|Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator. (Handout)
Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator talks trash -- rudely, profanely, incessantly -- and he makes "funny" by posing as an idiot, racist, anti-Semite and misogynist.
This is Cohen's usual ploy. He uses extremes of behaviour to free up his socio-political satire. In this case, his real target is the United States for compromising true democracy for political expediency.
Whether or not you think Cohen's techniques work in The Dictator depends on your sense of humour and appreciation for what masquerades as satire these days.
At least now you have a chance to examine the movie more closely while it weaves its absurdist tale. The Dictator -- the story of the Mad Dog of Wadiya, a rogue dictator from a fictitious north African county -- debuted on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download this week.
I have the combo pack for review. It combines DVD with the Blu-ray and a digital copy for your portable devices. The Blu-ray also offers the extended cut, with 15 minutes and 30 seconds of extra footage. Larding the theatrical cut with deleted scenes allowed Paramount Pictures to hype this as: "Banned & Uncut: the version you couldn't see in theatres."
Banned is an interesting word. It makes Cohen sound as if he is now doing something courageous. Instead, he just made his movie longer and naughtier for home viewing.
Some people liked it already. The Dictator earned $168 million worldwide in its theatrical run, with a modest $60 million of that in the U.S. and Canada. I suspect it will do reasonably well in the home entertainment market, in part because Cohen is a curiosity, in part because The Dictator is so outrageous.
But we should note that Cohen owes a debt to the legendary Charlie Chaplin for what he could steal -- artistically speaking -- from Chaplin's talking classic, The Great Dictator. What Cohen could not take, however, was Chaplin's genius as he savaged Adolf Hitler in his 1940 film. Cohen lacks the grace and intelligence Chaplin displayed. Instead, The Dictator is cruel and clumsy.
Yet, if you do think it is hilarious, as some critics claimed, there is even more on the Blu-ray. It offers 34 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, although many overlap the material that was edited back into the film for the extended version. There is also a creepy music video and the full interview that obsequious Larry King did with Cohen in his dictator guise as Admiral General Hafez Aladeen.
GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON: I thought I was Glee-free and glorious. I spent an entire year without seeing a single episode of the TV series. The awkward concert movie, in particular, convinced me I was no longer a Gleek.
Wrong! I just spent time visiting Glee: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray. Like an addiction, like a sunny day, like hearing a catchy tune from your youth, it just sucks you back in.
Season 3 features dramatic sea-changes as key players face graduation. Yet the writers play on the same-old themes of marginalization and the cruelty of cliques. For goodness sake, Quinn (Dianna Agron) is a Skank! The Unholy Trinity has been broken. The Glee Club is short of members. The blow-back from cheerleading guru Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is even more savage (and funnier). Rachel (Lea Michele) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) are doubting themselves. Will New Directions make the Nationals?
OK, it's all juvenile melodrama but the kids are great, the tunes are fab and the big-stage productions still explode like mini-Broadway musicals. Plus the Blu-ray's bonus materials don't just give us the usual jukebox of show numbers, they beautifully introduce us to six "newbies" who figure prominently into Season 3.
Hooked again? Oh yeah!