Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recovery mode

Movies are always a good escape from reality, and I very much needed that my last week at home post-election.

Ms. Tungsten's collection of Bollywood films continues to grow, and I have since absconded to Boston with several. But not before we watched Jab We Met. Karina Kapoor isn't my favorite Indian actress, but I really liked her here; she was just quirky and outgoing, as opposed to ditzy and outgoing. The plot was kind of cute: strangers on a train meet and through a series of slightly funny mishaps keep having to spend more and more time together, and the obvious love triangle appears. It was cute, though. And the color contrasts on the sets were amazing.

Then, a friend from Idaho was in town and wanted to see Bill Maher's Religulous. The friend is an avowed atheist, and I am not (I usually label myself agnostic if asked). The film was funny at times, and Maher the stand-up-comic-turned-talk-show-host cracks a lot of good jokes. But the documentary had problems deciding between advocating for religion as ridiculous (creationist museums, Holy Land theme parks in the American South) and religion as dangerous (the Second Coming brought on deliberately with nuclear war). My biggest problem with the film was that Maher found some of the most bizarre and fringe freaks out there (a rabbi who denies the Holocaust and a man who believes he is Jesus Christ reincarnated, for instance), and held them up as examples of what religious culture and belief can be. There was no middle ground, no moderation, no balance. Just nonstop fundamentalism as the be-all and end-all for people of faith all around the world. Kudos to Maher for travelling all around the world, though, and having the balls to talk to people about potentially volatile topics like suicide bombers and hate crimes. In all, though, I think 100 minutes was way too short a timespan to delve deeper into all the theological issues and geo-political controversies (which Maher rather annoyingly refused to separate from religion). The film is all over the board and only scratches the surface of debates that have been going on for millennia. With humor, admittedly. But also, ironically, with an apocalyptic vision.

No comments: