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Tonight in TV news: In a bid to get more live viewers for Fringe, Fox is building up this week’s upcoming Observer-heavy with a large scale viral marketing campaign, dubbed internally as “Observer Week”. The bald-headed character was one of the most intriguing elements of Fringe’s first season, and was notable for appearing “Where’s Waldo” style in the background of many episodes. Fans ate it up, and Fox fed the fire by having the actor appear on the network in other capacities, like this NFL game.

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Bruno Blu-Ray Breakdown and Video Commentary Clips

Available from November 17th in the US, but this Monday November the 9th here in the UK, are the DVD and Blu-ray special editions of Bruno. I absolutely loved the film, and still consider it amongst my few favourite films of the year. This is what I want from the crossover between documentary and fiction, not silly pranks like Paranormal Activity.

I’m just through with the Bruno Blu-ray disc and, frankly, have been floored by the special features it contains. As well as the expected alternative, deleted and extended scenes there’s a brilliant enhanced commentary with Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles that I found almost as entertaining as the movie proper. This is the real reason to buy the disc. Even Bruno naysayers might be interested in finding out who we see in the film was actually in on the act, and who was unsuspecting.

After the break, more on the disc’s features and some clips from the video commentary.

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In terms of pouring a glass of water into an active volcano (frequented by aliens?), a $10 million final domestic gross for Religulous will be seen as a success. As other blogs have reported, outrage over the documentary was nil, which is unsurprising yet absurd given that the film shows Bill Maher and Larry Charles declaring a majority of Americans and the world’s citizens to be delusional, ignorant, conspiratorial and complicit in allowing fantasy football-like teams to quicken and encourage the world’s end. These are thematic points that might lead the average jaded dude to shrug, “No shit,” “These two guys need to go buy a Porsche already,” and “Life of Brian was funnier.”

Reviewing the film for the Village Voice, J. Hoberman observed that, [Religulous is] ultimately a celebration of the old-time religion we call entertainment.” And one of my favorite scenes is when Maher interviews a young Christian guy at the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando (shades of Universal Studios) who casually brings up parallels between his religion and Star Wars. With the acceleration of movie-based fandom, I entertained whether proteges of Maher and Charles will make a similar documentary many years from now decrying that Star Wars was only “a fiction,” George Lucas a charlatan. Essentially, Religulous aspires to mock and destroy various older fandoms, ones with $1000 collectibles, conventions, a ginormous hierarchy of fan-fic and the occasional passive-aggressive/murderous relationship with outsiders. In other words, it’s an angrier, far more dumbfounded and epic Trekkies, and Charles wants to turn it into an HBO series

“My hope is that the movie is successful enough, and I’ve already talked to Lionsgate about this, but I would like to take the 400 hours [of Religulous footage]  and cut it into half hours and like sell it to HBO or something,” Charles tells AICN’s Quint. So people can see a lot of the stuff that didn’t make it into the movie. …I would love to be involved with that. I mean I could work on this movie in one form or another for the rest of my life really, I’m happy.”

Given that Maher already has a show and longterm relationship at HBO, and Charles has a hand in both Curb Your Enthusiasm and “Kanye West’s CYB,” the possibility of a series (or a series of specials) based on their theatrical effort seems likely, no?

Discuss: Should Larry Charles and Bill Maher proceed with taking Religulous to TV? Would you watch it?

The Motley Crüe biopic, The Dirt, is one of those long-fabled projects, complete with dream casting (Chris Walken as Ozzie!) befitting Inglorious Bastards circa 1999, that may never see the darkness of a theater. Borat and Religulous director, Larry Charles, has been attached to helm for some time and tells Coming Soon that his NC-17 vision is probably too nihilistic for Hollywood. The first sentence is a keeper…

“…Motley Crüe is a crappy band but [Neil Strauss] wrote a really epic book about them. It’s really fascinating. What’s good about it is how hardcore it is. They’ve killed people, they’ve hurt people, they’ve crippled people, they’ve done all kinds of crazy things. You’d have to show that for real and I think there was a little bit of reticence about doing that ultimately. But for me, I would do it if it could be done the proper way. If it’s going to be sanitized then they don’t need me to do it. They could find somebody else to do that.”

