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March 09, 2011 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 5A

Managing Scott's exit

Director Kevin Smith bought his own film at Sundance to distribute.
The 'State'of Smith

Kevin Smith takes
controversial new
film on the road
Daily Arts Writer
One doesn't interview Kevin
Smith so much as prime him.
Simply ask the writer-director-
er about, say, Red State
the Sundance
Film Festival O r
response to Tomorrow at
his latest film 7:30 p.m.
"Red State,"
and that will Michigan Theater
be enough Tickets from $39.50
for him to
talk for a good 20 minutes about
everything from his new distri-
bution model, to the relationship
between critics and filmmakers,
to how he views his legacy as a
And then sometimes, as in a
recent interview with The Michi-
gan Daily, he'll let loose with one
of his famously profane sound
bites like, "I don't want to fuck
indie film in the mouth anymore."
Whether in a script, on stage or

in person, Smith has never been
one to mince words. And when he
comes to the Michigan Theater on
Thursday with "Red State" - his
verbal high-wire act will be with
a specific goal in mind: to change
the landscape of independent
Smith broke onto the indie
scene with "Clerks" in 1994, and
he's still making headlines 17
years later. After premiering "Red
State," his first work in the horror
genre, at the Sundance Film Fes-
tival in January, he sold the film
to himself instead of a distributor
and plotted a nationwide tour to
make back the movie's $4 million
budget well in advance of its wide
release in October.
It's a non-traditional strategy,
and one not without its detractors
- as the press had a mixed reac-
tion following Smith's Sundance
announcement. But the director
himself shrugs off the contro-
"Why would a journalist or a
blogger care? They're not part of
the equation. They're not buy-
ing the movie. They're not losing
an opportunity to purchase it,"
he said. "I know we did the right
thing because everyone is still
talking about it."

At the show itself, audiences
will pay premium prices to see
the movie and attend a question-
and-answer session with Smith
and the film's star Michael Parks
("Kill Bill"). Under his new SMod-
cast Pictures label, Smith's inten-
tion is to sell "Red State" without
ever buying advertising in print
or on television, saying that the
film's subject matter is too bleak
to attract a wide audience.
"The idea of doing a marketing
campaign for this movie seems
irresponsible and absolutely, baf-
flingly stupid in an economy that
has collapsed," Smith said. "And if
I can admit that, why can't other
The film itself, about a violent
fundamentalist group with a pas-
tor modeled after Fred Phelps of
the Westboro Baptist Church, is
a far cry from the carefree slack-
er comedies of Smith's past. He
got the idea for the film watch-
ing footage of Phelps being inter-
viewed for the 2007 documentary
"Small Town Gay Bar," for which
Smith was an executive producer. -
"I'm sitting there and watch-
ing this old man who looks like
your grandfather talk like Hit-
ler," Smith said of the pastor best
See RED STATE, Page 6A

By PROMA KHOSLA "The Other Guys") to Michael
Daily TV/New Media Editor himself.
The truth is that season sevenr
For those casual viewers who is one extravagant 24-episode
love "The Office" but haven't fol- party for the castmembers as
lowed it religiously in years, the they and their audience get ready
time has come for "The Office" to change forev-
to tune back er. There are guest appearances
in. In its sev- from old favorites like Jan (Melo-
enth season, TheOfice ra Hardin, "17 Again"), Todd
NBC's comedy Packer (David Koechner, "Get
staple prom- Season Seven Smart") and even Pam's mother
ises to send off Midseason and Michael's ex, Helene (Linda
Michael Scott Purl, "Mighty Joe Young"). Fans
(Steve Carell) hursdaysat9 p.m. who sniggered years ago about
in style. the employees' read-through of
Much dread Michael's screenplay for "Threat
and consternation have sur- Level: Midnight," which follows
rounded Carell's last season, with the adventure of special agent
the main concern of viewers being Michael Scarn, will readily laugh
how Dunder Mifflin will possi- out loud as the script comes to
bly survive without the World's fruition. It's as if the writers
Best Boss. Though that may still of "The Office" spent summer
be undetermined, the second- 2010 documenting their best
ary characters have always been hits and decided to
known to steal scenes when given cram them all
the chance; their prominence will into one sea-
be a welcome addition to new sea- son - and it's
sons. working.
most hyped
Michael, come Nc
back! (That's s
what she said)
Stars are emerging among the
supporting cast, most recently
Ellie Kemper as Erin, the new
receptionist and season six's best
addition to the show. She's as
oblivious as her boss, but in an
entirely new way, managing to
command her own special brand
of vapidity in scenes with every
character from her blundering
boyfriend Gabe (Zach Woods,

