Streaming columnist NICK OVERALL looks at two faces of Sacha Baron Cohen.
SACHA Baron Cohen – best known as Borat – is back in the headlines. Surprise, I hear you say.
In the last two weeks, he’s been the man of the moment with two massive releases now available to stream.
First, he put his talents to the drama film that dropped on Netflix, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”, the true story of the infamous anti-Vietnam War protestors charged with conspiracy by the US government.
Taking place at the height of the ’60s counter-culture movement, the trial of the seven defendants transfixed America and sparked the conversation about how much the mayhem of the decade was undermining the country’s government.
Sounds a little… serious for Baron Cohen though doesn’t it? Well the following week saw the actor depicting the character that’s a little more familiar.
Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh journalist who travels to the US to, in his words, gain “cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan”, created a popular culture legend in 2006 when Baron Cohen starred in the mockumentary film.
Now, 14 years later, is his follow up – “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm”. And once again, Baron Cohen is finding himself the trending topic of the moment.
Like the first, the humour is brutally in-your-face. Baron Cohen holds nothing back in his satire, having ended the careers and ruined the reputation of many who appeared in his productions only to do extremely dubious things.
This time round he’s jumping on all that’s relevant to our strange times, with coronavirus and the US election firmly mired in the plot.
His main gimmick, for which he’s earned such infamy, is staying in character while he interacts with real people, often catching them out or confusing them.
This was done to extreme effect in his 2018 television series “Who Is America?” (on Stan). Posing as an Israeli anti-terrorist expert, he was able to get former American vice-president Dick Cheney to sign a waterboard on camera.
Baron Cohen knows what he’s doing. Such stunts make him the headlines and whip up conversation about him around the world.
It’s as a result of this fame and international recognition that the filming of the Borat sequel became quite difficult, people recognising him in costume before he could get up to many of his antics.
Sure enough though, he finds a way around it, sporting various disguises and costumes to ensure he can get his comedy back on the rails.
This time, his main target is Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and Donald Trump’s lawyer. It’s at the climax of the film that he’s caught in a compromising situation to say the least, by Baron Cohen.
If you don’t go for the comedic style of Baron Cohen, you’ll only need to type Giuliani into a Google search to be met with article after article about the massive stunt, and Giuliani’s response itself.
In a huge deal, it’s Amazon Prime that secured the opportunity to stream this headline-generating machine, which has brought flocks of new users to the platform.
Watching Prime more often in the last few weeks, the catalogue available gives even Netflix a run for its money. For only seven bucks a month and an unlimited amount of screens that can be using the platform at the same time, it makes it good value.
Clever of the platform to secure the sequel knowing that once again we’d all be talking about Sacha Baron Cohen.
He’s either very brave, very smart, or very stupid. Perhaps a mix of all three.
More of Nick Overall on Twitter @nick_overall