Tag Archives: Middle East

The Dictator: An Actual Plot from Sacha Baron Cohen

I would say I’ve been a pretty big supporter and follower of Sacha Baron Cohen since his Ali G Show days. I loved all his characters when I watched it on HBO and to see them grow into full length movie characters is wonderful. Borat was a wonderful undercover comedy film. Then he followed that up with Bruno, my favorite of his alternate egos. And then, from all this talk about Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and Gaddafi comes Admiral General Hafez Aladeen. His ability to focus in on one idea that plagues people’s prejudices and preconceived notions on the world around them is spot on as usual. But this one comes with a twist.

Aladeen (Cohen) is a dictator from the North of Africa. In the sweltering heat and tossing sands (a la Hussein), Aladeen lives his life as dictator in luxury. His WMD’s are coming

Aladeen and his majestic hawk, in luxury.

along, he has an all female amazonian entourage and guard, and his palace is so gigantic and wonderful, especially with his fleet of golden Hummers. He’s had sex with everyone (including the great Schwarzenegger. Megan Fox makes an appearance. I wasn’t surprised.) and he is an unforgiving ruler. He sends so many people to death that it’s expected.

As I expected Megan Fox to be in a situation like this…

And then, with the U.N. meeting in NYC looming, Aladeen is kidnapped and tortured. Clayton (John C. Reilly) is a forgiving CIA operative and lets Aladeen off with a shaven face (and then he accidentally burns to death). Stuck in America with only his wits and nobody who believes he’s the real thing, Aladeen’s uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) is planning on making Wadiya into a democratic country with the ability to sell their oil. Aladeen must stop them and keep Wadiya a dictatorship. This is the only time you’ll see a dictator as the hero/protagonist (unless you’re watching a film in their country, then probably you will).

This movie is full of a bunch of funny satirized stereotypes and Middle Eastern humor. As usual, Cohen self deprecatingly attacks his Jewish heritage once again. The Chinese law of one child per family is attacked with the baby birthing scene (as seen in the trailer) and masturbation has never been so patriotic. Sacha Baron Cohen is rather tame in this film in

The Man.

comparison to others, only one or two penises on screen and a handful of sexual references (unless you mention the Saw like birthing canal scene).

I really hoped this happened on the streets of NYC.

There’s a great supporting cast of cultural ecclesiastics  in this film. There’s Ben Kingsley, using his darker complexion to play a Middle Eastern man in this film. I’m always surprised when he pops up in comedies. Jason Mantzoukas plays Nadal, the weapons expert and friend to Aladeen in this movie. This man of Greek descent has been doing comedies for a while now and this is just another one. Bobby Lee rears his freaky head in this movie as a U.N. representative who can get a B.J. from whatever celebrity he wants (insert Ed Norton cameo here). His outrageous nature is made for this movie, and that dude will do anything to strip down into a thong. And one of my favorite appearances was Adeel Akhtar as one of Aladeen’s posse, Maroush. Throw in Fred Armisen and the revitalization of Anna Faris’s career as the love interest hippy, Zoe, and you got yourself a satirical comedy.

The best scene.

I really don’t think there’s anywhere that Sacha Baron Cohen won’t go. His terrorist attack scene in the tours helicopter is hilarious. Ironically, he and Jason Mantzoukas are speaking Hebrew. This points out the fact that a lot of languages, although all different may sound similar to an American audience. And all the iconic songs that he turned into an Aladeen medley! Everybody Hurts, 9 to 5, Let’s Get it On, how much that the way the songs were sung alone made me laugh! Cohen even goes to a black man’s funeral in order to procure a beard from a severed head that reappears constantly in the movie. With no bounds and no forgiveness, Sacha Baron Cohen delivers on all cylinders. 8.1 out of 10.

