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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World

I don't know about you, but the title of Albert Brooks' upcoming flick is a winner.



It's brash.

It's bold.

It uses that other Brooks' (Mel) well-know dictum of anything with a "k"-sound being funny: Brooklyn. Podunk. Kennedy. Kerry. A laugh riot!

Now you could be forgiven if you didn't find it amusing. The original production company, Sony Pictures, bowed out from distributing this film because Brooks refused to change the title, allowing Warner Brothers to pick it up instead.

That's right; Sony thought the title was too inflammatory, and possibly, would insult Muslims.

Damn skimpy.

That's why they green-lighted this movie with the completely inoffensive title of Another Bullsh*t Night in Suck City.

(The next sound you'll hear is the Western World bending over backwards whenever anything related to Islam is brought up. Just give me a moment to open up my voice recorder so I can shout "cowards!!" into the mic)

I personally cannot wait for its release, in January 2006.

The blurb sounds fascinating:

To improve their relations with Muslim countries, The U.S.Government assigns comedian Albert Brooks to find out what makes the Muslim people laugh.

Come on. Send Seinfeld instead.

You don't go to the Muslim world with your B-Team.

Yet another reason why Bush Just Doesn't Get It.

(And I say that as a committed Albert Brooks' admirer of such films as Lost in America, and Defending Your Life. But Mother? Geez, what was that about, Albert)

Look at the movie poster above, closely.

That cerulean sky of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Ali Baba, Scheheradze, the endless shifting sands of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia: a relic of more romantic associations to the Muslim world.

I even love how Brooks has on a workman's overalls -- which looks at first glance like a Nehru jacket -- and is holding a boom mic in his hand, giving it the illusion of a scimitar.

They don't call him the West Coast Woody Allen for nothing, you know.

Unfortunately, for me, it's not a documentary. It's a genuine feature film, a comedy, as the title implies.

I adore documentaries, being by far, my favourite film genre, as a girl with an undergrad degree in History might be expected to. I prefer reality to artifice, although I can appreciate both.

Watch the Quick Time trailer here, and let me know how it looks like: I can't get QT to launch, sigh.

Hey, I'll even take a mockumentary, like This Is Spinal Tap (which I STILL haven't watched, isn' that sad to admit?).

You can even go for a feel of a mockumentary in a bona fide documentary as in this little-known one called Uncle Saddam.

Because it was such a sarcastically searing look at the brutality of the ex-dictator, it wasn't really advertised by the indie community: it didn't make the Sundance circuit, Cannes didn't give it a Palme D'Or, and certainly, it wasn't hyped by Rolling Stone magazine.

But no fear for Brooks' film in that regard.

Not only are his political associations impeccable by Hollywood standards, he is sure to make a movie which will show the little-explored comedic, sweet, lyrical side to the Muslim World.

And why not indeed.

P.S.: If you are intrigued by Uncle Saddam, try this tongue-in-cheek look at Imelda Marcos, called, unsurprisingly, just Imelda. But you have to promise to wear high-heeled Manolos during it.

P.P.S.: Whoa! Albert Brooks' real name is Albert Einstein. Now that's coincidence for you.

18 Comments:

  • Now if we could only get Robin Williams to do the Islamic version of What Dreams May Come! Suicide bomber goes to 'paradise,' looking for his virgin allotment, but Allah has Life Lessons For Him To Learn! Maybe he has to come back as Barbara Streisand! How can he apply the baksheesh to God? Slap a John Williams score on it, I'm thinkin' $100mil domestic!

    Side note: How many films take their titles from the Hamlet soliloquy? To Be or Not to Be, What Dreams May Come, Outrageous Fortune, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country...

    By Blogger Ron, at Sat Nov 05, 09:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • No, seriously, is that Brooks' real name? Einstein?
    Anyway at first I did think you meant Mel Brooks, given the title. I'd have loved that. I watched the trailer and it looks pretty funny, unlike any movie about the Muslim world I've seen yet.
    Wow, you can get a lot of description from a movie poster and I haven't seen Spinal Tap either, sounds too much like a pre-operative test, a painful one.
    I hope they pull no P.C. punches in this movie and treat Muslims like the rest of us. Fat Chance.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Nov 05, 09:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oh, my! No Spinal Tap? Just the memory of certain parts of that film can set me off laughing almost to tears.

    However, I'm trying to decide if it'd be as funny to see it for the first time now as opposed to when it first came out.

    Oh--do give it a try some time.

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Sat Nov 05, 11:13:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I also recommend "Best of Show", "Waiting for Guffman", and "A Mighty Wind" especially if you like dogs, smalltown theater and folk music, respectively.

    You *have* to see "Spinal Tap" just to know the significance of the number 11...

    Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
    Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
    Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
    Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
    Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
    Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
    Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
    Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
    Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
    Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Sat Nov 05, 11:27:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Now if we could only get Robin Williams to do the Islamic version of What Dreams May Come!

