28 Thursday, 9 July 2009 London Lite B rno, the gay Austrian fashionista, was always the funniest Sacha Baron Cohen creation on Da Ali G Show. For me the Borat character was a little obvious -- a racist Eastern European with a some- what medieval view of the world, he wasnt exactly subtle. nor was the Borat film, although at least it was regularly uproariously funny. Brno, however, is better -- much better. Baron Cohens targets (the asinine fashion industry, homophobes) are more deserving than those in Borat. Theyre also more daring, which well come to in a short while. The set-up is pretty simple. Brno, the host of the top-rated late-night fashion show in any German-speaking country outside Germany, is fired for causing havoc at a fashion show with his cutting- edge Velcro suit. He decides then on his mission -- to become the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler. of course, he heads to Hollywood, engages an agent, and embarks on his adventures, which include auditioning to be a chat show host, solving the Middle East crisis and going straight. Some of those in Baron Cohens sights are, on first impression, fairly tame. Take Brnos first interviewee, Paula Abdul. He has no furniture in his house so he asks his Mexican gardeners to act as improvised chairs. As the American Idol judge settles herself on a Mexican, Brno asks: So, your humanitarian activities are very important to you? Yes, Abdul replies from her perch. Theyre very important to me. But other targets are far less cosy. Talking to a fervent Islamic fundamen- talist, Brno describes osama bin Laden as looking like a dirty wizard; his decision to wear an orthodox Jewish outfit with spangly shorts sees him being chased by angry Hasidic Jews and he decides to try it on with three heavily armed redneck hunters in Alabama. But its his adoption from Africa of a black child (Ive given him a good African-American name, oJ) that makes you squirm and the laughter to ebb away, especially when he appears with the child in front of a predominantly African-American audience on a talk show. Its very uncomforta- ble viewing, but once you swallow your discomfort its also very bloody funny. Its the clearest indicator that although Baron Cohen may not be breaking boundaries hes as far out there as a mainstream comedian can be. In short(s), Brno rocks. REVIEWSCINEMA Brno Cert 18, 81 mins HHHHH REVIEW BY PAUL CONNOLLY Nocheers forcopycat timewaster This is shameless. its Wedding Crashers set in cheerleading camp with anonymous hollywood hunks playing high school seniors out to bag as many hot cheerleaders as possible. The plot is identical to the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn hit. Take two philandering best friends, one charming (Nicholas DAgosto), the other greasy (Eric Christian Olsen). stick them in an unfamiliar social situation, such as cheerleading camp, that will facilitate their priapic ways, have the nice one fall in love with one of the few decent and lovely girls (sarah Roemer) and remove anything that even part way resembles a joke. Theres not a titter to be had here. The only emotion stirred up is anger, so hateful are most of the characters and so utterly wasted are these 90 minutes of your life. Dont say you werent warned. PC Occasionally inspired: Robin Wright Penn and Keanu Reeves in The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Tormentedwifessecretlife The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Cert15,98minsHHHII Alsoshowing... ZAIrE 1974 was a three-day music festival in Kinshasa that mixed African singers with American stars such as James Brown and BB King. Soul Power consists entirely of footage recorded at the time. The atmosphere is electric -- the only letdown is backstage, where the clips include a hilariously random interview with Muhammad Ali, who muses that Flies are faster here than they are in the States. Que? LAUREN PAXMAN Soul Power Cert 12A, 93 mins HHHII Cloud 9 Cert 15, 98 mins HHIII 35 Shots Of Rum Cert 12A, 100 minsHHIII THIS French film crawls along at the pace of a garlic- coated snail. A widowed train driver has a close relationship with his student daughter. And thats it. They cook together, go shopping and try to go to a concert, but their car breaks down. Youll probably find it as mind- numbing as, well, 35 shots of rum. A TouCHInG German film about a pensioner who has an affair but ends up mortified at the pain she has put her husband through may not sound like box office gold. But some brilliant acting and real emotional intensity would make Cloud 9 a delight, if it wasnt for all the close-up scenes of old people having sex. LP Prepare to squirm: Baron Cohens Brno, left, on a chat show; below, retail therapy Foul play: Eric Christian Olsen Fired Up Cert 12, 90 mins HIIII PiPPA LEE (Robin Wright Penn) appears to be the perfect wife, adored by her older retired publisher husband and their witty, erudite friends. But when her husband herb, played by the always marvellous Alan Arkin, decides to move them both to a retirement village she begins to struggle. she starts to sleepwalk and we get glimpses of her past, a past not nearly as neat and orderly as we would expect of such a paragon of virtue and fortitude. her mother was addicted to Dexedrine and Pippa was lured into lesbian sadomasochistic games by her aunts impish lover Kat (Julianne Moore, having a riot), before derailing completely and ending up as a dissolute druggie in an artists commune. Meanwhile, in the present day her needy best friend sandra (Winona Ryder, right back at the top of her powers) is falling apart and having an affair with an unnamed older man, her daughter hates her and shes attracted to Chris (Keanu Reeves), the son of an elderly neighbour. so far, so potboilerish and the film does descend into mawkishness. Yet Pippa Lee is saved by an occasionally inspired and funny script and some very good performances. A superior chick-flick. PC So hot hes cool: James Brown in Soul Power OutrageousBrnos comedygold(lam) AMBER COWAN IN&OUTTONIGHT FILMS index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html