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Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. A Nice Sendoff…

After having played these games faithfully over the years, I was kind of disappointed with the way Ezio and Altair’s storyline ended. These two historical badasses have taught me that I can view the wonderful views of Europe and  Asia from my sofa, and I learned a thing or two along the way. And what’s better than playing as a grizzled and gray old master? But what wasn’t great was the quickly knotted and severed storyline that just led Ezio to Altair through Constantinople. With some strange new additions and a lot of DLC I’ll never be able to play (more that I don’t care to), Revelations left a bittersweet taste in the mouth.

The story is quite simple (especially if you recently played Brotherhood). It’s been a few years and Ezio is starting to show his age. Now that is something I was impressed with in this game. To grow older and wiser with a character as the game progresses? THAT’S A GENIUS MOVE. I loved every second of knowing just where Ezio came

A few of the character types for AC: Revelations.

from and where Altair was going. It was an intelligent gameplay device for the series. So there’s now older Ezio, (known as the Mentor) who has come to Constantinople, formerly known as the Byzantine Empire. With warring factions of Assassin’s and hidden Templars vying for the city, it is up to Ezio to lead the charge against the unwelcome squatters.

Gotta love the Creed.

Okay, Ezio’s other purpose for coming to the Middle East. Altair, in one of the best opening videos for the game series ever, left a door locked for his lineage to discover hidden within Masayaf. Ezio rambles some henchmens’ brains and finds the door, only to discover he must find some keys in order to unlock it and find the secret weapon behind it. They’re scattered throughout Constantinople by the workings of Marco Polo and his father. Using book clues and a lot of cutlery, Ezio swings through the rooftops of the city in order to unlock the secret.

Even further in the plot is Desmond. He just hoo-hawed Lucy and is now in a coma inside of the Animus 2.0. With the help of the figment of Subject 16, Desmond must combine his Altair past lives and Ezio past lives in order to come back from the brink.

Ezio struggling a bit himself, on the edge.

Okay, gameplay: It’s the free running slaughterfest you would expect from the AC series. Ezio is older and shows it with his speed and dexterity. What could he need at this point, you’re wondering. 1 simple solution. Hookblade. This new addition to Ezio’s weaponry allows him to zipline through the city and avoid/slay guards at will. Think of it like a cane for an old man (with a blade hidden inside). Combos are as brutal and fresh as ever. Collectibles and city restoration are normal. But there were some problems.

A bit of the hookblade action.

Having to defend Constantinople from the Templars was annoying as poop. Around every corner, one of the Assassin’s Guilds was under attack. And then you’d have to do some Bloons Tower Defense all over their ass, and that took up time and cut away from you actually doing the slaughtering. There were too many missions with the Assassin recruits and having to visit them and wipe their bottoms wasn’t helping anything. And trying to get any semblance of achievements or furthering the percentage of completion in the game was weighed down by silly side missions and a block building game with Desmond. This is why I will always love the original more than any of the others. Missions, flags, and killing at will. There’s none of this side quests, hidden gems, and pampering the city B.S.

Ah yes, the young Altair. Notice the scar above his upper lip. That looks familiar…

With all of these problems aside, it was a pretty weak sendoff for Ezio and Altair. Yes, you walk around as Altair at 80+ doing some elite pwnage (never use that normally, guess I want to seem like a true gamer…)  and some nice explosions to walk away from, but nothing you would expect from the mind blowing storyline this game series has created. You find the goods, and then one of the biggest cliffhangers ever. Assload of credits and back to some freeplay. Damn it all to Hell, with AC3 coming out, you could’ve gotten me a bit more excited. So I’ll leave you with this. Play the game because it’ll make you feel a bit closer to Ezio and Altair. There are some great bits, but far from Brotherhood or AC1/2. The visuals are stunning and the history is rich, and that’s what I play these games for. Enjoy it while you can until you forget about it because you’re too busy hiding boners from AC3. Just a little bit longer… A solid 6.7

Get some of that carnage.

out of 10.


