dir. kevin smith
st. matt damon, ben affleck, alan rickman, linda fiorentino, chris rock, janeane garafalo

I am in shock after seeing four films in a week and liking three of them. Happy Texas was mundane, Stigmata was totally enjoyable, American Beauty was certainly entertaining but sadly predictable, and Dogma was fantastic. Kevin Smith has entertained me in the past (Clerks was great, Mallrats was good, but Chasing Amy I found to be unexpectedly conventional) and in Dogma, Smith has outdone himself with witty dialogue and crazy ideas.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are two outcast angels who, thanks to the Catholic church, have found a way back into heaven. God, represented by head angel Alan Rickman, entrusts the mission of stopping them to Linda Fiorentino, who will be assisted by the thirteenth apostle (Chris Rock) and regular Smith characters Jay and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith). This brief synopsis should give you an idea that the storyline is anything but placid and the humour is interspersed with criticisms of organised religion and there is even a decent helping of gore. The cast are good and seem to be having fun with their characters and the bit players are delightful, but I am always excited by any appearance of Janeane Garafalo.

I find many points of interest in film, one of which is spotting product placement. Which products have paid to be seen on screen, and which are there because the creators like them? Seinfeld was quite famous for referencing products that amused them, eg Pez, and not because they were paid to do so. Since making his last film, Smith has been earning extra income by writing comics (eg Daredevil) and there are even comics available of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob. Dogma has many comic products appearing - the demonic inline skater wears a Hellboy shirt, Madman merchandise is clearly displayed behind the characters in the supermarket, etc. Are these there because the producers did a deal, or because Smith is promoting his own tastes, or is he looking for more comic writing jobs? Of course there is more conventional advertising taking place, but I won't provide additional promotion for those products by mentioning them here.

This film has been out in the U.S. for a while and I had seen a lot of the merchandise in magazines before I saw the film. 'Catholicism Wow' and the 'Buddy Christ' are great concepts and lead to some wonderful merchandising options, no wonder the staid churches are a little upset by the movie. Of course the churches are a bit upset about the depiction of god and Jesus as well. Why can't religion be funny? Why can't they get the joke?

The film was a great showcase for the Jay and Silent Bob characters who have been only minor players until now. I think I liked this film more than most, because I hate the church, I like irreverence, and I like seeing some blood on the screen. Dogma should appeal to you if you liked the first two Kevin Smith movies, it has that same cynical approach and detailed character interaction. It is so nice to have a film with plenty of dialogue, but with short scenes so you don't get bored with endless monologues. I hate a film which is just talk, talk, talk, I crave dynamics, I love action, and Dogma delivers that for me.

sebastian niemand
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