Sunday, March 25, 2007

Borat / Premonition / 300 Reviews

Borat - I wanted to like this movie. I get what he was trying to do. Maybe it's because I never watched his show. Maybe it was because it was pumped up too much as being the "funniest movie ever" and I was the victim of unrealistic expectations. Maybe it was the audience I was watching it with (my wife). I laughed sometimes. Just not enough. More than anything, it made me feel uncomfortable because of how embarrassing some of my countrymen are on issues of race, misogyny, religion, etc. That's the point, I know.

I have to give credit to Sacha Baron Cohen for having the guts to take a joke all the way. After all, not many people are willing to take in a mouthful of a large sweaty man's ass for a laugh. Perhaps that is a good thing.

Laura likes this movie. For those of you who read both of our blogs, you probably already know her judgement trumps mine, so read her good review here.

Grade: C


Premonition - From IMDb, "Depressed housewife learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a world in which he is still dead."

I wish I had a premonition before going to see this movie. Then I would have been able to save the time and money that I wasted. It's like the screenwriter, director and all the actors seemed disinterested about the whole thing. No cogent message. No discernible structure that makes sense. And actors with no real chemistry or effective characterization. Utterly frickin' disposable. Grade: D


300 - Also from IMDb, 300 "... concerns the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his army against the advancing Persians; the battle is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and helped usher in the world's first democracy." An obviously important event (CK hits on it and other "accidents of history" in his latest post). It's stunning visually. Based on a Frank Miller graphic novel (like Sin City), it shares the living comic book quality of that movie (both due to Frank Miller being actively involved). The fight scenes are spectacular.

I understand the criticism that it seems to advocate a pro war message (like Black Hawk Down). But I liked that movie too. You can take movies on their visceral elements without having to attribute a deeper meaning to them. I think you can have movies about war that are not pro war, yet, conversely, are not revisionist and trying to send a negative message of war.

Gerard Butler, with his thick Scottish accent, seems well-suited to this role -- alternately yelling and delivering corny, manly lines ... sometimes both at the same time. But it's all part of the experience. He's primarily been in manly movies and served them well (Timeline, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Reign of Fire) mostly because of a natural charisma.

Through all the dismemberment and ogres, it still struck me as darkly funny and campy, intentionally, I hope. This movie is proof that you can have something that is both homophobic and homoerotic. 300 Greeks with sweaty hairless chests? Come on [grin]. I highly recommend this movie. Grade: A-

Check out Reel Fanatic's quality review of 300, here.


CyberKitten said...

I saw 300 on Friday with a few friends. We all really enjoyed it.

I thought it was an amazing film despite all the bad reviews its been getting. I can understand it being seen as homoerotic but I don't 'get' the homophobic bit - was it the rather snearing comment about the Athenians?

I loved the look of it - Mythic I'd call it. Definitely larger than life! The combat scenes are brutal (and not exactly historically accurate [grin]) but are very well done. I also loved the 'gallows' humour which had the whole cinema howling with laughter.

It most certainly made my DVD list.

Laura said...

Both John and CilliC saw this movie recently and had about the same reaction. A little different than yours. Though John said the fight scenes were amazing, they both pretty much said it was, as CilliC put it, Gay Snuff.

Um, my opinion trumps yours? I dunno about that. Borat really does need to be seen in a public theatre - the laughter and discomfort are both magnified in a mixed audience.

Kara K said...

I have yet to see this, but I have a premonition (haha) that I won't! I do not know anyone personally that has decided to waste their time on this, except for some highly paid critics. However I am a fan of Sandra Bullock, and I do enjoy a good plot twist. Though earlier while I was checking out Roeper's review about it at online he stated that the ending is horrible. If you are still debating whether or not to see this check out Roeper’s review for yourselves at This site is great for current movie reviews for old and new movies with full length high-production video reviews. I just wanted to give you guys the inside scoop because I work with Ebert and Roeper.

dbackdad said...

CK said, "... but I don't 'get' the homophobic bit" -- Certainly not overtly homophobic. Just the little jibe that you mentioned.

Laura, I really do thing my reaction to Borat would have been different if I'd been in a theatre or with my guy friends. That is why I just wanted everyone to see a different take on the movie (yours). My reaction too often is dependent on how I feel and where I am. My reaction to Babel could have been different if I'd been in a different state of mind.

Kara, thanks for stopping by. I like Sandra Bullock too and that is why I was doubly disappointed. I watch Ebert and Roeper every week. I'm completely jealous that you work with them! I saw Roeper's review and pretty much agreed with everything he said. I agreed with his take on 300 also.

Sadie Lou said...

I can not stand Sandra Bullock as an actress and yet, I've seen a lot of her movies. The only time I thought she actually gave something was in Crash. It was entertaining as anything to see her as something other than her usually delicious characters. You know what I mean? She's always likable. You're always pulling for her--but in Crash she was detestable.

I really want to see 300. I think I already mentioned that I'll have to rent it by myself because Dan hates movies like that. I was watching Kill Bill on TV last night. There's that scene where Uma Thurman is mopping the floor with like 100 guys that are attacking her.
Then there's that "school girl" with the ball & chain weapon and I'm just sitting there digging the whole scene--the blood and the gore is like comical and fun and Dan just doesn't get it.
I don't think he can separate the way he is supposed to feel when he watches it as opposed to how the director wabts you to feel.

CyberKitten said...

dbackdad said: Certainly not overtly homophobic. Just the little jibe that you mentioned.

Well... Athens was well known for its philosophers... who were reputed to have a 'fondness' for young men (homosexuality having little of the post-Christian stigma).. funily its apparently where 'Platonic' relationships come from [grin].

Also Spartan men where encouraged to form homosexual relationships with their fellow warriors as they were more likely to be ferocious in battle to protect and defend their lovers. It worked very well for them. The Spartans were the best infantry in the world for a good long while....

dbackdad said...

I heard an interesting show on NPR the other day and they were talking about the historical accuracy of 300. I was surprised as the historians were generally very complimentary. They commented that the stylized movie version is particularly apropos as the original historical accounts of the battle were also stylized in the fashion of the day. Updating it to fit with the look and feel of the day is not unlike what they would have done then.

Jeff said...

Hopefully I can see 300 pretty soon, I think I'm going to see it within the next few days, all I hear are great things about it.

Great White Bear, said...

geez, i am sooooooo behind on pop culture.. I have some serious catching up to do.

Scott said...

300 was just plain fun.

dbackdad said...

Sadie said, "I don't think he can separate the way he is supposed to feel when he watches it as opposed to how the director wabts you to feel." -- the roles are reversed in my family. I loved the Kill Bills but Michelle has so far refused to see them (or 300). She is very literal and has a hard time separating the symbolism of something from the raw violence of that same thing.

Scott said, "300 was just plain fun" -- Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that everyone keeps justifing this film with the condition that "you have to enjoy it for its visual elements." Sorry, but that gets old fast. Every film is a form of art, and as such every film needs to be viewed holistically. Either it is a good movie with a valuable/meaningful plot, characters, and message, or it is not. Unfortunately, this is another one of those meaningless, gory, appeal to the blood lust in people type films with no value. Good visual effects and graphics don't sustain a film in 2007. Sadly, it does not even have any historical value since it is based off of comic book. If you want to see a good movie, rent "Stranger than Fiction." If you want some action, go rent "The Matrix."

dbackdad said...

anon -- If you are so confident of your opinions, don't hide behind an anonymous comment. Secondly, there is such a thing as nuance. You can like a movie, a book, anything for various reasons. Nobody should dictate to you what those criteria are.