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Bitter Balcony Throws The First Stone with Religulous!!!



Bitter Balcony is about to get sacrilegious with Larry Charles' docu-comedy “Religulous.” HBO's talk-show host Bill Maher takes a cynical look at organized religion, as he often does in his "Real Time" panels. He strikes a chord with many of his guests and detractors by questioning how religious figures and institutions hold sway over politics and society.

Maher, aided by "Borat" director Charles, goes on his own “Religulous” pilgrimage to discover what compels people to believe and segregate others with tepidly proven and open-to-interpretation tales. Maher confronts practitioners of different faiths ranging from an actor who portrays Jesus in an Orlando Christ-passioned theme park, to the very stoned Reverend Ferre van Beveren of the First Universal Church of Cantheism. Maher spouts factoids that discredit beliefs, targeting ecclesiastical giants Islam and the Catholic church to cults like Scientology and Miami's own Growing In Grace International Ministry.

"Religulous" is another Larry Charles documentary structured like a road movie. Maher's journey to demystify the sacred takes him from the grounds of Megiddo to the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City and back to Vatican City. While Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat was a crass, yet innocent protagonist avalanching his ignorance on unsuspecting Americans, Maher is a tactical and cunning Doubting Thomas, putting his subjects on the spot and judging their beliefs and the contradictions of their actions.

Director Charles inter-splices classic religious films and visceral images (a quick shot of a naked nun getting her breast sucked will catch even the most addicted porn viewer by surprise). Even a scene of one of Maher's terrible films adds humor and irony to the interviews. One standout scene occurs when Charles captures a group of tourists moved to tears during the recreation of Christ's martyrdom in the Holy theme park while a commercial airplane towers over them. Our take is that the scene exemplifies the struggle between belief and reality, but is open to other suggestions. It’s a splendid artistic touch from the comedic director.

"Religulous” will perhaps only fully satisfy academic atheists since Maher sternly concludes that, even as a moderate follower, to stand by a religion for spiritual comfort does not compensate for the damage religion has caused humans to inflict on each other. Maher signs off with, "Grow up or die,” observing that we are the cause for the End of Days thanks to the wars we fight in the name of our god of choice. Maher's proposal is uncompromised and tough, but impossible to forsake.




Directed by: Larry Charles
Written by: Bill Maher
Cast: Bill Maher

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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