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Skeptical Film Reviews,
Anyone?

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Cliff's Introduction:

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From: Alex Mayor
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 4:40 AM

Dear Cliff,

"Life of Brian" is a masterpiece of leftfield British public school humour-it was banned in over 17 countries on release and remains so in a few. "The Seventh Seal" by Ingmar Bergman is a masterpiece of 50s European cinema set in middle ages Sweden. a knight in plague-ridden times bargains with Death for more time wagering over a game of chess. a philosophical piece about values and life's purpose. It is a stunning piece of film making.

Bearing in mind that movies, especially American/Hollywood movies tend to the simplistic I would be chary of recommending light comedies like "Leap of Faith" (Steve Martin, if memory serves).

A really amazing film that contains the theme of violently lost faith is Woody Allen's 1998 "Deconstructing Harry" about a writer who uses his family and lovers as so much authorial firewood and betrays his Jewish background with godless values. Its also very very funny (based reportedly on the life of author Philip Roth).

Best of luck tracking them down!

alex

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From: Larry B
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 4:30 AM

"Elmer Gantry" comes to mind as a classic movie about the hypocritical preachers in the fundi movements. Its a great movie which was picketted by the local babtist church here when it came out (many years ago)

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From:
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 5:16 AM

"Ghost In The Shell" by Shirow Masamune. Released in either 95 or 96. Available on home video for $19.95. A dark, artistic film that questions what we define as "consciousness." Short, but sweet.

"Neon Genesis Evangelion." I don't know the creator. This is a series, not a movie. Plot: A comet crashes into Earth, cuts the population in half. Two years later, hostile alien forces identified only as "Angels" attack Earth, and three individuals must lead the way for the counter attack.

Both of those recommendations are animation; specifically, from the Japanese. Trust me, animation is not just for kids; actually, Christianity (not the advocating of it, just the belief period) has really been seeping into Japanese animation lately, despite the fact that Japan is a Shinto and Buddhist nation. There's also a lot of weird art films that you might like.

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From: Prescott, Andy
To: 'Positive Atheism' <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: RE: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 6:37 AM

Cliff,

If you enjoy "The Life of Brian," you will absolutely love "The Holy Grail" starring all of those goofy, and very irreverent, folks from Monty Python. Religion and a lot of other things get trashed pretty bady in this film. One of the more amusing scenes concerns the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. I've pasted the script for this one below.

Holding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch ...

Andy Later Writes:

A must see: "The Wicker Man."

Andy Writes Even Later:

Cliff,

Right after I sent the last one, I thought of another movie that is a must see. It is called "The Last Temptation of Christ." It does not promote Atheistic views but it sure pissed off the religious legions who can't stand anybody looking at their myth from a different angle. The opening scenes are worth the rental price. Jesus is a carpenter alright, but you'll never guess what he makes in his little wood shop.

If you can stand another Monty Python offering (I am a big fan), try "The Meaning of Life." In a more serious note, there is "Agnes of God" and "Contact" (the book was by Carl Sagan).

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From:
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 10:00 AM

You were talking about Steve Martin who stars in "Leap of Faith."

You might also want to try a movie called "Harold and Maude."

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From: Bob Southwell
To: 'Positive Atheism' <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: RE: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 4:24 AM

Hi Cliff,

"Life of Brian" would have been my first choice but you got to that first.

A couple of others would be "Contact", a recent movie about SETI.

"The Fountainhead", the movie of Ayn Rand's novel. (If only there was an "Atlas Shrugged,: one done properly that is.)

I don't think the whole series has been dramatised but "Truckers", "Diggers", and "Wings" by Terry Pratchett -- even though ostensibly directed at children -- are excellent material.

