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on July 1, 2004
Some find it odd that some one of my most oft-repeated sayings when discussing religion in serious conversations comes from a Kevin Smith movie -- "I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier." But I think that that line alone made this movie more than just a screwball comedy, controversial for the sake of being controversial. "Dogma" has some actual messages to get across, and it just happens to do it in a much more enjoyable way than, say, "The Passion."
The movie follows a disillusioned Catholic woman (Linda Fiorentino) on her journey, ordered by Metadron (Alan Rickman), to stop two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) from reentering heaven, thus rendering God's word reversible and ending the world as we know it. Along the way, she encounters workers of God, prophets, and the missing thirteenth apostle (Chris Rock, my favorite part of the movie). I'm not going to reveal any more of the plot, except to say that Alanis Morissette makes a pretty unexpected (and funny, when you consider the absurdity of it) appearance.
The great thing about "Dogma" is that it always seems to know exactly what it's doing. There's parts when it's supposed to be screwball humor (which is most of it), and parts when it's supposed to be more serious. It blends these two perfectly together, and the result makes you laugh and think at the same time. Truthfully, not many movies can do that. Sure, some may watch it only for the appearance of Kevin Smith regulars Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith himself, respectively) but if you look deeper, there's some real substance to this movie. It's not a bashing of the Catholic church; it's simply a movie that reminds you to ask questions. Highly recommended unless you're an easily offended Catholic.
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on July 9, 2004
two angels,who were kicked out of heaven long ago,find a loop-hole so they may return.they need to go to new jersey.jay and silent bob go with the last zion,the 13th apostle rufis-left out of the bible because hes black,and the muse join forces to prevent this for if the angels get to heaven all creation will go poof!it stars matt damon and ben affleck as the 2 angels.alanis morriseete as god,chris rock is rufis and even george carlin as a bishop in the church.of the jay and silent bob movies it ranks second id say,but a lot of people say its the best also.it is the best religious based movie of all time!however,it will piss off all church goers.no naked chicks in this one either.chris rock,although normaly one of the most obnoxious racist bigots alive,actualy doesnt bitch too much in this one.he does make a good point that if there is a christian god-and lets face it theres probaly not-hes black.why would he be anything else?the world started in AFRica right?i abselutely love this movie!
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on April 8, 2004
The original meaning of the word was "that which seems good", and hence it was applied by classical authors as a technical term either to the distinctive tenets of the various philosophical schools or to the decrees of public authorities.
So, what does this have to do with the movie? Ironic as it seems for such a bizarre film, it all turns on a minor dogmatic point -- accepting that Roman Catholic dogma is the operative framework for the entire existence of the universe (something even I have yet to meet ANYONE who holds true), a logical inconsistency would render the universe inoperative, and thus it would blink out of existence.
In an attempt to 'update and popularise' Catholicism, a bishop in New Jersey (George Carlin, of all people) introduces a new campaign that includes a papal indulgence, which will absolve those who walk through the archway of a particular church. The angels discover this, and are determined to exploit this papal pronouncement to their benefit -- in dogmatic terms, whatever the pope says on earth is binding in heaven (not quite, but that's what the movie presents) -- and thus God cannot refuse them re-entry. This sets up the logical problem.
The heavens charge a particular woman Bethany, (Linda Fiorentino), who turns out to be the last descendent of Jesus Christ's family (of course, the Bible left out the details of his family), with stopping the angels from reaching the church. In the course of her charge, she encounters the Voice of God (Alan Rickman) who appears as a flaming, burning-bush type of phenomenon, and promptly uses a fire-extinguisher to put out the flames.
Azrael (Jason Lee), a minor leader of demons, has command of agents to try to stop the Last Scion from stopping the angels. Why? Well, I cannot tell you. This would give away too much of the film. But, suffice it to say, the forces of evil seem to want the angels to prove God wrong (or, at least some of the forces of evil want this). By the way, I am inclined to agree with this demon on at least one point -- central air conditioning is one of the greatest things in creation
Rufus (Chris Rock), the thirteenth apostle (also left out of the Bible, because of his race) appears to the Last Scion and the Prophets to help them in their quest.
Bartleby, who had normally been the voice of reason against Loki's brash fire-and-brimstone approach (well, he was the Angel of Death, after all), becomes upset at the efforts being used to stop them, and turns into a Satan-esque figure bent on opposing God.
But, where is God? We find out that God is missing (something that many in many religions can relate to much of the time, alas), only to discover that God likes to take the occasional holiday. The angels and the choirs of heaven are worried that Bartleby and Loki will succeed in destroying the universe while God is away from his(her) desk.
