The theme for this month – Church and State Hate

Theatrical Release

Hail, Satan? (2019)

Directed by Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon)
Edited by Amy Foote (The Work, Exit Music) and Aaron Wickenden (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, The Interrupters)

“The Satanic Temple, which filmmaker Penny Lane followed for three years, is a little of both — a staged drama complete with spooky costumes and performance art that becomes as real as the cause it’s in service of. The full title of the documentary could be Hail Satan? Hail Satan!

“Lane opens with a scene from 2013 in Florida, where the still-nascent Temple held a rally to “support” Governor Rick Scott’s bill making student-led prayer at public schools legal in the state. By this logic and given the First Amendment, the Satanic group contended, prayer of all faiths was now allowable in schools, including but not limited to prayers to Satan.” Emily Yoshida, Vulture

“Penny Lane’s hugely necessary new documentary Hail Satan? is a hilarious, provocative, and trenchant look at these wonderfully profane rebels of the culture wars who — with tongue firmly in cheek but in all seriousness, too — are trolling fundie-Christian America by, among other delicious blasphemies, bringing lawsuits against any organization that seeks to place a monument to the Christian Ten Commandments on any government or public property. The Satanic Temple sues to be allowed to simultaneously place a statue (pictured above, and delightfully, obnoxiously huge) honoring Baphomet, the ‘Sabbatic goat’ deity commonly assumed to be a stand-in for Lucifer. Because if the Jesus-shouters get an official stamp of approval, so should other religions. That’s the way America is supposed to work, isn’t it?” MaryAnn Johanson,

“The question mark in Hail Satan?’s title may seem to suggest ambiguity on director Lane’s part, but when the Seven Tenets of Satanism are compared to the Ten Commandments, it’s clear only an exclamation mark will do. Hail Satan!” Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly

Archival films

Life of Brian (1979)

Directed by Terry Jones (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Meaning of Life)
Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
Starring: Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, Palin and Terence Bayler.

“Brian Cohen (Chapman), a nice Jewish boy with a secret heritage, gets caught up in a rebellion by the Judean People’s Front — or is it the People’s Front of Judea? — against the Romans, who’ve done such awful things as bring sanitation, clean water, and public order to Judea. The Pythons — Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin, all in multiple roles, as usual — go to town with Brian when he’s mistaken for a prophet in the course of his terroristic activities — oh, the overtones that has for today. There’s nothing on film quite like the scene in which Brian, who doesn’t want to be a prophet, is chased by frenzied horde who will not be dissuaded from their error and will not heed even direct contradictions to their beliefs. The shoe, the shoe… it’s how religions get started: a clueless anti-Roman activist loses a sandal while running from a mob, and before you know it, someone sees it as a sign of something — interpretations differ — and people are being killed in the name of the sign of the shoe. But clear-eyed cynicism aside, there’s something else notable about Brian: It’s the only movie about Jesus to feature aliens and a space battle, which is still more plausible than a man turning water into wine.” MaryAnn Johanson,

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Directed by Alexander Payne (Nebraska, Election)
Written by Payne (Election, Sideways) and Jim Taylor (Election, Sideways)
Starring: Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, M.C. Gainey and Kenneth Mars.

“Most movies are made with the belief that no one in the audience can be expected to entertain more than one idea at a time, at the very most. We are surprised when it develops that there will be no ‘good side’ and ‘bad side’ in the struggle over Ruth, and incredulous when it appears that the movie will not arrive safely in port with a solution to please everyone. Some situations, Payne seems to be arguing, simply can not be settled to everyone’s satisfaction. Maybe, for some viewers, that will make this a horror film.” Roger Ebert


Hail, Satan runs daily at The Grand Cinema starting on Friday, May 3.
Life of Brian will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, May 3 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
Citizen Ruth will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, May 10 in the CSL.

The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, May 15 in the CSL.

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