Tag Archives: bruno

MOD Summer Round-Up #2 (July to September)

Sunshine Cleaning Poster

So, in the wake of Transformers revenging the fallen all over our minds, we were in need of cooling down from the sheer anger and exhaustion felt in the studio. Though Sunshine Cleaning should have been a great example of an indie to bring us back onto home turf, it ended up an underwhelming experience. The eminently crushworthy pairing of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, along with the solid Alan Arkin and roles for Steve Zahn and Clifton Collins Jr, just couldn’t quite drive us into anything beyond a tepid lack of satisfaction. Ideas involved were strong, but the execution was half-hearted, even if all of the above tried really hard to elevate the material. Continue reading →

Round-Up: Baron Cohen For Eurovision

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sasha Baron Cohen’s next project will, according to The Sun, be another mockumentary about character trying to enter the Eurovision song contest. I would love to see him walk away from that style as Borat and Bruno were too hit-and-miss for my tastes. Isn’t this well dry?

Terminator Salvation/Avatar duffer Sam Worthington is in talks to star in The Tourist, alongside Charlize Theron.

Hugh Jackman is going to star in The Greatest Showman on Earth, a biopic of PT Barnum.

Carla Gugino is to reteam with Watchmen director Zack Snyder on his Sucker Punch.

Review: Bruno



Listening to the Slate Culture Gabfest in the past week, a comment was made that seems to epitomise how I feel about the filmic work of Sasha Baron Cohen. To paraphrase horribly, Sasha Baron Cohen is a genius at something, it just might not be movies.

Borat was a cultural and commercial phenomenon, beloved of critics and the public alike. I was never quite so sure. The film has a number of terrific moments, some cutting satire and some balls-out (pun-intended) physical comedy. My estimate was though that it relied a little too heavily on the slight, and I note slight, xenophobic tendencies involved in the accent of the character and never really said much which we didn’t already know.

Bruno is the same story, for all intents and purposes, with its lead character, a flamboyantly gay fashionista and presenter of a fashion show in his native Austria, moving to Hollywood to become a celebrity. When he gets there, he tries a number of different methods to make it, including supporting charities, adopting an African baby, making a TV show for CBS (which includes a dancing penis) and going straight.

Bruno is the step onwards from Borat in terms of the problems which I had with that original film. There is no doubting that the humour involved in the film is very, very funny. There are some moments in this film which you will, absolutely definitely, not have seen and may never see again. It is outrageous in ways so many could never have envisioned and provides belly laughs on a number of occasions.

Unlike Borat’s best moments though, this is very short on moments where the humour is designed to reveal something about its targets. Only two moments manage to restrain themselves in just providing the rope for the subjects rather than scrambling frantically to hang them up. The scene with the two blonde charity consultants may well give a bad name to the most fun of hair colours, but it captures the kind of base-level idiocy which can be possessed while people still run well-heeled, entrepreneurial ventures in Hollywood. The other great moment in this regard is his questioning of pushy parents for a photo shoot involving their children in which he gets them to agree to their children dressing as Nazis and working with bees.

Those moments, when Bruno returns to his roots in Da Ali G Show, are insightful and clever. He allows his subjects to hang themselves with their own faults and those comic moments have resonance.

It isn’t that everything else is worthless, but the primary problem is that Bruno doesn’t position himself as the enabler but rather the antagonist. He has to push people and boundaries as far as possible and, unfortunately, fails to make any salient points about homophobia. Spending half a film attempting to explain that homophobia exists in the culture of the deep south in the US? Hardly groundbreaking.

The question over how homosexuality is played in the film seems to be moot. Bruno is not gay. This character is not a gay human being, he’s not really even human. He’s so outrageously ridiculous that I cannot envisage a way in which someone could be offended by the character on that level. The argument being made is that he perpetuates gay stereotypes. I would argue he inverts them somewhat through how far he takes them. He plays on the flouncy character known best for its prominence in sitcoms of days passed, but there is almost no way that those stereotypes, even up to Jack in Will & Grace, would talk about or engage in the kind of physically dynamic sex scenes that Bruno engages in. This is gay beyond filmic gay and is one of the more successful parts of the film.

The basic fact is though, to return to that original paraphrase, Baron Cohen is not great over the course of a film. Da Ali G Show, a work of complete genius at its best, provides all three of his character with great, sparing moments. The film represent the epitome of having too much of a good thing which, when you’ve had too much, becomes bad.

Bruno Trailer

A little late on this one but it needs posting. Bruno, the third creation from Sasha Baron Cohen has a trailer which, while only sporadically funny, hints at the kind of depth-plumbing yet intelligent humour the film is likely to use. Particularly, it seems like another wonderful opportunity for Bruno to exhibit the prejudices inherent in American people across that fair land. Check out the trailer below.

Bruno Bitchslapped with NC-17


Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat follow-up, Bruno, has been given a NC-17 rating by the MPAA, reportedly owing to gay sex scenes included in the movie which the ratings board believes go too far, according to an article on The Wrap.

The piece highlights scenes in which fashionista Bruno “appears to have anal sex with a man on camera”. It also notes one in which he “goes on a hunting trip and sneaks naked into the tent of one of the fellow hunters’ who is allegedly a non-actor.

Sources from Universal said that Cohen will need to deliver an R rated movie to gain a release through the studio, although they added it is early in the process so no struggle has yet occurred.

The decision has provoked some interesting reactions around the blogosphere, including Brendon Connelly over at /Film who rails on the MPAA over the decision.

“I’d expect the BBFC to pass the film completely uncut for an 18 rating in the UK. Should Universal end up releasing an R rated cut in the US, however, it is likely to be that version they submit to censorship and classification boards and therefore release elsewhere around the globe. We all suffer, and the filmmakers’ intentions are smoothed-off worldwide, just because of the corporate interests and narrow minds prevalent in big-money US cinema. Sickening.”

For me, the more prescient point to take in is how close in proximity this decision comes to the reports that I Love You, Philip Morris, the gay love story starring Ewan MacGregor and Jim Carrey, is struggling to find a distributor. Could there be an undercurrent of homophobia creeping back into the US film industry? This would be despite the critical love shown to both Brokeback Mountain and Milk over the past couple of years.

I’m not sure it is but this decision, specifically given the nature of the scenes highlighted, once more brings up the problems with the MPAA, and all entertainment regulatory bodies, in their treatment of sex versus violence.