The red-band trailer for Good Dick, an idiosyncratic, Los Angeles-set romance starring Jason Ritter and writer-director Marianna Palka which played earlier this year at Sundance, earns a cocked eyebrow or two, with its sullen leading lady’s assaultive use of the word penis. But it seems very much an achingly constructed indie “thing,” and suffers as well from Ritter’s bland anonymous face. All apologies to his late father, but Ritter is like Jason Behr or Ryan Merriman or one of those mop-haired Canadians that get cast in runaway productions lensing in Vancouver — guys that look conventionally attractive, at once familiar and utterly forgettable. You know, future Edward Burns-types. When I see them cast, I inwardly yawn.
Filling one of its tent-pole slots in customary fashion with a big studio film set for impending release, AFI Fest 2008 will screen Edward Zwick’s Defiance as its closing night selection on November 9, it was announced today. Starring Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Liev Schreiber, the movie tells the story of three Jewish brothers who struggle to stay alive during World War II, escaping Nazi-occupied Poland and joining Russian resistance fighters. The film is tentatively slated for release, via Paramount Vantage, on December 19.
Ever a fickle mistress, Los Angeles traffic today cost me about the first 15 minutes of Bill Maher’s Religulous, which I’ll now be seeing again later for review, but it’s an effective, persuasive argument-cum-documentary snapshot of organized religion as an instrument by which large numbers of people are funneled to destructive means.
Helmed by Borat director Larry Charles (above left), the film is a loose-limbed investigatory piece, with Maher traipsing around the globe to interview priests, politicians, theologians, converted Evangelical homosexuals, theme park crucifixion re-enacters and all other manner of faith-peddlers, as well as a few fellow skeptics. There’s some slight over-interjection of text/media asides of snarky commentary (I’m surprised, too, that they got the rights to some of these audiovisual clips, like from Universal’s Scarface, say), but the film is an engaging, alive thing, no doubt. Talking loudly, at they are wont to do, the religious right of the United States will of course get their panties in a wad over the perceived attack on their moral mooring, but Maher goes to decent lengths to separate ethical behavior (not killing, or raping) from organized religion, and besides, (modern) Christian fundamentalism gets off a bit (emphasis on that word) easier than Islam, whose most violent passages from the Koran are raised with Muslim scholars but never quite satisfyingly addressed. More soon on the film, which opens in limited release October 3 from Lionsgate.