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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Bruno [Blu-ray]


(Larry Charles, 2009)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Four By Two & Everyman Pictures

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:48:09

Disc Size: 41,554,387,775 bytes

Feature Size: 25,910,347,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.10 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case with slipcover

Release date: November 17th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






DTS-HD Master Audio English 3741 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3741 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none



• Bonus View Enhanced Commentary PIP with Director Larry Charles and Sasha Baron Cohen

• Alternate Scenes – (5:42)

• Deleted Scenes – (40:45)

• Extended Scenes – (22:39)

• An Interview with Lloyd Robinson – (5:32)

• Digital Copy Disc



The Film: 8
I remember seeing huge posters for this movie in the theatre – it was something like the way The Truman Show was advertised. Maybe that was part of the joke. If you've seen Borat then you have an idea of what's in store for, but, as the ad says: "Borat was so 2006!" Once again Sacha Baron Cohen plays a flamboyant character in a faux-documentary movie about a man in search of prejudice – and finds it. Borat, the character, was racism and all the other "isms" writ large, but Brüno turns this on its head, for it is those he "interviews" or is interviewed by who come off as narrow in spirit and humanity regardless of their advertised persona. In short, prejudice is simply socially acceptable hate, and homosexually the last remaining socially acceptable prejudice.

Brüno is the host of an Austrian TV show called Funkyzeit, where high fashion and what is or is not fashionable is laid bare and laid waste by its arbitrary host. When he is fired for disrupting a fashion show in Milan, Brüno goes on a quest for even greater celebrity, starting with making a pilot for a celebrity interview show in which he critically comments on a celebrity's fetus. As in Borat he finds his way to the United States where he tries to get a talent agent (Lloyd Robinson) to make him an "overnight star;" he adopts a black African baby to take advantage of the charity business; he interviews presidential hopefuls (real ones, like Ron Paul); he interviews Dallas Cowboys, goes out shooting with rednecks, tries to covert to heterosexuality, even joins the Army. Despite his over-the-top gay persona, he is always taken seriously until the bubble bursts and homophobia kicks in.

Given that hardly any of his fellow "actors" is in on the premise or his character, Cohen occasionally flirts with bodily harm as anger and rage boils over. It is not that anyone feels taken in by the filmmakers as might be the case in a Candid Camera situation, but that Brüno is finally revealed to them in all his flaming gayness, something which, though obvious to us, is ignored by them – or rather that they feel violated by their own rule to not allow themselves to get that close to a homosexual, and when they are unable to rationalize or excuse Brüno any longer, they pop. When Brüno wanders naked to the tent of a redneck in the middle of the night, we wonder that Cohen isn't shot on the spot. (Hopper and Fonda were blown away for far less.) It is this subtext that makes Brüno so fascinating, and what makes the movie with "enhanced commentary" essential viewing.

There is a plot to the movie, and one that makes for interesting counterpoint to the prejudice that Brüno encounters – namely, his own homophobia, or, more exactly, when love's opportunity stares him in the face, he chooses the opportunity for celebrity. It's a story that reverberates with most men regardless of any of the generally accepted persuasions: that we would rather hunt than stay at home, rather dream of loving than love.



Image: 7/8    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

By necessity, if not artistic choice, the movie is shot on HD video instead of film and so there is an immediacy, but also an electronic feel to the image. There are scenes of stunning sharpness and richness of color alternating with some serious noise issues (note the nighttime shot with the shopping carts.) As common with HD Video transfers, I found no other manipulations that weren't inherent in the source.
















Audio & Music: 7/8
For all its improvisatory and offhand qualities, it is something of a surprise that the dialogue, which is what we want to hear after all, so clearly materializes in the front channels. The surrounds are engaged primarily for the music and the occasional effect (like the audiences at the TV show and for the cage fight.)

Operations: 7
A comment about the subtitles: When the dialogue is more or less in German – and there's a good deal of this – translation subtitles are automatic and not removable. On the other hand, there are no German subtitles for the movie.

The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows tell you which way to direct your remote, and the bonus feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. Bonus View is intuitive, though the menu, which is in German with English on the side, takes a moment to get used to. I will continue to rag Universal for its lack of any kind of disc art – a point off.



Extras: 10
It's not often that I give a full "10" points for the Extra Features, but in this case, Universal has provided what I feel is the best option for watching a movie with commentary – something I don't recall having seen before: simply to have the commentators place the movie on pause while they elaborate on a point. For a movie like Brüno, this is particularly valuable since the humor is both subtle and bold, splitting our brain functions in different directions. It would be the rare viewer who could manage to take in the movie and a commentary at the same time for very long. Since the filmmakers are in control of the pause function, not us, the enhanced commentary cut of the movie takes 26 minutes longer than the "theatrical cut." Presented in PIP Bonus View, Director Larry Charles, who looks like someone out of ZZ Top, and Cohen, who, out of character, kept reminding me of Ben Stiller, only funnier and more deadpan, pop up frequently to expand on the background to their movie and how they narrowly escaped, or didn't, attack and jail.

The Deleted Scenes (or, to paraphrase the menu: the "Exterminated" Scenes) and Extended Scenes are as funny as anything that was kept in the movie (for a change) and very much worth our time. There's even a bit with La Toya Jackson. The interview with Robinson is fascinating for the reveal of his opinion of SBC.


Bottom line: 8
With a movie that contains something to offend everyone, it is surprising that Brüno has substance – and many will find that it doesn't, or, that even if it does, that the offending parts are simply toooo much. While the twirling penis, dueling dildos, and various sex toys may be more than some can handle, others won't be able to get enough of it. In any case these are passing fancies compared to the big picture. Sasha Baron Cohen may or may not be an acquired taste, but he is nothing if not a fascinating artist, a vigilante, a terrorist, and probably certifiable.

Leonard Norwitz
November 14th, 2009







About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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