The first Borat film came out just before I headed off to university, which meant my entire 3 years were full of bad impressions and catchphrases. I lived on a floor with about 50 people in total and there were a lot of idiot guys who thought the only indication of their sense of humour was being able to regurgitate film quotes. Oh, and let’s not forget one of flatmates who bought the character’s trademark mankini and wore it to every social event possible. I know it sounds like I hated the film but I didn’t. It was just fucking endless. It was everywhere. My undergraduate course was defined by Borat quotes and that Linkin Park and Jay-Z Numb/Encore mash-up. It was an interesting time.
You’ll no doubt have heard a lot about the second Borat film in the last few days. Mostly because of the outrage about a scene involving Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump’s reaction to it. The President has criticised Sacha Baron Cohen and described him as a “creep”. Of course, this will have done nothing but draw even more attention to the film. Not that it would have needed the help. It’s been nearly 15 years since the first film came out and we were all under the impression that Borat was never going to be seen again. After all, how do you make another Borat film when everyone is in on the joke now? Well, they obviously got round that somehow and, with the film being released on Amazon Prime last week, I had to check it out.
In my review of Love, Guaranteed on Tuesday, I suggested that my main motivation for watching it was to escape from reality with something ridiculous. That was partly the case. After all, the more news I watch the less energy I have for dramatic narratives. However, I won’t pretend that it was my only motivation. Really, I wanted to use it as an excuse to rewatch She’s All That. I can’t remember the last time that I watched this film but, for a time, it was definitely something I watched all the time. Along with 10 Things I Hate About You, this was a film that had a prominent place in my teenage years. I clearly didn’t have great taste at the time but I don’t think anybody really does in their early teens, right?
When we were younger, my sisters and I really loved the 1993 film Homeward Bound. We watched it over and over again. The film had such an impact on my whole family that we all still quote things from it now. It helps that Michael J. Fox is absolutely amazing in the role of Chance but, really, we just love a good animal story. Especially about a group of them defying the odds. So, when writer Tony Lee Moral got in touch with me about his new children’s book, I definitely wanted to read it. After all, what’s better than the story of an animal defying the odds? The story of an animal defying the odds that is based on real-life.
On Saturday 19th September, I woke up to the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I know that when a well-known figure dies there is always an outpouring of grief on social media but everything I read about Ginsburg felt different. This was a woman who had done so much and was such a beacon of hope. The collective sadness of so many, particularly women, was clear and this was a loss that would be felt for a long time to come. Ginsburg leaves behind her an amazing legacy and her fight for gender equality has changed the course of American politics. She was so much more than a feminist icon. In recent years, she became a cultural icon thanks to her nickname Notorious RBG. What else could I do this week but look back on her great career?
Over the last few days, we’ve seen a few films being made free to stream in the US. These included Selma and Just Mercy. Both films should help educate people about the role of race in their society. It’s a great thing to do because there will be plenty of people who won’t have previously had access to them. Of course, Hollywood films that depict the difficulties faced by black people in America are all well and good but it’s facts that are needed in this fight. Which is why Netflix’s decision to make Ava DuVarney’s documentary 13th free to non-subscribers is so important. There’s a reason that it has appeared on so many lists of ways you can educate yourself. It’s a great place to start if you’re the type who is unconvinced by the idea that society has been engineered to make black lives difficult. If you go in with an open mind, it’ll definitely have the power to shock you.
I like writing. I know that this won’t come as a shock to you considering I’ve been writing reviews that barely anyone reads for nearly 10 years. I also work as a copywriter. It’s not as if I’ve been keeping it a secret but it’s worth saying. I like writing. I pay attention to writing a lot and I often get jealous of good writing. When I rewatched his film for my post this week, I got irrationally annoyed that Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with one of the funniest and stupidest lines I’ve ever heard. Seriously, I spent a lot of time wishing I’d come up with it (I was 16 when it came out and a fucking moron. It would never have happened.) and being sad that it would be impossible to get close to it. The line? When Gary gets in the flying limo and says “Okay, a limosine that can fly. Now I have seen everything.” Then Spottswoode replies with “Really? Have you ever seen a man eat his own head?” Greatest line ever. It gets me every single time. It’s so simple, so obvious, and so fucking funny. I’ll never be able to write anything that strong.
My sisters and I grew up watching Gerry Anderson’s supermarionation tv shows. We were obsessed with Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray. So I have a certain love for puppets. Or at least, seeing puppets gives me a great sense of nostalgia. So, I was all in when it was announced that the creative minds behind South Park were making their own film starring puppets. I remember seeing this film with my friends. I was 16 and we’d gone to see it in Leeds. I specifically remember being a dickhead when Kim Jong-il said the line about friends being in movie theatres and gasping. I was a such an idiot. But I really loved this film. And why wouldn’t I? It’s silly, ridiculous, and has an amazing soundtrack. I listen to these songs now. They’re really good.
This is a film that hasn’t aged that badly either. And, let’s be honest, with the current American president, it might be becoming more relavant every day. Upon its release, there were plenty who praised Team America for its take-down of the liberal elite. The celebrities who lecture people about political issues while they sit in their huge mansions and holding their massive paychecks. And it does. But this is a film that also points out the ridiculousness of the gun toting republicans who think you can shoot your way out of political upset. Even though it doesn’t actually include George W. Bush and co. Within all of the silliness, this film looks into the experience of being an American on the world stage during George W. Bush’s time in the White House. Yes, everyone kind of hates you but you’re still a huge political power. This is the ultimate form of acceptance. Call us whatever you want but you can’t quite do without us.
It has all the trademark depth and intelligence that has become Parker and Stone’s style in the later season’s of South Park. I’m not a huge fan of the earlier sesons but they have turned it into a shewd and important example of social and political analysis. It’s also really funny and not just in the toilet humour sense that it used to favour. They have genuinely funny and clever jokes. Team America is a great mix of childish humour and more thoughful comedy. Take the scenes where real things become part of the scene. The scale of the puppets making a cat into a panther. It’s always going to be funny and it shows the detail of the world they created. As a contrast, the name “Matt Damon” has never been funnier for such a stupid reason.
I was worried that I’d watch this film again and think that I’d outgrown it. I had nothing to worry about. When something is this good and this creative, it will always be enjoyable. The way the pair parody the work of Gerry Anderson by purposefully making everything terrible is great and, though he didn’t approve of the language, Anderson himself thought they did a good job. Do you need any other recommendation than that?
After last week’s disappointing Bohemian Rhapsody, I was ready for a better Best Picture nominee to review. So, I went for one that I’ve been looking forward for ages. Any story that sounds so insane yet is based on a real-life event is something you just have to watch, right? Plus, and without wanting to prove just how superficial I really am, Adam Driver is looking good in that trailer. I admit that I kind of lost interest thanks to his nipple-height trousers from that scene in The Last Jedi but the minute I saw him in a plaid shirt I was back. And it’s great that he’s been given a nomination for his role here. Hell, it’s great that this film got a Best Picture nomination. Not only because I get an excuse to watch it but also because of the lack of recognition for If Only Beale Street Could Talk. Barry Jenkins obviously killed with Moonlight but the Academy have done the least possible for his latest film. Neither the director or the film are being recognised. I know I haven’t seen it yet but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe it deserves a place. Especially now I’ve seen Bohemian Rhapsody. But we can’t have everything.