This is interesting: Netflix has got loads of documentaries on Instant Watch, and there are enough that I haven’t seen in order to make a new theme day. I can tell you’re all really excited by this. And lo, on this the fourth day of February in the year 2012, I decree that Documentary Saturday will now commence!
I think Bill’s an atheist.
Bill Maher travels the world to meet the true believers, and argue with them.
I’m from the UK. Bill Maher isn’t really known over here except among people who go out of their way to follow American pop culture and politics, and the cross-over between the two. But me, well, I’ve seen Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death* and a few clips of Politically Incorrect on YouTube so I’m just vaguely familiar with him. I was surprised by how vehement he is towards religion though, although the outward depiction of that strength of feeling is tempered by his comedy. Comedy. That seems to be the one unifying characteristic in all the people Bill speaks to in the film (with one notable exception): a complete lack of a sense of humour. I find it worrying when a person has something in their life that they cannot laugh about.
I figured I might throw out a list here.
Things I learned by watching Religulous:
- Bill Maher really doesn’t like organised religion.
- Some (well, one anyway) Catholic priests seem like fun guys to get drunk with.
- There is a church devoted to pot in Amsterdam. It has no dogma or tenets, and seems to revolve around nothing more than smoking lots of weed and accidentally setting your hair on fire.
- The sooner America gets an atheist President, the better off the world will be.
- I want to move to Amsterdam.
In the interests of full disclosure, this is the point where I tell you that I am not a religious man. In this debate I would be mostly on Bill’s side, although I’m not entirely convinced when he says that religious people meet the definition of insanity. Amongst the religious people I know, that aspect of them is like a personality quirk in my eyes. It’s the same as my fondness for chocolate sauce on my ham sandwich. Just part of who they are, but as long as they don’t try to make me do it too it’s nothing for me to worry about. Saying that, I don’t know anyone you could come close to describing as an extremist. Once you get to that sort of territory then yes, my friend, you are whack-a-doodle.
Larry Charles (Borat) directed this movie, and you can take your opinion of his and Sacha Baron Cohen’s earlier adventure in winding up close-minded folk as a pretty good indicator of whether you will enjoy this or not. Personally I really liked it, both as a film to be watched and on the deeper level as a vindication of my own point of view on the matter. There were one or two moments where things seemed to be starting to veer towards “let’s point and laugh at the idiots” instead of just trying to engage in a debate but Maher and Charles managed to tiptoe on that line without falling over it. It wouldn’t have done the thesis any harm to have one or two slightly more credible interviewees though.
Technically, there’s nothing to complain about. The film looks good and the sound quality is clear, but won’t exactly trouble your 5.1 set-up. The edit is a work of art though. Cutting down probably weeks’ worth of material into a cohesive film must have been an absolute nightmare.
Oh, and here’s another list.
Things I didn’t learn by watching Religulous:
- How the hell do you say “Religulous”? Seriously, is it a hard G or a soft G? This has been bugging me since I first heard about the film.
- How many death threats came as a direct result of the flick.
*Yes, it is a real movie. It is also the winner of the Best Movie Title Ever award. Captain America was runner-up.