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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

****
2020

‘…lazer focused on exposing the divided, race-baiting, intolerant canvas of today’s America.’

A number of comically verbose subtitles adorn Sasha Baron Cohen’s sequel to the wildly successful Borat, a film which rebooted his Ali G ‘funny foreigner’ character into a new world of scripted and candid camera pranks. But Borat 2, which would have been a sure-fire cinema release, was made in secret in the midst of a pandemic, then went straight to streaming instead. Baron Cohen’s game is entrapment, to skewer the patriarchy by their own behaviour, and with some help from Amazon, the results are now viewable in homes worldwide.

Context; on the first day of the film’s broadcast, America registered over 80,000 cases of the deadly covid-19 virus with nearly a thousand dead in 24 hours; no laughing matter, to be sure. The President was caught on camera attempting to entrap the Israeli leader into denouncing his rival in the electoral race. Arguments rage about the President’s use of his official twitter account to retweet white supremacist and conspiracy theorists; ‘White power!’ is one of the slogans he sees fit to share. And a punch-line arrives in the sights of the president’s lawyer in a compromising position, drinking scotch on a hotel room bed with a mystery blonde (Maria Bakalova), his hands down his trousers. Watching Rudy Giuliani abuse his position by copping boozy feels of a young girl while a pandemic rages gives an indelible indication of how seriously the Trump administration are taking their responsibility to protect the people who elected them.

Borat himself, and his daughter too, offer a double-edged sword; we’re drawn to laugh at his ridiculous ways, but the goal is firmly on using the character to expose the dangerous attitudes of those in power. Unlike the first film, a fairly scattershot collection of pranks and pratfalls, linked by a tenuous narrative, Jason Woliner’s film is lazer focused on exposing the divided, race-baiting, intolerant canvas of today’s America. As Borat seeks to gift his sex-monkey to Mike Pence, or his daughter to Giuliani, Baron Cohen’s desire to degrade himself pays off by dragging down everyone else with him. His chats to influencers, rednecks and others are artfully conceived and edited to reveal the fallacy of their thinking. And the transformation of his daughter into a blonde-haired Stepford Wife to catch the attention of his Republican targets strikes with surgical precision on the sexist attitudes of the patriarchy.

Borat 2 ends with a remembrance of the Holocaust, and survivor Judith Dim Evans, who participated in the film and died before it was released. Baron Cohen interviews her in a full anti-Semetic garb, and in the supplemental material provided on Prime, she gently admonishes him by explaining her own experience of the Holocaust. Her family have understandably sued, claiming that she didn’t know the motives of the film-makers, but on the evidence of what she says, she’s on the same page as Baron Cohen; the slide into selfish autocracy has begun, and it’s our responsibility to stop this casual devaluing of human life from happening in the way it did in the 1930’s and 40’s.

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  1. Just saw this and the first film a few days ago. As someone currently living in America, it’s amazing but not surprising what Sacha Baron Cohen was able to catch on camera. With Trump and those that follow him, it’s one thing after another every day, whether it be corruption, outright bigotry or sheer incompetence.

    In fairness, there’s not much need for satire in America because we’re pretty much living one.

    • I read the latest US virus figures every night, and they’re white hot right now. It breaks my heart that a country with such a gift for medicine and technology has been humbled by this situation. I left the US in 2016, and dream of coming back; movies like this remind us of what’s wrong, and hopefully things will get fixed, somehow…

      • Trump has not helped, but part of me knows we would have been hit hard by the virus regardless because our health care system is a mess. But it would have been nice if he didn’t politicize wearing a mask and science.

        I live in Massachusetts, which has a relatively low transmission rate. But once you go below New York, the maps show a sea of COVID cases. And it’s been like that for months.

        • Agreed; the make-up of the population always meant that the US would be hit hard. But the lack of a good example and lack of government responsibility meant that the US never brought the numbers down, and that’s criminal when even poorly resources countries managed the trick. Exponential growth of transmission will pour fuel on fire, and Trump’s refusal to protect the people who elected him is the blackest mark on American history to date…

  2. I’ve tried to write a comment 3 times and every time it’s come out spiteful and mean spirited. Not what I wanted. So I think I’m going to just take a page from Fraggle’s book and go with the tried and true formula:

    Nope.

    • Agreed. And America is not the only country that needs embarrassed by their own failure to protect their people…

      • I watched this last night. What I like most is Cohen doesn’t spoon- feed you the jokes. It’s an honest examination of our cultural norms, and half the humor comes from stopping to think about how absurd some of these norms are.. And you’re right, it’s not just America.

        • Yes, and even if the situations are contrived, the cultural assumptions involved are genuine. The punchline is obscene, but what is it to celebrate a debutante’s coming of age? Cohen may go too far at times, but he’s coming from an identifiably grounded place.

  3. I saw a review of this on yesterday over on another blog, and I’m going to give the same reply to that post here too: This simply isn’t my kind of movie, really sorry😅😅

    • A good question. Yes, I thought this was funnier and angrier than the first movie. For once, it’s a movie that zeroes in on today’s issues, and that gives it a dynamic point, and passing side-swipes on everyone from Kevin Spacey to Tom Hanks make it essential viewing.

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