9.11.06

Grza's Weekly Film Reviews

This week on The Shitizens, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Borat, the ubiquitous Central Asian stereotype we've been smothered with for the last few weeks, is finally on the movie screen. Having convinced enough journalists to drop a bit of their integrity to pretend like he's a real person, and having ensured that despite the media blitz there will still be fresh jokes by making the same one about prostitutes a thousand times, because he's talking to the elderly and they can't figure out YouTube, he has arrived and it can only be a let down. Right?

We've heard all about it. It's a Mockumentary and a satire, it's a horse-urine drinking buffoon who will open our eyes to racism and people who don't like the flag stepped on, it's about Borat, the big strong Bear of a man who hates the Jew and the Gypsy. But then...it isn't.


Few of the reviews have taken the time to explore the nuance of this film, and I can only chalk it up to a hypersensitive spoiler-sensibility, but this film was nothing like I was expecting. It's a delicate flower, a lilting song of sadness and wonder, a beautiful homage to late 18th century French Monarchy with only scattered shots of Borat sprinting through the woods at one point, or sitting in a sea of faces at another.

The film opens quietly, but all the while playing with your sensibilities. A young woman, seemingly kazakh, hold a small dog. Is she going to cook it in pee, or light it on fire to brand the homosexuals? Or will she bite it's head off and spray her siblings/children with the blood with some comment about their monthly bath? Borat seems to truly understand comedy, and the first rule of comedy is to do the unexpected. After a dozen or so shots of this little dog, a sweet pug thing with watery brown eyes, it is forced to go home to his mystery country and the young girl cries. Now, in any other context or even in a dramatic film, this would be incredibly boring, ten, fifteen minutes of overdressed and naturally lit beautiful people who never say words to each other and constant shots of the dog, but here, it's laugh out loud hilarious. The audience, too stunned at this point to get the joke I think, largely sat silent while I roared.

Later, in one of the first appearances of Borat, he sprints out of a room after setting up one of the film's best premises, when a man cannot get an erection to have sex with a thirteen year old girl. This was the show I was expecting, but even that takes on a flavor I wasn't able to comprehend right away. Is it funny because he can't get it up? Or because it's a child, who wants to fucked so? Or because everyone checks her sheets for torn hymen blood? No. It's funny because he can't get it up AND it's a child who has her sheets checked every day for the hymen blood that she is so desperate to spew.

More than anything, long stretches of dialogue and plot free film, complimented by surprising art direction for such a broad comedy, mean that this is no ordinary Commedia dell'arte. Many might not take the time to appreciate the beautiful upholstery or the exquisite cakes because they are too busy laughing, but that's not a bad thing, it just prepares us for how deep this movie is prepared to go. Because at the end, Borat pulls the films greatest trick. We've been lulled into this sense of comedy, laughing giggling flitting little vixens march about the screen amusing us so, but he knows we are now complacent and that satire only works if we're being challenged.

*****SPOILER ALERT*******

The twist ending to this film is outrageous. Instead of letting us down with a gentle series of slowly dwindling jokes, they stop, about ten minutes before the end. Our princess, only a moment ago filled with gaeity, now is wrinkled and old. There is terror in her eyes, and a revolution comes. We are left to feel sorrow for our clown-queen until the haunting last shot of a smashed up room. We wait. Borat edges out of frame. Did it really happen? Was there a revolution, or was it all resolved peacefully, with our Queen restored to the throne? Was it all just a dream? We don't know and the filmmaker never tells us, because he values subtlety and respects his audience enough to let them fill in the blanks. Three Cheers for Borat.

★★★★★

2 comments:

ETC said...

This movie very well may be worthy of your stars, but this is not to say that there will not be repercussions. We are yet to experience the horror that this bit of cinema has bestowed upon us. Our landscape shall be plagued with atrocious, or excruciating if you will, impressions... but not merely impressions... They will be bad impressions. Bad impressions executed with precision by greasy faced overweight teenagers -- semi retarded with hormones and bacon fat. They'll stumble about spewing their filth into our ears, and there shall be no escape. Our streets are no longer safe.

It has already begun. Prepare yourselves.

dent burntrap said...

It'll probably be comparable to the aftermath of Dirty Dancing Havana Nights.

Man the grooving still hasn't stopped.