STATE is something of a unique animal. Smith found his own investors for the picture, and put it together for a budget of $4 million. In interviews, he described the film as "horror" and that he couldn't find studio funding due to content. As such, he decided to take the film out on the road for a word-of-mouth tour to get people hyped up about it. I wasn't completely sold on spending $50+ for tickets to this show and traveling from South Jersey to see it - but then Mrs. K told me where it was playing. A plan was quickly put together...

The idea was fairly basic - we would go to Boston and see RED STATE (the Mrs. being sold on the idea of the film and Q and A to follow it, myself not as much). While there, we would stop by and see some friends, as well as hit the legendary Funspot arcade in New Hampshire.
The ride up was fairly uneventful and quick I would spent the first leg of the trip with the legendary Matt Doughty, of Glyos fame. Discussions of Glyos past, present, and to come were had (you guys are going to love the Glyanaut), and we stopped by the abode of Jesse Moore (master of Callgrim) and friends, after having Nick's Roast Beef, one of the best foodstuffs you will find in the Massachusetts area. The new Argus custom that Jesse did for the Nagata show is unreal in person - the colors, man, the colors. Many thanks to Jesse for damn near completing my Microman 99 collection.

The next leg of the trip was interrupted by a NEW CHALLENGER - and his Mrs. - Charlie Parry of the Parry Game Preserve. The reason? FUNSPOT!
Funspot in New Hampshire is the legendary "final arcade" and the home of the Arcade Machine Museum. You may have seen it in the film THE KING OF KONG. If you are a fan of classic video games, this is a definitely place to make a pilgrimage to.
I was excited to play my classic favorites again in actual cabinets (and not emulated), such as Robotron, Zookeeper, and Gauntlet. One of my dreams in life, as small as it might seem, was just to take 3 friends through a game of Gauntlet. I only had two partners, and we had to play Gauntlet II because one of the players on Gauntlet I was broken, but most of that dream was realized. Note to self: I don't like Gauntlet II as much. Too many invisible mazes.

Funspot is like a dream. Where else can a man go and set the high score record (for the day, mind you) on Robotron, Zookeeper, Pengo (until Matt crushed it), and a few other games, have some bowling alley pizza, watch your wife take air hockey pucks to the hands while almost decapitating a dear friend with a crushing hit, nearly die laughing while watching a friend knock over a plastic cup of a hundred plus tokens, and see one of the only remaining Krull arcade machines in existence? Oh, and almost break off one's own arm playing Lethal Enforcers? Okay, so Krull was in storage/in for repairs this time, but the rest happened. That was the only negative about the Funspot trip this time around - there were a number of broken and malfunctioning machines. I still highly recommend you go there if you like classic machines. Another note to self - I need to get the video of me setting the high score from Charlie.
The time in the arcade was long and plentiful - and the ride back to Massachusetts fairly long - but amazing. Best arcade visit ever. Speed Buggy forever.

After a few hours Sunday with Matt (the Glyanaut is going to blow people away - or did I already say that? Well, the XXXXXX is even more amazing.), I headed up to Boston proper for the final leg of the trip and my date with RED STATE. I could swear I have been reading about this movie for a few years now - the Wiki says he first mentioned a horror movie in 2006. I'll admit - my initial thought was that the movie would be "Jay and Silent Bob get Stabbed." Not that I wouldn't have watched that movie, but I wasn't looking forward to it after the brilliance of CLERKS II. Only tidbits had creeped out about the movie - it was about religion, maybe. Something to do with Fred Phelps, the guy who goes to funerals for gay people and protests. My imagination had conjured up a preacher who somehow took over a state, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK-style, and people that had to escape from a literal "red state". Smith had said in interviews that he couldn't get financing due to "content issues". If so, what the hell could the movie be about, when we get movies that are all about cannibals, zombies, rapists, what have you?
Teaser posters popped up late last year, and I was sure I had the movie figured out from the poster titles and the graphics...
....but I was completely wrong. The movie is, possibly, Smith's masterwork of film.

I'm really loathe to describe the plot, because I think that if I had known more about the film going in, it wouldn't have worked as well. There are at least three HOLY SHIT moments that had me looking at the Mrs., wondering if I just saw what I thought I saw. As shown in the teaser that is currently on the net and the previous descriptions, there is a church at the center of the plot, and the lives of a number of characters inside and outside the church are affected by the actions of one man, masterfully played by Michael Parks.
The movie is not a feel-good comedy - there are some moments of brutality in it that easily could have been clips from a Tarantino or Romero film - but there are some comedic moments. Acting is almost universally excellent.

Now, as an independent filmmaker here on the East Coast with Potent Pictures (as my mentions of BOOLEY, the links to, and other projects few outside Jersey know about would attest to), I have to admire what Smith is doing with his film. In advance of the actual release in October, they are doing a word-of-mouth tour, pairing a Q and A with a screening of the film. I thought the film and presentation were well worth the higher ticket price.

I've read a few other reviews since getting back from Boston (more on that in a second). People seem to either love it or hate it, and I can see where the film is so polarizing. RED STATE is the type of film where you are either on-board from the first scene, or completely turned off right after the credits start. Religion is one of the toughest subjects to tackle here in the States, because it is such a major aspect of our existence. In a world where people are touchy about how a He-Man figure is sculpted and threaten death against its creators, grabbing a topic that has actual weight to it and can be seen as an attack on someone's faith is a lightening rod. From my point-of-view, Smith does not condemn religion in this film - something I know I will see in some reviews of the film when it hits wider release - but he potently shows why believing in anything too much is a bad thing for any tenet one might have.

So, I had only one issue during the film, and it wasn't even related to the film. My nearly college-age daughter called the Mrs. and said that she had an emergency and might need to go to the hospital as the opening credits were rolling. YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS SHIT UP. I can't wait to see the film again when I can concentrate fully on it, and not be thinking about an injury to my progeny (who is over five hours away from where I am).
I also got mega-sick on the way home, so advantage - legs one through three of the trip.

Special thanks to my brothers Charlie, Jesse, and Matt (and the varied wives, friends, and progeny of such) for such a great time. Hoping we get to do it again in San Diego this year.


Ghost Target said...

I'm really tempted to make a pilgrimage to Matt's house, and you don't help any with "you're going to love the Glyanaut & XXXXXXXX"

Charlie said...

Hey - that was a great time indeed! Well worth the 16 hours of driving, and getting caught in the Deadly Storm on the way back on Sunday! Would do it again in a second. My shoulder was aching the next day as well, thanks to our stubborn refusal to give up on that Lethal Enforcers boss fight that we must have been doing wrong - but we finally took him out!

I need to start shopping around for a Gauntlet machine so I can have it in tip-top shape for you, and we can take it on with a full compliment of players!