In "Borat" British comic Sacha Baron Cohen reprises the memorable television character he created, that of a fictitious journalist from Kazakhstan reporting on life in America. Cohen's Borat is an unsophisticated country bumpkin with clear misogynistic and anti-Semitic tendencies who provokes real Americans into revealing perhaps a little too much about themselves. In the film, Borat and his obese sidekick producer traverse the country while shooting their documentary. Their interviewees are unaware of the ruse, allowing us to observe ordinary folks responding to Borat's theatrics with a mixture of amusement, disbelief and disgust. We see Borat at dinner with a group of white suburban Southerners where he uses a plastic bag instead of a toilet to relieve himself and presents the bag to the hostess. Shortly afterward, a big-bosomed black prostitute, Borat's date, arrives and renders the guests speechless, then indignant. While the film isn't as funny or biting as many segments from the TV show, Cohen's brand of comic satire remains frequently hilarious and occasionally disturbing. At its most poignant, it causes you to temper your own laughter as you ponder your own reactions to someone as provocative as Borat.
( Sherwin Das )
Borat's (Sacha Baron Cohen) first feature film is a riotously, agonizingly, brilliantly funny satire. Yes, much of the material has been seen before in the television shows but it takes on a whole new dimension as a full-length film. Borat and his producer Azamat (Ken Davitian) travel from his village in Kazakhstan (which looks suspiciously like a village in the Balkans) to the U.S.A. to make a documentary about American culture. But Borat falls in love with Pamela Anderson after seeing her on his hotel television one night and decides to head to Los Angeles to marry her. It's a joy to watch Cohen's multi-layered comic creation trample on every political taboo there is. He exposes a whole world of ignorance simply by playing ignorant himself. There were moments when I was uncomfortable with just how obvious his targets were but the satire is so shrewd as a whole that it justifies itself at every step, from Borat speaking in Hebrew to using gypsy music for the soundtrack. If the film appears grotesque it's because the world he is exposing is grotesque. Cohen has made a comic masterpiece but now he should do the decent thing and lay his magnificent character to rest.
( Tim Ochser )
Watching "Saw III" is something akin to the sensation you might feel if you were to brush your teeth and gums with a sharpened razor blade. It is mostly unpleasant. This gruesome film revolves around Jigsaw, a twisted mastermind serial killer who, with the help of his female assistant, captures his victims, restrains them in mechanical torture devices and invites them to play a game in which they must choose between death and some form of heinous torture. "Death is a surprise party unless, of course, you're already dead on the inside," waxes a philosophical Jigsaw. The first half hour presents the visual feast of a foot being savagely smashed in, skin being viciously torn from hooks and a ribcage being ripped out of a body. Jigsaw's key captives, however, are a vengeful husband and his unfaithful wife, each of whom is being tested separately in one of Jigsaw's more ambitious games. Despite twitch-inducing scenes of torture, the film's disjointed story structure and the presentation of horrible moral dilemmas, however preposterous, kept me interested in knowing what was happening and why. "Saw III" does offer more than most films in the slasher horror genre, that is, if you can stomach it.
1/2 (Sherwin Das )
I enjoy a good horror film: fear is an exhilarating feeling when you experience it in the safety of a cinema seat. But if my emotions are going to be exploited in this way I expect it to be done with a degree of intelligence. "Saw III" represents everything I find most stupid and cynical about the genre. The whole point of these movies is to contrive ever-more gruesome torture scenes in order to elicit a few groans from the desensitized cinema-going public. The cinema was packed with kids when I saw "Saw III" and they were merrily chuckling away at scenes that should have been giving them nightmares. I don't want to sound silly but as a child I used to cower behind my sofa at a harmless old BBC sci-fi show called "Dr Who." Horror films provide a fascinating insight into the culture we live in. They can serve as brilliant allegories or pure gut-wrenching fun. The most frightening thing about the "Saw"-franchise is the way it so brazenly insults people's intelligence. Jigsaw is such a nonsensical figure he just makes me want to laugh: he probably has posters of "Se7en" hanging on his bedroom walls and was a bit of an outcast at school.
( Tim Ochser )