Enjoy

Bob Southwell

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From: Abraham Kneisley
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: This Day in History (It can't happen hee-eer-re-e!)
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 8:06 PM

Are you going to respond with the list of movies? We could all use a list of atheistic films. Some that you might want to check out, are the Ayn Rand films. "Fountainhead" and "We the Living" were both turned into movies. "We the Living" was made into a movie during WWII by the Russians because of its anti-Russian sentiment. Supposedly it was pulled once they realized that it was as anti-dictator as it was anti-communist dictator. I haven't seen that yet, but "The Fountainhead" sucked. Sure there were a couple of points where a line or two were good but all in all it was a disappointment. I can think of a few more, but I assume that you have already received emails. If you send the list, I am sure that it will start my brain working.

Abraham Kneisley

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From: Reed Byers
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 12:52 PM

Cliff:

On Tue, 24 Aug 1999, Positive Atheism wrote:

The film I always recommend is "The Handmaid's Tale". It is a very powerful look at a future America where the religious folks have taken charge ... NOT light viewing!

-- Reed Byers

http://www.peak.org/~byersr/

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From what I understand, it's quite a bit different from the book. Watch it for it's own merits ... and be amazed that (to the best of my knowledge) no Christians ever thought to protest this movie!

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From: Dave Gilbert
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: This Day in History (It can't happen hee-eer-re-e!)
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 5:49 PM

Two movies that spring to mind are "The Last Valley" (1969 Michael Caine, Omar Sharif) which is set during a year of the 100 years war (as I understand it) where the lovely Catholics and Protestants killed every person in an opponent's city, right down to the babies -- to save their souls of course, from eternal damnation.

"Queen Margo" (France, 1994,??) deals with the St. Bartholomew Day massacre. It depicts the impetus for it, and the act itself. Whilst portraying Protestants as good, overall the Protestants, through their lack of paganistic rituals which the Catholics are proud of, they come across as sort of humanist. The Catholics are also made out to be racist, and the Protestants accepting.

You might have trouble finding either movie, I have them on tape, but I'm in Australia, and the tapes are PAL (not NTSC), as well as being in long play (which only newer or better videos can play). I'll look through a list of movies and reccommend movies to you, but I can't guarantee a quick reply. I'm off the net at home right now, and my access to a computer at School is variable, and I have a hell of a lot of work due ... anyway, hope you find this of use.

Dave ("`-/")-.-'"``-.-
      . . `; -.-    )-;-,-`)
     (v-,)'  -  )`-.\  ``-'
    -.- -..--/ / ((.'
  ((,.-'   ((,/ 

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From: Enlightened Despot
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 7:02 AM

Cliff,

Just off the top of my head, I can recommend:

Contact

"Inherit the Wind" (about the Scopes trial -- good movie)

Christopher

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From: David Atanasoff
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 10:50 PM

"Rosemary's Baby"

In a story of demonic possession, the atheistic director, Roman Polanski, deliberately avoided genuine supernatural events (all just in Mia Farrow's head).

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From: Cliff Walker
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 10:42 PM

"Suddenly Last Summer" by Tennessee Williams, with Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor, is a wild look at some spooky questions about whole notion of God. It raises more questions than it answers, and "Parents" magazine wanted to ban it. The climactic scene has the Hepburn character describing her son's "realization" that God is a horrible, wasteful killer, and that life is essentially cannibalistic. He sees this after having watched the birds have newly hatched turtles for lunch one day.

I'll post Robert Anton Wilson's 1968 review of this film one of these days.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: Eric Scovel
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 9:18 AM

Another film which describes an atheistic point of view (mostly from the scientific perspective) is "Contact," starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. It was originally an excellent book by Carl Sagan, which more thoroughly described this skeptical point of view than the movie. The religious conflict of the movie is between Jodie Foster, the atheist astronomer, and McConaughey, a former priest. You should check it out. It is about 3 hours long, though.

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From: Gregory Tinker
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 10:58 AM

Steve Martin is his name. You don't go for the schlock-fest of Hollywood, eh?

They actually did do a film version of "The Fountainhead" with Gary Cooper, but I've never actually seen it. Not sure i want to.

