This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.

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CHANGELING
While the reviews weren’t necessarily negative, the Clint Eastwood-directed Changeling opened to a surprisingly middling response, apparently falling prey to silliness and convention far too often. It was enough, however, to earn Angelina Jolie a nomination for Best Actress, despite claims by many critics that her performance detracted from the film more than enhanced it. To that I simply say, “…I WANT MY SON BACK!!”
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: 2 featurettes (Partners in Crime: Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie, The Common Thread: Angelina Jolie Becomes Christine Collins).

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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?

In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave, Devindra, and Adam are joined by the Onion AV Club’s Amelie Gillette and together they tear apart the notion of a Blade Runner sequel, try to figure out if they trust James Cameron more than McG, and spend some time discussing the finer points of religion while reviewing Bill Maher’s Religulous.

Have any questions, comments, concerns, feedback, or praise? E-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993.  Join us next next week as we review Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies.

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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]

As reported by Jeff Wells awhile back, Religulous has started playing in two theaters (one in NYC and one in Claremont, CA) to fulfill Rule 12 of the Academy’s eligibility rules for Best Documentary nominations. The theaters themselves are out of the way (apparently the one in New York is all the way up on 181st St.) and the film is playing with very little accompanying publicity, as it doesn’t officially open until October 3rd; indeed I spoke with Chud‘s Devin Faraci this morning, who saw the film last night in Claremont, and he told me that the theater was half full (although those in attendance enjoyed themselves), and that the film appeared to be playing off of a videotape, indicated by soft edges and poor sound quality.

As a consequence of these early showings, some more reviews are starting to roll in (other than the ones we’ve already seen), giving some insightful impressions into the film. Devin’s review of Religulous went up last night and he gave the movie a 9 out of 10, saying:

As a piece of agitprop op-ed filmmaking, Religulous is often brilliant. It’s definitely hilarious, sometimes to the point of leaving me wheezing and giggling. It’s also essentially irrefutable – the argument between Maher and the believers really boils down to ‘Why do you like chocolate?’ The problem is that nobody makes huge political and military decisions based on how they feel about chocolate. The film’s final moments, where Maher make a passionate exhortation to like-minded doubters to stand up against the irrationality that has gripped our world…could be galvanizing to that silent 16% of Americans – a minority, by the way, bigger than blacks or Jews.

Several episodes back on the /Filmcast, some of us expressed concern that the film was playing to Maher’s weaker aspects as a comedian: namely, his ability to conduct humorous, on-the-spot interviews. Devin seems to think that the film plays to his strengths as an interviewer his HBO show, Real Time, which is a relief to hear. Additionally, Faraci says that the film’s interviews with religious types seem fair and don’t feel like “Gotcha”-type shakedown pieces.

Robert Koehler’s review also went up on Variety last night, calling the ending extremely provocative. According to Koehler:

[The ending] minutes, though, will catch [audiences] up short: Suddenly, the laughs die down, and as in his closing monologues on “Real Time,” Maher turns deadly serious with a final statement that will stir raging arguments in theater lobbies. Considering he was once a minor comic on the circuit and a supporting thesp in generally awful film comedies, Maher’s transformation into one of America’s sharpest social critics is remarkable. He takes no script credit, but his periodic monologues to the camera are undeniably written, and written well.

As a Christian myself, I’m very interested to see how this film treats religion, and whether it will further galvanize the modern Atheist movement, personified by the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens, that seems to be gripping America these days.

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

New Religulous Video Clip

MSN has a new clip from Larry Charles’ Religulous, Bill Maher‘s comic journey to understand organized religion. In the new clip, Maher argues with a Senator about the scientific stance on evolution.

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/religulousclip3.flv 430 246]

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