One of Hell House's demons
ready to snatch a soul
There's war and the rumors of war in the air. For those of a pensive persuasion and given to meditations on the human condition, Here are a few films guaranteed to give you food for thought.
For a truly unsettling look at the insidious nature of religious intolerance, check out George Ratliff's documentary, HELL HOUSE, in which the traditional Halloween haunted house takes a biblical turn. It's revealing both in what it shows about Christian fundamentalism's unbending belief system and in the underlying fear that drives it. There's a link on the review page that has the film's screening schedule around the country as well information on the DVD release.
For a different look at religious intolerance, this time with political implications, there's BLOODY SUNDAY, a docu-style feature about the start of the troubles in Northern Ireland. James Nesbitt, in a taut and intense performance as Irish MP Ivan Cooper, will break your heart as he tries to stop the bloodshed when the odds on both sides are stacked against him. Click here to hear Ivan Cooper's recollections of that day.
For a first-rate, thought-provoking look at why America is the most violent place in the First World, check out Michael Moore's brilliant documentary, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE. Moore's particular genius is making his audience laugh while provoking their outrage at what the powers that be foist on the little guy. Click here to listen to Moore talk about his film and his philosophy.
Another kind of comedy plays out in Danis Tanovic's Academy Award(tm)-winning film NO MAN'S LAND. This allegory about the civil war in the former Yugoslavia may suck your faith in human nature right out of you. It will also make you laugh while it's happening, which is not a little scary.
The horrors of self-delusion are examined in Errol Morris' stylish documentary MR. DEATH. His profile of Fred Leuchter, Jr., an erstwhile designer of execution devices and unlikely Holocaust denier is as fascinating as it is chilling.
In the wishful thinking category, there's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, a philosophical flight of fancy in which an alien in the form of Michael Rennie forces the planet to take a richly needed time out. Newly released in a splendid DVD re-issue with sterling picture quality and terrific bonus features,it will cheer any cinephile's heart.
Another flight of philosophical fantasy is Richard Linklater's excursion into anination, WAKING LIFE. It's an episodic and endlessly fascinating examination of the meaning of reality.
And finally, coming full circle with demons and religion, there's FRAILTY. In this one two young brothers are led into a life of serial killing by their father, who believes that he's ridding the world of demons at the behest of God. As a parable for the evil that we do in the name of the greater good, it's terrific and scary as all get out. Plus, it's got an ending that will seriously mess with your head.