Revving Up For Religulous?

Religulous,One summer movie that we have not seen much presence on the Net for is Religulous, June’s pro-agnostic documentary from Borat director Larry Charles and media personality Bill Maher. I think there is a huge market for this film in America, comparable to 2004′s Fahrenheit 9/11 and its wide and diverse theatrical audience (remember all of the omnipresent and simultaneous boo’s and claps in the theater for that one?).Yet, I’ve been disappointed to see that there is still no official website, no viral marketing and no requisite outrage for the doc. IMDB has Religulous marked for a limited release in the states, but I think that defeats the purpose. If this was released as wide as Fahrenheit 9/11 was would the bigger theater chains hesitate to book the film when a few of their customers start protesting outside and on the news? It’d be interesting to watch.

Moreover, no matter your views, this is a discourse that America needs to get out of its system and out from behind close doors. If presidential nominees can make speeches about their faith and its importance to the country, then we as a people can go to the theater and hear questions candidly brought up that we’ve all asked ourselves about each side’s views. It’s gotten too damn stuffy to use old lady slang.

A few days ago, Bill Maher was on Conan and it seems like he’s finally ready to drum up some attention and indirect controversy for the film (and for himself, of course). He’s not holding back either; even Conan’s Freud-like beard was taken aback when he said the following…

“You can’t be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you’re drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god. That doesn’t make you a person of faith…That makes you a schizophrenic.”

Does this comment turn you off or make you more curious to see the film?

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ReligulousLionsgate Films has finally set an official release date for Religulous, Larry Charles‘ follow-up to Borat. Bill Maher hosts this documentary which takes on the the current state of religion. I saw a bunch of footage from this film at Toronto this year, and the festival-goers packed in a huge auditorium were laughing out loud throughout.

Maher had originally said that they were planning to release the film around Easter for maxim controversy, but it appears those plans have been scrapped. Religulous will now hit theaters on June 20th 2008, up against two comedies: Get Smart and The Love Guru. Seems like a bad date on the calendar if you ask me.

After further research, I was able to find that Michael Moore’s Sicko came out on the same week in 2007. Studios sometimes stick similar movies in similar dates, year after year. For example: The Star Wars May release date always gets a big action sci-fi film. I understand the reasoning of this type of calendar planning with big releases, but I think smaller films and documentaries probably deserve a different assessment. But what do I know?

Sundance 2008

Yesterday Sundance announced the competition films for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Today the Institute has released the rest of the line-up, which will play out-of-competition sections of Premieres, Spectrum, New Frontier, and Park City at Midnight. Highlights include:

  • The previously announced opening night film In Bruges starring Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell.
  • The Great Buck Howard starring Colin Hanks as a law school dropout who answers an advertisement to be a a washed up illusionist’s (played by John Malkovich) personal assistant. Emily Blunt and Tom Hanks also star.
  • Visionary director Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, about a man (Jack Black) whose body accidentally becomes magnetized unintentionally erases every tape in his friend’s (Mos Def) video store. The pair set out to remake the lost films in a film about the magic of movies and filmmaking.
  • Bill Maher’s directorial debut, Sleepwalking, about a young man who is faced with the prospect of losing his abandoned young niece to a foster home. Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, and Woody Harrelson, star.
  • Morgan Spurlock’s follow-up to 2004′s Super Size Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? follows Spurlock’s quest to fint the world’s most wanted man.
  • Smart People, a romantic dramedy about a a widowed professor who gets an unexpected visit from his adopted brother. Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, and Ellen Page star.
  • American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Towel Head. The film follows the life of a 13-year-old Arab-American girl who is forced to live with her father. I saw this film at Toronto and it has the same underlying energy of American Beauty. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Toni Collette, and Summer Bishil star.
  • U2 3D: A 3-D presentation of U2′s global “Vertigo” tour.
  • Barry Levinson’s adaptation of What Just Happened? stars Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart, and Robin Wright Penn. The movie follows two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer (De Niro) who’s having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
  • XX/XY director Austin Chick’s new film August, about two brothers fighting to keep their start-up company afloat on Wall Street during August 2001, a month before the 9/11 terrorist attack. Josh Hartnett and Adam Scott star.
  • The Duplass Brothers return to Sundance following their acclaimed 2005 low budget indie film The Puffy Chair. Baghead explores “the minutiae of relationship dynamics in this in-depth study of a group of desperate actor friends. And a bag. And a head.”
  • Cashback director Sean Ellis’s horror thriller The Brøken starring Lena Headey (300) as a woman who sees herself driving by in her own car on a busy London street. Stunned, she trails the mystery woman as events take an eerie turn into a living nightmare.
  • Michael Haneke’s American remake of Funny Games starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt..
  • Quentin Tarantino presents Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride, a “bloody, sexy tale of motorcycle revenge” starring Larry Bishop, Dennis Hopper, and Michael Madsen
  • Otto; or Up With Dead People, a movie about a lonely gay zombie searches for love and meaning in contemporary Berlin.
  • Spainish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes follows a man accidentally travels back to the past, only to meet himself there and encounters a series of mysteries that all lead to an unthinkable crime. I’m a sucker for Time Travel.

