Dogma (1999) Film Review

YEE.tif

Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) works in an abortion clinic and is having issues with her Catholic faith. Then she is visited by Metatron (Alan Rickman), an angel sent from heaven to participate in a religious mission – to stop angels Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) passing through a specific church door (that has been kind of opened so to speak by a local cardinal, played by the wonderful George Carlin). She’s being chased by a group of hocky playing skater kids/devils sent after them by Azrael (Jason Lee), and ends up accruing a gang of assistants; profits Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) and Jay (Jason Mewes), the thirteenth apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock) and Serendipity (Salma Hayek).

Kevin Smith ended up putting a clunky (though supposedly hilarious) disclaimer at the start, no doubt expecting a slew of criticism from a variety of different religious sections of society. As a non-religious person, but someone who grew up within a practicing family, I loved some of the concepts in this. Yes, I think Kevin Smith would have pissed off a lot of people with parts of this film, but why not? It’s a great yarn. Though I wish he’d let Silent Bob and Jay go – this film would have been much better without them, and I know it’s his thing, but still… And yes, I still think it was genius having Alanis Morissette playing God – certainly now it is a bit dated in that many folk may not recognise her, but I thought it was great.

 

Chasing Amy (1997) Film Review

ChasingAmy

Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) put out a comic book together, and are doing the (very small compared to now) Comicon scene when they meet Amy (Joey Lauren Adams) through Hooper X (Dwight Ewell). Before long, they realise that Amy is a promiscuous lesbian, but she starts hanging out with Holden. (This for me is a big hole in the plot, because Holden comes across as a boring and morose tool and Amy is bouncy and full of life. Perhaps it is supposed to be chemistry, but while it is clear that Holden pines for Amy from an early stage, she seems to have zippo interest until he comes clean). Anyhow, they get together, but then Holden hears some rumours about some sexual escapades that Amy got up to in her past and he can’t cope with it. And, despite a very misguided and totally awkward attempt to resolve their issue, they split.

Getting past the lack of chemistry, I really liked this film. Actually, I really liked one part of the film, and that was that it addressed the double standards that many people still seem to hold about women and sex. That if a woman enjoys sex, if she has had multiple partners, if she has experimented with different things, that all of this is terrible. And this films says no, that’s not right. Stop treating women like this. (Of course, there’s only one significant women in the film… but is that an argument for another day? This is a film by a man about men dealing with men’s feelings – should there be more of an attempt to deal with women other than a hysterical (although totally awesome in all it’s realistic hysteria) rant in the rain? (Actually, was it raining? I just feel like it was) Still.)

It was directed by Kevin Smith who does seem to have respect for women and the concept of allowing them to make choices about their lives that don’t have to be judged. I may be mostly twenty years too late, but I may be getting on the Kevin Smith bandwagon.

 

 

Red State (2011) Film Review

220px-Red_State_Poster

It’s small town America, the type of place where the funeral of a gay boy horrifically killed is picketed by a group of fundamentalist Christians. Travis (Michael Andarano) is your typical horny high school buddy who goes along with his mate Randy (Ronnie Connell) and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun) for a sex-romp set up on a Tinder-like app. Only on the way, they sideswipe a parked vehicle and this marks them for police attention. But, the sex-romp isn’t the exciting three-way that they had hoped – instead, they are drugged and taken to the church of those aforementioned fundamentalists where they are tagged to be killed for their sins. However, their damaged car has claimed the attention of the police and before you know it, the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) is involved and there is a whole heap of shooting and killing.

This is certainly a dark film – there are some serious deaths, often of characters that you did not expect to die, and a fabulous ending. And what is scary is that it doesn’t seem to be too far off what potentially could be happening over there – and what could be getting covered up. Brrr, shivers down my spine. And great to see Kevin Smith moving from his usual comedy into real dark comedy.

 

Clerks (1994) Film Review

11178231_ori

Having recently started to listen to the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast (where Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes talk to each other about their past with a specific focus on the various addictions of Mewes – and it is fascinating and hilarious), I’ve been on a bit of a Kevin Smith-a-thon. It is surprising that I have started to listen to it given it was recommended by the same friend who recommended Tusk but still…

I remember making a special trip into the heart of Melbourne to see Clerks with a mate, possibly at the Treasury Theatre, back in 1994. I don’t remember a lot about it, except laughing a lot. And on a re-watch, that hasn’t changed.

Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is a clerk in a convenience store who gets called in to replace a sick co-worker and ends up having a really terrible day. It’s not helped that he wants to get back with his ex-girlfriend Caitlin Bree (Lisa Spoonauer) even though his current girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) is pretty ace. Then there is his best mate, Randal (Jeff Anderson) who loves to hate his job at the video shop next door, showing absolute contempt for his customers. And, of course, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), the local drug dealers.

What works? It’s funny. It’s real. I’ve only listened to two episodes of the podcast and have never read a lot of the stuff about Kevin Smith, but this film seems to show him having a love of women. What I mean by this is that neither of the two main women in the film are particularly powerful characters; one is doting on the man she loves and wanting him to better himself while he is wallowing in a mire of existential crisis, and the other is a woman who treats monogamy as a joke and ends up getting a most horrific payback in the end of this film. But it is the fact that Dante is so crap in the way he views these woman and has several other men tell him to look at himself and that he is a moron – that is what makes me feel like Kevin Smith must like women a lot.

Or else he’s just a prick?

 

Tusk (2014) Film Review

Unknown

In 2013, the below ad appeared on Gumtree in the UK:

Hello, I am looking for a lodger in my house. I have had a long and interesting life and have now chosen Brighton as a location for my retirement. Among the many things I have done in my life is to spend three years alone on St. Lawrence Island. These were perhaps the most intense and fascinating years of my life, and I was kept in companionship with a walrus whom I named Gregory. Never have I had such a fulfilling friendship with anyone, human or otherwise, and upon leaving the island I was heartbroken for months. I now find myself in a large house over looking Queens Park and am keen to get a lodger. This is a position I am prepared to offer for free (eg: no rent payable) on the fulfillment of some conditions. I have, over the last few months, been constructing a realistic walrus costume, which should fit most people of average proportions, and allow for full and easy movement in character. To take on the position as my lodger you must be prepared to wear the walrus suit for approximately two hours each day (in practice, this is not two hours every day – I merely state it here so you are able to have a clear idea of the workload). Whilst in the walrus costume you must be a walrus – there must be no speaking in a human voice, and any communication must entail making utterances in the voice of a walrus – I believe there aer (SIC) recordings available on the web – to me, the voice is the most natural thing I have ever heard. Other duties will involve catching and eating the fish and crabs that I will occasionally throw to you whilst you are being the walrus. With the exception of this, you will be free to do whatever you choose, and will have a spacious double room, complete run of the house (with the exception of my bedroom and my workshop), and use of all facilities within. I am a considerate person to share a house with, and other than playing the accordion my tastes are easy to accomodate (SIC).

Due to the nature of this position I will need to audition all applicants before agreeing to take the chosen candidate on as a lodger. Please contact me if you have any questions.

It was a hoax, but filmmaker Kevin Smith became obsessed with the idea, and from it was born Tusk. And oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.

So, to Tusk. There are a couple of podcasters, Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment – yes, that Haley Joel Osment) who have hit the big time with their show “The Not-See Party” where they play online videos and mock them. After one episode on the Kill Bill Kid (think the kid playing with his light sabre, that very early viral video, but with more Tarantino results), the obnoxious Wallace flies to Canada to interview him, but finds that the kid has committed suicide. Pissed off, Wallace kills time in a bar hoping to find a new story, and it is there that he stumbles across the advertisement in the bathroom. He arranges to meet the man, Howard Howe (Michael Parks) and… then falls off the face of the earth. Neither his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) or Teddy can reach him, and enlist the assistance of Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp performing some of his absurdist best).

I don’t want to give any more away, but I will say it is a comedy horror. There are certainly some things that cannot be unseen, and the end? I had a couple of good friends request that I review this, possibly in the hope that I may be able to clarify that end or… hmm, I’m not sure. Did I like it? Not exactly. I didn’t hate it, for sure. I certainly laughed out loud a few times. I think what it has given me is the gift of reigniting my interest in Kevin Smith films. And I’m vaguely interested in creating my own hoax Gumtree ad…