melissa leo

Red State (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on October 12, 2011

76. Red State (streaming On-Demand, available for DVD pre-order)

Here is the teaser trailer for Red State. I’m not showing the whole trailer because I think you should watch the movie without seeing it, for full effect. You can find it online though.

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Red State is not the film you expected from Kevin Smith. It is a non-traditional horror film, a study of how extreme religion can go in a very bad direction.  If you’re interested in watching this movie, please go and watch it and don’t read anything about it.  I avoided as much as I could about more than the bare bones information, and I’m glad for it.  This movie is disturbing. I’m not sure it would have had the same effect had I known too much. So, don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know more about it.

At the beginning of Red State, we get a glimpse of the Cooper family, a Westboro Baptist Church-style group of extremists who hate nearly everyone, claiming that it is God’s will.  They protest funerals and essentially promote hate crimes towards homosexuals.  We then transition to following 3 high school boys who are planning to go on a sexual adventure with a woman who apparently wants to have sex with all of them.  They make their way to Cooper’s Dell, the home of the Cooper family, and we find out that they were lured into a heinous trap.

We are then exposed to a little sermon by Abin Cooper, played with creepy brilliance by Michael Parks.  It is exposed that the Cooper family pass judgement and impart sentences on their own, based on their belief that these sinners have to die.  Naturally, the 3 boys who tried to go and have sex with the same woman fit the bill.  The boys manage to start running, which results in the launch of a massive gunfight inside the compound.  At the same time, an unfortunate instance with a police officer outside sparks involvement of an ATF agent played by John Goodman.

The government gets involved and a war between the ATF agents and the Cooper family results.  I won’t tell you how it ends.

I didn’t mention them here, but Melissa Leo and Kerry Bishe in this movie also give brilliant performances.  I loved them both in the movie.

As I mentioned, you can watch Red State On-Demand right now, or pre-order the DVD from  The DVD packages vary in price up to $499, which gets you a whole lot of signed stuff and a clothing item from the film.

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Welcome to the Rileys (100 Films in 2011)

by Jamie Sanford on September 1, 2011

58. Welcome to the Rileys (not available to stream via Netflix or Amazon)

Here is the trailer for Welcome to the Rileys.

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I added one Kristen Stewart movie to the Netflix queue and ended up adding a bunch, so that explains the Kristen Stewart-heavy movies as of late.  I have really enjoyed watching her in non-Twilight movies, and in this movie especially since I think her performance was great.

Welcome to the Rileys is the story of an unlikely friendship developed between Doug (James Gandolfini), a man in a disaster of a marriage due to the death of his daughter, and Mallory (Stewart), a runaway teenager turned stripper, working in New Orleans.  Doug meets Mallory, who looks a bit like the daughter he once had, and is immediately drawn to her, and tries to help her improve her life through home repair and improved manners.  Doug’s wife, meanwhile, is at home, where she has been trapped in the house for years, unable to leave since the death of her and Doug’s daughter.  Soon enough, Doug’s announcement that he is staying in New Orleans “for a while” forces his wife Lois (Melissa Leo) to finally force her way into the world again.  She joins Doug in New Orleans, meets Mallory, and eventually tries to help her as well, before both Doug and Lois recognize that they cannot replace their lost daughter.

In addition to Kristen Stewart’s strong performance in this movie, James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo are also spectacular.  James Gandolfini made me forget about Tony Soprano, which is the best compliment I can give.  Melissa Leo disappears into her characters, and this was no different, she is brilliant.

Welcome to the Rileys is available on DVD from Amazon for $19.99.

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