Check out the full announcement/line-up after the jump.
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Religulous Movie Poster

Religulous

Lionsgate gave us the teaser poster for Religulous, the upcoming documentary from Borat director Larry Charles. The poster features Bill Maher’s face on a grilled cheese sandwich with the tag-line “Do You Smell Something Burning?” Check out the poster after the jump, we’ll have some extensive coverage of today’s Toronto Film Festival screening and question and answer session with Charles and Bill Maher later today. Please check back.

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First Look: Bill Maher’s Religulous

religulous

Lionsgate has confirmed a report we published two weeks ago, that the Bill Maher Religion documentary is titled Religulous. Maher and director Larry Charles (Borat) will be at the Toronto Film Festival in early September to preview some footage and hold a question and answer session. Lionsgate has also released the first official still from the film (seen above) and has a released listed as Spring 2008, which may gel with Maher’s plan to release the film on Easter for maxim controversy.

Photo Caption: Larry Charles and Bill Maher during production on their documentary RELIGULOUS. Photo credit: Alexandra Lambrinidis

Bill MaherBill Maher revealed to Larry King that the documentary he filmed with Larry Charles (Borat) might be called “Religulous,”  a combination of religion and ridiculous. The film follows Bill Maher’s take on the current state of world religion, which is clearly an Agnostic view. We don’t know much else, because, well – no one has seen the footage yet.

“I hope people laugh. We’ve shown ten minutes. That’s all we have so far, we’re still cutting it together. But the ten minutes we’ve shown, and I’ve seen it shown to audiences twice, they laugh so hard because the topic of religion is just so inherently funny. I mean, politicians are funny because they promise things that they can never deliver on. And the gap between what they promise and what they deliver is great fun for humor – for people like Mark Twain to people of our own day have demonstrated. What religious people promise: Your own planet? [Laughs] C’mon, that’s a little beyond social security!”

The film which had the working title A Spiritual Journey, was filmed around the world.

“We talked to everybody. We went everywhere. We went to every place where there is religion. We went to Vatican City. We went to Jerusalem. We went to Salt Lake City. And I think I’ve insulted everybody!” Maher said win a big grin.

Maher says that they were given amazing access to a lot of locations which have never been filmed before including the Wailing Wall, the dome of the rock, and even inside the Vatican.

“We found out that even though the sign says you’re not allowed to enter here, there are so many tourists and now-a-days when you make a documentary like this it’s so much guerrilla shooting that you don’t have a big crew. You just pretend your tourists and shoot and then you can make a movie.”

And while nothing has been officially announced by Lionsgate, Maher’s current plan is to release the film on Easter.

“I’d like it out right around the time people are celebrating the space man flying up to heaven.”

Hey, it worked for The Matrix

Bill MaherWe’re really excited about this one. Someone has finally acquired US distribution rights to the Larry Charles/Bill Maher anti-Religion documentary. From what I understand footage from the film was shown at Cannes in an attempt to nab a buyer. The footage was said to be amazing, but most studios were afraid to make a move due to the controversial nature of the doc. Not much is known about the film. This is Charles first project since directing Borat. Maher promises that “this movie will make you laugh so hard you’ll pray for it to stop.” Lionsgate hopes to expand into 1,000 screens with this release which makes me wonder if it is expected to have that much mass appeal. The film has been hyped as “Borat” meets “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

When it was first announced, the documentary was described as “examining the presence of religion in many of the big news stories of recent years, from Muslim riots over cartoons to the Ten Commandments in front of courthouses, a born-again Christian in the White House and Scientology in the birthing room.” “Is religion an obsessive-compulsive disorder?” asks Charles, who bills his movie as “Bill Maher vs. the Anti-Christ (or is Bill Maher the Anti-Christ?)”

Maher is notoriously not a man of faith. Maher routinely refers to religion as a “neurological disorder.” But many people have incorrectly credited Maher as an Atheist.

Bill Maher teams up with Larry Charles

Bill Maher

Several Months ago it was announced that Bill Maher would be making a documentary on religion titled A Spiritual Journey. It was since announced that Seinfeld writer/Borat director Larry Charles would be directing the doc. The first details have emerged from this year’s Berlin Film Festival and its adjoining European Film Market, and I can’t wait to see this one.

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