The festival goes from strength to strength. We arrived early at Lars Hochstead Auditorium to queue for Religulous, Bill Maher’s new movie, directed by Larry Charles, of Borat fame. It’s a tour de force, and ought to easily win the people’s choice award, and might. It’s a well made documentary, full of insight and humor, clever editing, and not out on general release yet, so there were dire warnings and searches for recording devices as we went in. Yep – guys in black suits with beeping wands, just like at an airport, and the same creepy feeling that the world has gone wrong.
Basically, Maher outlines the whole premise of the movie early on. Why is it that you can talk to intelligent people about intelligent things, but when you stray into religious matters with these same people, they suddenly invoke their “faith” and the matter is closed? Off limits. Irreverent. Blasphemous. Why? Maher and Charles do a fantastic job, exposing hypocrisy on all fronts, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. The movie is full of decent people who have been trained to stop thinking deeply, and scoundrels who exploit the situation. Perhaps most frightening is Ken Hahn, the proprietor of the creationist theme park in Kansas (as I recall), who has led a vast enterprise of nonsense devoted to reconciling the Bible with science. Of course, this involves falsifying science, so that we get dinosaurs cavorting with people, and a triceratops with a saddle, because if the Bible says the earth is 6000 years old, then it has to be made to appear 6000 years old, and carbon dating can go to hell, etc. The rationale behind this, as explained by Ken, is that if ANY ONE part of the Bible is not true – and for these idiots the only kind of truth is literal, historical truth – then we are free to reject ALL of the Bible as untrue. So you see, they are involved in a vast, rear guard action to buttress the mythical truth of the Bible with bogus scientific truth. God preserve us from small minds!
We had to run to make it for the second movie of the day, over at the State Theater, a mockumentary by Sabina Guzzanti entitled Sympathy for the Lobster. I love Guzzanti’s work. She’s funny, intelligent, and beautiful! This movie explores the world of Italian politics, like her previous film, Viva Zapatereo, which we saw last year. I was left thinking about what it might take to become an Italian – the sea, the language, the beauty, the joy of living and sitting around drinking together – and have resolved to purchase a bottle of Cinzano asap.
Sabina appeared on stage with Michael Moore after the show and took questions in her charming way, and then it was time to leave. By this time the audience was down to half full, and we were ushered out under high security because Madonna was due to make her appearance outside any time. People had been gathering for hours, hoping to catch a glimpse. Barricades were set up, and corridors of people parted as we turned into the bright sun. A grand phalanx of big cameras behind us, and screaming crowds – my one and only taste of fame, albeit vicarious. We moved on, and left the mayhem to the fans, one of whom (I read later) paid $450 for a ticket on eBay to see “Madonna’s” movie, “I am because we are”. Can’t help thinking it sounds like Colbert’s book …. or was it O’Reilly’s book??
Our last movie was at 9:00 pm back at Lars Hochstead, a quirky little Sweedish romance/vampire film called, Let the Right One In. It was billed as “visually stunning”, but I would disagree. It seemed to be mostly filmed in the swampy glow of fluorescent lights during the long Sweedish winter. It had its moments, but was mostly a damp squib. Maybe it was some sort of AIDS metaphor that just went right over my head.