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Friday, May 6, 2016

Parks is one sinister minister in 'Red State'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Veteran character actor Michael Parks seizes the spotlight and gives a powerful performance at Abin Cooper in Kevin Smith's latest film "Red State".
When Kevin Smith chose to release his latest film "Red State" himself, I was both excited and skeptical. Excited because I love the idea of a known director taking control of his own property and skeptical because it rarely succeeds.

While many have targeted Smith because of the move and chosen to take jabs at him, I think it was a brilliant choice. While it isn't going to break any box office records, and it will probably just make its money back, the fact Smith has showed that it could be done should be taken seriously.

Not everyone will have the clout like Smith to get it done, but it's a great step in the right direction. He's even talked about distributing films under his Smodcast Pictures banner so other filmmakers can make their own movies and distributes them themselves.

After a theater run of only five theaters, Smith released the movie as a Video on Demand (VOD) option and the Blu-ray and DVD hit shelves Oct. 18 and contains one of the best performances of the year.

"Red State" revolves around a fictional religious cult known as the Five Points Trinity Church, led by sinister minister Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). The Five Points have taken it upon themselves to exact God's vengeance on the wicked.

Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun) and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) are three teenagers about head off to Cooper's Dell, the hometown of the Five Points for an encounter with a woman they find online. Only when they arrive things turn nasty and they find themselves smack dab in the middle of the church's crosshairs.

After a sheriff's deputy is killed while investigating an accident by the church's compound, the ATF is called in with special agent Joseph Keenan leading the charge. But when they show up to execute a simple warrant, things take a turn for the worse, orders are changed and the whole incident become eerily reminiscent of a little fiasco that happened in Waco, Texas.

As Cooper leads his followers against the ATF agents, everyone is stopped in their tracks when single trumpet notes begin raining from the sky and the Five Pointers lay down their arms and welcome what they believe to be the day of judgment with open arms.

Watching the film on the small screen was equally entertaining as when I saw it on the big screen. Sometimes the action scenes are too fast paced for the small screen and can be a little hard to follow, but overall it's not too difficult.

Parks' take on Abin Cooper is awesome. It's completely over the top, but in all the right ways. Parks is wonderful as the just on the edge of sanity preacher whose belief in God is only trumped by his belief that he's right in his views.

Goodman is solid as ATF agent Keenan, but a few times his performance is a little thin and you see too much of Goodman and not enough Keenan.

The rest of the cast if fine, but you'll find yourself not being able to take your eyes off Parks. His performance outweighs any other in the film and I consider it one of the best and interesting I've seen this year.

The DVD comes with some great extra including Smith's now infamous Sundance speech and deleted scenes with intros by Smith. There's also the featurette "A Conversation with Michael Parks" and a cool two-part "The Making of Red State" documentary.

Final Cut: "Red State" is a highly unsettling movie at times, with a great performance from Michael Parks and is a brave new endeavor from Kevin Smith. I think critics of Smith's will overlook "Red State", but the film is definitely worth a watch.

4 out of 5 stars

Red State

Starring: Michael Parks, John Goodman, Michael Angarano, Kerry Bishe, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith