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.