Greg

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From: henry neal camp
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: movie list
Date: Friday, September 10, 1999 9:19 PM

Cliff, a while ago you asked for moview suggestions. I just rediscovered one of the best of its type: "MindWalk" with Liv Ullman, Sam Waterson and John Heard. "Most stimulating and literate"; "Very dissimilar vacationers caught up in the spontaneous and life affirming sweep of self-expression and new ideas." It is on video. In my store, inexplicably, in the Science Fiction category. I highly recommend it to those who love thinking.

Neal Camp

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From:
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject:
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 3:28 PM

Great idea. I'll ask for ideas at the Atheist Friends Message Board!

Later:

Oh yeah -- here's one "Contact" the Carl Sagan book . The film starred Jodie Foster.

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From: Alan G. Humphrey
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 11:09 AM

The movie "Contact" has one of the best depictions of an atheist in the role of Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster. It's based on Carl Sagan's book and he is credited, along with his wife, for writing.

An irreverent film (especially toward Catholicism) is "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life". Monty Python is a group of British comedians that also made "Life of Brian" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (which takes a few pokes at religion and authority). They are well known for their television show "Monty Python's Flying Circus".

Enjoy.

Alan G. Humphrey

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From: Steve
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 4:15 PM

Dear Cliff there is a handy Film data base on the net its at
http://us.imdb.com/
and may be useful for to to find out about films.

Cheers

Steve Down Under

I even have my own atheist internet number 1378 lol cheers

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From: James Call
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Friday, August 27, 1999 8:40 AM

In my experience, and off the top of my head, skepticism is not a popular topic in films. The bias is decidedly in the other direction. And even when the bias isn't in the other direction, skepticism, still, gernerally, isn't the topic. I am a frequent movie goer and I can't think of any just right now.

There is, however, an interesting juxtaposition of the real world and religion in a movie called "The Apostle," starring Robert Duvall. It is a couple of years old. Robert Duvall is a southern preacher whose personal life, Jesus notwithstanding, is, as with most of us, a bit messy. It may be precisely because of religion, or at least in spite of it, that events in the preacher's life escalate beyond merely "messy." The film is concerned about drawing full portraits of the characters, especially the preacher, and is not, at least actively, pushing a philosophical bias. The film realizes its concerns in an unusually complete manner.

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From: Kevin Courcey
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone? Date: Thursday, August 26, 1999 11:59 AM

You've got to see "Inherit the Wind."

kevin

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From: Susan Ellis
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: movies Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 7:48 AM

Hey Cliff, the actor you referred to in Leap of Faith is Steve Martin.

I pulled my cable TV out over a year ago and no longer watch TV. The programs that are on are insulting to the intelligence. Many have themes of theistic content, new age bs and the ever present wishing will make it so theme. I studied marketing, business and commerce way back in high school (69-73) and what was once capitalism has now become hucksterism.

I do have a soft spot for movies having studied film arts and theatre arts. I admit I love movies. Anyway here is one recommendation which leaps to mind; "The Undiscovered Country." It is a Star Trek movie with the old crew. The basis of the story is a Vulcan (a race of beings from the planet Vulcan who prize logic above all values and dispense with emotion entirely) renegade has returned to feeling emotion but has retained his incredible intellect. He has determined where the legendary planet of harmony, a sort of substitute for Heaven or Eden, is. He commanders the starship Enterprise and engages on a journey to find this place. It is occupied by a force representing God although it does not explicitly say so. There are one or two references such as when Captain Kirk asks this being who inquires who this Kirk is, "You're God, don't you know?" When this being claims he wants the starship to take him from this place Kirk asks,"What does God need with a starship?" He is then punished for his insolence. It turns out this may not be God and the crew decide they must destroy this thing to escape before it kills them all. This god corners Kirk and is about to kill him when he is blown away by a blast from a Klingon Bird of Prey (another species' military starship). The gunner is Kirk's own First Officer, a Vulcan! Thus logic killed God! It is great fun to watch, lots of in-jokes and special effects and this thinly veiled philosophy through out. I may watch it myself again tonight! I would be interested in what you think bearing in mind it is definitely not Oscar material.

