Archive for the ‘Borat’ Category

Another Borat suit

June 8, 2007

20th Century Fox is being sued by John Doe. Who’s Mr. Doe, you ask? Well, this particular Doe was shown in Borat, being chased down a street in the middle of New York by, well, Borat.

“The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and says the filmmakers used the plaintiff’s likeness without his consent, causing emotional damage that he continues to suffer.”

Like the other Borat suits, I’m not sure this has much credibility to it. The lawsuit brought by the frat brothers was dismissed, and a village in Romania (where some scenes were filmed, standing in for Kazakhstan) sued as well. These suits more or less claim that damage has been done to their reputation, which is one thing, but lost in the chaos is the fact that these people did the damage themselves. After all, Borat didn’t point at the frat boys and try to embarrass them; they made racist comments all on their own.

Disappointing films of 2006

January 13, 2007

Popmatters has an interesting article on the most disappointing movies of 2006. I guess this would include movies that were just plain overhyped, which perhaps you can’t completely blame on the director and stars, but it’s still a disappointment.

Many of the movies listed there escaped my attention. I mean, I’ve heard of them, I just didn’t see them, although Superman Returns is right here on my desk. As for the ones I have seen (Borat, Snakes on a Plane, V for Vendetta), I wasn’t really disappointed in any of them. I loved Borat and I thought Snakes was perfectly cheesy. Vendetta was a LITTLE disappointing, but only because I thought it would be more of a social-revolution kind of movie, and it wasn’t. (I agree about Portman’s performance, though.)

For me, I thought the following 2006 films were disappointing: Nacho Libre, American Dreamz, The Departed. Yeah, that’s about it, I think. I thought Jack Black as a wrestler would be comedy gold, but the movie stunk – it was painful to watch. American Dreamz seemed like it should have had much more bite, but it mostly just bit.

And The Departed? Well, it’s on just about everyone’s Top 10 list, but I didn’t quite care for it. I thought Nicholson was hammy and that DiCaprio and Damon looked way too similar. The twist ending was telegraphed well in advance. Even Alec Baldwin didn’t make much sense – he seemed to be overacting. Martin Sheen was the best, though.

Some lawsuits suck.

November 17, 2006

So we all know by now that two of the racist, sexist frat boys from the not-so-Deep South in the Borat film are suing Sacha Baron Cohen because he made them look bad. And we know that the tiny Romanian town that’s featured in Borat is also suing, because he made them look bad, too. And so on and so on.

Well, now word comes via E!Online that someone else is pissed. But the story seems to be inaccurate.

The article says, “At a news conference Thursday in Los Angeles, etiquette teacher Cindy Streit announced that she has filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office, requesting an investigation into the methods that were used to get her to participate in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.


“‘I had taught him to excuse himself,” she told the Associated Press. “He did that correctly and went upstairs. The next thing that happened is that he came down the stairs holding this plastic bag with whatever was in it.

“My horror was that he had brought a bag of feces to my dinner table.'”

Now, I have seen the movie, but perhaps someone out there can clarify for me. The woman who hosted the dinner party at which Borat presented his poop wasn’t the same woman who was instructing him in etiquette; that woman was the one to whom Borat showed naked pictures of his son.

In other words, I believe the story is misidentifying this complaintant.

As for the content of the complaint, I’m of two minds. I understand how people must feel a little violated. They thought one thing, based on what they were told, and it turned out to be incorrect. That might rankle me, too. But it’s important to note that those who come off worst in the film (the people from the rodeo, the kindly Jewish couple, to name a few) aren’t complaining; indeed, the kindly Jewish people liked the movie. Even the guy in the antiques shop wasn’t mad. The humor coach was fine with it. The driving instructor, too.

The suit by the Romanian village is almost funny. They’re complaining not just that they were made to look bad, but that they weren’t paid enough. They didn’t do anything in the movie, you know, like, say, act. Just be on camera, for the most part.

So why are these people pitching a fit? Is it really because they felt they were lied to? How much of their outrage stems from the fact that the movie has already made $26 million? (And you have to figure there was a low, low production budget.) Are people merely trying to cash in on Cohen’s comic tour de force under the guise of being peeved?

It’s been said that Cohen’s Borat makes places like Kazahkstan look bad, as if he were representative of the entire country. That’s fair to some degree, because most people in the West don’t get much exposure to Eastern Europe. However, let’s look at American-made films that are shown overseas. How many of them make Americans look like boorish louts? How about TV shows? What about countries that see Americans on The Amazing Race or Survivor? Do they think we’re all like that?

