Michael Parks

Tusk Movie

Editor’s note: This review was originally published on September 9, 2014 as part of our TIFF 2014 coverage. In 2011, Kevin Smith took to the Sundance stage after the premiere of his then-latest film, the horror-cum-satire-cum-action movie, Red State. The film, in conjunction with a 33-minute rant about Hollywood and the death of the indie film world, led many to declare that Smith had totally lost his mind. Deadline called in “an implosion,” and Business Insider said it was time to put the director “on Hollywood crazy watch.” With all due respect to those reputable publications, after watching Tusk in Toronto earlier this week, one thing is absolutely clear: until you see this movie, you have no idea how crazy he’s capable of being. Where to even begin with this thing? Tusk started life on Smith’s weekly podcast, sparked by the discussion of a lodging ad of a most peculiar kind. An old man is offering a room in his mansion, rent free, on the condition that his tenant, for a few hours a day, dress up and act like a walrus. Fascinated by the listing, Smith remarks, between giggles, that the ad sounds like the premise for an old-school Hammer horror film; the tale of a deranged old loner constructing a flippered companion out of human skin. “The Human Centipede…only cuddlier.” So here we are, some fifteen months later, and the movie actually exists; the product of a filmmaker to whom no one apparently says no. A hodgepodge of different horror B-movies, Tusk is messy, indulgent, tonally spastic, meandering, ludicrous and entirely grotesque. It plays […]

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A24

Three years ago writer/director Kevin Smith pushed himself as a filmmaker with Red State. The quasi-horror movie was polarizing for both Smith’s fans and critics. Good or bad, it’s definitely far more ambitious than Smith’s previous movie, Cop Out. He was trying something new. Red State was a 180 turn in the director’s career. With his new picture, Tusk, Smith is continuing down the road he set out on back in 2011. A trailer for the film was released shortly after its Comic-Con debut. From the looks of it, Tusk features the old and the new Kevin Smith. That’s a good thing, because when Red State turned into a shootout, the old Smith was missed. Smith’s finest work generally involves characters talking around a table. Tusk doesn’t seem to stray too far from Smith’s dialogue-heavy past, since the film does feature two characters stuck together in a house, so we should expect a good amount of dialogue from Smith. If you don’t want to know whether Justin Long’s character does actually get turned into a walrus, avoid this discussion with Smith. And, even though I call it a discussion, it’s not really that at all. When you interview Kevin Smith, he’s never at a loss for words. It’s best to just let him say what he has to say.

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A24

Kevin Smith‘s attempt to reinvent or re-brand himself as a genre director began in 2011 with the uninspired and fairly forgettable (aside from Michael Parks) Red State, and now three years later he’s ready to take another stab at a dark and possibly horrific story. But while his last film featured extreme members of the religious right as the villains his latest appears to be focused on someone even nuttier. Tusk is about a man (Michael Parks again) who lures a podcast host (Justin Long) into rural Canada on the pretense of telling a weird and mesmerizing account involving a disaster at sea and the walrus who saved his life. The man is after more than just one night’s companionship though, and the podcaster discovers too late that he’s become a part of the tale… and the tail a part of him. Check out the first trailer for Kevin Smith’s Tusk.

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Michael Parks Red State

Since dropping out of film school, Kevin Smith has learned how to be a director in the public eye. However, that process has really only taken shape with his last two movies — Cop Out and Red State. Everything before was like watching a friend who’s naturally good at drawing make comic books that everyone seems to like. Smith had the walk-and-talk down, and he’d tapped into a realistic brand of slackerism that came with grand romantic gestures, but he hadn’t pushed to where real learning happens: outside his comfort zone. Cop Out was definitely outside, and Red State became the equal, opposite reaction to the maligned studio comedy. There were flaws (Smith still doesn’t know how to frame or edit a shootout), but the good ideas and potential were there the way they’d be with any student trying something new. That’s why it was disappointing when he announced his retirement just as he was entering adolescence. Fortunately, it seems like his retirement is a bit like Steven Soderbergh’s “retirement” — Smith is making another horror film before launching into the capstone course of Clerks III. Oh, and it sounds as crazy as the neighbor who has binoculars on the windowsill facing your house. According to Indiewire, Smith will be reteaming with the astoundingly talented Michael Parks for Tusk, the story of a mad man who lures a guy (presumably Justin Long) to his house to turn him into a walrus using fake blubber. They’re shooting this October with an […]

