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Movie Review: Shipping News

Story: Did'ja ever read an award winning novel and wonder what all the fuss was about? I had read E. Annie Proulx's Pulitzer prize winning book The Shipping News and hated it. Well, I didn't hate it, but, for me, it was not a good read. The main reason I went to this film was to see how director Lasse Hallstrom was going to pull this one off. Boy, was I surprised! I really liked the film and was visually dazzled. Go figure!

The story is basically about a shy widower and his young daughter. At the urging of an aunt they all move from Upstate New York to their ancestral home in Newfoundland to try to start a new life. He finds a job as a reporter for the local paper, meets some quirky characters and discovers much about his dark family history and about himself along the way. Yes, they watered down the book, but darn it, this is some great film making.

Acting: The whole cast was mighty fine. Kevin Spacey had been suffering from the post-Oscar award bad film choice syndrome but this time he hits the nail on the head. Dame Judi Dench always adds a bit of class to all her films. Julianne Moore, Rhys Ifans, Pete Postlethwaite, Scott Glenn and the Newfoundland Coast were are just terrific.

Critters: Lots of dead fish.

Food: Seal flipper pie (ugh).

Visual Art: The Newfoundland landscape is about all one can take in. Beautiful.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Opening Titles: The opening sequence was terrific.

Theater Audience: Very small group of dedicated end of the year must see everything movie go-ers.

Soundtrack: Some terrific Celtic pipe and drum music.

Predictability Level: I read the book so I was not surprised.

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps (it depends on how much the Miramax boys spend).

Nit Picking: Nothing.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. How about having a director Lasse Hallstrom weekend and rent these gems, My Life as a Dog, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? The Cider House Rules and even though I did not like this film, you probably will -- Chocolat.

Length: A bit over two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 8