Oh, ye of little faith. God in the end, in the form of Alanis Morrisette, does show up to save the day, in more ways than one.
Lots of people were very offended by this film (just as some might be offended by this writing!). It does poke fun (scathing, caustic wit is more like it, in truth) at religion in general, Christianity in specific, and the Roman Catholic church in particular. As a priest, I thought there were some questionable scenes and would have preferred a little less foul language; but overall, I thought the premise and the storyline were creative and inventive. I'm quite surprised, actually, that it became a controversy -- I would never use this film for a catechism class, but my fellow seminarians and I had quite productive discussions talking about the topics brought up in the film.
With a fair share of language and violence, this film is not for school age viewers. As a focus point for discussing religion or the growing problems of society, this film will give abundant fuel. This film is uniquely weird, but filled with brains and thought provoking in-your-face statements. A certain cult-candidate.****
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on June 1, 2004
Title: Dogma
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: George Carlin ... Cardinal Ignatius Glick
Matt Damon ... Loki
Ben Affleck ... Bartleby
Linda Fiorentino ... Bethany Sloane
Jason Lee ... Azrael
Alan Rickman ... Metatron
Jason Mewes ... Jay
Kevin Smith ... Silent Bob
Chris Rock ... Rufus
Salma Hayek ... Serendipity
Tagline: "Faith is a funny thing."
Plot Summary: Here goes. Two angels who have been cast from heaven hatch a plot to thwart God's plans. Um...meanwhile, a woman who has lost her faith is commissioned by God to stop them, and she learns a lot about herself and about God in the process.
Review and Comments: There, how'd I do? It's freaking HARD to summarize what happens in this movie. Going into it, I had NO IDEA what was going to happen in this movie, and I was totally shocked by what I saw. But we'll get to that in a minute. First...
Main Entry: com•e•dy
Pronunciation: 'kä-m&-dE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -dies
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French comedie, from Latin comoedia, from Greek kOmOidia, from kOmos revel + aeidein to sing -- more at ODE
1 a : a medieval narrative that ends happily b : a literary work written in a comic style or treating a comic theme
2 a : a drama of light and amusing character and typically with a happy ending
3 : a ludicrous or farcical event or series of events
4 a : the comic element: humorous entertainment
Now. When I pay money to watch a comedy, I expect that perhaps serious things will happen, but that overall, this things will be portrayed in a humorous light and that the proceedings will go down easy, even when said comedy contains things I probably shouldn't laugh at-i.e. things most people would find offensive. I expected to find lots of things that most people find offensive in this movie, since I knew it dealt with religion and most people totally lack a sense of humor when it comes to religion. When I was discussing this movie with someone who told me that it might offend me, I said that I could handle it, because, after all, "God has a sense of humor." I was highly amused to find that exact declaration at the beginning of this movie, in the utterly hilarious series of disclaimers. I thought I was ready for whatever happened in this movie.
Is everyone familiar with the term "Dark Comedy"? This term regards events that are serious, but presented in such a way that they elicit laughter...often in a "You have to laugh or you'll cry" sense. Well, if that's the definition of a dark comedy, then Dogma is a pitch black comedy of the darkest kind. There are scores of violent onscreen murders, there's angel dismemberment, and there's a scary performance that moved me to declare, "Wow, Ben Affleck can act." In other words, there are tons of highly disturbing things that happen that I didn't expect, and I'd just like to warn people right now that while this is an intensely entertaining and overall fun film, there are some downright freaky moments that nearly caused me to have a heart attack because I wasn't expecting them. Be forewarned.
I'm familiar with the journey story outline taken here...a character embarks on a journey, gathers friends along the way, learns some kind of a lesson through the proceedings, and is a changed person when the movie ends. In this movie, most of the lessons are about faith; about believing in something you cannot see. Within the mythology of the film, no denomination or church has gotten everything right about God, so it's fun to watch the different reactions when the characters learn the truth about what God is really like (and the complex heavenly infrastructure, complete with angels and demons and...Muses? From Greek Mythology? Ok...).
I have a very strong faith in God (a faith that has helped me through many difficult times, and a faith that is so strong it moves me to capitalize the "G" in God even when I try not to), and because of my faith I can fully relate to the quandaries faced by the lead character Bethany. God can be cruel. God's plan is hard to understand. Life often doesn't make sense. And the one that people often refuse to say...God is freaking WEIRD. This movie captures that weird spirit perfectly. The quest that is given to Bethany is weird, and the companions that she picks up along the way on this journey are even weirder.
