Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Four Deadly Terrorists, Half a Brain each.

Four Lions

7 May, 2010

Directed by: 
Chris Morris

Produced by:
Mark Herbert
Derrin Schlesigner

Written by: 
Chris Morris
Jesse Armstrong
Sam Bain
Simon Blackwell

Riz Ahmed
Kayvan Novak
Nigel Lindsay
Adeel Akhtar
Arsher Ali

Summary: Four Lions is a comedy which follows the lives of five jihadists as they attempt to prove themselves - in the name of their religion - by plotting to commit an act of terrorism. The film focuses on their clueless ideas as they struggle to agree on even what building to target (with one recommending the mosque and another, a Boots store). The would-be terrorists attempt to plan an attack, while dealing with family issues and the police trying to track them down – after some badly-executed trials-runs.

My Favourite Scene: I found it very difficult to pick a favourite scene in ‘Four Lions’ because so many were brilliant. However I particularly liked a scene towards the end of the film, in which Waj has a hostage in a kebab shop – while on the phone to Omar, asking what he should do. Eventually the police storm the shop and Waj is sat with his hands up. He says: “Sorry lads. I don’t really know what I’m doing!”

I found this scene extremely humorous but also hard-hitting because it makes the point that Waj is in a situation, of which he does not understand the implications. While playing the fool, Waj also portrays how a person can become sucked into a way of life – believing that they are doing something for the right reason. Omar’s explanation of why they are doing it is along the lines of: it’s like being in the lines for the rides at Alton Towers. He poses the question to Waj, do you want to be in line or on the rides? I find this scene poignant because it highlights how easy it is to manipulate people in the name of religion.
My Favourite Quotes: 
Omar: I'm taking my team up to the top floor now. I'll see you up there.

Barry: It's the parts... they're Jewish.
Omar: What parts in a car are Jewish?

Malcolm Storge MP: The report makes crystal clear that the police shot the right man, but as far as I'm aware, the wrong man exploded. Is that clear?

My Thoughts:  Apart from the hilarious script, I reason I really enjoyed this film and thought it was actually quite profound was because it gave a humanising affect to the idea of a ‘terrorist’. We currently have a view of suicide bombers being ‘evil’ and I’m definitely not justifying their actions, but this film conveys that terrorists are just people. They have jobs, partners and children, just like everybody else. I think when it comes to a subject, such as terrorism, we cannot just dismiss the people as ‘evil’ or whatever. To stop anything, it has to be prevented and that requires understanding. Four Lions displays the emotions of men who are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the name of their religion. There are comical scenes in the film, which are moving as well - such as Omar explaining to his son how his and Waj’s experience at a training camp went wrong, through a bedtime story based on The Lion King.  

Another element in the film which I found interesting was that not only were the terrorists incompetent, but so were the police officers and politicians. From shooting down the wrong person in fancy-dress and claiming that actually the wrong person exploded, to a politician hiding underneath his desk when thinking a member of the public was a suicide bomber. It portrays a stupidity surrounding the issue, which was another refreshing angle to the film.

I think that Four Lions, like some of the funniest films, is comical because it takes a completely serious situation and twists it around. One would expect a film directed by Chris Morris (a satirist) to be just like this. Even the death of Faisal (who accidentally blows himself up while running with explosives) is rather hilarious – seeing the five ‘lions’ going down to four.

The only thing I’d have against the film is that it lacked the necessary one or two serious scenes, in which the ‘lions’ justified their actions. There was no proper explanation of why their religion asked them to do this, no mention of the Iraq war and no real questioning from their families – Omar’s wife smiled proudly when Omar told her he would ‘see you up there’. Despite this, overall I think that Four Lions is an excellent film. It is entertaining, original and thought-provoking.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mind where you put your feet...

The Exorcist
26 December, 1973

Directed by: 
William Friedkin

Produced by:
William Peter Blatty
Noel Marshall

Written by: 
William Peter Blatty (based on his novel)

Ellen Burstyn
Max von Sydow
Lee J Cobb
Kitty Winn
Jack MacGowran
Jason miller
Linda Blair
Mercedes McCambridge (voice)

Summary: Something is not right with Regan. Over time, she has dramatically changed - both in her behaviour and her appearance. It becomes apparent to her mother (Chris) that she needs help. The efforts of the medical professionals are useless, and in a desperate effort to save her daughter, Chris begs a priest (Father Karras) for his help – who then contacts Father Merrin. Convinced that Regan is possessed by the devil himself, the two begin exorcising Regan to cast out the demon and return her to her former self- however this is not an easy process…

My Favourite Scene:  In the final exorcism scene, the possessed Regan breaks free of her straps and begins to levitate, while her eyes turn a glassy white. Chilling as this part of the scene is, it is actually the dialogue before, which I find most scary. Regan says: “You killed your mother. You left her alone to die.” The fact that the devil inside Regan is preying on Father Damien Karras’ guilt about his mother’s death, conveys not only the strength of the being – to be able to get inside his head and know what his darkest emotions and thoughts are – but also how twisted and cruel it is to make him suffer. I think something that makes the film particularly interesting is this combination of physical and mental power. The devil is able to not only perform incredible things (the levitation and spider-walk) but also somewhat infect people’s minds to gain control.   
My Favourite Quotes: 
Father Damien Karras: “I think it might be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, I’d say there seem to be three.”
Father Merrin: “There is only one.”

Father Damien Karras: “Why her? Why this girl?”
Father Merrin: “I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as… animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.”

Demon: “I’m not Regan.”
My Thoughts: I have to admit, I found The Exorcist more disturbing than scary – but I think this is mainly because I was told from the age of about ten, that this film is the scariest of all time and I should probably wait until I’m in my twenties to watch it. So with my expectations extremely high, I was slightly let down in that it didn’t give me any sleepless nights! However I was not disappointed – in fact the opposite! This film really is quite chilling, I think because it takes a perfectly normal, innocent child and turns her into something very, very strange.

Something I really like about the film was the pace and how the plot was gradually built up. I think this was important in showing the contrast of Regan’s character from when she was a sweet young girl, to when she was completely possessed – projectile vomiting and levitating! The process of her going through doctor analysis after doctor analysis, test after test, gave a strangely realistic feel to the film. Regan’s mother was desperately trying to explain what was happening to her daughter. This portrayed the film to not simply be all ‘blood and guts’, but about a mother just wanting her daughter returned – even after the possessed Regan attacked her, she does not give up – going to the extreme of finding an exorcist to save her child.

The Exorcist was groundbreaking and since there have been various devil-possession films. At the time it caused outrage and protests among some religious groups for obvious reasons surrounding the subject matter! What I found particularly frightening about the film is the idea that possession is something we cannot control. In other films, psychopaths can be ‘caught’ and kept away from people, but this film shows that ‘demons’ are totally out of our control and do horrific things to people, with them having no means of escape.