Apocalypse Now

The best compliment I can offer Kevin Smith's new movie, Red State, is that it feels nothing like a Kevin Smith movie -- which is to say it's targeted, finally, to a postpubescent audience. Try as he might have on Chasing Amy and Dogma, Smith has never been a fount of genuine sociopolitical inquiry, but this controversial new film, which he has decided to self-distribute, reveals that he has a lot more on his mind than dick jokes. It's set mainly on the Midwestern compound of a fanatical, Fred Phelpsian pastor (Michael Parks) whose entrapment of three sinful teenagers leads to standoff with an FBI unit headed by a surprisingly slimmed-down John Goodman. More than half the movie is an unrelenting, unceremonious procession of death and destruction, which prove that, for the first time, Smith can direct a compelling action scene with the best of them. But moreover, this is a film of ideas -- about how Scripture can be interpreted into a manifesto of intolerance and extremism and about our shift toward a more violent, ruthless, and reactionary nation in the wake of 9/11. Its messages may be hand-me-downs from the recent filmography of Todd Solondz, but they're no less potent and illuminating. It's the best thing Smith's ever made. It screens at 7 p.m. Sunday at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale; Smith will appear via webcast for a live Q&A after the screening. Tickets cost $20. Call 954-525-3456, or visit fliff.com.
Sun., Sept. 25, 7 p.m., 2011
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John Thomason
Contact: John Thomason