Thanks to Netflix, we spent Saturday night trying to figure out what to watch. After browsing for a while (and a few, “Just pick one already, damn it”) we ended up watching “Religulous”, a “documentary” by Bill Maher. Now, both J. and I think Bill Maher looks suspiciously like a penis, but he’s often funny and espouses a certain viewpoint that’s occasionally interesting. So his movie was on our to-watch list at some point, but not high enough on it to merit going out of our way to watch it.
We lasted maybe 30 minutes before we turned it off. We both appreciate a well done documentary, even ones that obviously have a bias (take Michael Moore’s films, for instance.) But Religulous is mean to the point of hitting you over the head with it. I’m sure there are better parts that we didnt watch, but it was just too annoying. A lighter touch would have served the movie so much better. In the scene we watched before we turned it off, he was interviewing a leader of a church in Florida. Bill’s sharp enough to interview him well and trap him in his own hypocrisy at times, but every time he did so we got a comic clip that was the film equivalent of a pratfall or an applause meter. I can’t help but think in other hands an earnest interview of someone who takes himself seriously but doesnt realize he’s being skewered would have been so much more meaningful (and funny.) Ah well.
We turned it off and ended up watching a documentary that I had heard about on NPR – “Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey”. It was fascinating, and even J. stayed up to watch the whole thing. It’s hard to imagine that a working class black man is the spirit behind Elmo, but the story is fascinating and uplifting. It’s somewhat light and short on criticism (his divorce is barely mentioned and glossed over at best, you can’t help but think his role as Elmo had something to do with it) but that’s a mild rebuke to a wonderful film.