Chris Morris's Four Lions

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there's a frog in my snake oil
The caustic tragi-comic social-commentator returns, after several years in a wilderness of relative blandness (having been hounded somewhat ever since his parody of the media's approach to paedophilia in Brass Eye)

Now he's aiming at the big boys again, with a comedy about a UK terrorist cell...





Expect swearing, some discomfort, and a surprising amount of research amongst the (hopefully) sterling irreverent comedy
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The People's Republic of Clogher
Ahhh, the evil genius of British comedy returns!

Fancy some cake, gg?
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"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan



there's a frog in my snake oil
And end up looking like Bernard Manning? Not likely

(It is grand to see the boy back busting chops innit )



there's a frog in my snake oil
I dunno, looks like at least one of em blows up



lol yeah, and I don't know if you could count that dim one as a lion.


Released on 7th May. Wonder if it'll get a national release?



there's a frog in my snake oil
Yeah, i don't think Fessal was a major comedy vessel

I know it's showing at my local arthouse (which is normally a death knell for nationwide screening, but y'never know). The trailer def makes it look mainstream-friendly enough. Reckon they'll probably take a punt on it if the reviews stay good



i hope its shown nationally (but i know my local arthouse cinema)
it just looks funny and Chris Morris knows he can push it and not go beyond the line (but on occasions we love it when ihe does)



there's a frog in my snake oil
Pretty cool interview with Morris in the Guardian today. Particularly liked some of the real life fellas he unearthed during his research...

He tells me about the BNP hard man who "accidentally converted himself" after reading the Qur'an; about the fundamentalist who demanded that the world be run under a caliphate, yet freely admitted that he was unable to apply Sharia law in his own home because his wife wouldn't let him.
Plus reflections on possible adverse reactions...

Besides, he adds, there is no way of making a film that's 100% fatwa-proof. During his early days as a radio DJ, he once bungled a request, played Tony Bennett instead of Frank Sinatra, and went on to receive lurid death threats from a listener in King's Lynn.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Saws it. Is all shock and awe and pretty pleasing shoddery ...



Four Lions

Drawing on realities like the UK's homegrown bombers, the haphazard attempts that followed, the shooting of an innocent in London, and countless other genuine horrors and twisted tautologies of 'anti terror' irony, this ladies and gents, is a comedy. And it's ****ing funny at times. Whether communicating grievances via the children's website 'Club Pelican', or lacerating each other with insults fitting of In The Loop (by ex-collaborator Ianucci), this bumbling boys-own terrorist group are a sight to behold. And crucially, the actors are strong enough to make it more than just an exercise in shooting lame ducks.

A man who thinks chickens are foolish rabbits without ears is clearly a fool. He's also a tragi-comic creation, who becomes more than just a cartoon character juggling comedy bombs, and joins the film in balancing on a razor's edge. That he goes on in the same scene to bond with his friend over their dedication to killing each other, should it be demanded, adds the emotional kick that frequently surfaces amongst this caustic froth. That he then gets helped to see heaven's reward as his favourite fun ride suitably combines the jibes at plastic society, outlandish religious interpretations, and other memes of happy meal 'banality of evil' that course irrepressibly throughout the film.

Morris manages to bring all his TV strengths to this feature-length directorial debut, just not perhaps the directorial panache to match his other talents. The guerilla style of some of the handheld moments robs both ad libs and set pieces of some of their punch, 'directing' the deliveries off into odd corners and muffling what is often inspired and funny stuff. There's all the discomfort of mores and morays (and yes 'Moors') being punctured, but vitally the humour doesn't just springboard us out of this world in cathartic escapism, it's there as an equal partner.

It's easy for a white Westerner to push through the nerves and join in the laughs, because the biggest bigot of the lot is a white rebel Islamic convert. But that's just the first invitation to take the rise out of a seemingly easy target, only for us to be reminded that serious veins of thought are being parodied. It's a classic switch-back display by trickster Morris. I'm not normally a fan of 'dumb funny', but by making this partially about unrestrained anger, paranoia, mental illness, and flat out passionate human tragedy, he's somehow made this hugely ambitious project work. It's a slightly flawed, but explosive treat. (Some might argue that Riz Ahmed is too human as the cell's leader, but there is some factual precedent, and the tragic bite of his story arc shows more than any how warm blood can't stop revenge being inherently cold to the bone).

++(+)




there's a frog in my snake oil
Here's another interesting interview with Morris for the US release. Plenty more examples of research he's done which backs up the 'young, dumb and full of... semtex' approach to the subject matter...