But central to all the weird happenings, the movie has a good heart. The things Bethany learns as she proceeds along this journey and the way she comes to a realization of God's love are moving. The whacky moments are plentiful...just about everything that happens is weird in one way or another. And the action is top notch, keeping me on the edge of my seat as I was drawn into this world. My head filled with a seemingly endless stream of questions that kept me guessing...Will the demons prevail? Will the angels succeed in thwarting God's plan, thus proving God fallible and destroying the premise upon which the world is built-that God can't be wrong? How many people will have to die strangely disturbing violent deaths before this film isn't classified as a comedy by most video stores? I was so drawn into what was happeniong that when the movie finally ended, I was still thinking about the ideas it had presented. Most people don't talk about this this, but in the bible, lots of things happen that make no sense, and people are forced to trust in God even when they don't have answers. That's what this is about, and I loved seeing it presented in this way.
In fact, I loved every minute of this movie...whether I was laughing or crying or covering my eyes or gasping in disgust. This movie surprised me so thoroughly that my first thought after finishing it was to watch it over again to see what I'd missed the first time. I absolutely loved it, even as I realize why it offended so many people. So maybe I can't watch it with most of my friends. I love it anyway.
The Bottom Line: I repeat: God has a sense of humor. So do I. This movie is indescribably weird in every possible way (and in a few ways that I once thought were impossible) but it's engaging, exciting, and hilarious as well.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 18, 2014
I admit that I was curious to check out the movie Dogma after seeing the film and the actor Alan Rickman referenced in the book Metatron; Invoking The Angel of God’s Presence by Rose Vanden Eynden (due to Alan Rickman as being referenced playing the part of Metatron). This movie was very entertaining to watch and had an all star cast. The film centers around a group of people and supernatural spirits that are being part of a plan to carry out the battle of good versus evil. They also have to stop two angels named Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) who are tired of their earth based lives in Wisconsin and yearn to return to the heavenly realms. Some of the other main characters of the film are Linda Florentino as Bethany Sloane, Chris Rock as Rufus the 13th apostle, Salma Hayek as Serendipity, Jason Lee as Azrael, Kevin Smith as Silent Bob, a brief appearance of Alanis Morissette as God, Janeane Garofolo as a coworker of Bethany Sloane and obviously more actors/actresses are also in the film. There are some shocking but debatable discussion scenes in the movie such as when the 13th apostle falls from the sky and some of the characters are portrayed having to show ‘proof’ why they are genderless. Additionally, I am glad to have had the chance to watch Dogma. However, the movie sends a message that a being (whether human or celestial) is pretty much stuck in whatever place they reside in. Yes, I understand that it is only entertainment, but I have been fortunate to have been exposed to reading material that implies that a spirit can always move up from where they are (even if they have already crossed over and temporarily ended up in the lower realms). I would rather avoid discussing further such a controversial topic on this movie review that belongs on another post (especially since Dogma is an enjoyable movie), but I have to credit exposure to multiple afterlife books for contributing to my ideas on the belief that spirits can move up even in the afterlife.
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on November 30, 2003
What a load of PM, pretentious scatology! Want theological satire: re-View Monty Python's LIFE of BRIAN. Want stellar, archly satirical,anti-mythology that's scary; exciting and sometimes hysterically funny:try Christopher Walken's PROPHECY TRILOGY(part of whose premise, genius Smith blatantly rips-off). This movie is too late trip to the LITTLE BOYS'room. It climaxes (fecally/pseudo-sexually)with orgy-battle with INCARNATED Crap...a Dreck demon.Talk about your PM Pee-See.Viewers regarding this opus as blasphemous; anti-Catholic and anti-Christian are right. Not(merely)to be offended, but to be emabarassed for existentially oriented brothers and sisters who find humorous, illuminating entertainment in third-rate cinematic onanism(sorry to mix metaphors).
Specifics: Linda Fiorentino's Janus role as abortion-clinic crusaderette(reincarnation of Merry Magdalene)ironically is best argument FOR abortion Pro-Choice feminists(and coWhorts)could contrive. Nor less lame than foul-mouthed, sexually infantile pronouncements of not-silent-enough Bob and booty buddy,Jay. Alan Rickman should merely be ashamed to be in this mess. George Carlin--overrated at prime--amply demonstrates where his true comic talents lie(in commodes not Baptismal fonts).The fey,little Lilith...played with hermaphoditic fecklessness by Morissette Alanis...should be repugnant even to MOTHER GODDESS crowd who would overthrow Judaeo-Christian "patriarchy" with revived, ancient Persian-Eastern/gnostic matriarchy. Kevin Smith is acclaimed--in commercial reviews--a good writer. Good "reading"--linguist Frank Smith posits--precedes writing of any skill and wit. DOGMA is bogus "religious" manifesto of PM (il)literati who garner theology, history and philosophy (humor)from comic books with gravitas equivalence of rap music to classical music. DOGMA is a self-congratulatory prank. It reminds the informed of Petronius'Satyricon written by quarter-wits. Even the Devil ...whom it cossets with surprising regard...might find herself dismayed by its one/half star unmighty dog dreck flatulence.(1/2 star!)