    *LOL!*

    Suicide bomber goes to 'paradise,' looking for his virgin allotment, but Allah has Life Lessons For Him To Learn! Maybe he has to come back as Barbara Streisand! How can he apply the baksheesh to God? Slap a John Williams score on it, I'm thinkin' $100mil domestic!

    Hilarious. You're in excellent form, Ron!

    Especially the touch about coming back as Barbra (note the lack of the second A -- she had it changed legally, oy).

    Coming back as a plastic Hollywood yenta would be the ultimate penance for anyone.

    Side note: How many films take their titles from the Hamlet soliloquy? To Be or Not to Be, What Dreams May Come, Outrageous Fortune, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country...

    Nice! It's late. My thinking hat is not on, but I shall be thinking about this overnight!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 06, 01:46:00 am GMT-5  

  • No, seriously, is that Brooks' real name? Einstein?

    That's EXACTLY what I said.

    "No, seriously. Is that really his name??".

    Anyway at first I did think you meant Mel Brooks, given the title.

    I'm a huge huge Mel Brooks fan, especially early Mel Brooks.

    His spoofs on Hollywood genres like Westerns, and Hitchcock films were HILARIOUS.

    Unfortunately, then Airplane! and that type of spoof genre took off, and he started spoofing the spoofs! (Robin Hood: Men In Tights, however much I loved, was not a patch on High Anxiety, e.g.).

    He really fell after that.

    I'd have loved that. I watched the trailer and it looks pretty funny, unlike any movie about the Muslim world I've seen yet.

    Ahh, you HAVE to watch the newish crop of Iranian films, Paul.

    Next to the South Korean movie scene, the Iranian one is the best, most exciting area of filmmaking today.

    I'll think of a few titles, if you are interested.

    Wow, you can get a lot of description from a movie poster

    Actually, the more I look at what Brooks' is wearing, the more I realise I made a mistake.

    They look like workman's overalls (as we would know them in England, not sure anyone wears them in the US anymore -- usually its denim here), but I do now think he really IS wearing a Nehru jacket.

    It's got that tell-tale split in the crease.

    And oh, if I had been truly on the ball, I might've made a reference to the Taj Mahal -- still my favourite restaurant in Oxford. ;)

    and I haven't seen Spinal Tap either, sounds too much like a pre-operative test, a painful one.

    Exactly. However, in my case, it was always because I didn't think a rock-mockumentary would interest me.

    As you can see by reader_I am and Ruth Anne's comments, we really should.

    My ex-boyfriend tried long enough to make me.

    But after acceding to his demands about watching endless anime and Star Trek: The Next Generation, I drew the line with Spinal Tap. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 06, 01:54:00 am GMT-5  

  • Oh, my! No Spinal Tap? Just the memory of certain parts of that film can set me off laughing almost to tears.

    I know. I know. I've heard that a million times, reader_Iam!

    Want to be shocked some more?

    The girl who is a self-proclaimed cinephile, and has a deep appreciation of rare film areas in general, has never watched:

    Taxi Driver
    Chinatown
    Pretty Baby
    Apocalypse Now


    It's just that I have an allergy to the 60's and 70's in most things, and especially, in film...

    However, I'm trying to decide if it'd be as funny to see it for the first time now as opposed to when it first came out.

    A film I recently saw that I was told I really must, since it's a new "classic" as TBS would have it, is:

    The Princess Bride

    I loved it.

    Oh--do give it a try some time.

    Guess what? I went to my local BB, where I have the monthly Moviepass (2 DVDs out at any given time, as many times during the day as you can watch them) and...

    ...both copies were out!

    You shamed me into wanting to watch it. And I will, with pleasure. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 06, 01:59:00 am GMT-5  

  • I also recommend "Best of Show", "Waiting for Guffman",

    Seen and LOVED both.

    I am also a big Christopher Guest (and John Waters) fan. :)

    and "A Mighty Wind" especially if you like dogs, smalltown theater and folk music, respectively.

    I never have actually! Thanks for that tip.

    You *have* to see "Spinal Tap" just to know the significance of the number 11...

    snip scene


    *LOL*

    Brill. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 06, 02:02:00 am GMT-5  

  • Taxi Driver
    Chinatown
    Pretty Baby
    Apocalypse Now

    Now, Victoria...that's a booze-n-pills film festival over a weekend! Maybe play The Damned or Bauhaus or Einsturzende Neubauten between movies, while you're shooting holes in the wall with your Desert Eagle, while cooking beans-n-franks over a can of sterno...[snaps out of reverie] Oh, sorry, just flashing back to those glorious undergrad days...

    I always liked the idea of the Martin Sheen of Apocalypse Now eventually becoming the president in West Wing...(reason alone to see it!)

    I also fancied the idea of John Waters playing Steve Buscemi (say, in Reservoir Dogs, as Mr. Pink!) and Steve Buscemi playing John Waters (in Pink Flamingos!) in the same film...

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Nov 06, 10:24:00 am GMT-5  

  • I also submit the idea that Coppola in the '70's is perhaps the greatest consecutive run of directoral skill, well, ever? Both Godfathers, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation... even how it ends, with Black Stallion and One From The Heart are both interesting films...Victoria, what do you think?

