Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Never Let a Chance Go By

As a professional film reviewer without an axe to grind, the ABC's Margaret Pomeranz has this to say about the new British comedy Four Lions:

"The controversial satirist Chris Morris did extensive research for his debut feature film Four Lions. He discovered, like with stag parties and five-a-side football teams, that terrorist cells have their fair share of conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. He says terrorism is about ideology, but it's also about berks... as you'll see. The leader of this British-based group, Omar... is determined to go to training camp in Pakistan, and he and the terminally dimwitted Waj... finally get their chance. I think Chris Morris is a bit too clever for me. I didn't find this film funny at all, except for a couple of moments. Ultimately, I was left with a feeling of profound sadness. The never-ending riff on the comedy of extreme dumbness I know a lot of people find hilarious, but it bores me. I didn't believe these characters, is anybody that stupid? And so I found it difficult to enter into the spirit of the film... Morris has used satire to rail against people's suggestibility, and this film certainly delivers that. But I just don't get it. I don't get this film. It seems to me that Morris has tried to create comedy with a message, but about what? How dumb terrorists are? Or maybe how dumb audiences are. I wish I could be more informative, but it's beyond me." (At the Movies, abc.net.au)

As an opinion page editor with a whopping great Zionist axe to grind, The Australian's Rebecca Weisser has this to say about Four Lions:

"Morris's insight about the extraordinary, indeed hilarious, stupidity of terrorists is profoundly subversive. It turns on its head the favoured view of the left-leaning intelligentsia that terrorism is a rational act, a recognisable if misguided indictment of the West or a tragic but understandable response to the terrible injustices visited on Muslims... in the Muslim world... The terrorists are not apparently motivated by Tony Blair's alleged war crimes in Iraq or the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, which are barely discussed. And it is not about Israel, which is mentioned only by implication when the terrorists' car breaks down and one of the terrorists blames Jewish parts." (Complete idiots slide into jihad, 21/8/10)

While Margaret finds Four Lions merely a failed attempt at slapstick, Rebecca opportunistically seizes on Morris' hyped expertise on jihadi terrorism ("After years of research speaking to everyone who might know...") to get Israel, Blair, and the rest, off the hook as a driver of Muslim rage.

And just for the record, Chris Morris, in interview, disagrees with Rebecca Weisser:

Isn't it the case that a lot of the motivation for terrorists is the material promise of a sated afterlife, that the rewards aren't actually that spritual?

I think that idea of a paradise as luridly attractive is a bit of a journalistic myth to be honest. It's a complicated set of motivations but I think one reason they're doing this is more like giving money to Live Aid.

Like a charitable donation?

But a donation that's gone a bit far! We've tried to represent lots of different motivations in different individuals - from pure nihilism to not really knowing. Unless you're a nihilist you have to believe you're doing the right thing. If you show a person something that's undeniably terrible - some Muslims being very badly treated - then unless you're inhuman, you'd sort of say, Yes that's awful, what can I do about it? 'Well, give some money, help with some food aid. Or if you want to do a bit 'more', I can tell you how...'" (Chris Morris talks about making Four Lions, film4.com)

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