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on October 13, 2003
The only reason I watched this film was for Ben Affleck, I've wanted to see it for ages, but never got the chance to, or gone out of my way to buy it on DVD. But I did enjoy it, even if it was a bit weird. I definitely want it on DVD now, to shed some more light on the (many) bits that I did not understand!
I'm not a fan of Matt Damon (Loki), he generally annoys the hell out of me, so that was one bit of the film I didn't like. Ben Affleck (Bartleby) was cute though - especially when he was angry! They play the good angel/bad angel, constantly switching back and forth.
There are a few familiar faces in this, apart from the obvious - George Carlin (Bill & Ted - rock on dudes!), the chain-smoking girl from Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, Jay & Silent Bob, Chris Rock (Rufus), Salma Hayek (Serendipity) and Alan Rickman. The latter was definitely brilliant, so sarcastic! Jay & Silent Bob just have to be in every Kevin Smith film, and they totally remind me of the guys from Wayne's World (watch out for the bits in the car). I wasn't keen on them, although Silent Bob plays a great part, and manages to make up for what he doesn't say, with facial expressions etc. He was so funny!
There are two classic lines in this film. Ben's "Do I come across as gay?" and Alan Rickman's "If there isn't a movie about it, it's not worth knowing about." So true!
I thought this was along the lines of The Prophecy, although better! Also, watch out for the toilet scene - similar to the one in Trainspotting, but much, much worse!
Being a film mainly about religion, there's quite a lot to take in, but it is easy to follow. The story also makes you think, especially what Rufus says about Mary & Joseph. A lot of the stuff went straight over my head, due to not being in any way religious myself, but I know the basics. The Apostles etc, didn't make any sense to me, but maybe would to others, who know all this stuff. I did enjoy this film, and would highly recommend it to anyone. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for the DVD, with plenty of extras, which explain the film more in-depth, and a commentary.
Oh, and the end credits are great, although they were severely truncated by watching it on TV. And God is a woman? Something we women have known for a long time!
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HALL OF FAMEon July 15, 2003
Dogma, from the Greek word meaning opinion. Imagine that!
According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 'The original meaning of the word was "that which seems good", and hence it was applied by classical authors as a technical term either to the distinctive tenets of the various philosophical schools or to the decrees of public authorities.'
So, what does this have to do with the movie? Ironic as it seems for such a bizarre film, it all turns on a minor dogmatic point -- accepting that Roman Catholic dogma is the operative framework for the entire existence of the universe (something even I have yet to meet ANYONE who holds true), a logical inconsistency would render the universe inoperative, and thus it would blink out of existence.
--The Fallen Angels--
Enter the fallen angels. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon star as Bartleby and Loki, the angels who rebelled against God (not in the major, Satan-ic way, but in rather more minor work-stoppage way). They have been banned from heaven, and spend most of their time watching cartoons and hanging out in airports people-watching.
--The Dogmatic Hat-Trick--
In an attempt to 'update and popularise' Catholicism, a bishop in New Jersey (George Carlin, of all people) introduces a new campaign that includes a papal indulgence, which will absolve those who walk through the archway of a particular church. The angels discover this, and are determined to exploit this papal pronouncement to their benefit -- in dogmatic terms, whatever the pope says on earth is binding in heaven (not quite, but that's what the movie presents) -- and thus God cannot refuse them re-entry. This sets up the logical problem.
--The Last Scion--
The heavens charge a particular woman Bethany, (Linda Fiorentino), who turns out to be the last descendent of Jesus Christ's family (of course, the Bible left out the details of his family), with stopping the angels from reaching the church. In the course of her charge, she encounters the Voice of God (Alan Rickman) who appears as a flaming, burning-bush type of phenomenon, and promptly uses a fire-extinguisher to put out the flames.
--The Hellish Plot--
Azrael (Jason Lee), a minor leader of demons, has command of agents to try to stop the Last Scion from stopping the angels. Why? Well, I cannot tell you. This would give away too much of the film. But, suffice it to say, the forces of evil seem to want the angels to prove God wrong (or, at least some of the forces of evil want this). By the way, I am inclined to agree with this demon on at least one point -- central air conditioning is one of the greatest things in creation!