Incidentally I was waiting to see if anything was going to be said regarding the Kansas decision. Skeptic Magazine's Michael Shermer is promising a piece on this issue. I think it is important in that this country is beginning to turn into a xian version of Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as we see in Iran and Afghanistan.

Keep up the good work,

Stephen A. Lonsdale

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Be that as it may Cliff, watch the movie the "Undiscovered Country" and see for yourself.

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From: Ralph Voltz, Laura MacLean
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: movies
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 10:28 AM

Hello Cliff,

Surely, you will get this suggestion many times. It's a recent movie called "Contact," with Jodie Foster. After a novel by Carl Sagan.

Enjoy,

Ralph Voltz

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From: ma pickle
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: This Day in History (It can't happen hee-eer-re-e!) Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 6:38 PM

There is a scene in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" about sperm that is hysterical as well. On Catholics and birth control etc. A must see.

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From: Monica A. Harris
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 3:10 PM

Cliff,

As you know, I plan to be a screenwriter/director/producer when I grow up, so I immerse myself in the stuff. Here are my favorites:

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Cliff,

Apparently from the response of your listees to flicks, I am on the right course with my career. However, I forgot a most, most important recommendation:

"Leaving Las Vegas" starring Nicholas Cage & Elizabeth Shue.

It not only gives a most realistic and moving account of an alcoholic bent on self-destruction, but it is a deeply touching love story and account of the tragic subtleties of human nature. Some people think it is way too depressing. I love it, and watch it all the time. Cage, (who is really Francis Ford Coppola's nephew) won the Academy Award for his performance. Shue is definitely my kinda whore. One of the most vital aspects of this film is the seamless integration of a soundtrack that was perfect in every instance.

Maybe we can cuddle up on some rainy day & watch it together?

I just want to be Mike Figgis when I wake up.

Love you,
blue

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From: Mary Cancilla
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 3:03 PM

Actually, South Park has lots of great episodes; Jesus often shows up in them (he runs a local cable acces show).

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From: Bobbi Needham
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 5:41 AM

Hi Cliff,

There is a film about Marjoe Gortner, unfortunately I can't remember the name of it, but I believe he was a child preacher & faith healer who finally "fessed up" to the public.

From "The God Biz"
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james-haught/godbiz.html

Also, the film "Flim Flam Man" starring George C. Scott, if I remember correctly, deals with a con man in the south. One of his scams is to scan the obits and call on new widows to deliver "the Bible their husband recently ordered for them." I don't know if this one would qualify for you, but to my mind, whether you use "God" to bilk simple minded folk out of their money in a church or from an old sedan, it's all the same.

Oh, and Cliff, you must see "The Ten Commandments," if for no other reason than Charleton Heston's scene as Moses where he is about to part the Red Sea, and says, "Behold, His mighty hand!!!" He could only have been referring to Cecil B. DeMille! The film really does have some spectacular special effects for it's time. (And for me, any film that boasts a bare chested Yul Brynner is worth a look!)

Bobbi

Cliff Responds:

..."Flim Flam Man"...One of his scams is to scan the obits and call on new widows to deliver "the Bible their husband recently ordered for them."

There is a film about Marjoe Gortner, unfortunately I can't remember the name of it, but I believe he was a child preacher & faith healer who finally "fessed up" to the public.

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From: Shirley Braverman
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 2:08 AM

You have to see Bert Lancaster in Steinbecks' "Elmer Gantry." Fantastic! You have a treat in store for you.

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From: Austin Cline
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 2:05 PM

That's all I can come up with off the top of my head ...

Austin Cline:
http://atheism.about.com/

Homo liber nulla de re minus quam de morte cogitat; et ejus sapientia non mortis sed vitae meditatio est.
-- Spinoza, Ethics, Pt. IV/Prop. 67

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From: "Robert"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Movies of interest to atheists
Date: 24 Aug 1999 05:20:38-0700

My favorite movie of this type was "Inherit The Wind." This was a fictionalized account of the Scopes monkey trial. It was made about 1960. It starred Spencer Tracy and Frederick March who played characters based on Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan.

