Indie Stream: Kevin Smith Champions Columbine-Inspired 'The Dirties'

The dark movie took top honors at January's Slamdance; also premiering, the sexually dangerous "Concussion."

Stacie Passon's Concussion is the story of a married woman (Robin Weigert), who after getting hit in the head by a baseball, starts to question the superficiality of life as a stay-at-home mom in an affluent New York suburb.  Looking for excuses to spend more time in the city, she finds relief from her sexless marriage to a successful divorce attorney (Julie Fain Lawrence) by trying her hand at prostitution.

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As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out in its review of Concussion from Sundance, Concussion’s “treatment of lesbian relationships, vulnerable to the same perils we've watched straight couples suffer onscreen for decades, will be appreciated by many viewers, though many will be put off by an unsympathetic protagonist.”

One added bonus: fans of the popular Sons of Anarchy series on FX will be psyched to discover Weigert, who plays the club's lawyer on the show, is joined by her Sons’ co-star Maggie Siff (Jax Teller’s wife) in what is easily one of her most meaty big-screen role to date.

Also opening today in theaters and online is The Dirties, a raw, funny film from Canadian filmmaker Matt Johnson that tackles the topics of bullying and gun violence in a story about two friends being tormented by the school thugs. Johnson, 28, has been haunted by the Columbine High School shootings from a young age and set out to make a film that sheds light on the factors that can lead to such a tragedy.

When it premiered at Slamdance, where it won the Narrative Grand Jury Prize, the Huffington Post called it the most controversial (and arguably best) film in all of Park City” and “the most empathetic and human portrait of bullying, and its deadly consequences, ever put on film.”

Distributor Phase 4 has teamed with Kevin Smith’s Movie Club to release the film, with Kevin Smith out empathetically promoting the film himself:

“I’ve always wanted to say this about a movie I made and mean it, but never could. Now, thanks to The Dirties, I can: This is the most important film you will see all year. Matt Johnson has mashed-up the found footage film and the faux-documentary genres and crafted the most original, hypnotic, and human movie about a monster-in-the-making you will ever see. Not only is The Dirties an astonishingly great first film, it has the stones to deal with some very real subject matter in a mature, important way.”

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With an endorsement like that, it will be interesting to see what kind of business Smith’s loyal and sizeable SmodCo network of podcasts and 2.5 million Twitter followers can drum up. 

Concussion and The Dirties both open online and in theaters today.

LAST WEEK saw the online release of the music doc Muscle Shoals, which hit #7 on the iTunes Independent charts, coming in behind larger theatrically released indies (Bling Ring, The Place Beyond the Pines), 99-cent rentals (Somebody Up There Likes Me) and the racing documentary, 1.  

Mr. Nobody, which also came online last week, but won’t hit theaters until November, finished the week at #13.