Dee’s Bookcase: Borat

Posted: March 1, 2013 by Dee in Bookcase, Dee, General Media, Movies
Tags: , , ,

Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat Sagdiyev from Kazkhstan. He’s racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-Semitic, and he is coming to America for a journalism project. When he gets there he sees Pamela Anderson on the television and falls madly in love with her. He plots to find a way to meet her, and along the way he runs into a bunch of situations. Due to his status as a foreigner, he’s able to get away with saying and doing a lot of things people ordinarily wouldn’t, and he draws out the worst in the people he’s interviewing. They probably never understood how they sounded until it was on film. His producer Azamat is there with him and they are in it together, although they briefly break up because Borat catches him masturbating to a picture of Pamela. This film is 100% satire and lampoons the USA and … well pretty much everything it can get its hands on. It is inappropriate and ridiculous and offensive and hilarious.

Borat was an unexpected hit. They had a limited release date and then it blew up and made over two hundred million dollars. It still made even more on DVD. What is it that people love about the film? Well they do love a well played secret joke. It’s like Candid Camera only amped up to 100. We the audience are in on the joke, and we have to facepalm at seeing these people manipulated by him. At the same time he’s shining a harsh light on some of the attitudes in this country, and in the world as a whole. Really there’s no way to explain Borat unless you’ve seen Borat. It’s an entire movie of trolling.

First Impression

I had only heard of Borat. I’d seen Da Ali G Show before, but only in quick segments. I didn’t see this movie when it was in the theaters, but someone recommended it to me when it came out on DVD. I kept hearing it was fantastic, so I jumped right in. I loved it. I thought it was one of the funniest films I’d ever seen, and I couldn’t believe how much Sacha Baron Cohen managed to get away with. The shock value really worked. There was so much about this I should hate. I don’t like profanity or nudity, but for whatever reason it all just clicked. I’m just glad people have stopped doing Borat impressions now.

Current Impression

I still love it. When I popped into this DVD, I already knew everything that was going to happen, although it’d been a year or two since I saw it last. And I still laughed my ass off. I think it’s because he managed to get out so much sincerity in the worst way. The expressions of the people he’s dealing with and the things they say, it’s all very genuine in that moment. So it doesn’t get old. He can’t really do it anymore, although I know he wishes he could try. After this and Bruno, he’s just too well known and people are keeping an eye out. Plus when he was filming this, even Hollywood didn’t know him very well. I think this movie is very clever and harsh.

Favorite Character

I don’t know if I could say anyone is a favorite character, honestly. They all function in what they need to be. You’re not supposed to like any of them. That’s the whole point.

Favorite Quote

This entire movie is so quotable. The problem is just taking a quote from it isn’t funny. The way it works is that  you have to see it … because writing anything down is just horrible.

Favorite Scene

Oh absolutely when he goes to the rodeo. It’s early enough in the movie that I was legitimately afraid he was going to end up getting stoned to death. Between inciting them to scream in delight at the murder of Iraqis, and then singing the wrong national anthem, oh man. That guy has balls of steel, no doubt about it, but it’s because I was like “AHHH SOMEONE WILL KILL HIM” that the scene stands out to me so much.

What Doesn’t Work

I don’t think the movie works unless you see the whole thing and get what’s going on. Anyone catching just a piece or two will go WHAT. There was some concern that while most people understood this was all parody and he was in fact lamp shading the inherent sexism and racism of the USA, the people it was making fun of wouldn’t really get it. Which, you know, is probably true. They argued that it would reinforce the bigotry of some people watching, and it’s entirely possible, but you’d probably never get through to those people anyway. The nude scene goes on a little long.

Why I Own This

Because I really love it. I rented the DVD and then bought it right after. I like to think Borat makes people uncomfortable because they might recognize how they personally might’ve been fooled by him too. I think it’s a smart movie, and very sharp and sticks you right in the ribs with a knife. In the best possible sense. I’m not sure if Borat has any actual impact on people. I’d like to think at least for a few minutes it made them think about their prejudices and about the country he’s aiming his sarcasm at, and that’s pretty great. I do think it’s a hard thing to pinpoint. You either love this movie or you don’t. He also did an amazing job at fooling so many people. I think what I appreciate most about Borat is what it means as a symbol. What it’s aiming to do, what it managed to do, and how he went about it.


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