Comedian, writer and politically incorrect HBO talk-show host Bill Maher takes time off from his regular hosting duties to perform a hilariously scathing stand-up set in this comedy special... See full summary »
Letting Go of God is a humorous monologue by Julia Sweeney chronicling her search for God. She begins in the Catholic church, the religion her family raised her in, and takes a Bible study ... See full summary »
Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Richard Dawkins' highly critical documentary attacks the pulsing heart of all mainstream religion- faith; with special focus on Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Contains repeated ... See full summary »
Bill Maher interviews some of religion's oddest adherents. Muslims, Jews and Christians of many kinds pass before his jaundiced eye. Maher goes to a Creationist Museum in Kentucky, which shows that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time 5000 years ago. He talks to truckers at a Truckers' Chapel. (Sign outside: "Jesus love you.") He goes to a theme park called Holy Land in Florida. He speaks to a rabbi in league with Holocaust deniers. He talks to a Muslim musician who preaches hatred of Jews. Maher finds the unlikeliest of believers and, in a certain Vatican priest, he even finds an unlikely skeptic. Written by
During the sequence set inside the Dome of the Rock, Bill Maher and his guide are approached by two men who are upset, speak in Arabic and are supposedly talking about Maher is "not funny". In reality, what they are saying is "We don't normally hang out here..." and "The boss only gives us five minutes..." See more »
After the credits, there is one last clip of Bill Maher with his mother and sister. He tells them "I'll see you in heaven", and they laugh. His mother says "who knows," and there is a title card "In loving memory of Julie Maher, 1919-2007". See more »
Some food for thought but Maher undermines himself by being silly, picking easy targets and not being as intelligent in his approach as he is capable of
I was really looking forward to this film because the one thing I hate on Real Time is when Bill Maher goes off on one about religion, making massive sweeping statements about people not being allowed to vote if they believe in angels etc. It is not that I disagree with the basic argument he says but just that he doesn't seem to have a lot to back it up and, the odd time he is called on it by the guests he will move along and not really seem to have much behind his general opinion that people with religious beliefs are idiots. So for me this film was not an opportunity to get more annoyed by this but rather give him my undivided attention and let him lay out his case.
He manages to do this here and there but nowhere near consistent or good enough to make an argument capable of changing minds although perhaps good enough to provide food for thought. At the end of the film he gives a very good speech that sums up his film and this is probably the strongest part of the whole film as it challenges and makes reasonable points. OK it is loaded with imagery that backs up his points in a very blunt way but I can forgive him for this. What I have a problem with is that the rest of the film doesn't have this same core of logic and reasoned argument. He hits it here and there but too often he is doing two things. The first of these two things is that he will never give up an easy joke and this is not helped that his goal often seems to be that he seems very keen to mock people rather than reason with them. Hence we get the personal barbed remarks that are thrown out for the audience but the interviewees either don't hear or don't get their response shown. The second thing he does is select really weak people if his goal is anything other than mockery. I do agree with a lot of what Bill says particularly about the role of religion in world politics. I do believe in the concept that religious tenants within people's personal lives as guides and moral foundation is something I can live with but when things are taken as fact and taken totally literally then things get out of hand. So I do want to see Bill present a more rounded argument and have that debate with people who can talk to him at the same sort of intellectual level.
Sadly what we get are interviews with a priest who is a self-appointed doctor, a man who plays Jesus at the Holy Land theme park, a Muslim extremist British rapper (who let me say has ZERO profile over here), a man who is a reformed homosexual, a man who claims to be descended directly from Jesus and thus now leads the one true church and others of similar quality. We do have experts on the roster but they are mainly used to back up what Maher is saying. Now, I know many people do not like him, but to me Maher is too smart to need to be protected from reasonable discussion. The only exception I would give is the one priest he talks to who seems very liberal and open to taking the basics of his religion and getting away from dogma and ritual. Outside of him though Maher does not have a hard time showing them up but, when he occasionally gets someone who is a bit more careful with language and phrasing and can prevent themselves sounding like nuts, the film uses an even more cowardly trick. What we get are Maher filmed in the car talking about the interview, which very much gives him the final word and allows him to make responses and ridicule once the individual is not there to respond anymore. I do like Maher enough to watch his stuff, but this is a cheap trick and cheapens the film by extension. Of course this doesn't look as bad when you consider the heavy editing in of footage from other films some of it is fine to provide images, stimuli or just as a base but again mostly this is used to mock the subjects after the fact, the most unnecessary and annoying example being the use of Scarface the guy was doing fine making himself look crazy, it didn't need the heavy hand.
I read a comment on this website that said if you disagree with Maher then the film is not for you, it is about you sadly I have to agree with that. This film will do best with those who are coming to watch Maher put the boot in without a lot of finesse or intelligence just like he often does on Real Time. There are plenty of moments where he makes very good points and allows his subjects to talk themselves into a corner but too often he is selecting weak targets (people at a theme park!), mocking them with easy gags, letting them make themselves look like idiots (which many are) and then standing back as if he has proved something beyond the point that this person, right here, is an idiot, which he has not. It is a real shame because this should be a film for everyone even if not everyone likes it. If he is serious about his plea for moderates to look in the mirror then he needs to make a film that does that and, sadly, this isn't it. It provides food for thought and I did find it a rousing challenge to religion but it is nowhere near the film that he should have made.
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