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Notes from the back row

Bruno meets Potter



There's been a lot of flaccid male full-frontal in the movies lately ( Zack and Miri make a Porno, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Hangover) but when was the last time you saw an erect cock on the silver screens of the Village 8? Well the wait is over this week with the release of Bruno , the latest shock comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry David, the guys who made Borat.

Bruno is another scripted-reality movie with Baron Cohen playing an overtly gay German fashionista who is booted from Fashion Week in Milan, heads to L.A., starts a celebrity talk show that uses Mexican immigrants on their hands and knees as chairs, then hits the road to find love, fame, and to "go straight."

The only thing straight about Bruno is his face, as he lures regular people and minor celebrities into his web of politico-comedic madness. This movie goes beyond Borat in almost every way and if you squirmed during that film's fat, naked, wrestling scene the opening ten minutes here will certainly shock. This might be some of the most riské filmmaking to ever hit screens in North America and the Village 8 is classifying Bruno as 18A (which means it sucks to be a kid this week).

Baron Cohen's incendiary style of prank humour is nothing new, its roots go through Jackass , CKY, Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd , those French Just for Laughs skits, the vignettes that sometimes come on the CBC just before the hockey game, and all the way back to Candid Camera . But no one has ever gone at it as balls-out (literally and figuratively) as Baron Cohen.

But of course it isn't all for laughs. Bruno sets out to expose the most outrageous prejudices of American Culture, mostly those dealing with narcissism and homophobia. By spraying his audience with gay sexuality taken way over the top, Bruno makes us laugh and squirm to the point some people might up and leave the theatre. The scariest segment involves what some parents will subject their children to for a shot at stardom and there's a good joke in there about John Travolta being gay as well. Bruno isn't for everyone - it watches like an 83-minute fragmentation grenade of gayness and cock - but there's comedic genius in there as well, like it or not.

For more family-friendly entertainment you need only wait until next Wednesday, July 15 when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits the screen. This film, the sixth installment in the boy-wizard epic, is less action-packed than previous outings, but has more humour, way more romance, and a deeper sense of foreboding and fear. Evil wizard Voldemort is tightening his grip on the world and Hogwart's school is not the safe haven it used to be. Dumbledore is preparing Harry for the big showdown he knows is coming, and hormones are raging through the castle as the kids grow into their awkward years. Love is in the air.

The final book of the Potter series will be released as two films and Half-Blood Prince is kind of a set-up for that. At 154 minutes it's long and takes a little bit to get into, but few movie franchises have ever maintained this level of quality through six films. This one could have used a more defined villain or sub-villain (Voldemort is a scary cloud, big deal) and the climax isn't as good as the opening but for the most part Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is good family fun - male actors keep it in their pants, but there is a good broomstick joke.

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