(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#49) Four Lions
Comedy • dir. Chris Morris • 2010 • UK
Americans, you may perhaps not already know what I, as an Englishman, do know: that Christopher Morris, the man who wrote and directed Four Lions is a magnificent bastard, and comedy genius. For many years on British radio then TV, he’s been a one-man wrecking ball, smashing fearlessly into the bastions of so-called polite society: celebrities, the media, moral guardians, politicians, and the pitifully pious. Often the smartest guy in the room, he eviscerates the venal and the vapid, the shabby and the shameless – and, through it all, positively delights in the bracing brio of being funnier and also, therefore, always one step ahead.
Four Lions is Morris’ first and so far only feature film. We’ve all seen how perilous the leap can be between small screen and big – for that matter, between 30 minutes and 90. But Morris, of course, was ready: has been leaping, for a whole career, where others fear to tread. And, boy, he obviously figured it best not to fuck around. The simple creative observation at the heart of Four Lions – its elemental fire – is an absolute doozy: apart from all the other things they are, Islamic terrorists are really just a bunch of idiots and dicks. (In his own spot-on words: “Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.”) It’s thrilling and not a little subversive – don’t take the great modern bogeyman at face value, and don’t buy the myth a scare-mongering media instinctively sells… no, if you can, laugh at the silly sap and his credulous countdown to riches in the afterlife.