Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
This weekend sees the release of The Brothers Grimsby, the latest comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen. And here’s the thing about Mr. Cohen – even when I don’t love his movies, I find him fascinating. From his early career as a television prankster who roped real people into interacting with his fictional characters, to his Hollywood career, where he worked with directors like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, he has never shown us a half-measure. Cohen is a performer who commits to his characters and his concepts like no one else.
And since his new movie is on the horizon, this certainly feels like the perfect opportunity to run down his finest moments on screen.
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Imagine being a competitor in a sport. You’re from the US, and after placing in the top rounds, you’re about to take your podium at the medal ceremony… when, instead of ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ the event organizers cue up ‘America! Fuck Yeah!‘ from Team America: World Police.
A near-equivalent version of that happened at the culmination of a shooting competition in Kuwait this week, when gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko of Kazakhstan was greeted at the podium with the fake national anthem created by Sacha Baron Cohen for the film Borat. That’s the song with lyrics like: “Kazakhstan industry best in the world. / We invented toffee and trouser belt. / Kazakhstan’s prostitutes cleanest in the region. / Except of course Turkmenistan’s.”
See a video of the ceremony below. Read More »
It’s a crazy, mixed up world and we are thankful for movies, sans The Tooth Fairy, that offer proof. Weekend Weirdness examines such flicks, whether in the form of a new trailer for a provocative indie, a mini review, or this…
Variations on the utterance, “I wish there was something to do,” number in the hundreds to thousands daily in New York City. It’s a minor grumble that can be overheard even as many a boredom-stricken city dweller is in a bout of multi-tasking worthy of a wintery-layer-obsessed Inspector Gadget. These frequent sentiments both ignore and are at the source of the unbridled creativity occurring around them: somewhere in the city, people are launching unrelated search-and-destroys on boredom in new ways. In the case of a determined 20something actor and filmmaker named Zachary Oberzan, it was via a feature-length adaptation of First Blood…set entirely in a 220-square-foot Manhattan apartment and starring himself as roughly two dozen male and female characters. The resulting film—which cost $96, was made over seven months, and was edited by Oberzan in Final Cut Pro—is called Flooding with Love for the Kid.
In the role of iconic Vietnam vet John Rambo, Oberzan ostensibly fought the law and the law won. Which means Oberzan still won, because they are one in the same and so forth. In a superlative scene in Flooding, Oberzan is show on screen as six different armed men firing shotguns at Rambo in a display of deliberately amateur but charming effects. That the scene, like most of the film, is set deep in a Kentucky wilderness conveyed by makeshift twigs and grimy urban brick should be a lame or childish sight to the grown viewer. Instead, the scene is genuinely suspenseful, partially due to the claustrophobic restraints, and packs just enough Dogme-esque realism to earn a smile. Flooding is currently a subject of fun chatter in NYC, and has even been intensely praised by Rambo’s creator, First Blood author David Morrell.
Unlike Sylvester Stallone‘s 1982 classic actioner, Oberzan made use of Morrell’s original ending, in which Rambo and the relentless sheriff on the hunt for him both die. /Film chatted with Oberzan about the multiple meta meanings at the heart of Flooding‘s faithful conclusion and about many other aspects of his memorable, irony-free creation. A clip from the film and the interview after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 by David Chen
In this episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, and Adam Quigley ponder the implications of drastic changes to The Warriors, complain about different versions of movies in theaters, remember cinematic versions of Shakespeare plays, and mourn the loss of a beloved actor. Special guest Katey Rich joins us from Cinemablend and Jesse Thorn joins us from The Sound of Young America. Also, Dave interviews actor Jeremy Renner from Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming film The Hurt Locker.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Monday at 9PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review The Taking of Pelham 123.
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Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 by David Chen
The AP is reporting that a NYC Judge Loretta Preska has dismissed lawsuits from several individuals in the Borat film who claim they were deceived. This time, the case was brought by two etiquette teachers and the film’s driving instructor, not the drunken frat boys who made inappropriate comments, or the Romanian villagers who believed they had been misled, each of whom also brought cases that ended unsuccessfully for the plaintiffs. It’s been a few years since the release of the film, and with the lawsuits against it now winding down before the release of Bruno, it looks like the release form Cohen is using for interviews is completely bulletproof (for more information on what type of release forms they used, check out this Slate article).
Lest you think the interviewees knew precisely what they were getting into, this 2006 BBC article describes exactly what happened to you if you were one of the film’s “marks”:
Most of Borat’s victims were ensnared in a similar way. They would be contacted by a woman calling herself Chelsea Barnard from a fictional film company, One America Productions. They would be told about the foreign correspondent making a film about life in the US, with the pitch tailored to each person’s specialist subject. Then on the day of the interview, they would be presented with a release form at the last minute, be paid in cash and, finally, Borat would amble in, beginning with some serious subjects before starting his provocative routine.