The idea of doing a comedy is right there in the record of the facts, whether you're talking about these Yemenis who planned to blow up a US warship with an exploding boat, and got as far as putting their launch in the water and when they filled it with explosives, it sank—okay, that's a little like something from a caper...

...Or, these Canadian guys who were going to assassinate the Canadian Prime Minister, until they forgot his name. The world is crying out with these examples, and after a point you can't ignore it anymore.
The suppository bomber turns up at the Saudi prince's place, says hello to the Saudi prince, pulls out a trigger, fires off the bomb, then blasts himself vertically, straight through the ceiling... ...It's a perfect sight gag. For everyone other than the guy's mother, it's a funny story.

I wonder what he thought of the recent revelation about the UK '7/7' bombers using A-Team shorthand in their texts. It certainly fits in with the 'bunch of guys theory' that he's trying to represent.



I wonder what he thought of the recent revelation about the UK '7/7' bombers using A-Team shorthand in their texts. It certainly fits in with the 'bunch of guys theory' that he's trying to represent.
That sort of thing really brings it home hey? These guys are shown in the media as being somehow completely separate from the indiginous population. Even if they're born in this country they're somehow seen as foreign radicals whereas just like Morris portrays they're actually just people born and brought up like anyone else here but who have somehow got themselves under some terrible influence and made some truly horrendous choices.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Yeah absolutely. The 7/7 guys in particular were all homegrown lads, and involved to the hilt in society. It does add an extra irony to their actions too tho - embracing aspects of the culture they're also attacking. (And didn't they notice that in the A-team no one ever died )

Certainly there's a 'banality of evil' thing going on too. These guys weren't baby-eating monsters. Just fools who were prepared to kill babies to achieve their wayward aim.



I've been waiting to see this one for quite awhile now. Meant to watch it in the cinema but I never got the chance. Will be buying it on DVD sometime this week.

That sort of thing really brings it home hey? These guys are shown in the media as being somehow completely separate from the indiginous population. Even if they're born in this country they're somehow seen as foreign radicals whereas just like Morris portrays they're actually just people born and brought up like anyone else here but who have somehow got themselves under some terrible influence and made some truly horrendous choices.
Yeah, it's disturbing knowing that some of these guys are potentially people you know or grew up with. Goes to show how influential such ideologies can be no matter what the environment. I do like Morris and have high hopes for this one.



It's fantastic, very sharp, troubling and funny in most parts and at some moments, mainly troubling (with funny buried deep underneath somewhere). The scenes with Omar and his lovely supportive wife are some of the most extraordinarily disturbing in recent times.

So many hilarious moments- right now 'Ay up, you unbelieving Kufr bastards, I'm going to turn you to baked beans' just about beats the 'bomb the mosque' bit and 'rubber dinghy rapids' and 'IRA voice' as my favorite.

The messages from the film are many and sometimes complex, as you'd expect from Morris, but the main one, that terrorism (no matter what the background) is mainly just ****ing retarded, is right on.

I love the film, and am having troubling choosing between it, Toy Story 3 and Exit Through the Gift Shop as the film of the year so far.



The scenes with Omar and his lovely supportive wife are some of the most extraordinarily disturbing in recent times.
After terrorists are killed or caught I always want to think the wives are kept in the dark, but I guess some of them are either scared into silence or agree with the cause, but thinking easy conversations are being held at teatime is a more frightening thing than imagining dark plotting in shadowy places.



there's a frog in my snake oil
This is probably in the wrong section now, but hey, dumping this article here anyway

‘I Was Told It Was Career Suicide’ – The Oral History of ‘Four Lions’

A fun look at production, from the seed of the idea, through the heavy research, via Morris's weird directorial style, and the camaraderie / depravity of filming on the cheap and moving fake bazookas across borders...

Some choice quotes:

The one that really struck me was these guys going to attack an American warship in Yemen. They assembled at the dockside at 3AM, loaded up their explosives, and the launcher sank. I just pictured that very vividly. There was a moment of farce, and I thought, ‘That's what it is.’ These people make mistakes like everyone else.
Chris would sometimes shout things to us during takes, which no director has ever done with me before. There would be a line with someone asking me, “Are you serious about blowing up a mosque?” and Chris would shout to me, “Say, ‘I'm serious as beetroot.’ Or he'd shout, ‘Talk about rivers of milk.’”
Chris told me, for the next take, to go and destroy the stall. I said, “Is it her stall?” “Yeah, it's her stall,” he said. I said, “Are you sure I should destroy it?” Then there was a long pause and he said... “She'll be compensated.” So I went back and smashed it to pieces, and she was so ****ing angry. She couldn't believe it. It didn't even end up in the film.