--The Prophets--
Yes, this being a View Askew production, we could hardly do without a visit from the guys from Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob, who turn out to be the Prophets (actually, perhaps it is spelled 'profits'). Unlikely prophets (as, in fact, most prophets are), but basically good at heart.
--The Apostle--
Rufus (Chris Rock), the thirteenth apostle (also left out of the Bible, because of his race) appears to the Last Scion and the Prophets to help them in their quest.
--The Golden Calf--
Loki and Bartelby stop for a moment to pay a visit on a Disney-esque corporation for one last fling as vengeance and destruction angels. The icon of this corporation is a Golden Cow (or Calf), and their crime is encouraging the worshipping of false idols. Hmmmm... Perhaps not all of this movie is so off base.
--Seredipity--
'You people don't celebrate your religion, you mourn it', she says. Serendipity, once a concept, is now personified (in the actress of Salma Hayek), and joins the quest. She is the one who realises that the bishop's golf club, because it is blessed, is thus holy, and can be used against a demon (another piece of dogmatic finery - hmmm, perhaps I should bless my tennis racket!).
--The Conclusion--
Bartleby, who had normally been the voice of reason against Loki's brash fire-and-brimstone approach (well, he was the Angel of Death, after all), becomes upset at the efforts being used to stop them, and turns into a Satan-esque figure bent on opposing God.
But, where is God? We find out that God is missing (something that many in many religions can relate to much of the time, alas), only to discover that God likes to take the occasional holiday. The angels and the choirs of heaven are worried that Bartleby and Loki will succeed in destroying the universe while God is away from his(her) desk.
Oh, ye of little faith. God in the end, in the form of Alanis Morrisette, does show up to save the day, in more ways than one.
--The Priestly Commentary--
Lots of people were very offended at this film (just as some might be offended by this writing!). It does poke fun (scathing, caustic wit is more like it, in truth) at religion in general, Christianity in specific, and the Roman Catholic church in particular. As a priest, I thought there were some questionable scenes and would have preferred a little less foul language; but overall, I thought the premise and the storyline were creative and inventive. I'm quite surprised, actually, that it became a controversy -- I would never use this film for a catechism class, but my fellow seminarians and I had quite productive discussions talking about the topics brought up in the film.
Beware of the language and a few offensive scenes. But make a list of theological questions. See how many theological points that weren't in Charleton Heston films you don't know! We can have a productive discussion later.
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on July 6, 2003
DOGMA is easily one of the worst films ever released by a major studio. The only film I have seen that exceeds it terms of sheer stupidity is 20 DATES.
The film is so jaw-droppingly idiotic and incompetent that I rubbed my eyes several times while watching it, and asked myself, "Am I really seeing and hearing what I think I am?"
If you gave an eight-year-old a movie camera, s/he'd make a better film.
How is it possible that actors with respectable resumes such as Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Ben Affleck, and Chris Rock deigned to appear in this sickening morass of cinematic retardation?
After 45 minutes of 4th-grader scatological humor and sniggering-little-boy sexuality, I ran out of the theater. I HAVE NEVER LEFT A MOVIE THEATRE BEFORE THE END OF THE FILM BEFORE.
There is nothing---ABSOLUTELY NOTHING---"blasphemous" about this film. It couldn't be "blasphemous" if it wanted to! Blasphemy implies that you have some knowledge of the history of religion!!!
If you want to see real films that challenge Catholicism, look up Luis Bunuel!
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on March 28, 2003
Who else but the man who gave us Clerks could produce this comedy featuring a diverse cast that has almost NEVER been onscreen with each other before or since (with the exception of the Affleck-Damon duo)? Affleck and Damon play 2 rogue angels who have figured out a loophole to come back to earth and they are creating havoc all the way (witness Damon shooting bullets around a board meeting because no one said "Bless you" after he sneezes. It's a pet peeve gone mad!)
Linda Fiortino is a lapsed Catholic who has been selected to save the day with the aid of Jay and Silent Bob, Chris Rock as the 13th apostle, and Salma Hayek as a muse (her line "It's not breasts, but what's between the legs, that makes a woman" is the truest ever uttered on screen.) And Alanis Morrisette as God is a new twist on everything (I personally am not for the plot device of casting actors playing God -- it seems blasphemous to me, but that is my own opinion.)
Dogma will make you laugh and it will make you think. Not necessarily at the same time, but this movie will stick with you.
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