It’s understandable why instructors would be peeved at the snow job they received during the making of the film. But whether that irritation is legally actionable now seems a question that has been answered pretty much definitively.
Discuss: Is this vindication for Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedic methods? Or should these people have gotten compensated for their humiliation?
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It is going to be quite fun watching film critics in the MSM tackle Religulous, the anti-religions (re: not anti-organized religions) documentary from director Larry Charles (Borat) and Bill Maher. Reviewing this film practically demands that one states his/her personal beliefs—sort of like with Iraq War docs, but, you know, bigger—and judging from two of the first reader reviews on AICN, Maher doesn’t leave much wiggle room: it’s the “you do” or “you don’t” proposition. And unlike Ben Stein’s Expelled, Religulous will have a much higher media profile when it’s released this October.
The first reviewer is an evangelical Christian who’s a fan of Maher’s canceled Politically Incorrect talk-show. While the film offered “chuckles,” the reviewer goes on to say that Maher’s take on religion(s) is ultimately one-sided. But isn’t that Maher’s point? There is no middle ground? Moreover, the reviewer took issue with the “mission statement” that Maher makes at the film’s conclusion (spoiler alert)…
“[Maher] dismisses all of Christianity based on the supernatural events in the Bible, which he says couldn’t have happened, and complains that it doesn’t present itself the way he personally wants it to. …The kicker is the ending. (MAJOR SPOILER – I guess): After 90 minutes of interviews, Bill states that all religion is evil and must be destroyed for the good of humankind. He comes to this conclusion based on the Koran’s and the Bible’s predictions of destruction of the world at the “end times” and feels that these religions want the world to be destroyed because God or Allah has ordained it.”
I wonder if “destroy” is actually said. The other review is from a “lapsed Catholic” who is neither a “believer” or “nonbeliever.” This reviewer expected a documentary that clowned people like Borat, but was struck by its seriousness. He says that Maher doesn’t victimize anyone, and even though he tends to “preach” his atheism, he doesn’t cut off the religious people he interviews in the film (including someone (not Seth Rogen) from the Church of Cannabis).
“All in all, I must say that I really enjoyed the film. If you are like me and go into this film expecting another “Borat”, you are either going to get more or less than what you bargained for, all depending on your perspective of religion (obviously). I will also say though, that if you are looking to be offended, the odds are pretty good.”
In a recent issue of TIME magazine, a cover story on Mark Twain delved into that man’s candid remarks on religion(s) and atheism, which sounded a lot like Maher’s today. Given the amount of time that has passed since Twain’s passing, I highly doubt this film will change the minds of any viewers over the age of 25.
Discuss: What do you make of the “spoiler mission statement”? How do you think the MSM will treat/review this documentary? How do you expect it to perform at the box office?
Cultural humor alert: Sacha Baron Cohen will produce and possibly star in a film for Fox Atomic entitled, Accidentes, a pitch from Borat co-writer Peter Baynham. Here’s the logline:
“The protag will be a lawyer of Latin descent who transforms from contingency attorney to hero of the working class when he helps an immigrant win a judgment against his wealthy employer after a landscaping mishap. He also becomes the enemy of L.A.’s power elite.”
Might this do for L.A. what Borat did for Kazakhstan, Jean Girard did for France and Bruno did for “high fashion”? Do you see a pattern? The project is a high profile catch for Fox Atomic, which has been off our radar in recent months. A director was not announced. Cohen is also attached to star as Sherlock Holmes alongside Will Ferrell’s Watson for producer Judd Apatow. Bruno, which is now a wrap, opens May ’09.
We knew this was coming sooner or later, but Sacha Baron Cohen has announced that Borat is dead. Cohen told The Daily Telegraph that he’s retiring the Kazakh journalist, and his other alter ego, Ali G.
“When I was being Ali G and Borat I was in character sometimes 14 hours a day and I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing,” Cohen says. “It is like saying goodbye to a loved one. It is hard, and the problem with success, although it’s fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I `get’ with Borat again, so it’s a kind of self-defeating form, really.”
Cohen should hold a public funeral service for both characters so that fans can gather and mourn together in hilarity. Heck, even Bruno could show up and show his respect.
Sacha Baron Cohen is back in character as Borat, doing a press tour to promote his new travel book Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. When reporters asked who he supports in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Borat answered:
“I cannot believe that it possible a woman can become Premier of US and A – in Kazakhstan, we say that to give a woman power, is like to give a monkey a gun – very dangerous. We do not give monkeys guns any more in Kazakhstan ever since the Astana Zoo massacre of 2003 when Torkin the orang-utan shoot 17 schoolchildrens. I personal would like the basketball player, Barak Obamas to be Premier.”
Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is in stores now.