I saw “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” this evening.
The Journalism Department gave out free passes to a preview screening. The cleverly designed passes looked like official invitations from the Kazakhstan embassy, photocopied onto cheap gray paper. Brilliant.
Each pass was good for two people. I invited the wife, but she informed me that she’d made dinner plans with a co-worker – actually, co-grad student – and her parents.
So I went alone to the preview showing. In the theatre, I found Simon, one of the Journalism computer lab TAs. We sat and talked, about gossip and movies and music, until the film started.
The movie was hilarious. It was typical Borat, wrapped around a loose plot, but more daring and more hilarious than the TV version. You’d think Borat wouldn’t be for everyone, but the older couple on my left laughed as hard as I or Simon on my right did. I offer my fullest admiration to co-star Ken Davitian for his bravery during the hotel fight and subsequent chase scene. That takes balls.
One of the odd things about the movie is the question of co-stars. Borat makes hay out of folks who don’t know him. In some of the movie situations, the presence of the camera goes completely unnoticed by the folks Borat meets, as in any standard non-documentary. But the reactions often feel viscerally real, unscripted, unacted. And none of the “real” people Borat meets get credits in the film. How many are actors?
The climax of the film is an encounter with Pamela Anderson. She had to know Borat was an act – I assume. Yet the security guards in that sequence sure do look like they’re for real. I can’t any revelations online. Anybody know?
There’s another noteworthy oddity in the film. Ken Davitian uses a language I can’t understand, real or made-up, when he speaks his character’s native tongue. Sacha Baron Cohen, however, speaks heavily accented Hebrew! As much as Borat rails against Jews, he’s speaking real Hebrew as some fake native language. It was legitimate, too. What Baron Cohen spoke in Hebrew more or less equaled the English subtitles, but even where it didn’t follow exactly, the meaning was similar. I enjoyed following the Hebrew, but what an odd choice. Wikipedia tells us Baron Cohen’s mother is Israeli, and he may speak the language fluently, but still.
The crowd left happy. Those who stayed to watch the credits saw that Jason Alper was not only the costume designer, which IMDb reports, he also had a credit that IMDb curiously does not list, as the person who supplied the feces. It’s that kind of movie.
I have a review of a screenplay slotted for my next blog post. I managed to snag a copy of the shooting script of “Flyboys”. I plan to see that Saturday, then read the script and put my thoughts down here.
You know, Sacha Baron Cohen would make a perfect Ezer Weizman in “101”. He’s got the Hebrew down, too. Call me, Sacha: email@example.com
Before the film, I was waiting in line behind two 20-something men at the concession stand. As the nice snack lady served the first, a 20-something female acquaintance ran up and greeted them in a way that indicated she hadn’t been with them before. She had unnatural red hair and a jacket to match. She waited with them while the second guy ordered, and reconnaissance vibes started to set the stage for a battle of wills.
Her friends didn’t order snacks for her, and she started to use her body to block me out form the ordering station. I outflanked her and got to the counter beside her friend. Her friends left. The counter girl gave the interloper her attention, and she started to order, but I spoke up, “Excuse me, I was here before you. I’d like a small popcorn and small diet Pepsi.” Blitzkrieg!
The woman tried to dismiss me. “Those are my friends.”
“Then they should have bought you your food. A small buttered popcorn and small diet Pepsi, please.”
As the counter girl fetched my order, one of Red’s friends let out a “What’s up with that?”
I’m fairly certain the people in line behind me saw the merit in my actions.