Monday, November 13, 2006

Science of Borat Nightmare in 3D

It was a fairly eclectic weekend...

I FINALLY saw "The Science of Sleep" (dir. Michael Gondry, France, 2006, 105 mins.), which features the Mexican heart throb, Gael Garcia Bernal speaking English, Spanish and French in a French film, also starring English actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, as the characters 'Stephane' and 'Stephanie', respectively, which is only the tip of this confusing iceberg. Director Michael Gondry has worked in a lot of his music video trickery for this story of a man who is lost between dreams and reality and the woman he is obsessed with. Visually, it is fun to look at, though it doesn't seem to serve the script as succinctly as one might hope. Gondry indulges himself in three too many dream sequences that lend nothing to the arc of the story. In fact, not only are some of the visuals unnecessary, but due to the complexity of the script, they only muck it up even more.

It is similar to his "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" in that the plot is so convoluted that actually caring for the characters becomes secondary, though achieved by the second or third act. Here, in "Science...", I was initially taken by the dreaminess of Bernal at first, then dropped out due to the visual excessiveness, but was caught back up by the time the character began his climactic breakdown. There is just so much STUFF to take in, that I would hope Gondry would give his editor more power. Also, according to trivia I found on the web, there are a dozen direct references to his music video work throughout the film, which only reinforces my opinion about how self-indulgent the work is.

That said, the cast does remarkably well, considering how visually distracting the film can be. It is lucky that Bernal is so appealing a performer, that he can compete with the chaos around him. He is in nearly every frame! Gainsbourg doesn't survive as well, as I lost track as to who she was at one point, which is part of the Bernal character's problem, also. So, it could be to Gondry's credit that the world is so subjectively derived from Bernal's character that we are as confused as he is. However, I think that might be going a step too far, if not just giving Gondry an excuse for the distractions through out. I'm glad I FINALLY saw it, however, it's not 'a keeper'.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (dir. Larry Charles, US, 2006, 84 mins.) is perhaps as difficult to watch as "Science of Sleep", though much more rewarding. There are moments with Sacha Baron Cohen's characters (i.e. Ali G and now Borat) that I appreciate the near brilliance it takes to pull them off with such reality, but I just wish he would stop. That said, 'Borat' features some hysterical bits! Yet, there are moments that just SEEM to last forever, as this is a comedy of errors and embarrassment that refuses to let its victim(s) off the hook, until every ounce of ridicule has been squeezed out of them, including himself, as well as certain members of the audience. (The audience on Friday afternoon was PACKED and a good portion decided that the film was raucous enough for them to, literally, join in! grrrrr...!)

What makes Cohen nearly brilliant is the manner in which he exposes ignorance with ignorance. He is able to lower the bar to such a point that his 'victims' have no choice but to go there and beat him to it. This has apparently caused a number of lawsuits to be filed against him. He is so invested in the character and situation that it is no longer a 'comedy act' but a piece of performance art, not unlike Andy Kaufman or Barry Humphries. And as re-watchable as "Borat..." might seem, I think I would QUICKLY tire of it on the second go. Well, that is except for the scene where he... hee hee hee!!!

"Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D" (dir. Tim Burton, US, 1993/2006, 76 mins.), which the devoted know simply as "The Nightmare Before Christmas", has been given a special 3-D re-release. And it works! Though the depth is not as perceptive as the corporate logo, trailer and accompanying short ("Knick Knack"), it is none the less, a more successful effort than the recent "Superman Returns". As this was not originally designed to 'pop out' at us, it still serves the 3-D process fairly well,in that there is enough layers of depth perception to give the film some 'pop' visually after all these years, and following the (over) saturation of CGI. Yes, you need to wear glasses, but Disney has provided a really sturdy pair for this release that will probably come handy if a home version becomes possible. This is a definite repeater!


Maxxxxx said...

re "Science of Sleep": "Is it bedtime?"
re "Borat...": "Bwahahaha!"
re "Nightmare Before Christmas": "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

Jimmy said...

The audience at 'Borat' was so involved with the movie that they felt the need to share with their frieds via the technology know as Text Messaging. Throughout the ENTIRE thing.

Reel Fanatic said...

I don't think I've ever laughed harder than I did during Borat's movie ... Just the fact those jerkwad frat boys are now suing him shows the utter brilliance of his act