WAVERLY MIDNIGHTS: STAFF PICKS — BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN (Larry Charles, 2006)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12, 12 midnight
Believe the hype. Sacha Baron Cohen holds a mirror up to America, and you might not like what you see — although you’ll laugh your head off while watching it. Cohen stars as bushy haired Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev, a role he created for Da Ali G Show, the 2001 series in which he interviewed such luminaries as Newt Gingrich, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Andy Rooney, and Norman Mailer while pretending to be a British hip-hop wigger (Ali G); he also disguised himself as a German fashionista (Bruno) and Borat, a reporter who likes to talk about sex, especially with his sister. In Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Borat leaves his little village in Kazakhstan and travels across the United States with his producer, the rotund Azamat (Ken Davitian), in search of his true love, Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson. Along the way, he is making a documentary about the American way of life, turning a revealing lens on racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, blind patriotism, fundamentalism, and southern hospitality, with a healthy dose of toilet humor (literally).
The people he speaks with — a feminist group, gun and car dealers, rodeo cowboys, conservative politicians Bob Barr and Alan Keyes, etiquette and humor experts, Christian evangelicals at a revivalist tent meeting, drunk frat boys in an RV — believe he is really a Kazakh journalist, and Cohen holds nothing back, unafraid to ask any question or kiss any man, often risking his personal safety in hysterical ways. He’s got the biggest cojones we’ve ever seen — and you nearly get to see them when he and Azamat chase each other naked through a hotel, ending up fighting onstage at a mortgage bankers convention. Borat is more Easy Rider than Jackass and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, a road trip movie that captures the state of the nation in frightening yet very funny ways. Curiously, the only Oscar nomination it received was for Best Screenplay, despite much of it being improvised. A film that probably couldn’t be made today, Borat is screening on August 11 and 12 at midnight in the IFC Center series “Waverly Midnights: Staff Picks,” selected by Andrew M. of the floor staff. The series continues with such other flicks as David Cronenberg’s Crash, James Cameron’s Aliens, and Jim Sharman’s Shock Treatment.