Posts Tagged ‘Bruno’

Metro Canada: Sex Tape and a short history of sex tape movies


By Richard Crouse – In Focus Metro Canada

For many people, especially those who troll around in the more unsavoury corners of the Internet, the first exposure to celebs like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian came from that most modern form of celebrity introduction: the sex tape.

Paris and Kim’s videoed sexcapades weren’t the first tapes to become public — in 1988 Rob Lowe was embarrassed when VHS images of him and two women popped up on the news — and they weren’t the last.

This week in Sex Tape, Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz are Jay and Annie, a married couple who try to spice things up in the bedroom by videotaping themselves. All goes well until Jay forgets to erase the tape and mistakenly stores it on the Internet. “Our sex tape has been synced to several devices,” he says, “all of which are in the possession of friends!”

Given how many actors have appeared in sex tapes it’s not surprising that several movies have used the raunchy videos as a plot point.

In Brüno, the titular Austrian fashion reporter (Sacha Baron Cohen) tries to make a name for himself in America by making a sex tape with another famous American, U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. Trouble was, Paul wasn’t in on the joke. “I was expecting an interview on Austrian economics,” said Paul. “But, by the time he started pulling his pants down, I was like ‘What is going on here?’ I ran out of the room. This interview has ended.”

The 2006 comedy Drop Box has production values not unlike that of an actual sex tape but despite its low budget it offers up the funny and often brutal story about Mindy (Rachel Sehl), a big-time bubblegum pop star (think Britney or Miley), who accidentally returns her homemade sex tape to her local video store instead of Glitter, the movie she rented. Realizing her mistake, she tries to re-rent the tape.

Clocking in at just 80 minutes, it’s a character study about a spoiled pop princess who butts heads with an unmovable force in the form of the uncooperative and inquisitive clerk (David Cormican).

Finally, Auto Focus exposes sex tapes’ dark side. Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane’s (Greg Kinnear) all-American public persona hid a secret obsession. “I’m a normal, red-blooded American man,” he says. “I like to look at naked women.” According to the film, he liked making sex tapes with women, usually without their knowledge. The movie speculates his 1978 murder may have been related to this unlawful pastime.

Before Brüno came Buster, Charlie … In Focus by Richard Crouse FOR METRO CANADA July 10, 2009


Many regard Sacha Baron Cohen’s brand of humour as envelope pushing absurdity that rides the thin line between bad taste and very bad taste.

For instance, in Borat, the titular character says he came to America with “a jar of gypsy tears to protect me from AIDS.” As if that wasn’t squirm inducing enough, he topped it off with jabs at Jews, homosexuals, the American way-of-life and the good people of Kazakhstan.

That movie ruffled more than a few feathers upon release in 2007, and that outrage now seems to be spilling over to the release of his new film.

In Brüno, which hits theatres this weekend, he plays a campy fame-seeking fashionista who wants to be “the biggest Austrian superstar since Adolph Hitler.” Rashad Robinson of GLAAD told the New York Times that while the movie’s satire is “well-meaning,” it’s also “problematic in many places and outright offensive in others.”

As un-politically correct as the results of Cohen’s modus operandi to expose homophobia are — he extracts embarrassing, often racist or downright stupid reactions from people not in on the joke — he is simply following in the cinematic tradition of using irreverent humour to hold a mirror up to society.

Silent comedians Buster Keaton, the Keystone Cops and Harold Lloyd infused their work with social commentary, using slapstick to highlight man’s struggle to survive in a swiftly changing society.

Charlie Chaplin’s most famous character, the perpetually down-on-his-luck Tramp, was a metaphor for “the lowest of the lower classes,” a comparison that became even more poignant with the advent of the Depression.

Moving forward, director Sam Wood laced his screwball comedy The Devil and Miss Jones with comments on labour unrest and class distinctions, while Tim Robbins’ mockumentary Bob Roberts was a caustically comic piece on running for Senatorial office and Monty Python members redefined irreverence with their two looks at organized religion, The Meaning of Life and The Life of Brian.

Whether or not Brüno will accomplish the goal shared by Wood and the members of Monty Python — that is to make audiences examine their own fears and prejudices — remains to be seen, but David Kilmnick, CEO of the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth thinks it can’t hurt.

“It’s important in life when you’re dealing with the daily struggles of inequality that you take a second to sit back and laugh,” he says. “That’s always been the medicine for those who’ve been oppressed.”


bruno_sacha_baron_cohenIt’s impossible to review Sacha Baron Cohen’s films—Ali G Indahouse, Borat and now, Brüno—without first describing his trademarked brand of humor. His wild style of social commentary rides the thin line between bad taste and very bad taste. It’s also frequently very funny in a squirm-inducing way. The set-up is simple. In character he elicits embarrassing, often racist or downright inane reactions from people not in on the joke, and as un-pc as the results of these interviews are, he is simply using irreverent, ambush comedy to hold a mirror up to society.

His guerilla modus operandi is guaranteed to ruffle a few feathers—he’s been sued by some of his unwitting subjects for everything from libel to slander, invasion of privacy, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress and more—but I guess that’s the price he’s pays for exposing human foibles.

Brüno is another exposé. Where Borat gave us an inside look at bigotry and Western hypocrisy, the ulterior motive lurking just beneath the fake eyelashes and chaps of Brüno is an unveiling of homophobia.

Like Borat the set-up for Bruno involves a television reporter coming to America. In this case it’s Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen), a campy fame-seeking fashionista who wants to be “the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler.” When his Austrian TV show is axed (“For the second time the world had turned its back on Austria’s most famous man.”) he goes on an outrageous quest for fame that sees him try to negotiate peace in the Middle East, make a sex tape with Presidential hopeful Ron Paul, get involved with a charity which “doesn’t require much effort” and adopt an African baby. When those labors lead nowhere he has an epiphany; reasoning that all the greatest stars in Hollywood are straight, he opts for gay “deprogramming.” Along the way he meets a martial arts teacher who compares gays to terrorists, a wild group of swingers and others until he takes one last shot at fame as Straight Dave, host of a Man Slammin’ Max Out Ultimate Fighting and “Straight Pride” television show based in Arkansas.

For those fearing that fame may have dulled Baron Cohen’s edge, I can tell you it hasn’t. Bruno is chock-a-block with OMG!! moments—by that I mean those “Oh my God I can’t believe he just did that” moments—but as funny as the movie is there are more cringe worthy gags than actual funny jokes. His jab about finding the next Darfur, “maybe Dar-five” is smart and funny, but his long conversation about it with the two emptiest headed publicists ever, isn’t. Other gags have a been-there-done-that feel. The Velcro suit and Dallas talk show stunts are funny but ruined by over exposure in trailers and ads.

That’s not to day there isn’t lots to laugh at—Baron Cohen is the most fearless comics working today or maybe ever—but Bruno is ultimately less satisfying than Borat. It feels more episodic, more mean spirited and more staged than its successful cousin.

Bruno will amuse most, enrage some—one man stormed out of the screening I was at yelling, “This is the stupidest thing ever!”—and offend many, often all at the same time, but despite some advance press the gay community has little to fear.

The gay stereotypes presented in the film are so over-the-top it is hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously and even though this extremely silly movie has a serious mission—to expose homophobia—the last thing it wants is to be taken seriously.