- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2006

What does it take to goad the government of Kazakhstan to take out defensive, costly, multipage ads in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune? In a word, “Borat” — the randy, anti-Semitic Kazakh TV reporter played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen on HBO’s “Da Ali G Show” and, now, in a critically acclaimed feature film. The forthcoming thriller “Blood Diamond,” about violence associated with illegal gem trading, has government officials in African countries such as Sierra Leone and Botswana similarly vexed. We’re wondering why it’s taken so long for Third World governments to step up their PR game.

Return to Paradise — Thinking of an exotic vacation in Malaysia? You might first want to catch Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix in this 1998 thriller. After a police raid turns up large quantities of hashish, an American winds up on death row. Talk about zero tolerance.

Romancing the Stone — The lesson of this 1984 romantic comedy, just reissued on DVD, is that if you’re in Colombia, don’t get on the wrong bus. As Danny DeVito, in a classic supporting role, says, “If you want to kill me, take me back to Queens. Don’t let me die in the jungle like a snake.”

Midnight Express — “Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?” was a funny rhetorical one-liner in 1980’s “Airplane!” This not-so-funny story of Billy Hayes’ harrowing experience in said penal system, released two years earlier, probably had something to do with that joke being widely understood.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — India officially banned this grisly Steven Spielberg-directed sequel for its “racist portrayal of Indians,” but far worse, in our opinion, was its warning of seeing your heart literally torn out of your chest.

The Interpreter — Last year’s political thriller thinly fictionalized Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe and his brutal regime. Mr. Mugabe’s government claimed the movie was “CIA-sponsored” propaganda. In failing to sponsor propaganda of his own, Mr. Mugabe is clearly behind the times.

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