Film-Forward Review: [ASSASSIN]

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Directed by: Kerry Asmussen.
Written by: Margaret Cho.
Edited by: Adam Streit.
Music by: Paula Gallitano.
Released by: Koch Vision.
Country of Origin: USA. 85 min. Not Rated.
With: Margaret Cho.
DVD Features: "The Making of an Assassin: Inside the Mind of Margaret Cho." Margaret Cho's belly dancing segment. "Ode to Margaret Cho" & "Invisible Son" short films. Opening act: Bruce Daniels. Animated rap video by MCMC. Photo gallery.

The fight against political hypocrisy in America has been undertaken by countless comedians of the past and present, including the legendary Lenny Bruce, whom Margaret Cho is compared to in this DVD. Her fourth concert film chronicles over an hour and a half worth of Cho lashing out against the Bush administration and all things politically right, filmed live in Washington D.C., just three blocks away from the White House. She chose the title to "drive the right crazy" and she takes that pseudonym to heart. Her die-hard fans will rejoice to see the Korean-American comedian applying her incendiary attacks on Christian fundamentalists, Martha Stewart, Pope John Paul II, our "devolving" media and Laura Bush's p----. No conservative or enemy of gays and fat dykes (as she calls herself) gets left behind, and her signature impersonations take on new heights, or undoubtedly for many bad taste, when she impersonates Terry Schiavo.

Cho especially hones in on her fearless stance for gay rights, and this is where she morphs from comedian to angry activist. Cho's attacks on the cultural hypocrisy and injustice surrounding gay rights (“Are you against same sex marriage but laugh your head off while watching Will & Grace? Then F--- You!”) are all intellectually rendered and accurate enough, but her shrill agenda is just plain alienating and downright predictable, rather than comic, after the first half hour. For a comedian who has successfully used her unique voice to speak for and about every "club" of America, the DVD marks a regrettable turn in her career.

DVD extras: For non-members of the Margaret Cho fan club, the extras are overall an amateurish fare of forgettable comedy. The making-of segment, rather than offering even a glimpse into the inner workings of her mind, is a praise-fest by fans, coworkers and friends. The best of the bunch are the belly dancing segment, where Cho explains how she overcame her negative self-image issues with the liberation of dance, and the short film "Invisible Son," which captures a Korean-American male's moment of coming out to his family and friends. Both segments are soulful as well as insightful, a nice departure from all that anger. Marie Iida
November 12, 2005



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