Bummer. We’d much rather see Strauss’ The Dirt developed into a feature than his bestseller The Game, the pick-up-chicks guide favored by every lonely grad student ever. In the meantime, Charles is currently developing a new HBO series in the vein of his Curb Your Enthusiasm for Kanye West. He says this too is facing hurdles…

“So it’s like a Kanye and ‘Curb’ show, it’s kind of improvised about the situations and stuff. It was really good, but again I think it was too hardcore for HBO. [HBO prexy] Sue Naegle has taken over and I want to show it to her and see how she responds to it.”

Larry Charles: not taking off his sunglasses.

Discuss: For those who have read it, do you agree that The Dirt would make a cool NC-17 flick? What about an uncensored Kanye West-as-Larry David half hour series?

TIFF Review: Religulous

Larry Charles’ Religulous is a film I’ve been looking forward to since the project was first announced. I have a few confessions: I loved Charles’ Borat and I’ve been an avid viewer of Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect over the years. I grew up Catholic, but Maher’s views on world religion pretty much mirrors my current opinions. So it’s sad to report that while I did enjoy Religulous greatly, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be.

The basic gist involves Bill Maher traveling the world to various locations, meeting with experts and followers of various different religions. These interactions usually end with Maher making jokes at their expense or giving the participants just enough room to hang themselves. The idea is for the participants to look stupid and for Maher to prevail with simple logic.

Religulous is very funny, but its not your typical documentary. Maher takes advantage of manipulative techniques such as using subtitles or superimposed text on screen to contradict or ridicule what the participants are saying to the camera. Don’t get me wrong, by calling the techniques manipulative, doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the resulting footage. The comedic style of documentary allows for such unusual and usually unethical ideas. Also, the editing is top notice, inter-cutting stock footage throughout for further comic effect.

My biggest criticism of Religulous is that it focuses on comedy over content. The only real substance comes in the form of a few monologues that Maher filmed throughout his travels in various different biblical locations. If you’ve seen Maher’s well written rants at the conclusion of his New Rules segment, then you have some idea of what to expect. It is here where we learn the film’s only true informational gem – that another god predates Jesus that was also born on December 25th, walked on water, and was resurrected after death which is slight proof that religion is just the further perpetuation of ageless myths as fact.

At the end of the day I would have rather seen Maher take a more serious view on world religion. Hearing Maher and more specifically Larry Charles, speak on the subject of Religion in the post screening Q&A was incredibly fascinating. I want to see that documentary. It could have been more itneresting to see Maher placed in conflict with academics who can stand their own ground. But from a pure entertainment standard, Religulous succeeds with flying colors.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Video Blog: Religulous Protest

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/torprotestors1.flv 300 226]

On Saturday night, a group of protesters picketed the premiere of Larry CharlesReligulous, the Bill Maher anti-religion documentary. I caught some footage of the protesters in action (above). I was initally told that they were trying to have the screening shut down. So when I went over to interview them, I’ll admit that I was probably a little aggressive in my questioning. But it turned out that the protesters weren’t anti-free speech after all. And while I might not agree, I respect their stance. I’ve just never understood the practicality of the idea of protests against movies. Doesn’t it always end up bringing more attention and publicity to the films in question? And the third clip shows Maher’s funny response when someone asked during the Q&A, if he had hired the protesters to promote the film.

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/torprotestors2.flv 300 226]

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/tormarresponse.flv 300 226]

Religulous is Now Playing in Two Movie Theaters

Larry CharlesReligulous is scheduled to hit theaters in October. But did you know that the Bill Maher documentary is already playing in a couple theaters right now? In order to meet the Academy’s rule #12 which states that a “a documentary feature must complete both a seven-day commercial run in a theater in Los Angeles County, and a seven-day commercial run in a theater in the borough of Manhattan between September 1, 2007 and August 31, 2008″ to be considered for the Best Documentary Oscar.

So right now the film is playing twice daily at Laemmle’s Claremont 5 in Claremont, CA and the Creative Entertainment Coliseum Quad on 181st Street in New York City. So if you’re near either city, you might want to buy a ticket. I’m sure it will only be a matter of days before some LA and New York journalists buy a ticket and file a review online. I will be seeing the film in a couple weeks at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

via: Jeff Wells

Religulous Movie Poster (For Canada, Of Course)

Ding, ding.

via Hollywood Elsewhere

Discuss: What do you think of the poster? Why didn’t Lionsgate use a poster like this in the U.S.? Also, anyone notice that grandparents really love Space Chimps?

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