At Slate, Bryan Curtis writes that "Only someone truly uncharitable could resist the charms of Christopher Guest, the ringleader of an agile troupe of mockumentarians. After watching Guest’s oeuvre, including his latest, For Your Consideration, I am afraid I am that man." We’ve been off Guest for, oh, a decade now, so we’re not ones to argue. Why would we need to when David Poland is there to do it for us? Curtis takes issue with the fact that Guest "rarely chooses satirical targets that present much of a challenge," and that he’s given critical leeway because his films are improvised: "To read his reviews, you would get the idea that improvisation is a funnierâ€”and more authenticâ€”form of comedy than conventional mirth-making." At The Hot Button, Poland responds that
Consensus is not a valueless thing. I am happy to have Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. But taking a critical position based on one’s perceived notion of consensus is insanity. And had Curtis bothered to check RT before getting so upset that Guest was "getting away with it," he would have seen a 53% rating for Guest’s latest film.
If Curtis’ piece were more of a hatchet job that would seem a bit more reasonable, but it’s not, and we’d still agree with him that Guest is a bit of a sacred cow. While on the subject of "For Your Consideration," Susan Wloszczyna at USA Today writes of Catherine O’Hara‘s fearsome end facelift face:
"She did it herself," says director Christopher Guest, who has used the actress in all his improv satires, including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. "I said to her, ‘You play a character who has a face lift.’ She said, ‘I can’t put anything on my skin. It’s too sensitive. But I can do that look myself.’ She can only do that face for three minutes, it’s so tiring. But she is brilliant."
Meanwhile, much has been made of whether British-born Baron Cohen — who came to prominence in this country on HBO’s similar mockumentary series "Da Ali G Show" — will be able to pull off his phony-interview high jinks again in a planned picture for Universal, "Bruno," based on another one of his fictional characters. But film and legal community observers also have been wondering whether Universal will be watching for legal lessons learned in the process of Fox’s defending itself from "Borat"-related litigation.
George Saunders at the New Yorker suggests some "reshoots":
â€œGANGSTAâ€ SECTION: The scene where Borat says something intentionally offensive to the inner-city black guysâ€”where is that scene? I have been unable to find it. Here I definitely suggest a reshoot. In the attachment, I have provided a list of common racial slurs that Sacha could try out on â€œthe brothers,â€ just to see what they do to him. My thought is, that seems to be the ethos of the rest of the filmâ€”i.e., Sacha saying/doing the most offensive things possible, in order to elicit a reactionâ€”so I sense a little inconsistency here. Thoughts?
Hah. Jeremy Dauber at the Christian Science Monitor has a "modest proposal" (but Swift, he is not) that we use the threat of satire for foreign relations:
Just imagine Condoleezza Rice suggesting across the negotiating table that, in return for certain guarantees of liberal reform, the "Borat" sequel could be arranged to be set in, say, Turkmenistan rather than Azerbaijan. Or the stick: imagine John Bolton sidling over to a member of a certain UN delegation, slipping a screenplay into their hands, and intimating that if particular non-proliferation treaties aren’t entered into, South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone will set "Team America II" entirely in their capital city.
The Guardian‘s Joe Queenan does not attempt humor or subtlety:
When Borat was first released, blue-state sophisticates in New York and Los Angeles were delirious, overjoyed that Baron Cohen was savaging evangelicals and cowboys and hicks, as if this were either daring or original. Their rationale was that Cohen was merely playing with our heads, forcing us to reassess our convictions. No, he isn’t. Baron Cohen is just another English public school boy who hates Americans. It is fine to hate Americans; it is one of Europe’s oldest traditions. But the men who flew the bombing raids over Berlin and the men who died at Omaha Beach and the women who built the Flying Fortresses and Sherman tanks that helped defeat Hitler are the very same people that Baron Cohen pisses all over in Borat. A lot of folks named Cohen would not even be here making anti-American movies if it were not for the hayseeds he despises.
As Borat showed us, shock humour now has to be about something, or rather someone. Find someone to pick on, even if they aren’t your own size, and take ’em down with hate â€” but remember to keep smiling while you’re doing it. Even better, pretend that you’re doing it to demonstrate the hatred that resides within all of us, which is Cohen’s professed justification.
We? Are simultaneously exhausted by reading about the film and fascinated by the discussion â€” particularly those who would call into question Baron Cohen’s politics, subversiveness or lack thereof.
+ Christopher Guest (Slate)
+ November 27, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ ‘Consideration’ gets a lift from O’Hara (USA Today)
+ Fox fires back at ‘Borat’ suit (HR)
+ â€œBORATâ€: THE MEMO (New Yorker)
+ For make benefit of world peace (CS Monitor)
+ ‘The honeymoon is over’ (Guardian)
+ Blame it on Borat effect (Toronto Star)