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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.
Human Remains (2000)
Wonderfully understated black humour, as only the Brits can do it.
There are a few misses along the way, but for the most this is top notch stuff and highly recommended. The second (?) episode about the couple that run the Bed and Breakfast is pure comic heaven.
Life Support (2001)
Best of 2001
This show is the 'lay-down misere' for best TV show of 2001.
It's the show that had to be made: a merciless send-up of all those woeful 'lifestyle' and infotainment programs that are clogging the airwaves.
It's not one for the easily-offended. And even if you're not easily offended, stick around: they'll get to you shortly. (I take a lot to shock, but the 'Pol Potting Mix' sketch failed to amuse.)
That aside, bring on Series 2.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Great fun without being great cinema
My only knowledge of this film before seeing it was that it had won a Golden Lion at Venice. And for that, I was slightly surprised at what the film offered.
It was great fun, make no mistake. In a packed house on a bargain-priced night, the laughs were many and they were shared.
But the film rarely seemed to rise above the level of simple soap opera. The resolution of the most dramatic issue in the film seemed convenient and almost trite. I would echo other comments above that note there is little here by the way of plot.
But leaving that aside, it's colourful, it's warm, it's funny and you could do a lot worse. The 'crazy credit' right at the end was just the best finale to an, on the whole, enjoyable film.
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.
Nothing to see here, move on
I knew absolutely nothing about this before I saw it last night at the cinema. Somehow I wish I could go back to last night approx 6.30pm and keep walking past that cinema!
One to miss. Weak characters, OK-ish plot and it had some potential. But that potential was never realised. I've never seen a film where so many gags -- visual and spoken -- fell so flat.
Ghostbusters had Murray, Moranis and a headlining Ackroyd to carry it off. The cardboard cutouts in 'Evolution' just weren't up to the task.
I haven't enjoyed a film like this one for years. Great action, lots of laughs.... ok, a bit of gratuitous violence, but on the whole, immensely enjoyable.
The Craic (1999)
Sketchy comedy has some laughs
This first major screen effort for Irish comedian Jimeoin has a few genuine belly laughs, but it's generally like the man's stand-up act: lots of smirks, smiles and the odd giggle with quite a few slow patches in the middle. It has an almost 'Crocodile Dundee' feel to it, ie. using plot devices to show off the wild Australian outback to a (hopefully) overseas audience. Not a totally disagreeable way to spend an hour and a half, but it's no comedic classic.
Red Dwarf (1988)
Poms do it so much better
Forget Star Trek and all the other wham, bam, techo American efforts at television science-fiction; no-one does it quite like the Brits. Understated, low-tech effects and the emphasis on the dialogue and characters, with again that superior British brand of humour thrown in for good measure. Excellent stuff.
The Killing Fields (1984)
All-time, no-holds-barred, 100% favourite
I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about this film that gets to me so much, but it is THE most haunting, emotional film experience... and I've only ever seen it on video.
Excellent performances from Waterston, Ngor and Malkovich. A brilliant score by Mike Oldfield. Scenes of high emotion, tension, drama, horror and even one or two pieces of light relief (well, it has got Australia's Graham Kennedy of comedy fame).
The stand-out scenes for mine are those in the French Embassy; I can never watch the final scene from this sequence with a dry eye.
An excellent film and the soundtrack is not a bad investment either.
Gripping (literally) through a younger critic's eyes
As an adult, it's hard to be objective when assessing the merits of an out-and-out kids' film.
For me, Madeline brought back fond memories of all those corny and naff British Children's Film Foundation films of the 70s in which the clever kids always out-witted the bumbling adults.
But for a fair appraisal of 'Madeline', I took along my three-year-old critic and she was rapt from start to finish. She only let go of my arm half-way into the film, and at every suspenseful scene was desperately imploring me, 'Daddy, what happened to Madeline/Genevieve/Pepito?'
So top marks for Madeline from Miss Three (and Mr 30-something as well).
10 out of 10 for effort; something less for realisation
'Dags' was probably made for less money than the catering bill for larger studio productions, which may go some way to explaining why it has the look and feel of an Australian short film that over-stayed its run time.
'Dags' is so Aussie-centric that it's unlikely to appeal to an audience outside its shores. It pastes together a mish-mash of caricatures from daggy, suburban Australia but not the sort an overseas 'Neighbours' audience would recognise. There are laughs to be had, even if they come from familiar territory previously explored by Australian TV comedy shows such as 'Australia, You're Standing In It', 'The Comedy Company', 'The D Generation', 'Fast Forward' and 'Full Frontal'. The David Attenborough-style narration has been done before and done better.
Not bad for a laugh or two, but wait for the video.
Modern Problems (1981)
A laugh an hour
Putting this film under the 'Comedy' genre is being extremely generous. One of a handful of videos I've hit the rewind and eject buttons on before it even got to half-way. Avoid like the plague.
There's Something About Mary (1998)
Not a film to take your maiden aunt along to
TSAM is definitely a much slicker and funnier outing than Dumb and Dumber, with a good deal of subtlety and irony mixed in with the slapstick and sight gags.
Having said that, I found the 'laugh-out loud' and 'snicker on the inside' gags just a little too sparsely spaced to rate this film in the ranks of the comedy classics. Tighter editing could have seen it lose some length and made it a bit punchier.
On the other hand, I dread to think what the TV censor's knife will do to it. If it's still lounging around the big screen at the independents in your neck of the woods, see it now.
Northern Exposure (1990)
They don't make 'em like this anymore
I fell in love with this show while on holiday in the States in 1991 and then patiently waited for something like two years before it got a run in Australia. Curiously enough it kicked off in non-prime time for the first couple of seasons, from memory.
The quirky story-lines, the unique characters, the wonderful dialogue, the breath-taking scenery all made this show (pardon the phrase) 'must-see TV'. A personal favourite was the bizarre exit of Maggie's pilot boyfriend. A low point was the reliance on the tired old stereotype of the neurotic, whining Jew. On the whole, excellent stuff.
Forrest Gump (1994)
A real weepie
I must admit I came close to tears while watching 'Forrest Gump'. I nearly cried when I realised I'd invested AUD$11 and a couple of hours of my life on such an exceptionally worthless film.
To pick up the thread from another viewer, this film dishes out a puritanical (read: American) fable whose message is: if you're conservative, straight and don't rock the boat, all will be well; but be outrageous, rebellious and buck the system, you get AIDS and die.
Very over-rated piece of hyped up shlock.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
A great laugh
A Fish Called Wanda pales ever so slightly by comparison with some of the earlier Python films, but is still a hilarious outing. Kevin Kline almost steals Cleese's comedic thunder with his flawless wit and timing. Best viewed on the big screen if your local is running some retro sessions.