Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Best Film I've Seen This Year

I just got back from seeing Richard Dutcher's "STATES OF GRACE" and I'm a little confused at how it's now my favorite film of the year so far. I mean I've seen a lot of films this year and, on the surface, an independent film about Mormon missionaries in Los Angeles would have a hard time competing with the Hollywood Big Guns. But here I am typing and saying, "Go see this movie. It's the best thing I've seen this year."

I don't want to blab on forever, but I'll give you some history. Richard Dutcher is considered the "father of Mormon Cinema". This means he was the first person to make a full lenth feature film about Mormons back in 2000 with "GOD'S ARMY". The film is about Mormon missionaries and the struggles they go through as they try to convert people to Mormonism. Sounds preachy, but it proved to be a critical success and so began the "Mormon Cinema Craze". Soon, copycat filmmakers in and around Utah began to capitilize on the success of "Army" and, consequently, the quality of such films fell to levels of complete absurdity. HaleStorm Entertainment with its trademark, cookie-cutter string of Mormon comedies (THE SINGLES WARD, MORMONS AND MOBSTERS) has sadly made the the market for "Mormon Films" almost laughable itself and, in a way, annoying and pretentious.

And so, when someone comes along with a Mormon film that's actually good (STATES OF GRACE) it has an up hill battle due to everyone crying "Wolf!", or in this case "Another Sucky-Ass Mormon Movie". It's a real shame.

STATES OF GRACE is a story of the last 7 days of a missionary's 2 year mission. During this one week, he and his companion get caught up in a gang war that results in quite a few deaths and lots of bloodshed. One of the victims, a "gangsta" himself, survives a drive-by shooting (saved by the missionary who uses his tie as a tourniquet) and suddenly wants to turn his life around and learn about Jesus. So, the missionaries begin to befriend him and take him to church. From there, the film takes surprising dives into harsh reality involving porn stars, stabbings, car chases, and suicide.

This film took me by surprise and any and all expectations I had were thrown out the door by the end of the movie. Of course, there are 2 or 3 little flaws, but the acting is exceptional, the cinematography engaging, the editing is well paced, and it is the script itself that emerges as the film's #1 strength. Every line creates a world of realism that is both ugly and beautiful. And yes, I did get teary eyed at the end. Shut up.

Watch the trailer here and then go see it. In my opinion, it's Oscar Worthy.


Anonymous said...

My favorite "Morman Movie" is "Orgazmo" (1997).

Bryan said...

Steve: The best film you've seen this year was Revenge of the Sith.

Bryan said...

Also, Ian McDiarmid is the best supporting actor this year.

Steven Greenstreet said...

Orgazmo, I need to see that one. Those South Park guys are geniuses.

gunnro said...

Steve... I couldn't have said it better. Have watched it many times and it still has the same effect on me (teary eyed). Roger Gunn