one of my friends (who, for the purpose of protecting his identity, i will call choi) saw bruno yesterday and claimed it was “the most offensive movie [he’s] ever seen”. this didnt surprise me. what did surprise me was that he didnt love the movie.
i’ve seen a lot of movies/tv with choi over the years. if i could reduce his aesthetic tastes to a single formula, it would be something like offensive = good.
(1) he laughs uncontrollably at those commercials where they show pictures of abused dogs;
(2) the night i became a mel gibson fan was the night choi and i watched apocalyptico and laughed the whole way through;
(3) he thinks videodrome is a comedy (and he’s right);
(4) choi claims his favorite movie is rambo iv precisely because of all the senseless violence.
i could go on and on but, due to the evidence already submitted, i feel like i should expand my earlier formula to (movies/tv most people find disturbing or) offensive = (movies/tv choi thinks are ) good. however, it turns out my hypothesized formula is wrong since bruno is (a movie that most people find extremely) offensive and choi hated it.
(but that’s the scientific method — one experiment can falsify your entire theory and you’re left believing in nothing.)
i saw bruno two weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. i too found it incredibly offensive (not to mention incredibly funny), but two weeks later have come to the conclusion that i think it’s a good movie. in fact, i would say it’s the best new movie i’ve seen this year (which actually isn’t saying much since the second best movie i’ve seen this year is the new harry potter).
while most will compare bruno to borat, i find a better comparison in pink flamingos. both are movies that are meant to shock and offend you, the viewer. it’s all unbelievably uncomfortable and gross and you can’t help but feel a certain sickness while watching either film. in other words, these films aggressively attack you. (related: it’s interesting how the lines between war and cinema are blurred. i mean, they dont call it shooting for nothing.) both movies forcefully offend you while also forcing you to work out precisely why these films are offensive.
but maybe borat is a good reference point to bruno. like bruno could be a correction to borat. in borat, we (us liberal, tolerant film viewers) can safely laugh at the rest of america for their intolerance, ignorance and bigotry, but bruno exposes the same kinds of intolerance in us. for instance, how can i feel justified in (morally) condemning the woman who doesn’t have a problem with her baby dressing up like hitler for money while also condemning those wrestling fans for nearly dying when bruno starts making out with his partner in the ring? how is my deeply held belief (that it’s wrong to exploit children in that way) right while claiming that someone else’s deeply held belief (that homosexuality is wrong) is wrong? try coming up with a hypothesis for that that isn’t falsified within a week.
(i know this leads to a kind of moral relativism which comes with it’s own set of unavoidable problems, but, seriously, is there a way out of this?)
i also liked the way bruno blurs the lines between the real and fake. and i’m not talking about how all documentaries are fake, but rather that this movie present completely fake and forced situations that illicit real response (precisely because the people responding don’t know it’s fake). more importantly, since there is a camera present while the responses occur, might that then turn those real responses into, on some level, a performance? and then, what’s the difference between bruno’s performance and the performance of those he interacts with?
the funniest part, imo, is the 6 second teaser in bruno’s tv show that lead up to his one-second interview with harrison ford.