22 July 2009 0 Comments

Bruno in Jerusalem

It’s hard enough to get around the notorious Ein el-Hilweh Refugee Camp in Lebanon at the best of times. I can testify to that, having had a few sweaty-palmed visits to the place myself to interview the hardline Palestinian gunmen who rule the camp. Try doing it after calling on the head of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to eschew beards which “don’t look good on your King Osama” and while dressed as “Austria’s greatest gay superstar since Schwarzennegger.”

But then we know that Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter ego Bruno has balls of steel–because we see them being wrenched about by a dust-buster in such a way that flesh and blood genitalia wouldn’t be able to handle.

Baron Cohen’s movie is out this week in the Middle East. The segment shot in Jerusalem got a big laugh at the local theater where I saw the film last night. Baron Cohen minces through an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood dressed as a sexy Hassid (probably a first), and engages in a debate with a former Palestinian government minister and an ex-Mossad official in which he confuses Hamas and hummus. “I mean, why is Hamas so dangerous? It’s just beans, right?”

It wasn’t one of the Middle Eastern segments that scored highest with the Israeli audience, however. When Bruno is running down a list of Hollywood stars he wants in his putative talkshow, he’s told that “Stevie Wunderbar” and “Bradolph Pittler” have turned him down.

Refusing to give up, he points hopefully at a picture of Mel Gibson and asks: “Der Fuehrer?” Proving that Gibson’s drunken antisemitic rant to a traffic cop is more famous than Braveheart, that one got a round of applause in the theater.

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