The Dictator

The next movie from progressive, freak-people -the-hell-out filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen will see him playing the deposed dictator of a Middle Eastern country who gets repeatedly horrified with his experiences during a trip to the United States. Larry Charles, the director of both Borat and Bruno, is returning to direct this Cohen joint as well, so you have to imagine that it will retain elements of that attacking an unsuspecting public with a controversial character gimmick that Cohen has relied on for laughs so far. But interacting with Midwestern intellectuals and coercing them into saying ridiculously racist and homophobic things doesn’t seem to be all that this one has to offer, if it goes in that direction at all. Charles and Cohen are looking to fill some key roles with seasoned, recognizable actors, so this may prove to be a much more tightly scripted story than anything we’ve yet seen from the duo. While the hunt for the female lead is still ongoing (with Kristen Wiig, Anna Ferris, and Gillian Jacobs’s names being thrown around as front-runners), one of the other big roles of the film has been filled; and filled by an Oscar winner. Ben Kingsley has signed on to join Cohen and whoever the heck else in this satirical look at power-mad rulers. The details of the story are still unclear, but it is said that Kingsley will be playing one of two Middle Eastern characters. Even though he does some real crap every once in a while, […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column. But would you say that El Column has a plethora of news items? Yes, yes, I know it has a lot of news items. But does it have a plethora? Empire recently brought Martin Short, Chevy Chase and Steve Martin back together to recreate some of the Three Amigos magic that delivered one of the most underrated comedies of the last 25 years. Even director John Landis was on-hand for the photo shoot, celebrating the quarter decade anniversary of the film. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and part of my “cinematic friend litmus test.” If you don’t like this movie, we simply won’t ever be close friends. Them’s the rules.

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Perhaps the most famous rendering of Saddam Hussein on-screen was as a bowling alley shoe attendant in one of The Dude’s vivid daydreams. Now, that’s about to change. Although he won’t be playing him directly, Sacha Baron Cohen will be playing a courageous dictator fighting tooth and nail to keep democracy from infiltrating the country he’s severely oppressing for The Dictator. The tongue-in-cheek treatment of the bad guy and the title are obvious callbacks to Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, which mocked Hitler with wondrous dance sequences and gibberish. Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles is back, but this is an entirely different animal. It’s great to see this kind of comedy being made, and it’ll be interesting to see how well Charles and Cohen can pull it off. According to the press release, the movie is set for release through Paramount May 11, 2012.

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