Interesting comments on the previous post. After reading these two reviews on Slate, however, one against Nintendo's new Wii, and one ostensibly for the Wii, but also kind of against it anyway, I think the XBox 360 is going to be the one for me. Over the long haul, I need a system that will allow me to commit heinous (though digital) acts of ultra-violence (think "Hitman"), and the Wii will never ever let me do that. Looks like it's going to be me and the fine folks at Microsoft walking hand in hand down Video Game Avenue for the next 5 years or so.
Anyway, "Borat". Peggy and I saw this in a packed theater on Friday night. And I mean packed. I can't remember the last time I was in a theater this full-- maybe not since the last installment of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Even the front row was fully-stocked. I thought it was a funny movie. I laughed at a pretty regular clip throughout, as did my audience. But the funniest part of the movie for me came out of a scripted scene, a scene not at all dependent on the credulous and overly-polite Americans upon which Cohen preys; I speak of course of the man-on-man naked Kazakh wrestling in the hotel room scene. I laughed very very hard at this. Not Cougar-Scene-in-"Talladega Nights" hard, but tearfully, certainly. What I liked least about the movie was what made up the bulk of "Borat": the scenes involving the dupes. Whether it was the genteel southerners in Alabama who hosted Borat for dinner or the moronic, racist, mysogenistic frat boys he hitched a ride with, that kind of humor just makes me uncomfortable and there's not much that's funny about it. I think Christopher Hitchens was right when he wrote that "Borat" is less a testament to the inate racism and backwardness of rural America than it is evidence of America's surfeit of politeness. (Maybe not so much in New York when Borat was trying to kiss fellow pedestrians, but that's the big city.) Though I guess there's a sort of pleasure in watching small-minded and ignorant sons of bitches hang themselves with their own words, but overall it just seemed like a smart Cambridge graduate from England coming into the American countryside to pick on some hick yokels. Don't they have ignorant hicks in England?
Also, I thought the transitions between the bits were clunky; just throwing up some subtitles while the fat guy talks to Borat in the ice cream truck about which "important interview" they had to prep for next seemed kind of lazy. Overall "Borat" felt like an overlong episode of his HBO show featuring just the one character, but despite the apparent shoestring budget, Cohen manages to pull it off. I didn't love it, but the movie's entertaining and very funny in parts.
(And what's the concensus on the Pam Anderson thing? She had to be in on it, right? Otherwise wouldn't Cohen have had to go to jail for a time.)
Also, Robert Altman, the auteur who directed classics like "Popeye" and "A Prarie Home Companion" and "Dr. T and the Women", died today. Maybe this will inspire me to get up off my ass and see some of the movies he's actually famous for. Anyway, it's sad. Not Kubrick sad, but you know. Sad.