Notes from the Manager
Related Strips: #226: Agree to Disagree?, Part One; #227: Agree to Disagree?, Part Two; #228: Agree to Disagree?, Part Three; #229: Flies, Vinegar, and Honey; #230: Life, the Universe, and Everything; #232: Blind Faith
The sequel no one demanded! This is a three-parter, so come back Wednesday and Friday — or come back next Monday if you hated the Expelled strips, because this is, in some ways, more of that.
Bill Maher's Religulous (now out in limited release) is actually very funny for the first hour or so, until it turns its attention to Islam, where Maher loses almost all of humor and levity that was so pervasive in the first hour (even to a fault, occasionally). Then he caps it off with a heavy-handed anti-religious diatribe that feels both unnecessary and poorly fit with the rest of the movie.
The funny parts and the legitimately thought-provoking parts still make it very much worth seeing, I think, but it is disappointing that he doesn't really give religion a fair chance to refute his main point: that religion is inherently ridiculous and harmful to society. He interviews no theologians and no Biblical scholars. Perhaps the layman's religious beliefs are really more relevant than those of a scholar, but it's a perspective he doesn't even consider. It's worth noting that he did contact a few real authorities at a few churches (i.e., the Pope and the head of the Mormons), but was refused interviews with them.
Of the people in the film, only a handful — of any religion — come off as particularly sane, and even one of them (a senior Vatican priest) is a bit nutty. The all-too-brief highlight of the film, for me, was the chat with the Vatican astronomer, who comments about the (so-called) "literal" interpretations of the Old Testament and decries the fundamentalist insistence on using the Bible as a scientific text. I would be eager to see a film really examine just that point alone for two hours.
Complaints from some people that Maher and director Larry Charles (Borat) edited his interviewees come off as crazier than they really are is a cop-out, however: he doesn't really bait anybody into saying or doing anything. He asks questions, and they answer. He does make fun of more than a few of them to their face, but the words coming out of some of their mouths is impossible to explain away by baiting. (Even if he did bait them, they still said it.) The nutty religious people on-screen really do believe what they're saying, and these people really do exist. In mass numbers.
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Monday, December 9, 2013
The Wachowskis are back to make original sci-fi stories with Jupiter Ascending, starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, and Sean Bean (among others). There are a couple of thematic similarities with The Matrix here (normal person waking up to find out they’re special, for one), but I dunno. It looks pretty?
The film opens July 25, 2014.
Here’s the official description, courtesy Coming Soon:
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.