Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bruno, a movie that teaches more than you think

Bruno, a movie that teaches more than you think

By Rabbi Lamech Somayach Meshumad Meshubach
Mashgiach Ruchini, Yeshivah Aishes Eish HaTorah
Special to

Sasha Baron Cohen opens his latest movie with the character having a sexual escapade with his midget latino lover that included pouring champagne while using the rectum of his boyfriend as a bottle holder and putting giant 20 foot springs on an overstuffed leather rolling office chair to propel him into anal sex in a comic book fashion. The movie is an artistic success despite not splashing big into the box office.

You are probably wondering how an Orthodox Rabbi would know anything about the current cinema, since, “everybody knows” the Orthodox don't go to movies. That saying is only partially right. A Jewish man in beard and black suit would never be seen in line to a public movie theater. The high admission charge, the questionable kashruth on the pop corn, the questionable content in the movies. No, Orthodox men do not go to movies.

Instead, we download them from the pirate web sites using the free internet access we pilfer from the non-Jewish neighbors and watch the movies on our computers, burn them onto blank DVDs and share it with our “business companions.”

In the beginning we are shown the decadent celebrity life led by Bruno with fashion shows and celebrities. He loses his job and goes on a quest to regain his celebrity status, in the meanwhile hoodwinking many average Americans who don't know they are part of a movie. Because almost everyone has heard about Cohen's characters he had to dig deep to find people to fool. Luckily there are places like Missisisppi and Oklahoma and politicians like Ron Paul, whom he tries to seduce under the auspices of confused identity, he thought he was scoring sex with the Transsexual musician Rupaul.

The best part of this is a test screening of his television show that features him dancing first in only a thong and then naked, followed by a CGI of his penis dancing and shouting his name, “Bruno!” The test audience is completely offended and walks out.

After a case of confusion where the employees of a hotel are confronted with trying to unlock Bruno from a bondage position with his assistant the two men are left to limp their way, still conjoined to a locksmith, until a police officer board the bus and wants to know why two naked men are chained together in a thong with a racoon tail the assistant leaves him.

Bruno sees a rural souther preacher who has a history of converting gays and then goes to a private home for a gang-bang. While all the other couples have an ordinary men and women Bruno brings a freaky looking dominatrix with DD silicon, tattoos all around her waist and dual nipple piercings. While the others have sex, Bruno goes around and stares deeply and romantically in the mens' eyes until the dominatrix grabs him with a whip and he goes out a window and into the night.

Finally Bruno things his ticket to fame is to take up an issue. Since Darfur has always been taken, he asks the audience where is Dar-five. He flies to to the African continent and trades his iPod for a small child and gives the baby boy a name he thinks is African, OJ. There is a long scene where he interviews parents about using their children in a photo shoot involving dangerous machinery, sharp knives, dangerous animals and insects. This is the third scene in the movie where theater is completely silent. No raucous laughter.

He takes little OJ on a talk show, Today With Richard Bey where the all black audience is outraged to see a gay white man raising a black baby. This is where I started to catch on to what Cohen was doing with his movie. While we were laughing at the stupid bystanders he seduced in his first big movie about prejudice, this movie shows us something so ridiculous we don't laugh. The audience gets a taste of the experience the people in the Ali G show and in the movie Borat. The silence in the audience is because people are too disgusted.

Of course he ends the movie on a hilarious note, when he holds a match in the Ultimate Fighting Arena in Oklahoma with a bunch of beer drinking red necks who think they are attending Straight Dave's Fight Night. Their reactions are great when someone in the audience calls the host a faggot, climbs into the ring as if the two are going to fight. It turns out to be Bruno's long lost assistant, and instead of the anticipated fight, the two men begin making out and taking off each other's clothes. The red necks begin throwing things, pelting the cage with bottles of beer and one man hits himself on the head in shock.

The movie is Cohen's third, and probably his last. His three characters and they too well known to fool people again. But don't discount the genius of Cohen to come up with something new and surprising. The movie puts the audience in the position of the people they were laughing at moments before. In his crusade against prejudice Sasha Cohen breaks new ground both by campaigning for gay rights and exposing audiences to their own hypocrisy. The message is clear, we all need to grow up andl earn to accept one another.