30 Day Film Challenge Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

Film Nerd’s Choice: Jersey Girl

Choosing a film for today on the movie challenge was perhaps my most difficult choice to date.   The simple fact is, anyone who knows me knows that I love movies in every shape, fashion and form, so no-one dares assume summarily that I will not like a certain type of film.   Bride of Film Nerd was even unable to answer the question for me, but she has an added advantage of knowing the select sub-genre of films I do not like, and there is not a Wayans Brothers film yet that I have broken the trend on yet and loved.

So that left me with remembering a Kevin Smith fan once telling me that Jersey Girl had no relation and none of the quality to the films in the Smith View Askew Universe.   To the uninitiated, I refer to the quintet of films that was Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (Clerks 2 was released subsequent to Jersey Girl).   I can see why I was given this negative review of the film.   However, I can appreciate that Smith was trying to make a different type of film.   A widower played by Ben Affleck is left raising his young daughter alone when new love interest Liv Tyler comes into his life.

The film was not mind-blowing… I have not seen it subsequent to my first viewing, but I also did enjoy it at the time, even if just as a passing fluffy film for the evening.   As I recall, the film only sucked when real-life Affleck partner at the time J.Lo was playing the first wife.   Her exit was sad, but when the ever adorable Liv Tyler took her place, the film took brilliant leaps forward.   Also, Affleck’s on-screen daughter (Raquel Castro) was definitely cute and had a good, significant role to play in the proceedings too.

I will not give a rating, as my memory of the film is too hazy.   I will say it did make for a good night in, however.


Jersey Girl on IMDB

Jersey Girl on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKMGajqnms]

School Ties – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Robert Mandel

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell, Ben Affleck

Synopsis: David Greene (Fraser) has received a place in a prestigious high school due to the fact his skills as a quarterback can revive the school’s sporting glories.   Given the period setting however, it is recommended to him to keep his Jewish Heritage a secret.   His popularity within th school is widespread, while making an enemy of Charlie Dillon (Damon), who was supposed to take the quarterback position.   Fate would have it that Dillon learns Greene’s secret.

A review by Film Nerd.

Every time I revisit this film, the impact of it never diminishes.   These are all very early lead performances from Fraser, Damon, and O’Donnell, but each showed a talent that exceeded their years at this time.   In addition, you have a classic but all too recognisable story, of seeking acceptance within a different culture, and the choices made to gain this acceptance.

For Greene, he opts to hide his background.   The script is intelligent enough to make this not just an obvious decision.   Greene struggles with this, trying to still observe cultural rites in privacy, at times having to make choices between his culture (religious observance) and the culture he has been introduced to in this Ivy League sighted school (football and success).   In the end, it is the school that is made to appear more ridiculous, with misplaced priorities (to be the first in five generations of a family not to get into Princeton is a failure).   The film realistically portrays the [pressures on each of its protagonists, and makes the audience reflect on how they themselves rate success.

As alluded to before, the performances are uniformly brilliant.   Fraser is clearly believable in the role of popular quarterback, earning the trust of his colleagues prior to the truth being revealed.   He has shown on many more occasions how brilliant he is at comedy compared to his dramatic roles, yet this is one of those roles that it is clear he is equally adept at both.He is young, and he is a hot head, but his decisions are all made on moral grounds, and as such is clearly the better of all his colleagues.    Damon here also gives one of those performances that first shot him into the A-List.   You put this film alongside Good Will Hunting and Courage Under Fire, it really is quite a trifecta.   Though his character does become the villain of the piece, it is a well-played character arc that moves from admiration, to jealousy, to vengeance.    Dillon is not a likeable character, but nor should he be, emphasising how well Damon plays it.   Mention should also go to O’Donnell, who plays Greene’s room-mate.   He perhaps plays the most conflicted character when he learns Greene is a Jew.    He is clear-sighted enough to see that the fact did not change the person, yet this was in contradiction to the prejudice with which he had been raised.  Perhaps the role treads very closely to the character O’Donnell played in Scent of a Woman, but it is a good reminder of the pedigree he is capable of, especially in the face of the debacle that was the Schumacher Batman films.

If you have seen the film before, I urge yo to revisit it, as it is an understated but genuine masterpiece.   If you have not, and you consider yourself a movie fan, do yourself a favour and repair this oversight!!

4 stars out of 5


School Ties on IMDB

School Ties on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x85u5hIiMus]


Dogma – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette

Synopsis: The Catholic Church is looking to revamp its image, instituting an event permitting the forgiveness of all sins.   Two angels exiled from heaven take this as an opportunity to be forgiven and re-enter heaven.   However, if they succeed, it will make the demands of God void, and as such spell the end of all existence.

A review by Film Nerd.

At the time of its release, Dogma was considered a very controversial film… a comedy about Catholic Faith which represents the clergy as exceedingly foolish.   To those that took this perception, though essentially being very accurate, have missed an even deeper message that this film is trying to convey.

This is the fourth film in Kevin Smith’s View Askew production series, that began with Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy, and that was followed by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II.   Aside from Smith directing, and many of the lead cast returning from various films in each of these to play different roles, the one clear connective thread in this series are Jay and Silent Bob, here cast as “prophets” to help guide Fiorentino’s Bethany on her heaven-sent quest to prevent two exiled angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), once again gaining access to heaven and ending existence.

The plot sounds pretty heavy, but it is shot in the same tone as the other comedy’s in this series, with big ideas conveyed with buffoonery and a great sense of fun.   Bethany is the straight guy in the proceedings, surrounded by absurd characters.   She receives the quest from the Metatron, the angel that acts as the voice of God, and delivered in Rickman’s unique tones.   He is a character full of sarcasm, especially as he is not permitted to imbibe alcohol after Bartleby and Loki’s drinking antics that got them expelled from heaven initially.   Jay and Silent Bob have already been mentioned, and are no different from any of their other outings, so fans of that schtick, like myself, can sit back and enjoy.   Chris Rock is as ever brilliant, playing the thirteenth disciple, the one that was never mentioned in the bible because he was black.   For me the real surprise of this film when I first saw it was Affleck and Damon.   The shine had started to wear off of their run post-Good Will Hunting, but here they do show the depths they have to offer, Affleck included, putting the viewer in the position of wishing to see them defeated, but also completely understanding why they are willing to go to such lengths.

If easily offended, especially in matters of faith, it is nor worth your time seeing this through, given that it is very irreverent.   If you are curious on another perspective on faith, however, this film has something for you.   As in the end, this film is actually not against people having a system of Faith, the source of its satire being more specifically organised religion.   So of course the Catholic clergy would be concerned about their patrons viewing it…

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Dogma on IMDB

Dogma on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20CRw3XdETA]