City Of Angels (1998)

(On DVD, March 2005) It would be too easy to dismiss City Of Angels as romantic clap-trap about angels, impossible fairytale romance and cheap existential questions. It would be even easier to dismiss the film as a slow-moving morass of fabricated sentiment with an unclear mythology and a script that couldn’t be more obvious if it included subtitles about the screenwriter’s intentions. But to do so would be to ignore, unfairly, the delicious frisson of wonder at some of the film’s visuals: The “angels” watching over Los Angeles like so many dark crows. The idea that angels hang out at libraries (oh, c’mon; even stone-cold atheists would like this one to be true). The handful of scenes that make you go “hey… that’s nice.” Dennis Franz’s performance as a fallen angel who has learnt to appreciate life. Granted, in order to get to these things you have to suffer through love scenes between Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage. (Ergh.) And possibly fast-forward through chunks of the film. And certainly try not to giggle at the splat-ending, or the contrived death scenes. But even cynics may find two or three things worth keeping about this film, and that’s almost two or three more than they would expect.

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