Most movies on these subjects have something to appease "believers." This movie had a scene near the end where the Clarance Darrow character admits to a reporter that he is a believer in "god". The movie you mentioned, "Leap of Faith," had a rain storm at the end. This was implied to be a "gift from god" to end a drought.

Another interesting movie was "The War of the Worlds". This was based on the HG Wells book of the same name. This movie version had Martian invaders die from earth microbes. This was referred to as an "act of god". Wells was an atheist and this was not in his book.

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From: Rod Monsees
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 6:45 AM

Positive Atheism wrote:

Oh my God, you have been living under a rock the past decade.   ;-)   That was none other than Steve Martin. Excellent movie by the way.

Now that you've got me thinking about comedians, George Carlin has some excellent comedy routines covering the subject of religion. I don't think he's done any real movies, but I'm sure there's some tapes out there of his stand-up routines.

Rod

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From: Randall Gorman
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 7:12 AM

At 04:03 AM 08/24/1999-0700, you wrote:

Wow Cliff. I didn't know there was anybody like that in the whole world!
:-)

I grew up with 50's television, watching the test pattern when I got home from school and waiting for Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody. I loved TV in the 50's and 60's. Now, I think there's nothing on but trash and rarely watch any.

Randall

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From:
To: <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 6:27 PM

I am having a difficult time remembering many movies or TV shows of an atheistic or particularly skeptical nature but one movie that leaps to mind is "Planet of the apes" which was full of political and religious commentary/satire, including questions about the validity of creationism. Ironic considering it's star: Charlton Heston. And speaking of Irony how about that old movie "the Bible" -- directed by John Hughes (a devout atheist).

Anyways as far as TV goes I would suggest watching re-runs of Norman Lear's "All in the Family" which consistantly featured religious and political debate between half-wit conservative Archie Bunker and his left-wing atheist son-in-law Mike (played by Carl Reiner -- or was it Rob? I get those two mixed up). Oh, speaking of Reiner,you might also check out "The American President," where Mike Douglas plays an atheist, very liberal president who finds himself the target of Republican smear attacks.

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From:
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 5:19 AM

"History of the World, Pt. 1" with mel Brooks, "The Apostle," "Life of Brian" is great, and I remember some other old movie with a name like "I Believe, for Now."

Bob P

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From: ART HAYKIN
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 12:54 PM

The comedian you seek is Steve Martin.

You won't find many out and out anti-clerical films as the subject is too sensitive for most produce to risk. For an interesting look at the Catholic Church, I suggest "The Shoes of the Fisherman" with Anthony Quinn. The final scene is a grabber.

Also, probably the most exquisite film ever made on the subject is : "The Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn. The dialog of Dr. Fortunati, played by Peter Finch is devastating. The story is true, the acting is brilliant, the directing is unsurpassed, the cinematography and production values are exqusite, and it's faithful to the book. Catholics have told me that this book and film have changed their lives. If anyone can view this film and not be moved off dead center, they are ready for a visit to a shrink. A woman I was dating had a daughter who was considering becoming a nun. After seeing this film, she joined the Peace Corp and dropped out of the church.

Occasionally, there will be a brave scene where the Diety is attacked, such as in "Pete and Tillie" with Carol Burnett. After her young son dies of a tragic disease, Tillie walks outside, looks up, and says, "You Bastard!, You butcherer of 10 year old boys!" (Pretty heavy shit.)

In a film based on a period of Walt Whitman's life, Whitman, played by Rip Torn, gives his opinion of God as "a pugnacious bully bent on revenge and retribution against His innocent children." It was a flick made for TV.

Of course, George Carlin, the most consistently brilliant humorist alive, has much to say about God and the lunacy attendant thereto.

"Oh God, on the surface, seems to be pro-God, but a reading between the lines will tell you differently.

The scene in "Midnight Cowboy" where Joe Buck is sent to see a raging Evangelist by Ratzo, is one of the funniest and most disturbing you'll ever find on the screen.

