Friday, October 2, 2009

"You lie!"

The new Ricky Gervais film The Invention of Lying debuts with perfect timing: we commence our discussion of the Truth chapter on Monday. But NPR's film critic says Ricky (or more likely the studio) pulls its punches, in abject fear of inflaming a reaction from an audience that won't be amused by the insinuation that religion would not exist in a world where lying was impossible.

Mark [Ricky] visits his mother in her retirement home (the sign reads: "A Sad Place Where Homeless Old People Come to Die"), and finding her frightened of oblivion on her deathbed, he makes up an afterlife, where he says she'll be happy.

Because no one lies, she dies with a smile. Then Mark looks up, and sees the doctors and nurses looking stunned. They want details.

So Mark has to basically invent religion on the spot. He says there's a Man in the Sky who takes care of folks who've died, and who's also responsible for everything on Earth.

"Even my cancer?" wonders someone, and ... well, let's just say Mark's ad-libbed improvisations have to get more complicated.

OK, so it walks right up to the edge of edgy and backpedals. What else do we expect from Hollywood? But this still looks like fun. See you at the multiplex...

where I'll probably skip the Coens' "A Serious Man," a re-telling of the Biblical tale of Job that sounded promising but is apparently "intolerable" and "hell to sit through," if you trust David Denby (and the trailer does look a bit lame): "Larry [Job] applies to a series of Rabbis for help, and the rabbis, vain of their wisdom, either miss the point of his troubles or tell elaborate parables that illuminate nothing... one might say that all filmmakers, distributing rewards and punishments, come close to playing God. Surely the arbitrary and ruthless Coens are the only deity in sight." Denby's usually on target but sounds a bit like an apologist here. May have to seek another opinion.

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