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?

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

Toronto Film Festival LogoToday I finally found some time to sit down and sift through the 352 official selections of the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. Many hours later, I present to you 65 must see movies at the Toronto International Film Festival. I did the work so that you don’t have to. So why should you care about these films if you’re not making the trip up to Canada in September?

In 1998, Variety acknowledged that the Toronto International Film Festival “is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” Roger Ebert has also said that “although Cannes is still larger, Toronto is more useful and more important….”

Toronto is essentially a preview of which Independent to mid-sized film releases might be big in the next five months. The festival is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin “Oscar-buzz” for their films.

How do I know that you should see these movies? Well, in most cases I don’t. I have seen some press screenings of a couple of the films listed below (Valley of Elah, My Kid Could Paint That…) and can personally recommend them. But for the most part, I have no idea. I have cobbled this list from an exhaustive day of research. Some of the films I chose because of the director, writer, or cast. Others because of the plot synopsis.

When a review was available, I read it. If a trailer was available, I watched it. I’ve included films that were recommended to me by trusted friends. Some films that I missed but were highly reviewed at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (Son of Rambow, The Savages).

I must offer this disclaimer: I tend to be attracted to American, British and Japanese cinema to a fault. I do have a handful of picks outside my comfort realm, but if you’re looking for more “Worldly” selections, you might have to look elsewhere.

It should also be noted that some of the films (especially in the Gala and special presentation sections) will hit theaters within the next two months. Some films even hit theaters days within the festival’s conclusion. I put these movies on the list because they are movies of interest. But you, like me, might want to hold off on some of these flicks until they hit your city next month. For me, there are some films that I won’t be able to resist like Across The Universe and No Country for Old Men. I know they come out sooner rather than later, but I need to see them sooner. I’ve noted the release dates of films that are opening in the next two months, just so you have that information.

I’ll be at the festival for nine and a half days, so chances are, I won’t be able to see all of these films. The reality is, I won’t see even half of these films. I’ll be doing some interviews, so I’ve lowered my goal to around 30 movies, which most people would still consider extreme (that’s at least three movies each day of the festival).

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