Religulous posters — a tale of two countries

If you want to get a sense of the differences in sensibility between Canada and the U.S. when it comes to religious matters, look no further than the posters for Religulous, the upcoming religio-satire starring Bill Maher and directed by Larry Charles.

The American posters released so far have shied away from anything that might be deemed explicitly anti-religious; instead, they have zeroed in on much “safer” targets — such as the superstitious tendency to see faces in random patterns — which even the typical religious person might find kind of silly:

And then there is the Canadian poster, via Jeffrey Wells:

That pretty much says it all, I think.

Pineapple Express — pro- or anti-marijuana?

Pineapple Express writer-actor Seth Rogen, quoted in WENN:

The actor says, “There were some internal discussions. The reality being that Judd is somewhat against marijuana use and I think it should be legal.

“We didn’t really want to make a strong overall message about it. We kind of wanted to leave it to the audience.”

Pineapple Express producer Judd Apatow, quoted in Time:

“Seth and I always argue whether or not this is an anti-pot movie,” says Apatow. “To me, it clearly is. Most of the film is people trying to murder these two guys, them trying not to get murdered, and it’s all because they’re smoking pot.” He pauses. “Seth thinks that’s too subtle.”

Let the reader understand.

Not the Messiah — a couple more reviews

Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy), the oratorio based on Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979; my comments), has been making its way through a few American cities lately. Here are a couple of the newer reviews.

First, Stephen Brookes of the Washington Post:

Most of the world’s great oratorios, it’s probably fair to say, don’t generate a lot of belly laughs. But then again, most oratorios don’t feature a Bob Dylan imitation, a troupe of bagpipers, three stuffed sheep and a musical leaf-blower — all of which appeared at Wolf Trap on Thursday night in Eric Idle’s hysterically funny new production, “Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy).” . . .

Du Prez conducted the National Symphony Orchestra and the Master Chorale of Washington with a light touch, and there were fine turns by the four soloists, particularly the young tenor William Ferguson in the role of Brian. But it was Idle himself who stole the show (his dead-on Dylan impersonation will go down in musical history). After the show closed with a singalong of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” the audience brought him back for three curtain calls.

Second, Richard S. Ginell of Variety:

Have Idle and Du Prez gone to the well one time too many? Not really, for while the 75-minute piece contains several fond references for Python fans — including a paraphrase of the notorious “Lumberjack Song” — Du Prez has come up with a mostly new score.

Furthermore, the main point here is a satire on oratorio form — in particular, the perennial pleasures of Handel’s “Messiah.” In doing so, Idle and Du Prez are continuing a fine old British tradition of classical send-ups dating back to Gilbert and Sullivan and, even more pertinently, the uproarious Hoffnung Festivals of the 1950s. . . .

Du Prez’s score, whose roving style he accurately labels “iPod Shuffle,” has some timebombs imbedded within. You think he is writing serious songs in a banal popera manner, and things suddenly make a turn toward the loony bin: “I Want to Change the World” breaks into rockin’ gospel, and a bagpipes band eventually takes over “You’re the One.”

Sometimes the detonation takes a while; you have to wait a bit too long for “The Final Song” to undermine its Lloyd Webber-ish rhetoric. And there are only a few direct homages to the model, with “We Love Sheep” the most obvious (a reference to “Messiah’s” “All We Like Sheep”). . . .

The piece is inconsistent; there could have been more sustained hilarity, and the most memorable thing in the score remains the classic, chipper holdover from the film, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” But Gerard Hoffnung may have found some worthy successors here.

Believe it or not, there is a third reference to Hoffnung in Ginell’s review, too — because Hoffnung once “introduced a vacuum cleaner as a soloist”, thus setting a precedent of sorts for Idle’s use of a keyboard-operated leaf blower.

Click here for some reviews I quoted when the oratorio had its world premiere in Toronto fourteen months ago.

A long lost childhood memory, on YouTube.

One thing leads to another, and the news that Morgan Freeman was injured in a car accident last night — thoughts and prayers, etc. — prompted Karina Longworth to reminisce about one of Freeman’s earliest acting gigs today, which in turn prompted me to seek out a piece of my childhood on YouTube just now.

And here it is: Rita Moreno singing ‘It Only Rains Where I Am’ on the classic kids’ show The Electric Company (1971-1977):

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

I don’t know what it says about me, but this song evidently made a much, much bigger impression on me when I was a child than just about anything else on The Electric Company; even as an adult, after all but the most famous elements of that show had faded from my memory, I would sometimes find myself singing a few lines from this song for no particular reason — though in my memory the song became ‘It Always Rains Where I Go’, which may be a slightly more accurate description of what happens here.

At any rate, when mp3s became all the rage several years ago, I made a point of searching the internet for a copy of this song — and I found it! But it was not until today that I actually watched this segment, for the first time since I was in grade school.

I actually cheered today when Freeman appeared at the end of the segment and spoke his punchline — which is not included in the mp3 that I found several years ago. The segment ends exactly the way I remember it, except I had forgotten that Freeman was playing someone so classy (note the cane, the suit, the accent). As one who often doubts his own memories, it was nice to know that I had gotten this detail right, at least, after all these years.

It’s all a question of managing expectations.

Headline in the Hollywood Reporter, last Tuesday:

R-rated comedies suffer at boxoffice

Headline in the Associated Press, today:

Hollywood strikes gold with R-rated comedy wave

They’re both right, of course.

AUG 6 UPDATE: And now, back to the Hollywood Reporter:

R ratings might help comedies

Confused yet?

Canadian box-office stats — August 3

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Journey to the Center of the Earth — CDN $7,540,000 — N.AM $73,140,000 — 10.3%
Mamma Mia! — CDN $9,040,000 — N.AM $87,975,000 — 10.3%
Step Brothers — CDN $5,740,000 — N.AM $62,966,000 — 9.1%
The X-Files: I Want to Believe — CDN $1,510,000 — N.AM $17,060,000 — 8.9%
Hellboy II: The Golden Army — CDN $6,210,000 — N.AM $71,273,000 — 8.7%

The Dark Knight — CDN $33,650,000 — N.AM $394,887,000 — 8.5%
Hancock — CDN $17,330,000 — N.AM $215,995,000 — 8.0%
WALL·E — CDN $15,200,000 — N.AM $204,222,000 — 7.4%
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor — CDN $2,740,000 — N.AM $42,450,000 — 6.5%
Swing Vote — CDN $232,071 — N.AM $6,300,000 — 3.7%

A couple of discrepancies: Hellboy II: The Golden Army was #10 on the Canadian chart (it was #11 in North America as a whole), while Space Chimps was #10 on the North American chart (it was #16 in Canada).