Monday, September 17, 2007

Catching Up: Reviews pt.2



RELIGULOUS: A Conversation with Bill Maher and Larry Charles



As the title suggests, this is more a conversation with the two titular stars, than that of a film. The pair discuss the making of, and the ideas behind their upcoming film RELIGULOUS, a documentary that takes a satirical stab at organized religions across the world. Mahr and Charles spoke without a filter about their views on religion with the mentality of: “No one knows what happens when we die, so why make up stories and pretend like we do”? The results were eye opening, thought provoking, and utterly hilarious. The audience spent the majority of the hour and half program practically in tears laughing, as was I. The film promises to be the next BORAT, and after viewing 30 minutes of the work in progress, I can tell you I will be the first in line. This was my Sunday service.


THE BAND’S VISIT



Story follows a traveling Egyptian police band that gets stranded at an Isreali airport on their way to perform at the opening of an Israeli cultural centre. Without a host or place to stay, the band relies on the kindness of a café owner and fellow villagers for food and shelter, and in the process, discover a great deal of similarities that bridge strenuous cultural differences. It’s a gentle souffle of a comedy that allows the characters room to breath with minimal dialogue, and while funny and heartworming, the film never illicits a reaction it did not earn. Focus is on only a few central characters, but each is handled carefully with a specific path, and when their paths intersect, their connections allow the film to shine. Looking back, this was a breath of fresh air among the dark and serious fare.


OPERATION FILMMAKER



Documentary following what happens when the film crew on Liev Schreiber’s EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED invites a young Iraqi to work on their set after his film school is destroyed in the U.S. invasion. What follows is an unexpected turn of events after the young man fails to live up to expectations and proceeds to frustrate those around him, resulting in many broken relationships, including the documentary filmmaker’s. The film begs the question: What is the role of the documentary filmmaker, and how does this change the film and it's subject when he/she becomes involved? The director, Nina Davenport at first appears to have found the perfect character with the perfect idealistic story, but as the film progresses, we realize the person we’re following is not necessarily the person we thought, and he, as well, discovers the hard way; he may not be the person he thinks he is either. Davenport cleverly identifies parallels with that of the Iraq invasion with what is occurring on screen. The metaphor provides insight and perspective into the escalating tensions between her and her subject, and allows for a similar, unfortunate conclusion. Riveting from start to finish.

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