BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ★★★★
You will laugh at Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat but you won’t necessarily like yourself for laughing. For in this cod documentary, purportedly showing America to Borat’s fellow citizens of Kazakhstan, much of the comedy is racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-Semitic. Borat is a vicious, faux naive monster, cleverly created certainly, who trawls America interviewing innocent — and often rather stupid — people for what they genuinely believe to be a serious TV programme. In the process he pitilessly sends them up, exposes their prejudices and insults them horrendously. Some of his victims — politicians and the like — have it coming; others, though, are simply too easy targets. It’s his appalling rudeness that evokes shocked, disbelieving laughter and while rudeness has generally replaced wit in contemporary British comedy, one disturbing thing to be said in Borat’s favour is that often the laughter sticks in your throat as he makes you question the very nature of comedy itself and, more importantly, your own prejudices.
Clear and Present Danger ★★★
Harrison Ford’s swansong as Jack Ryan finds the do-gooding CIA analyst up against a Colombian drugs cartel and some dodgy dealings in Washington which could reach the highest level.
Shogun Assassin ★★★
PREMIERE 11.10pm-12.55am Film Four
On Freeview for the first time, this cult martial arts bloodbath about a samurai who turns mercenary after his wife is murdered by a psycho shogun, adds new meaning to phrases like “slice and dice” and “arterial spray”. Lady ninjas and a tooled-up trio of master assassins are just a few of the baddies who get short, bloody shrift from the Lone Wolf and Cub.
Or The Poseidon Adventure in a tunnel. In New York. Sly Stallone leads a disparate group of, er, motorists to freedom before the Hudson River can engulf them all.
12.55-3.15am Film Four
Akira Kurosawa’s timeless samurai tale about a wandering warrior who sells his skills to both sides in a local feud acted as a the basis for Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, and the rest is history. Toshiro Mifune is charisma personified in the role that would later make Clint Eastwood a superstar.