aspects of Michael's last season
was the return of his one true
love, Holly Flax (Amy Ryan,
"Gone Baby Gone"). Michael
and Holly's romance returns
with the same surprising ease
it had in season five, when the
two first met. As hilarious as it is
to see a woman fall in love with
Michael, it's more heartwarming
than anything else. Good for her,
good for him! Even his employ-
ees find it hard to deter Michael
from screaming his joy from the
And the party doesn't stop
there. Creator Ricky Gervais
made a cameo in a January epi-
sode, "The Seminar," as David
Brent, his character on the origi-
nal U.K. series. It was one of the
most memorable cold opens since
everyone in the office vomited
from Pam's (Jenna Fischer) morn-
ing sickness in 2009's "Niagara."
Hopefully Gervais will make
another appearance - until then,
promised guest stars like Will
Ferrell ("Megamind") will have to
prove worthy of this show.
The two-part finale "Goodbye,
Michael" airs in April, which
means we're down to Carell's
last four episodes (the
show returns March
24) - four more epi-
sodes of "The Office"
as we know it. But
this doesn't mean we
should stop watch-
ing. With such a
strong supporting
cast, the foundation
is in place for excel-
lent future seasons.
The show's long-
term future may be
uncertain, but it's
still not too late to
join the party.

Grace and Martin's'Home'

Daily Arts Writer
In a few months, seniors at
the University will be concluding
their college careers and head-
ing off into the "real world" - for
some, a question mark still wait-
ing to be filled; for others, a trip
into the corporate world of suits
and schedules. For every senior,
graduating brings up the essential
questions for the future: What am
Igoing to do? Who do I want to be?
Actor Topher Grace ("Preda-
tors") wanted to capture that

Submit your photos to the
Michigan Yearbook to be
featured in a video played at
Spring Commencement.
Photos should befamilyfriendly
and showcase your greatest memories
ofyour time at Michigan.

Topher Grace produced and stars in "Take Me Home Tonight.'

by crea
he pro
look ba
a mod
the wh
about t


ing fun
a roun
tri Ma
kind of
ing in
and co
self wi
twin s
"The I
to brea
tity an
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nt - the hopes, fears and the simple elements, Grace also
alence of life after school - wanted to go beyond what previ-
ting a filmthat transported ous retrospective films have done.
to anotherera. The resultis "We really wanted to make
Me Home Tonight," a film it more the conventions of '80s
'duced and stars in. It's a films, you know, like stealing a
ack at '80s youth films with car, chasing a girl," he said. "But
ern twist, combining ste- then we wanted to subvert those
es and defying others, all conventions halfway through the
ile tryingto send a message film ... we wanted it tobe really of
he present. the '80s, but then be its own crea-
ture too.
"A lot of these movies today are
It's that all raunchy or all romantic or all
drama or all comedic," he con-
80s movie. tinued. "We wanted one that was
like those John Hughes movies
that had everything."
Grace also looked beyond
ere's never been a movie the '80s to past youth films for
the '80s that wasn't mak- cues on how to position his own.
aof the '80s," Grace said in Among others, he looked at films
dtable interview, alongside set in the youth culture of previ-
Demetri Martin (TV's ous decades but poised to apply to
rtant Things with Deme- their own present - specifically
rtin"). "We wanted to take "Dazed and Confused," which
age of that because there's was made in the 1990s but based
one opportunityto do it." in the 1970s, and "American Graf-
film follows Matt Franklin fiti," which was made in the 1970s
), a recent MIT grad work- but based in the 1950s.
his hometown video store "What we really wanted to
intemplating the onset of do was have a modern-day pro-
ood. He surrounds him- tagonist, which "Dazed and Con-
th best friend Barry (Dan fused" and "American Graffiti"
"Taking Woodstock") and both had - someone dealing with
ister Wendy (Anna Faris, today's issues but in this other
louse Bunny") as he tries time," he said.
ak out of his former iden- One of those issues in the film
d win over his high school is whether or not Matt - a math
n one raucous night. whiz - should use his talents
turing the culture of the in a corporate finance job, or do
was integral to the pro- something more risky with his
n, from the music to the life. Demetri Martin makes a
ne design, but aside from cameo appearance as Carlos, one

of Matt's high school friends who
took the former route.
"The problem (for Matt) is, he's
afraid to make a mistake," Martin
said. "He's afraid to make a wrong
move. There's sort of a weird cage
you can end up in if you're too
perfect, like you're winning at life
on paper but then the paper kind
of runs out. So what are you left
While Martin is perhaps a
better judge of adulthood in the
'80s than Grace (he is 37, versus
Grace's 32), he also finds "Take
Me Home Tonight" has a time-
less message for the college-age
"It doesn't matter so much
what time period it actually takes
place in, but it's more what it says
about our experience as people,"
he said. "I like this one because
it looks at that time when you've
left that kind of structured world
that's set up for you ... You kind of
have to step up and get on with it
and figure out - okay, what's my
point? What am I going to do?"
The film boasts a young cast of
stars who each bring their unique
style to the production. Actors
like Martin, Fogler, Faris, Teresa
Palmer ("I Am Number Four"),
Chris Pratt (TV's "Parks and Rec-
reation") and Michelle Trachten-
berg ("Cop Out") are still on the
front end of their film careers.
"I really think there are five
20-million dollar actors in this
movie, just in the year 2019,"
Grace said. "Everybody will look
back and go, 'Man, they were all
in that movie."'

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