Film & Video > Couch Trip
A man-eating vagina, a life-hating noir, badass babes on murderous missions and another Renny Harlin yawner
What Would Jesus Buy?
Arts Alliance America
It’s always been something of an irony that the pushy religious folks who crow about “the war on Christmas” aim their venom at municipalities that won’t pay for nativity scenes when, in fact, the single biggest threat to Jesus’ birthday is the mania that sets in on Black Friday and doesn’t relent until midnight on Christmas Eve. New York “preacher” Rev. Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping seems to have figured this out. This Morgan Spurlock-produced doc (directed by Rob VanAlkemade) follows the reverend around on his Christmas crusade to discourage people from losing their minds (and their souls) in pursuit of holiday overconsumption. Billy and his church are clearly more driven by the performance art and nonviolent resistance part of their proselytizing than they are by any religious imperative, but that makes it far more interesting. This is the freak that’s gotta remind people about “the reason for the season” in a way that’ll grab viewers.
VanAlekemade is smitten with the reverend, and essentially lets this film act as a video extension of the Stop Shopping Manifesto, but he also manages to draw a clear, bright line between the consumption at Christmas, the consumerism impulse that’s embedded in children by carton advertising and the debt-heavy attitude that’s screwed up the American economy. It’s a heavy message wrapped in an eye-catching package, and by the end, there’s a good chance you’ll be a new convert. —Jason Ferguson