The play "Steambath," and subsequent PBS production of this brilliant work by Bruce K. Friedmann, has been shelved since the 70's as too controversial. It depicts God as a Puerto Rican steambath attendant meting out punishment and reward to the world below in outspoken and often vulgar terms while he directs the traffic of the recently deceased souls as they pass through on their way to Heaven or Hell. It's a send up of that old flick "Outward Bound."

There have been films that show the seamy side of religion such as "Elmer Gantry," but downright anti-clericalism is still a way off in Hollywood.

Art Haykin

Bend, Oregon

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From: d
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Skeptical Film Reviews, Anyone?
Date: Wednesday, August 25, 1999 8:16 PM

How about "Elmer Gantry," 1960, Burt Lancaster, as the all too human preacher. Book by Sinclair Lewis. Frankly I find film almost invariably a bogus art form, but for a laugh, borrow it from the local library. It's in the classic movie section, I bet, of your local video emporium.

Dan.

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From: Paul Kondon
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: movies
Date: Monday, September 13, 1999 5:01 PM

Hi,

I've known a few people who didn't own TV's, and, aside from being somewhat anachronistic, were pretty creepy. Ha ha! Besides, there is nothing like having a few hundred movies to use for obscure references, and inside jokes, Monty Python not being the least of which.

In addition to all of the good suggestions I've seen so far, I have a somewhat ironic suggestion: "The Ten Commandments," with Charleton Heston and Yul Brynner -- the Easter Classic (since it isn't football season). It was one of the few opportunities I had to stay up until midnight as a kid, and I watched it every year. My immediate family is all atheist (recovering Catholics), so it was a tradition, but, as it turns out, a good one. It was always fun to watch, as it is a cinematic classic, and an interesting story, as much as the Iliad and the Odyssey.

But, it became more interesting as I got older, and understood more of the dialogue. Some of the best challenges before and since, were raised in the movie itself, by none other than the Pharaoh, Ramses. Each of the plagues were explained away by him, and his advisors, until the mysterious "hand of death", the black fog come to claim the firstborn of Egypt, at which point it just gets silly. The challenges were well conceived, and hardly addressed by Moses in the movie. Each plague was understood and dismissed by Pharaoh, and Moses would just keep plugging away with new ones, like a good charlatan. My favorite line from the movie is during the Hail of Fire, which is determined to be falling debris from a volcano. When Pharaoh's priests try to appeal to him (this is before most of the plagues are attributed to the volcano), he snarls back, "You priests created the gods to prey on the fears of men!" Fantastic! And, sadly, it goes mostly unheard by the vast majority of viewers of the film.

Well, that's my pick-o'-the-week. Have fun with them. One other thing: the reference made by Stephen A. Lonsdale to the "Star Trek" film with Spock's emotional half-brother, Sybok, is in fact "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier," just in case you try looking it up, and are totally confused about the relevance.

Paul Kondon
Campus Atheists, Agnostics and Humanists
Western Michigan University

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From: Tom Concannon
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re:: "Skeptical Film Reviews" Results Posted
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 1999 9:58 AM

Dear Cliff and others,

Sorry about not responding sooner about what atheist films I can think of, but I wanted to wait to see what the most popular ones were so I wouldn't repeat them. ("Contact," "Leap of Faith," "Life of Brian," and "Inherit the Wind" seemed to be the most popular.)

For my own two cents worth, I would recommend a movie that dealt with more church/state issues than atheism, but is still worth a watch -- "The People vs. Larry Flynt." Larry Flynt is an outspoken atheist and Pat Robertson is still trying his best to save him. But the movie powerfully reminds us that the First Amendment is what makes this country great, regardless of whether you believe porn should be illegal or not.

I also noticed some people had talked about George Carlin. I recently saw his latest HBO special (of which I cannot remember the title) and the entire last 20 minutes or so was great--a complete slaughterfest of the Christian god. I laughed my ass off. I'm sure any religious person would be maximally offended! Hats off to George!! You can visit an interesting page of his:
http://georgecarlin.com/warning5.html

Yours,
Tom

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From: Kathy Bourdon
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Skeptical-Film-Reviews,-Anyone?
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 1999 6:06 PM

My recomendation is "Stigamta." Okay, it's definitely not atheistc but it is not very favourable to the church, most definitely. I read somewhere that the Vatican attempted to have the movie banned. Not only that but it has breathtakingly beautiful cinematography.

