Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC: why is this on at the cinema?

SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC is a concert film from the eponymous American comedienne. Silverman has made a name for herself in the USA for looking sweet and innocent and vapid but saying the most unutterably heinous things about sex and race. Some people think she's racist. This is to miss the point. She's not racist (although she does have a bizarre beef about Jews driving German cars, which could almost be considered racist against Germans). What she's trying to do is satirise racists and show us all how stupid, ignorant and vapid they are. My problem with Sarah Silverman is, therefore, not that I think she's racist, but that I don't need her to tell me racists are stupid and wrong. Of course, you can take the piss out of racists and make people laugh. That requires actually fashioning a series of skits full of funny characters and situations. Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock are all devestatingly funny and clever, on the topic of race. But Sarah Silverman doesn't bother with the craft of writing a proper sketch. She just utters racist or sexually provocative comments and then skips to another one. It's as though she has ADD - her material spews forth like so many non sequiturs.

On top of the material which I don't think is particularly funny or intelligent, this movie has godawful production values. Lousy lighting, shoddy camera-work and a terrible DV transfer. The editing is crude and the musical interludes simply don't work.

The key question is this: why, three years after its release in the USA, is this movie being shown on UK cinema screens when it's fit for a heavily edited TV special at best? (The side question is why I still went to see it having read Ebert's review.)

SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC was released in US cinemas in 2005 and was released on Region 1 DVD in 2006. It is currently on release in the UK.

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