Go see ‘Four Lions’

Posted by · 1:03 pm · November 5th, 2010

It struck me when I put up those two “tell us what you thought” posts this afternoon that I should probably dedicate some space to the film opening this week that deserves a look above all else.

Chris Morris’s “Four Lions” opens in limited release this weekend after debuting at Sundance in January and playing this or that festival throughout the year.  It is the first release from Drafthouse Films, a distribution wing developed out of Austin’s famed Alamo Drafthouse theater.  And it’s a devilish delight.

I finally saw the film last night after missing it at every turn.  Yes, the film is funny.  But the humor and commentary cut so precisely that it has to be considered one of the great satires, perhaps in league with seminal efforts like “Network” or “MASH.” Interestingly, it’s not television news or warfare that Morris is sending up, but rather, an intriguing blend of the two.

The film tells the story of British jihadist suicide bombers with clashing ideologies.  Under the umbrella of socio-political farce, Morris’s tale skips gracefully along its subjects’ wicked banter on the way to as profound a statement on terrorism as we’re likely to see — ever.  What distinguishes the work is its ease with mundanity and the overall naturalism ushered forth by quality performances from Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar and Riz Ahmed.

The film is currently in the midst of a Drafthouse-sponsored traveling roadshow, with Devin Faraci (of Drafthouse’s Badass Digest) tagging along to moderate Q&As with Morris.

It’s a film that deserves your support, because who knows how long something this daring can actually survive in the marketplace.  If you find yourself torn between a laugh and something that demands a little more intelligence this weekend, spring for both.

[Photo: Drafthouse Films]

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

13 responses so far

  • 1 11-05-2010 at 1:12 pm

    Sulman said...

    funniest movie of the year so far, and definitely a top 10 of 2010. makes the viewer a bit squeamish at points with its subject matter, but it also a cutting satire of the whole terrorist mindset.

  • 2 11-05-2010 at 1:40 pm

    Michael said...

    I like posts like these a whole lot b/c they give me something below the radar to look forward to. I seriously doubt this film will make it near my parts but when it does come out on DVD I am definitely going to netflix it. I am glad it is getting a U.S. release, albeit a limited one. Hopefully some more readers will also post their thoughts on the film as well – I am curious and excited about this film and hope it does well.

  • 3 11-05-2010 at 1:43 pm

    Evan said...

    This movie was absolutely hilarious, but also incredibly dark. The last 20 minutes are really something.

  • 4 11-05-2010 at 1:43 pm

    Drew said...

    Just watched the trailer for it and laughed my ass off. Love them all singing the Toploader version of Dancing in the Moonlight.

  • 5 11-05-2010 at 2:01 pm

    Rob said...

    *sigh* I wish I could be on board with the pack on this one. I definitely like it, and greatly admire its tenacity and ambition, but I was disappointed to just find it “funny.” I kept waiting for the diabolical profundity or dark hilarity to hit.

    I’ll definitely give it a second look to re-evaluate, but while I found it worth seeing, I thought it was greatly lacking the substance and brilliance of something like “In the Loop.”

  • 6 11-05-2010 at 2:47 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    You’re really willing to put Four Lions up there with THE Nashville? It may very well be great, but damn, high praise doesn’t even begin to describe that comparison…

  • 7 11-05-2010 at 3:10 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Assume you mean MASH. And as satire goes, yeah, I think I’d feel comfortable with that praise.

  • 8 11-05-2010 at 4:56 pm

    PJ said...

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Kris. It’s brilliant, biting satire, and the underlying pathos makes the humour all the more sharper.

  • 9 11-05-2010 at 5:01 pm

    Graysmith said...

    I’m with Rob. I just didn’t think it was particularly funny. It has it’s moments of brilliance, but there were just as many scenes that were way too over the top to garner any response from me other than an eye-roll. It’s a gutsy movie, I do admire the ambition to make a movie like this… But if it’s not funny it’s not funny, nor did I find it particularly profound.

  • 10 11-05-2010 at 5:15 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Oops, I have serious typing problems….

  • 11 11-05-2010 at 10:00 pm

    Glenn said...

    I agree. See this movie!

  • 12 11-06-2010 at 2:21 pm

    billybil said...

    I was suprised by the scope of the picture – from the trailer I thought it would be very funny, bitingly silly, and dangerously over the top. What I experienced was more meaningful than I had anticipated. God I love how the long ending sequence was a combination of two very different temperments (I’m deliberately being as vague as I can for those of you still waiting to see it). I found the matter-of-factness of these choices to these characters most enlightening. The scenes of the lead character’s family are almost surreal to me – the awareness the husband, wife and child all share – but then I’m a white man from America. And the charisma of these actors! I would watch each of them in more roles and I sincerely hope I get to – particularly the lead but all four (five!) lions are . Wonderful presence, wonderful clarity in his face captivating – so many beautiful mouths!! And I always admire stupidity made so believable – not an easy task. It’s almost like a frat boy picture and when you put frat boys in a movie about terrorism you’re well on your way to a MASH like level of satire. I can understand how some viewers are disappointed because there is not a lot of “profound” talk – quite the opposite, in fact – but if you tune in to the emotional reality for these characters – and keep their ultimate choice in mind while viewing all that happens – I find it difficult to imagine how it won’t be perceived as profound. Of course, some viewers may already be 2 steps ahead and realize that these are probably exactly the sort of frat boys taking people’s lives all over the world.

  • 13 11-07-2010 at 9:13 am

    Ryan said...

    I agree with Rob, here. I saw the film at the Angelika in Manhattan last night, with both an introduction by the writer/director and a Q&A following. This film is nowhere near the likes of ‘Network’ or ‘MASH.’ Morris is a dick, by the way, but I suppose that’s irrelevant.

    While I found the film amusing, it really resorted to a lot of the same tricks again and again, making the characters intolerable by the halfway point. Morris’ aim was to explore the idiocy in terrorists, but this wasn’t real-idiocy. This was movie-idiocy, and after many of the events I was left wondering how these characters even managed to get themselves dressed in the morning. Not to mention there was a formula for each idiot thing the jihadists did, always ending in the smartest one cussing them out in another language. Reading subtitles of cuss-filled rants is only fun the first two times – it became exhausting. I did enjoy the final scene, regardless.