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From: Huascar Terra do Valle
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Skeptical-Film-Reviews, Saint Francis and Innocent III.
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 1999 8:28 PM

About skeptical films it just comes to my mind one of the most beautiful pictures I've seen: Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon".

It is the story of Saint Francis of Assisi, the nice saint that talked to birds. This picture was approved by the Roman Church, by mistake, because the Church didn't see the great truth behind the film. It is a historic film, featuring an occasion of the most powerful and wealthy of all popes, Inoccent III, who had killed more then 20 thousand Albigensis.

The reproduction of the life in the Middle Ages is superb. The music is beautiful. It is a masterpiece. It is a subtle story and few people perceive how Innocent II had used Saint Francis to solve the difficult situation of the Church, who had become a religion of the wealthy.

Suddenly appeared in the Vatican a filthy beggar, Saint Francis, repeating to the pope and his audience the words of the Sermon of the Mountain, in praise of poverty. It was an insult to the high priests of the church, all dressed in gold and precious stones and fabric from the Orient. Saint Francis immediately was arrested. Suddenly the pope (Alec Guiness) has an inspiration and calls him back and approves what he is doing, and kisses his feet... It is a touching moment. The photographs are beyond description.

One of the courtesans comments to another that the pope must be mad, but the other courtesan answers: 'No! The pope knows what he is doing. We have already the rich. Now we'll have also the poor". It was the beginning of the mendicant orders. It is a picture of the highest quality about the politics of the Vatican, in his most importan moment. It is also a picture that makes us think about the meaning and function of religion in the human mind.

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From:
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 01:05:23 EDT
Subject: Movies

Just as another skeptical movie for your list. Coming out soon is the movie "Dogma" which has many Catholics upset and picketting theaters. The movie poses the idea that Mary was never a virgin, that God is woman (played by singer Alanis Morrisette), etc.

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From: "Louis & Donita Klement"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Movies for your list
Date: Saturday, May 13, 2000 8:09 PM

I've seen these:

Light of Day (1987)

Joan Jett plays a "wild" young woman who got pregnant at a young age. She rebels against everything her mother defends. She has never revealed the identity of her son and most assume it's because she was so "wild" she, herself, doesn't even know. Gullable Christian-types will be incensed at the suggestion of this liaison!

The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Pierce Brosnan plays a scientist searching for ways to increase human intellect. He performs experiments on his mentally retarded "lawnmower man" with amazingly successful (?) results. I found myself asking, "What kind of person (Father McKeen) would mercilessly beat a mentally retarded man (Jobe) on a daily basis in the name of God?"

I have NOT seen this, however, knowing it is about Rasputin (aka the Mad Monk) I am sure it unveils the hypocrisy of religion. Agoniya (1981)

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From: "Louis & Donita Klement"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Movie Review: "Dogma"
Date: Monday, May 22, 2000 8:45 AM

Cliff, are you there? Tell me, do tell. Are you safe? Are you sound? Are you whole? Are you well?

"Dogma," stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as angels and George Carlin as the Cardinal. The movie pokes fun at many "beliefs" that organized religion hold to be absolute truth and suggests that mankind took a wrong turn in converting "ideas" into "beliefs." Overall, I considered it to be a comedy, but it has its dramatic moments. I came away from the movie thinking the writer was trying to suggest that God was a child-like woman playing "dolls" with the universe -- all her "dollies" (mankind, angels, etc.) having but one purpose -- to amuse herself. With a God like this, who needs one?

I hope this movie is seen by a wide variety of people -- it has the potential to make people who would otherwise be mute zombies question what is really important about life and living.