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Nov 06, 10:28:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ahh, you HAVE to watch the newish crop of Iranian films, Paul.

    Next to the South Korean movie scene, the Iranian one is the best, most exciting area of filmmaking today.

    I'll think of a few titles, if you are interested.


    I should have admitted to seeing no other Muslim film except Osama, not funny at all.
    Yes, please, if you care to, I would like that.

    Exactly. However, in my case, it was always because I didn't think a rock-mockumentary would interest me.

    I love new words.

    My ex-boyfriend tried long enough to make me.

    But after acceding to his demands about watching endless anime and Star Trek: The Next Generation, I drew the line with Spinal Tap. :)


    Having to watch anime and ST:TNG is highly reason enough to make one an ex.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sun Nov 06, 01:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Now, Victoria...that's a booze-n-pills film festival over a weekend!

    You have fun your way, and I'll have fun my way, Ron. ;)

    Maybe play The Damned or

    Oh my Lord! Another Visconti fan in the house??

    Bauhaus or Einsturzende Neubauten between movies, while you're shooting holes in the wall with your Desert Eagle, while cooking beans-n-franks over a can of sterno...[snaps out of reverie] Oh, sorry, just flashing back to those glorious undergrad days...

    Ohh, I get it. A reverie. Good times.

    I always liked the idea of the Martin Sheen of Apocalypse Now eventually becoming the president in West Wing...(reason alone to see it!)

    I don't.

    It's like finding out Archie Bunker was actually a commie-pinko meathead in real life.

    I also fancied the idea of John Waters playing Steve Buscemi (say, in Reservoir Dogs, as Mr. Pink!) and Steve Buscemi playing John Waters (in Pink Flamingos!) in the same film...

    Holy guacamole, Batman.

    That's some visual. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 07, 12:37:00 am GMT-5  

  • I should have admitted to seeing no other Muslim film except Osama, not funny at all.
    Yes, please, if you care to, I would like that.


    There's one film which you might scratch your head at, Paul, since it's a children's-themed film from Iran -- but I loved it.

    It's called The White Balloon.

    Here's an Australian review of the genre, with some insight into the film itself.

    An excerpt, which you can tell me if you like or not.

    The White Balloon is the first Iranian film to get an art-house cinema release in Australia, which is some kind of milestone. A little girl, Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani), longs to own the lovely goldfish that she's spotted in a shop window. After nagging her mother and getting her way, Razieh sets out for the shop. But along that path she gets distracted (first off, by a pair of snake charmers), and a little later she realizes that she's dropped the money entrusted to her by her mother. Most of the film's action - in that disarming, neo-realist, minimalist mode - is devoted to Razieh's excruciating attempts to find and then secure the elusive legal tender.

    If not, then I'll think of others. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 07, 12:40:00 am GMT-5  

  • There's one film which you might scratch your head at, Paul, since it's a children's-themed film from Iran -- but I loved it.

    It's called The White Balloon.


    My natural inclination is to say that if you loved it, so would I. However, and this is a terrible thing to admit in a public blog, I do not possess near your intellect among other things and I wonder that I should understand the movie at all.
    From the review, what I understood of that, it seemed to me that I may indeed scratch my head at the end, wondering what I had just watched. The difference between us is that you would have grasped the film and been able to discuss it, while I would be able to only ask, what had happened here?
    It's probably a long stretch from Blazing Saddles to The White Balloon and may very well require engaging thought powers I don't possess or which have long ago withered on the vine.
    I don't know where to watch this film other than hoping to find it stocked in Amazon.com.
    Still, having said all my doubts, the simple recommendation from you that it may be interesting is enough. So, unless you can tell me a better way of finding this film I'm going off to search Amazon or Google, one may work.
    I doubt though, that you would want to know what I thought of it, chances are, I wouldn't know, unless it has a ending of total clarity.
    Thank you Victoria.

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Nov 07, 11:09:00 am GMT-5  

  • Found it and ordered. Thank you.

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Nov 07, 11:20:00 am GMT-5  

  • Not only is his real name Albert Einstein, but his brother is Bob Einstein; otherwise known as Super Dave Osborne.

    By Blogger bill, at Tue Nov 08, 04:24:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Found it and ordered. Thank you.

    Ay! You didn't have to do that, love. :(

    It's not even the kind of film that comes cheaply too, and thought excellent, I'm not sure it was worth you splurging.

    I feel bad now...it was just a little suggestion on my part.

    I should shut my big mouth in future. :-/

    P.S.: Whaddayamean! You're plenty smart!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Nov 09, 01:15:00 am GMT-5  

  • Not only is his real name Albert Einstein, but his brother is Bob Einstein;

    BOB Einstein. That's just so wrong.

    otherwise known as Super Dave Osborne.

    I have to admit, I had no clue who this was so I Googled -- although I have vaguely heard the name.

    Stuntman?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Nov 09, 01:17:00 am GMT-5  

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