Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Review: Bruno


Released: 2009

Go to IMDb page

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Bruno is a difficult movie to review. When it is good it is very good. But when it is bad it is very very bad.

Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a gay 19-year-old Austrian who spends his life following the latest fashions. Following a desire to become famous, he teams up with Lutz (Gustaf Hammarstan), who becomes a devoted manager, and travels to America where he tries out various means to draw the attention of the world to himself. But getting fame is a bit harder than he expected. Using candid-camera style interviews, Cohen presents a series of cutting social satires loosely tied together in a narrative structure.

So ... what is good about Bruno? At its best, Bruno is a cutting, sarcastic satire of the modern infatuation with hollow celebrity fame. A number of the scenes in Bruno are brilliant at exposing the vacuous stupidity of so much human behaviour and attitudes. The interviews with women desperate for their children to become models and willing to expose them to almost anything dangerous or immoral to do so; being counselled by a fundamentalist Christian gay converter who wants to change Bruno to a heterosexual; posing as a heterosexual wrestler at a "straight" wrestling club where profound homophobia is revealed when Bruno and Lutz start acting out homosexual intimacies in the ring; and the intolerance of a TV talk-show audience when Bruno claims to have adopted a black African baby who is wearing a t-shirt promoting gayness. All of these scenes, and a couple more, provide some genuine belly-laughs and implied social commentary.

However, a number of Bruno's characteristics completely undermine the value of watching this movie. The explicit nudity, sex (including real sex at a swingers' party), extremely coarse language, and various other elements will be highly offensive to many (and quite rightly so). A significant amount of this material is overdone and unnecessarily "in-your-face". It is as if Cohen and his co-writer didn't know when to stop. The lack of subtlety reveals the unsophisticated approach to humour that is, in fact, a disrespect for the intelligence of the viewer. This material is truly awful and so crude I cannot describe it here — you really don't want to see it.

In summary, Bruno has some great moments. But the presence of overdone, extremely tasteless material that reaches a new low for cinema, makes this movie one that is best avoided.


Positive Review
'The movie is a toxic dart aimed at the spangly new heart of American hypocrisy: our fake-tolerant, fake-charitable, fake-liberated-yet-still madly-closeted fame culture.' - Owen Gleiberman/Entertainment Weekly

Negative Review
'Here’s the bad news: Brüno is no "Borat." Here’s the worse news: Brüno crosses the line, like a besotted sprinter, from hilariously to genuinely awful.' - Joe Morgenstern/Wall Street Journal

Content Advice
pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Movie Review: Last Ride (2009)

last-ride Glendyn Ivin, the director of the Australian movie, Last Ride, has gifted us with one of the best movies I have seen this year.

Based on the award winning novel by Denise Young, Last Ride is a slow, gentle, but deeply moving journey of a father and son across 5,000 kilometres of rough and remote Australian Outback country.

Kev (Hugo Weaving) bundles his son, Chook (Tom Russell) into the car in the middle of the night and flees into the darkness as they run from the law. Chook knows something is not right but his Dad is not talking. As they travel, father and son are forced to deal with their troubled relationship as they meet the challenges of survival. As the story develops we gradually begin to understand what has happened and share in the complex development of the relationship between the two.

Last Ride is a truly superb movie. The story is deeply engaging with depth of character development.  Weaving is superb in what I would consider as one of his best performances. Tom Russell, who plays the 12-year-old Chook, gives us a nuanced, understated character who is entirely believable. And the Australian Outback landscape  reflects the beauty and ugliness of the narrative itself.

Last Ride explores so many themes — father/son relationships, love between children and flawed parents, prejudice (in terms of what we think of the father), childhood abuse, and self-revelation.

Last Ride is in limited release in Australia at the moment. If it hasn't been released in your location make sure you put it on your list of must-see movies when it arrives.



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