Sacha Baron Cohen may not be everyone’s favorite satirical comic (I think he’s hilarious), but he has undeniably carved out his own unique space in the pop culture landscape. One of the keys to Cohen’s success is his steady collaboration with Larry Charles, who directed Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Bruno. This team’s latest project, The Dictator (opening May 11), is supposedly based on a novel written by the late Saddam Hussein. Heh. Sounds like something you might see joked about on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hmmm.
The music alone in this clip qualifies it for the kick ass trailer folder:
Larry Charles is best known as the executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm and other popular, well-written series (Entourage, Mad About You, The Tick), and before those programs, he was a supervising producer of Seinfeld. It seems he knows a little something about comedy and working with funny people.
But that’s television, an entirely different medium (one arguable more heavily populated with hacks than our beloved motion pictures). While Charles is less well-known as a movie director, his ability to work with established, yet quirky independent talent, such as Cohen and Bill Maher (Charles directed the pundit’s documentary Religulous in 2008), favors him. Some may argue that working with comics like these is child’s play, and all the director has to do is turn on the camera and let the funny man riff. There may be some truth to that.
Still, just by watching the perfect timing of the jokes and funny bits in these films it is clear that Charles uses his considerable comedic knowledge to make the most of the material. The resulting films are not Tarsem-like visual feasts to be sure, but they are laugh-out-loud funny, which is really all a comedy needs to be.
Larry Charles may have a vision, and he is certainly good at what he does, but I’m not ready to say he’s a visionary director – nor is he a hack. For now, I think he should be in the VOH Lobby.