Sunday, November 12, 2006

Borat Review

I just returned from seeing ‘Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.’ Before seeing the film I read a few reviews on some “conservative leaning” web sites in which it was described as “anti-American” because there were a number of mocking scenes that portrayed Americans in a less than flattering light. I strongly disagree and having now seen the film understand that such criticism is more of a bizarre reflection on the hypersensitivity of some of my fellow “conservative” bloggers, than on the film itself. Clearly some folk lack a political sense of humor.

I thought that by-in-large, Americans came across as a good and decent people, certainly in comparison to Borat himself. Yes there were a number of disturbing examples, like the drunken collage kids putting down minorities, but at the same time they treated Borat, himself a “foreigner and minority with a heavy accent,” with nothing but friendship and hospitality. But many others, such as the driving instructor and the Birmingham family that hosted Borat for dinner, came across as overly accepting and tolerant in the face of Borat’s outrageous behavior. I also found it interesting that Borat spoke in Hebrew throughout the entire film when he was pretending to communicate in his native Kazak language. This was likely lost on the audience.
As for the film itself: It was difficult to watch and you should avoid it if you are easily offended, I did notice a few people leaving the theater in the middle; most of the time I truly did not know if I should bury my head while squirming in embarrassment, or burst out in uncontrollable laughter. I did a lot of both. Although he will never receive it, Sacha Baron Cohen should be up for a Best Actor Oscar for this one. The overwhelming majority of the movie was filmed in “real life” situations, where only one-take would have been possible; it is simply stunning how he was able to stay in the Borat character even in the most humiliating and difficult circumstances. I contend that there is not a single other actor in Hollywood who would have been able to pull off the Borat character or anything comparable.

(In the photo above: Borat is covering the "running of the Jews" in his navtive village for Kazak TV).

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