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DJANGO UNCHAINED

Quentin Tarantino has very quickly, but not so quietly, found a new niche for his filmmaking talents as a teller of tall tales with a historical bent. He’s less interested in historical accuracy than he is historical tomfoolery, but that never lessens the sheer entertainment he finds in mankind’s relatively recent foibles and misdeeds. From Inglourious Basterds‘ band of World War II Nazi-killers to his latest film’s vengeful slave turned bounty hunter, Tarantino has shown a knack for fitting his charismatic and electric characters into unexpected historical contexts with entertaining as hell results. It’s 1858 in America, and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a dentist on a mission. It’s light on tooth decay, heavy on bloodshed and utterly unrelated to the field of dentistry. He’s a bounty hunter whose latest targets, The Brittle Brothers, present a challenge in that he has no idea what they look like. Undeterred, Schultz acquires, apprentices and befriends a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who can identify the brothers. In exchange the ex-dentist will help the newly freed Django reunite with his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who currently belongs to a cruel but undeniably charming plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). What follows is a tale that would have made American History class a hell of a lot more memorable as Schultz and Django cut a bloody swath across the post-Civil War South through racists, enforcers and recognizable TV actors (Tom Wopat! Lee Horsley!) from decades past. The cinematic violence is paired with […]

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Remember when Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, and Tate Donovan all got together to make a movie about a fake movie being made in order to rescue hostages being held in Iran? This trailer is one more slice of proof that Affleck knows what the hell he’s doing behind a camera, especially when it comes to the slightly funny world of serious issues. Instead of crime-riddled Boston, this time it’s the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a fake script called Argo and a crazy attempt at rescuing 6 people. It’s Ocean’s Eleven except the stakes are real, and they’re life-or-death. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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By now everyone knows that after his upcoming two-part hockey flick Hit Somebody, Kevin Smith is done making movies. If Red State is any indication, the time’s right for his exit. Smith’s Westboro Baptist Church-inspired horror-thriller has been making headlines since his ill-fated fake auction following January’s Sundance premiere. He’s taken it on the road, showing it to packed houses across North America. It played a week at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. The filmmaker’s tweeted about it incessantly. Now, it’s on DVD. And it’s still really, really bad, a simplistic, poorly-constructed exercise in low-rent genre moviemaking. It’s as if Smith made the movie just so he could promote it. Horny Midwestern teens (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun) sneak away one school night to have sex with an older woman they’ve met online. Turns out the woman, Sara (Melissa Leo), is the daughter of the psychotic fringe preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and Abin really, really doesn’t like fornicating.

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I’ve already written a couple of different stories about the casting process of Ben Affleck’s next film as a director, Argo. His CIA drama includes an impressive list of names like Alan Alda, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, and Affleck himself; and it tells a globe-hopping story that should push the limits of what Affleck can do as a director like nothing else he’s made up to this point. I’m really looking forward to it. So I’m pleased as punch that Warner Bros. has sent out a press release which not only states that filming is set to begin, but also confirms a few more interesting last minute names to fill out the cast. Joining that bevy of powerful presences up top will be veteran character actor Michael Parks, who recently has been used by directors like Kevin Smith in Red State and Quentin Tarantino in the Grindhouse movies, Clea Duvall, who’s been in movies like Zodiac and 21 Grams, Richard Kind, who you’ll recognize from things like Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Coens’ A Serious Man, and Tate Donovan who has done, well…uh, not much that I’ve liked. Still, add them all together and that’s a seriously awesome group of actors. I’ve done the plot synopsis thing on this movie before, but for the sake of posterity, let’s take a look at Warner’s official word on what this movie is about after the break:

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In this ambitious but failed departure from the guru of fanboys, Kevin Smith meditates on the current philosophical extremism in fundamentalist Christianity and government. What starts out as a possible teen titty movie about three Midwestern kids trying to get laid quickly turns into an American Gothic tale about an extreme right-wing church lead by Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks in a fearless and ferrous performance) and their biblical battle with portly ATF officer Keane (John Goodman in a hero of the day moment). With recent tragedy in Arizona, the film does take on a timely quality, but never fully develops into the balls-out horror movie Smith promises.

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published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C
published: 11.18.2014
B+
published: 11.14.2014
B+


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