WBEZ | Sacha Baron Cohen http://www.wbez.org/tags/sacha-baron-cohen Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sacha Baron Cohen's 'The Dictator' is vile shtick http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/sacha-baron-cohens-dictator-vile-shtick-99884 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sacha%20baron%20cohen%20AP.jpg" title="Sacha Baron Cohen dressed as the eponymous dictator from his new film at Academy Awards in February. (AP/Matt Sayles)" /></div><p>Take note: Sacha Baron Cohen&#39;s <em>The Dictator</em> may well be the most important film of the year.</p><p>This is a bad thing. The film is vile, obscene, juvenile, manipulative, misogynistic and racist. Its intentional offensiveness legitimizes hate speech as a form of cheap humor. Its mechanism is degradation and humiliation of &quot;the other&quot;&ndash;people of other races, genders, colors, religions or beliefs. It&#39;s cleverly (but clumsily) structured to push the pleasure-seeking buttons of its intended audience, which primarily consists of two niche strands: pre-pubescent boys and adults seeking temporary refuge from the vitriol of Fox News. If you don&#39;t fit either demographic, there isn&#39;t much that&#39;s funny about <em>The Dictator</em>.</p><p>Baron Cohen is a relentless self-promoter. At Cannes this year, <a href="../../blogs/bez/2012-05/cannes-diary-selling-films-cannes-market-99316">he nearly fell off a camel</a> while riding down the Croisette during a publicity stunt. Even repeating this stupid story, of course, helps fuel the offensive entertainment empire Cohen&#39;s been building with his recent masterpieces, <em>Borat</em> and <em>Bruno</em>, the main targets of which were Kazakhstan and gays, respectively.</p><p>Dictators are fair game for filmic depiction or satire&ndash;just look at Chaplin&#39;s <em>The Great Dictator</em>, Barbet Schroeder&#39;s <em>Idi Amin Dada</em> or <em>The Last King of Scotland</em>. But this film trades in every imaginable stereotype in its depictions of so-called &quot;A-rabs,&quot; with their gilded city in the middle of the oil-pumping desert, and says nothing about political power and its corruption. It&rsquo;s a cynical, didactic and evil piece of pop culture which, sadly enough, is estimated to earn more than $260 million.</p><p>In the paranoid, isolationist worldview it clearly engenders, Arabs (and by implication, Muslims) are out to destroy Israel and the U.S. and are terrorists at heart. It&rsquo;s a viewpoint hardly constructive in moving the world toward peace.</p><p>Also: Should the eight- or ten-year-old boys viewing the film (with, one presumes, their parents) at a screening I attended really watch a scene of someone searching for a cell phone inside the vagina of a woman who recently gave birth? I doubt you can legitimately write this off as sex education.</p><p>And if that weren&rsquo;t enough: <em>The Dictator</em> also has some of the worst acting in a film of recent memory.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 06:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/sacha-baron-cohens-dictator-vile-shtick-99884 Cannes Diary: Selling films at the Cannes Market http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/cannes-diary-selling-films-cannes-market-99316 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120516012727.jpg" title="Actor Sacha Baron Cohen poses with a camel during a photo call for his film ‘The Dictator’ at Cannes on Wednesday. (AP/Francois Mori)" /></div><p>Image-making is everywhere in Cannes: banks of photographers line the red-carpeted steps to the Grand Theatre Lumiere, locals set up ladders in a thin median between the streets, which they occupy from early morning.</p><p>Every day, there are five festival trade dailies that cover films and deals about films, which may or may not ever get made. Filmmakers and producers descend on Cannes in part with the hope of getting a meeting that may lead to money for a project. In reality, the thousands of films talked about and shown in the Cannes Market (producers, sales agents and distributors rent theatres here for screenings) are films no one&rsquo;s ever heard of and probably never will hear of again. At any one&nbsp;moment, you could check out 20 to 30 films playing. Right now one could see <em>Drift</em> (about Australian surfing moguls), <em>She</em> (a Thai film about a woman dying of cancer who finds love at the end) or <em>Excision,</em> described as &ldquo;life sucks at 17.&rdquo; No kidding.</p><p>Taking advantage of all the press here, Sacha Baron Cohen staged a stunt to &ndash; what else &ndash; promote his new film, <em>The Dictator</em>. Dressed in full character and riding a camel, Baron Cohen headed out on the main street, the Croisette, stopped before the nearest café and ordered drinks &ndash; one for himself and one for the camel. Immediate effect: He caused a traffic jam.&nbsp;</p><p>A local Frenchman walking down the street remarked, &ldquo;Il y a un chameau sur la Croisette,&rdquo; <em>There is a camel on the Croisette</em>.</p><p>Obviously, he&rsquo;d seen stranger things at Cannes than this.</p></p> Mon, 21 May 2012 10:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/cannes-diary-selling-films-cannes-market-99316