=) Donita

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From: Victor Gijsbers
To: Positive Atheism
Subject: Atheist Movies
Date: Sunday, June 25, 2000 20:56

Greetings,

I'm not really into movies, but I feel I must draw your attention to one beautiful example of an irreverent one. It is a low-budget picture called 'The Masque of the Red Death', based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie is quite good and features an extremely cool Satanist prince. There are a number of memorable sayings by this prince. These have also been used on Theater of Tragedy's CD 'Velvet Darkness they Fear', but you've probably never heard of this band. To give you an example of a dialogue from the movie:

Victor

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From: "Ann Lesley"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: PA-via-Positive-Atheism-Index
Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2000 3:44 PM

Where can I get the documentary film, "Marjoe" of Marjoe Gortner's life which won the Academy Award for best documentary film of 1972? Ann

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From:
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: It's a wonderful life...
Date: Monday, December 27, 1999 12:18 PM

I was watching the Frank Capra classic (as I am wont to do around this time of year) and I noticed an irony that somehow escaped me the many times I had watched this movie before....
The angel Clarence Oddbody, at least twice during the film makes reference to a book he's reading.... Mark Twain's "Adventures of Tom Sawyer". Were the writers simply ignorant of Mark Twain's views on religion or were they trying to deliver a hidden message?

Tony C.

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Posted: November, 2000

From:"Bob Cory"
To:"Positive Atheism Magazine"<editor@positiveathiesm.org>
Subject: Atheist/ irreverent film
Date: Saturday, September 30, 2000 9:04 PM

Hey Cliff

Awesome site. Don't know how you have time to keep up with it all.

Anyway, I like a lot of the films the other people mentioned, especially the Monty Python ones. (the TV series was great with that whole church dogma theme too.)

Another suggestion I have is a fairly current film called "Pleasantville". It's not atheist necessarily but it's far more subversive to Christian dogma than most because it takes the Eden myth and reverses the meaning of the "Fall". I won't give away too much to ruin your enjoyment of the film, but I'll just say that the partial filming in black in white, even if this is not directly intentional, is an allegory of the Christian "everything is black and white" mindset. (that's why I think the Fundy's didn't protest it either, they just don't "get it", which is what "Life of Brian" is all about too.)

Also, I think that Gene Roddenbury was very subtle in many other ways when it came to allegory. The last of his television series "New Generation" had a race called the "Borg" which seems to me to be a clear allegory of the Christian Church in it's historical "assimilation" and/or destruction of the cultures it over-ran. (This is also the theme to Acharya S's book "The Christ Conspiracy")

A real enigma for me was Roddenbury's character "Q". While being a somewhat theistic concept of a god, it did give the only plausible reasoning I've ever heard of how an omnipotent being might create such an insane world as this. (the corrupting influence of absolute power)

Unfortunately the new series of Star Trek television shows, taken over by Rick Berman, aren't so good. While the show delves into some fairly deep philosophical questions, it's much too theistic with all kinds of "prophets" popping in and out, and what seems to me a lot like those typical cult references to leaving the unanswered question to those said prophets and or ancient "scriptures".

And last but not least, "The Wizard of OZ". While this may not seem to have anything to do with Christianity, it seems to me to be a similar allegory of Christian dogma. In the film, (which you must have seen) the "Mighty" OZ , whom the wishful thinking peasants think they can beg for what they need, is just a frightened little man hiding behind subterfuge and urban myth. To me that's a perfect allegory of the priests who invented the Christian myth to control through fear, and the foolish masses always looking for the answers in magic, not realizing the answers are within themselves.

Thanks again
Bob C

PS how about adding a "personals" section, so us atheists can meet some friends from the same planet. Just a suggestion.

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From:"kayfgibbs"
To:"Positive Atheism Magazine"<editor@positiveathiesm.org>
Subject: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, October 01, 2000 8:28 AM

Hi Cliff,

I wanted to suggest a film which may actually give people a reason to become atheist. I haven't actually seen it but ran across the title in a film guide and it reminded me of a lot of people I have run into. The title is "Susan of God", and I think it was made in the 40's or 50's, maybe even late 30's. As I don't have a VCR I can't review this movie. Maybe someone has seen it?

Kay

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