Borat – what was real?

November 10, 2006

Ok, perhaps I’m going a little overboard with the Borating around here, but this is a fantastic article. Salon has an article up today discussing the plausibility of some of the scenes in Borat. For which scenes were the participants in the know? Did Pam Anderson already know she was gonna be abducted? That sort of thing.

Great article, and if you haven’t seen the movie it shouldn’t really spoil things for you. (Even if it did, half the appeal is in Cohen’s delivery.)

If you HAVE seen Borat, this is an essential article.

Oh, and those frat boys who picked up Borat? A couple of them are suing Cohen and company. Heh.

Borat banned in Russia! Noez!

November 10, 2006

Surprise! Russian government bans Borat. I think it’s nice that they want to emulate the U.S. Okay, that’s not entirely fair, since we haven’t banned Borat, but we do have a reputation for not tolerating potentially “offensive” movies.

Clive Barker to write new, big-budget Hellraiser I remember watching the first and third ones, but not the eleventy-four since then. Suppose it’s good news that Barker’s involved again, and considering that the current trend is big-budget horror, this seems like a can’t miss.

Premiere Magazine’s Top 100 Performances Because we all love lists, don’t we? Sure we do.

And last but not least, how about a guide to Hollywood accents?

Political movies and more Borat. Plus: Evan Almighty

November 7, 2006

On this voting day (U.S.), I present the Top 7 Political Movies.

What, no The President’s Analyst? No All the King’s Men (not the Penn version)?Remember that Turkish guy back in the 90s who had the funky website wherein he exhorted women to come see him and kiss him and such? His site was famously badly designed, with flashing lights and poor, bad-English text and such. Anyway, he says he intends to sue Sacha Baron Cohen, according to this interview with Wired magazine.

Hey, good luck to him, but I don’t think he’ll win. He’ll get some free positive pub, though. Can’t beat that.

Oh, and Moviefone has the trailer for Evan Almighty. I read somewhere that if you’re sick of Carell already, just remember: It could have been Will Ferrell in the role. Carell was fantastic in Bruce Almighty, so this should be okay.

285 – Borat

November 5, 2006

If you like side-splitting hilarity that’s based on stuff happening to unsuspecting people (otherwise known as rubes or marks), then Borat (and its unwieldy full title) is perfect for you. Heck, even if you’re the type who cringes when people are put in embarrassing positions on film, this film is still your speed.

Borat is a mockumentary starring the title character (Sacha Baron Cohen), a television reporter in Kazakhstan who journeys to the United States in an effort to explain the “greatest country” to his audiences back home. Zany hijinks ensue.

Borat begins his trek in New York, but when he happens upon an episode of Baywatch in his hotel room. Ah, he spies the luscious Pamela Anderson in her role as CJ the Awesome Lifeguard. Well! That does it for the general-interest piece he was gonna do – he (and his cameraman, and his producer) is off to California! Let the sojourn begin!

Now, bear in mind that (apparently) the interactions Borat has with various Americans, of all shapes, sizes, and colors, are completely unscripted on the part of the naive citizenry. Borat travels to a rodeo, where he “sings” the Kazakh national anthem to – get this – the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to the Deep South, where he receives etiquette lessons and attends a social gathering. He and his crew even get lost in Atlanta, where Borat not only gets directions but also some helpful hints on sartorial goodness from some locals.

The jokes and jibs always seem accidental, as if Borat is simply this unknowing foreigner who is not wise in American ways. At the same time, the proverbial seedy underbelly of Americans (that is, unseen bigotry) is gleefully, manically exposed; one gets the feeling that those who are exposed have no idea what’s happening. They’re just being themselves.

Everything about this movie hinges on Cohen’s performance, naturally. If Borat’s sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, boorish-yet-innocent persona grates, then the movie’s lost to you. And there’s Borat in a nutshell – he’s all these ugly, nasty things, but he doesn’t know he is. Why, he’s just Borat, a typical Kazakh peasant. He can’t be expected to know of our mores and rules, can he? Why, of course not. (In one memorable exchange, Borat is aghast that women in America can choose with whom they wish to have sex!)

There will be some who simply won’t like this movie. Those people either don’t get the idea of the Borat character or don’t have much of a sense of humor to begin with. If Bert from Sesame Street were real, he’d probably wander out of the theater after watching Borat with Ernie, shaking his head, wondering what it was all about. Whereas Ernie would be laughing his furry red ass off.

***1/2