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Don't miss it
According to my 'Comments by registered user' page I haven't yet passed comment on this landmark, wonderful, brilliant favourite film of recent years.
(OK, so no prizes for guessing which direction I'm heading here.)
If you've had a Catholic upbringing this is an absolute must-see.
If you've had any sort of religion in your life (but can still appreciate the concept of self-deprecation) this is an absolute must-see.
If religion has played no important part in your life but the words 'priest', 'nun', 'God', and/or 'religion' fall into your realm of consciousness, this is a must-see.
If you take your religion VERY seriously, didactically and literally, then for heck's sake turn this thing off because Creflo A. Dollar Jr and Benny Hinn are probably on the idiot box about.... now.
For anyone still with me, this film is just brilliant. Forget the minor inconsistencies in plot and religious detail, this film manages to do several things and does them well.
It gives the concept of organised religion and the things it advocates and those that are done in its name a well-timed, well-aimed boot up the clacker. It points a finger at the stupidities, the ridiculosities and the absurdities of religion and does it oh so well.
But ultimately it says, 'Hey, when you strip away the veneer and the accoutrements, there really is an underlying truth and a message that transcends all the window-dressing and embellishment that's worth bending an ear in the direction of'.
For the record, I'm agnostic and DO NOT bend an ear that way, but I really respect the fact that Smith added that reverent touch.
Do yourself one hell of a favour and see this film, ideally with a very open mind.
P.S. "God" rocks!
Snow Dogs (2002)
Shrek it ain't, but OK through young eyes *SPOILERS*
This film is no 'Shrek', ie. if you're looking for a kids film that you can appreciate wholly and solely at an adult level, forget it. My 30-something girlfriend and I saw 'Shrek' on our own and enjoyed it thoroughly, as I did again when watching it with my two kids. I loved 'Monsters Inc.' to bits as well.
'Snow Dogs' is, however, best enjoyed vicariously through the delight of young peeps, as the humour is based on pretty routine slap-stick and cute, furry animals. And on that level, I have to go with the ratings of my two very young critics and give it two thumbs up.
There was just one bit that bemused me (cue the *SPOILER*): I knew just one thing about this film prior to entering the cinema and that was it had dogs that talked, a la 'Cats and Dogs'. The trailers seemed to trade on this aspect. However, the talking dogs routine accounts for 30 seconds (if that) of the entire film, which was disappointing for those banking on it.
On the whole, I'd recommend it as a good, enjoyable family film and echo the sentiments about the lack of racy, sailor-blushing language if that's important in your selection.
La vita è bella (1997)
My only regret is that I didn't extract the digit and see this when it was on the big screen. A film of extraordinary beauty, humour and pathos.
Whatever you do, just don't miss it. And whatever you do, avoid any dubbed versions that have been criminally placed in your video store like the plague.
Judas Kiss (1998)
This video leaped off the shelves at the rental shop for one reason alone: Alan Rickman. I think he's a brilliant actor, and absolutely sensational in 'Dogma'.
What a disappointment to get not only a hammed-up Nawleans accent from Rickman, but from Emma Thompson as well. At least Thompson's was much more believable.
As for the film, well, it's all been done before and much, much better elsewhere.
Don't waste your time with this light-weight addition to the genre. A time-filler at best.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Average, average, average
I don't usually use the middle ground of ratings (4,5,6), but I make an exception for this giving it a firm 5 for middle ground average. Not bad enough to rewind before the end but not engaging enough to want to hunt up another copy if the tape had jammed half way through.
While Cage and Shue give solid performances, the film never raises above the level of formula and cliche. The recurring question while watching this film was, 'Ok, and your point is?' The best that can be said is it paints an earthy and realistic picture of an alcoholic and might urge some to 'Rethink Your 27th Drink'.
Further than that, I wonder what all the awards and hype are about.
Guest House Paradiso (1999)
Avoid at all costs
I loved these guys' work in 'The Young Ones' and 'Bottom'. There was such precision timing to the comedic violence of those series that made it irresistible.
But they lost the plot.... and everything else on this one.
A definite 'Stop and Rewind Well Before The End' job for this little black duck.
Style Over Substance Episode II
There was no way I wasn't going to see this film, however, like Episode I, this is a triumph of special effects over plot and acting, and definitely a case of style over substance.
Industrial Light and Magic have obviously outdone themselves, a highlight was the chase through the asteroid field. But what Episodes I and II totally lack for mine is any sense of wanting to cheer for the good guys and boo the bad guys. You just don't have that sense of the characters taking you along on the journey with them which the first three films had by the bucket-load.
An interesting and humourous side note, watching as an antipodean, was hearing all the Australian and New Zealand accents, especially Jango Fett who I'm afraid will always be the violent Jake Heke of 'Once Were Warriors'. Either that or seeing familiar famous local actors trying to put on accents, in Jack Thompson's case, quite atrociously!
Safar e Ghandehar (2001)
Close, but no cheroot.
A classic example of boundless potential not realised. This film promised so much and totally failed to deliver. I sat watching the scrolling credits wondering (and the vocal comments from many around me agreed): Where's the denouement?
It has its moments but overall not a satisfying outing, even on tight-**** Wednesday at the local art-house cinema.
Just see it
Captivating, enchanting, whimsical, delightful, funny, warm, a joy on film.
Pick your superlative, but just don't let it disappear from the big screen without seeing it.
An absolute must.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Well-targetted and hits its mark
I came to this film with high expectations. The fact that I had two kids in tow was the basis of those expectations.
And Monsters, Inc. delivered. A pure delight: funny, warm and witty. For those who were looking for sophisticated, biting satire or adult-oriented humour, go look for re-runs of Dr Katz or South Park. This is a film for kids and those who can approach it like a kid.
Best of all for other parents, there's no drama with having to screen it first before exposing little peeps to it, a la 'Emperor's New Groove', 'Shrek' and other ostensible kids flicks that attract a PG rating.
Go grab a look on the big screen if you still can.