Monday, November 06, 2006

Fresh Borat...

I will not be the first or the last to say that this is an extremely hilarious movie and that you should go see it. No doubt, in the weeks and months ahead, we will suffer from Borat-fatigue, and within a year or so, we will have seen countless inferior knock-offs and the whole phenom will seem to have passed its expiration date... But for now, in this window of freshness, we can marvel at the genius behind the set-up. Borat himself does very little heavy lifting, his talent is to engage others and let them reveal their natural response to absurd situations. It's the Candid Camera effect crossed with some biting social and political commentary. The resulting blend of reality and fiction generates a crackling live wire of comedy and horror, often simultaneously. (The British directors Merchant and Ivory, best known for their quaint period "corset" dramas, were experimenting with this notion early in their careers. They would take a professional actor, or a group of actors and enter a crowded market in Calcutta and stage complex public interventions, filming the results on hidden cameras.) At the end of Borat, "backwards" Kazakhstan looks nearly utopian in contrast to the demented souls and warped ways of the good old US and A. What will be interesting is to see how the film plays in two places: Middle America and the Middle East. If it makes it to either.


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