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Review of 'Borat 2 (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)'

Camera Epistemology

By Paul LevinsonPublished 4 years ago 2 min read

My wife and I just saw Borat 2 aka Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on Amazon Prime Video. As with the first Borat movie in 2006, it was at turns and sometimes all together (and altogether) hilarious, horrifying, over the top, sobering, and vulgar. And there's the already infamous Rudy Giuliani scene near the end.

As always, the question -- Giuliani aside -- is how much the people in the movie, other than Borat and his daughter Tutar -- knew about what was going on, i.e., that they were appearing in a movie. The two guys who took Borat into their home and spouted dangerous conspiracy theories, the woman who genuinely tried to help Tutar, the various women and men who tried to understand Tutar and Borat, however outrageous or insane their stories, until these marks either broke or continued to work with varying degrees of discomfort inside this horror-show amusement-park universe -- were they really marks or were they part of the paid, unacknowledged, scripted acting cadre?

The people singing the at once very funny and deeply disturbing Covid-19 song were at a rally, and they most likely were real. They wouldn't have wondered what the cameras that were recording them were doing there. But what about the conspiracy duo -- who were also at this rally -- what did they think when Sacha Baron Cohen entered their home with not just his mustache but some kind of camera crew? Or, again, that wonderful woman who took Tutar under her wing, and tried to give her guidance? I sure hope she was real -- she showed there's still some hope for humanity -- but what did she make of the cameras? Or, did both Cohen and Maria Bakalova who played his daughter have some kind of super-micro cameras tucked somewhere into their shirts? Which brings us to Giuliani.

The good thing about Pence and Giuliana -- good, that is, as far as their roles in the movie -- is that neither would have been surprised by cameras in the contexts in which they were filmed, and of course there's no way they would have agreed to play along with Cohen, anyway. So about Giuliani: He consents to go into Tutar's hotel room, leering during the interview, and for some reason lies back on the bed (I'd rather not say "lay" here, and who knows exactly if that's grammatically right) and then either (a) tucks his shirt down the front of his pants or (b) you be the judge (this is Cohen's advice to viewers of his movie). It probably doesn't really matter -- Giuliana is a sleaze either way, just a worse sleaze if he's not tucking in his shirt.

Anyway, a brilliantly funny and all too instructive movie by Cohen, wonderfully acted by him and by Bakalova as his daughter. And as for the rest of people who appear in this movie? Brilliantly acted or real? Follow Cohen's helpful advice: See the movie and decide.

movie review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code, The Plot To Save Socrates, It's Real Life: An Alternate History of The Beatles; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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