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New Escapist Column! On “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” and How “Borat” Has Changed Over 14 Years…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm last week, it seemed an interesting opportunity to take a look at the return of the Kazakh caricature, and examine how the character had shifted in the fourteen years since the release of Borat.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is the way in which it offers a much more conventional structure – and even character arc – than the original film. It’s a strange choice, particularly in the context of the film’s mockumentary sensibility and the outlandish nature of the character. However, it also illustrates how much the world has changed since the release of the original film. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm realises that the world has changed, so maybe Borat should as well.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Les Misérables

It’s hard not to admire Les Misérables. It’s the first honest-to-goodness entirely sincere and mostly unironic big budget musical that we’ve seen released in quite some time. While song and dance will always be a part of the movies (The Muppets, for example, carrying many a dainty tune last year), there’s something quite impressive about seeing a music as epic and as iconic as Les Misérables carried across to the big screen. The stage musical became something of a cultural phenomenon on the West End, and Tom Hooper does an effective job of transitioning from stage to screen – even if he doesn’t consistently capitalise on the format shift.

There are some fundamental problems. The second half is a little too awkwardly paced and too disjointed to come together as well as it should, and Hooper seems to have a great deal pitching the right amount of camp (and humour) for an Oscar-bait musical about the aftermath of the French revolution. However, if you can look past those problems, the opening half is a superbly staged musical and the performances are impressive. Including the much maligned Russell Crowe, who might – hear me out – be the best thing about the film.

Sing when you're winning... or at least nominated...

Sing when you’re winning… or at least nominated…

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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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See The Dictator First – The London Premiere Streaming Live to Selected Irish Cinemas

Read our review of The Dictator.

The lovely folks at Paramount sent around a release about the upcoming Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, which is being released on May 16th. They are streaming the London premiere live to selected Irish cinemas, so if you are in Dublin, Galway, Cork or Belfast and want to get a sneak peak, the details (and links) are below:

For one night only, before the release of The Dictator hits cinemas ( May 16)  4 cinemas in Ireland will host special screenings with a live link  in to  the World Premiere screening in London at the Royal Festival,  The Eye Cinema in Galway, The Odyssey Cinema in Belfast, The Omniplex in Cork –  and limited number of tickets to  the Irish Premiere Screening at the Savoy. Doors open at 6pm and  there will be a live link in till 7.15pm where you can experience the red carpet and presenter Alex Zane will host  and then see the film first at this special event. For more details and to book tickets please check out their respective  websites  and box office

I’ve already nipped down to the Savoy and picked up a ticket. At the very least, it looks to be one of the more interesting blockbuster releases this summer.

Please note that the trailer below is kinda spoiler-y.

Non-Review Review: Hugo

I’m of two minds about Hugo. My inner cinephile loves it, soaking in Scorsese’s pure and unadulterated enthusiasm for cinema, finding a way to engage his audience with an adventure that literally branches through the history of cinema. On the other hand, it seems more than a bit disjointed, as if Scorsese knew the start point and the end point, but had a bit of difficulty synching it all up and getting it flowing organically. While I think Scorsese’s unbridled enthusiasm and passion edge out any concerns about the rather uneven feel of the finished project, I do wonder how the movie will play to younger audiences, or families who don’t have a long love affair with cinema.

Like clockwork...

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Navan Cinema Describes Bruno as “Vile”…

The Diamond Cinema in Navan have a… shall we say unique way of advertising their cinema listings. On ringing up today I heard the voicemail message informing me what time they were airing Bruno at and offering some advice for perspective audience members…

Now, Bruno is particularly vile. It leads to a hell of a lot of complaints from people who say, ‘We didn’t think it was that bad’. It is that bad, it will offend every prejudice in the book, believe me so don’t come on after the film and tell us how horrible it was.

One or two people have enjoyed it though.

The news is apparently doing the rounds. My brother has seen it and says it isn’t that great and it seems to have gone out of fashion fairly quick in the United States (dropping 40% between Friday and Saturday). People are telling me that it’s just not that funny. Ah well. This made my day and reminded me why it’s great to live in Ireland.



Non-Review Review: Sweeney Todd

Ah, the musical. The genre of choice for middleaged women everywhere. One of those glamourous shallow callbacks to the golden era of Hollywood. I was intrigued when Tim Burton announced his next project was a musical – an adaptation of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. I was familiar with the myth of the man, but not the musical. I ended up being served a treat almost as fiendishly decadent as Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies: a little flaky and suspicious in places, and a lot more filling than it should be. Magical, macabre, magnificent. It’s isn’t classic Burton, but it’s certainly vintage.

Get ready for a close shave...

Get ready for a close shave...

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