Harsh Times: Get Some Christian Bale

In one of my favorite Christian Bale films, Bale plays a hardened soldier newly returned to South Central Los Angeles. With new promising jobs for himself on the horizon, Jim Davis (Bale) has his feet in two camps. In one, Davis is a well-to-do yet slightly skewed veteran soldier that wants to bring his loving Mexican girlfriend to the U.S. and marry her. In the other, Davis has returned to his old haunts around the streets of L.A., drinking and living the life of a hoodrat. Cruising around with his friend Mike Alonzo (Freddy Rodriguez), attempting to right their lives but always falling short.

Jim Davis, although its not explicitly stated, suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. After serving over in the Middle East, Davis suffers from bouts of extreme anger and unquenchable violence. This get him in some trouble throughout the film. In a manner of speaking, Davis becomes his own undoing, turning into a destructive time bomb ready to explode at any moment, hurting those he cares about. As an outsider viewing this, Alonzo (Rodriguez) is a spectator to the bomb

Two thugs, cruisin’ to get their. Rodriguez is creepin’ a bit hard on Bale though…

show. Both serve as peer pressure for the other, although, in the end, Davis seems to want to remain in his in between life much longer than Alonzo does.

The film starts with a bit of iffy war footage of Christian Bale running around in trenches, letting his gun go at will and laying waste to the terrorists. This is juxtaposed to the waking fear that he feels when he wakes up in the squalor of his girlfriend’s poverty in Mexico. Marta (Tammy Trull) is a wonderfully devoted character who is only a product of the environment around her. She makes the best of what she has and loves Davis dearly. Jim loves her too, and surprisingly never cheats on her. In this movie, Spanish is the language of love, spoken competently by Bale in this film, as if he picked it up after falling in love with Marta. The language barriers and connections in this film between the white and Latino characters is one I applaud in its representation in the film.

The hardened stare of a killer.

I was also impressed with Freddy Rodriguez’s performance in this film as well. Not seeing him in much other than the Grindhouse films and Six Feet Under. His voice is more recognizable than his acting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because he ran his mouth in this film. Sylvia, played by Eva Longoria, was just thoroughly average in this film, as she usually is. (I did surprisingly like her in Over My Dead Body… if that’s what it’s called). Terry Crews, star of The Longest Yard and The Expendables, made a surprise appearance as a semi-believable street thug, providing some of the only comedy in the film. And last but not least, J.K. Simmons made an appearance as a Homeland Security agent looking to hire Davis. He’s always believable as authority figures in his films.

In this film comes a lot of the breakdown of what happens to someone who suffers through war. It may not appear during their service as in this film, but it may occur anytime after, triggered by any number of things. For Davis, I felt it was his return to a society that was just as cruel as the conditions he felt in

Look everyone, it’s the Old Spice Guy!

war times that did it for him. He came back to more of what he knew, and treated it like the warring sands of the Middle East. And what impressed me more with David Ayer’s writing and directing, is that he based these characters on real people from his experience in South L.A. This brought a new level to Christian Bale’s acting and the way in which his character was formulated.

Bale and Rodriguez getting the direction they need from Ayers.

Let me say again how impressed I was with Christian Bale’s acting in this film. As one of my favorite films of his, Christian Bale does nothing less than attempt and succeed at an American accent. Although I felt that the lingo used in this film was a bit over the top, when it was used, it was more than likely appropriate. With some tricks of the trade thrown in there and some real mean streets shizz, it wasn’t a stretch to believe the events of the film. But it just goes to show that the corruption of the streets can easily lead to a tragedy. And the way that Christian Bale portrays that breakdown of a character, up to the tears and fear, its a commendable performance. Not to mention how frightening Christian Bale becomes when he’s serious. I wouldn’t wanna deal with him in a dark alley.

So with his performance, some true to the streets gang banging, and the whites vs. the latinos really

Jim Davis, rollin’ hard to get his.

adds a lot to a well written story. The psychological thriller elements of the film are well delivered and I can connect things I’ve witnessed in my life to the events onscreen. On a touchy subject like the recent tours of duty over in Iraq and Afghanistan, this movie touches just the right spots with aplomb. I’ll give this one, as should be expected, a decent 84. out of 10.