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Non-Review Review: The Dictator

The obvious point of comparison for The Dictator would seem to be Borat or even Bruno. After all, the film reteams Sacha Baron Cohen with director Larry Charles, while providing a vehicle for exploring American society. However, The Dictator is a very different beast – it’s a much safer film, which is quite something to say about a film featuring a joke about “911 2012.” It is more conventional, more accessible, and more driven by a clearly focused narrative. In a way, it feels almost closer to Ali G in da House, only a lot funnier.

The Dictator is a very funny film, but it does feel like Cohen is a little more constrained than usual, a lot more rigidly structured. This lacks the sort of anarchic spirit that viewers have come to expect from Cohen, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. Still, Cohen has a unique ability to blend offensive boundary-crossing with classic comedy, and The Dictator feels like a film that will have a broader appeal than his cult hits. Despite the abundance of jokes about male and female anatomy, I think this might be the first Sacha Baron Cohen film I would recommend to my parents.

Coming to America…

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A Man’s Mann…

I have to confess I was not overly impressed with Public Enemies. In fairness, it was mostly down to the choices Mann made in filming the work – the high definition cameras and the insistence on shakey hand held movement. You might argue that it was a choice designed to place us in the real world of the Great Depression – to put us on the streets with Dillinger and immerse us in his world rather than the sanitised grandiose version of the 1930’s that typically finds its way on to our screens. This ignores one fundamental fact about Mann’s film making: it is no less grandiose or fantastic than those myths of times past. Mann is a film maker who works best exploring the dynamics of a masculine ideal that never existed. His male characters are drawn in the mold of a classic image that never actually existed.

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

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