"The humour of humiliation has become distressingly popular. The success of the film Borat is the latest example. I disliked it and was angered by it," writes Marcel Berlins at the Guardian. "I admit to laughing quite often because parts of it are very funny, but those parcels of enjoyment were trivial when set against the film’s essential cruelty. I am not referring to the jokes that send up national, ethnic or religious stereotypes and characteristics. There were plenty of those, some of which were in bad taste and offensive but often hilarious. Fine. My objection is to the exploitation of the naive, the trusting and the ignorant for the sake of a joke… It may be acceptable to exercise such methods to expose, in the public interest, someone’s criminality, corruption or hypocrisy. To do so for the sake of cheap laughs is reprehensible." All this, and, as the New York Post‘s Richard Johnson informs us, "Borat" is also partially responsible for destroying a (surely fragile) celebrity marriage. Mein Gott, what is the world of film coming to?
But, looking beyond overblown "Borat" fervor, if we were to actually write a year-end wrap-up instead of just discussing writing one (more likely), one of the themes of 2006 would surely be that it is the year of rediscovered earnestness â€” the year of Hollywood’s newfound faith in the fact that movies can instill political, social and moral messages into the unsuspecting brains of audience members across the globe. Movies can change the world! Or maybe not, but they can at least be the focal point for some fundraising and activism. Kevin Maher at the London Times notes that even the act of production has become scrutinized, and several films from the last few years came paired with trusts with which to do right by their respective shooting locations.
Blood Diamond isnâ€™t the only movie to be caught on the horns of this moral dilemma. The producers of The Constant Gardener, the Kenya-set John le CarrÃ© thriller, have established the Constant Gardener Trust, a charitable fund that has already completed sanitation projects in Kibera. Mel Gibsonâ€™s new Mayan action adventure Apocalypto contributed to housing projects in the impoverished and flood-damaged Veracruz state of Mexico. Even Pirates of the Caribbean shelled out for infrastructural work in the tiny island nation of Dominica.
At the New York Times, David M. Halbfinger survey the Sundance line-up and gets the following quote from festival director Geoffrey Gilmore:
â€œItâ€™s a completely different horizon,â€ Mr. Gilmore said in an interview. â€œIt feels as if weâ€™re at the cusp of a new era. Thereâ€™s a real change thatâ€™s gone on from the insularity of a decade ago. It really brings you back to a sense of a new form of American independent film as an engaged cinema. You start to watch films gradually think about not only that sense that the worldâ€™s about to change, but how to change it.â€
+ Borat’s humour is immoral (Guardian)
+ PAM SPLITS OVER KID BLOWUP (NY Post)
+ How ethical is this movie? (London Times)
+ Film funds are being put to good use (London Times)
+ Coming to Sundance: New Crop of Engaged Indie Films (NY Times)