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Choke, Hounddog, Religulous, HSM 3, Changeling, Body of Lies, & How to Lose Friends

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009, at 11:53 AM

HUGE amounts of new releases and I managed to watch quite a few of them. Let's get started.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year!

My opinion hasn't changed from the time I reviewed it in theatres - check that out here - http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/14731....


This is one movie that stirred lots of controversy when it was first screened at Sundance. I, unfortunately, did not watch this one due to a lack of time but would have liked to have seen what all the controversy was about. From what I understand, the movie has been edited down from its original form but still includes many scenes that are disturbing including the one that has received all the publicity and that is the on screen depiction of a rape of a 12-year old girl. The girl is played by Dakota Fanning and that only added fuel to the fire. It is an interesting story from what I've read on it and I'm interested to hear what people thought on this one since I didn't have the time to check it out.


This is a movie based off a book from the author of Fight Club. Fight Club was an excellent book and movie so I gave Choke a try without knowing much about it. It was actually quite entertaining. It has some interesting twists and turns as well as some rather explicit images and dialogue. The movie is basically about a mother and son who are at odd with each other. The mother is in a hospital and the son comes to visit her even though she doesn't recognize him. This sits up an encounter with the mother's doctor who works with the son to try to save her from losing more of her memory. The movie is very entertaining even if its a bit dirty.


Based on a true story, Changeling tells the story of single mother Christine Collins and the trials and tribulations she went through after her son went missing one day. She is played by Academy Award Nominee Angelina Jolie who is up for an award for this flick. She does an excellent job and is pretty much the main focus for the entire film. There are many twists and turns, but I think it's best not to go too deep into any of them, so I'll leave it at that. Clint Eastwood directs this film and delivers another moving piece of relevant cinema that is hard to find any fault with. This movie is more than worth a rental.

Body of Lies

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Leo Dicaprio and Russell Crowe. It's a thriller. It's decent. It's probably worth a rental if you are into a spy thriller. Otherwise, it's pretty run of the mill.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

I was really looking forward to watching this film. I was disappointed. I was hoping this flick would be funny with leading man Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame. It even had resident hot leading female in Megan Fox. Only problem is, it wasn't a very funny comedy. It had it's moments, but overall was a very boring flick.

Not worth your time.


The documentary follows Bill Maher as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty to an unusual spiritual journey.

I used the standard definition above to give a full description of the flick. Religulous was funny. It was edited to make those who he interviewed look even worse than they were - but those people did say those things and as such, it makes it a very real funny. For instance, in response to a series of questions based on senators having some sort of logic, this senator replies with 'You don't have to pass an I.Q. test to be in the senate.' That's hilarious.

The movie basically plays out with Bill Maher going around to a bunch of different places and asking religious people questions about their religions and beliefs. Bill usually comes up with a way to logically put down each religious view. The only problem is most of the religious people he interviews can only reply with because they have faith or because they believe the Bible. This always ends with Bill not accepting that as a logical answer. For the most part, Bill agrees that nobody knows the truth and that in itself could mean the existence of God, but he also doesn't agree with many of the teachings of organized religion whether it is Christian or not. At the end of the flick, they explain that the Bible has themes that run through it that are not original based on stories that came as early as Ancient Egypt. It is a compelling argument and one I never thought of before. Then Bill turns to an ending dialogue that manages to tell everyone to grow up. His intentions are good - as he feels like religion is the catalyst to humans starting wars that end in lots of deaths. He feels that if all the religions stopped arguing and fighting - the world could grow up and get on with their lives.

Religulous is a well made documentary that makes a case against all religions. Of course, someone can make the same type of documentary for religions, which is the problem. Everybody has their own opinion on life and this flick will do little to change your mind if you are already prescribed to a way of thought. If you are for religion, you will probably be offended at least once during this flick, but you may also laugh a few times too. If you are against religion, this is a film that you will probably really enjoy.

Myself? I enjoyed the movie even though I am a Christian and believe in God. I found some things offensive, but I also found some interesting facts about the similarities between the Bible and Ancient Egypt mythology as well as some other cultures that came before the Bible was written. I'll probably look some of those things up and learn more about them as it has peaked my interest. However, my viewpoint on God has not changed and I will continue to believe what I believe. I'm not easily offended so the movie was fine with me to watch. What about you?

Next week - we get off the religion track and don't have much of anything coming out except Sex Drive.

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Changeling is a very intriguing film. Really makes you wonder about things. I highly recommend watching it.

Religulous, to me was an epic movie. Of course a rather controversial movie, but to each their own with this film, as with any and everything when it comes to ones choice of religion. I highly recommend this movie to anyone as well. We can all relate to it in some form.

-- Posted by thimself on Fri, Mar 13, 2009, at 5:41 PM

Not to bash your review, but I'm not entirely sure how honesty comes about through editing interviews and taking sentences out of context. I'm also not entirely sure how something comes from something just because of varying degrees of similarities. I think I'll stick to the History channel for differing views on Christianity; they always try to leave things at a bit of a mysterious middle ground that makes it feel...I dunno, exotic, rather than attempting to tout their own religion like Mr. Maher appears to do.

Let me know how the Egypt research goes. There is an interesting allure in learning about different cultures that I regret to say that I'm lax about doing. Different styles of theatre throughout the ages is about all I've really done, or recall doing.

Also, that Changeling movie sounds intriguing. I'll have to look into it.

-- Posted by bjo on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 3:55 PM
Cody Dame's response:
The honesty part comes before the review. That was part of the 'description on the box' if you will. I said nothing about his honesty and completely agree about editing interviews and taking sentences out of context makes for an uneven debate.

Changeling was worth looking into and although I've studied up on Egypt before going as far as to get a tattoo inspired by Egyptian myth - I've never read about the parallels between the Bible and Egyptian myth. I've looked into it a bit at this point and have found websites for and against and it's really hard to actually find the actual written text of either without some editing to favor whichever side the website is trying to go for. So far - the stories appear extremely similar however I do realize that you could essentially take any story and fit it to any other story by using vague references. Some of the websites have done this while others take a more diplomatic approach and point out the similarities but also point out the main differences. They almost all still take an overwhelming approach to try to convince you one way or the other. Very frustrating indeed.

Cody, I think that the Simon Pegg movie you might be trying to remember is Big Nothing. Didn't watch it, but I remember seeing it on the wall at MG when I still worked there. I'm sorry to hear that his new one sucked. I was looking forward to seeing it.

I know my girls are going to insist on watching High School Musical 3 (and I'll let them). Then I'll have to listen to them sing the songs over and over ad nauseum for weeks. It's a small price to pay, & I love my girls, so I'll gladly pay it.

Sounds like I'm getting behind on my movies again. I'll have to rent a bunch & see if I can get caught up.

-- Posted by dlfiend4ever on Wed, Feb 18, 2009, at 9:42 AM

It's too bad to hear that the Simon Pegg movie was sub-par. Dawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were hilarious.

I applaud you for your even handed review of Religulous. I know there were many Christians who felt deeply offended by the movie, and could express nothing but outrage about it's content.

My major criticism of Religulous was that Bill didn't exactly talk to the world's foremost theologians (for example, the truckstop chapel). This was sometimes on purpose, but at other times unavoidable(the Vatican kicked him out).

The documentary "Enemies of Reason" contains much more serious discussions between Richard Dawkins (a prominent atheist and evolutionary scientist) with more prominent theologians. (Though Religulous is much funnier)

If you are actually interested in learning more about how ancient mythology influenced the Bible, I would recommend "The God who Wasn't There". Try not to be offended by it's assertions about the historical existence of Jesus. But it does lay out interesting parallels between Christ and previous figures in mythology.

Additionally, a study of ancient greek and pagan mythology would be helpful in understanding what myths influenced the stories in the Bible.

As a starting point, I might recommend the story of Deucalion and Pyrrha. It is an ancient flood narrative that bears much resemblance to Noah's story.

I only recommend these sources because you said that the topic "piqued your interest". I certainly am not trying to convert you to atheism or try to shake your faith. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Always pursue any interest.

-- Posted by jhat on Tue, Feb 17, 2009, at 3:44 PM
Cody Dame's response:
I am truly fascinated whenever a source claims a fact that seems very plausible but yet I have never really heard of it. The main thing about the Egypt reference that really made me perk up was that I am quite interested in Egyptian culture - so even though I appreciate the recommendations - it was mostly the Egyptian part of it that managed to make me want to look further into this one.

Simon Pegg has had two horrible flicks lately - this latest one and Run, Fatboy, Run. I swear there was another one but can't think of it at this time.

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Cody Dame
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Cody Dame is the CEO and owner of three local McCook Businesses, Game On, Spotlight Studios and Divine Productions. He also manages to work for the McCook Daily Gazette.