July 20, 2010

Film Fest: Day Four

Well after a weekend that saw me take in 11 films, it was back to work on Monday. To tell you the truth, I was looking forward to the brief rest it would allow from films. Having said that, I did ask to leave early to catch Four Lions as I'd missed it at the Embassy on Sunday (sold out). I'm sure it's one that'll come back, but I've been dying to see it since I saw the incredibly hilarious trailer. And how could I pass up a comedy about suicide bombers?

Four Lions
The film follows four radical British Muslims (never explaining why they’re radicalised in the first place) as they try and wage Jihad. The problem is, they’re all pretty much idiots. Omar is the leader of the cell, trying to hold everyone together with support from his loving wife and telling his son stories of the glorious martyr, Simba. Waj is his best friend, the stupidest of the lot coerced into it all by Omar. Barry is the white convert, blustering and idiotic and constantly trying to wrest control from Omar. His big plan is to blow up a mosque and blame it on Jews, while also claiming credit for it. Fessal is the weird, nervous one who shoves a box on his head so his face won’t be shown on camera.
As you can imagine with a comedy about terrorism, there is a strong dark streak running through the film, and director Christopher Morris handles the balancing act of laughing at such horrible things well.
Despite the fact these guys are all terrorists and are (for some reason) wanting to blow “fit slags and Jews” up, you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards them. Look, they try so hard and mess up hilariously at just about every turn. And the ensemble works great together, giving ground to one another when needed and every character gets a particular moment to shine. If they weren’t trying to blow people up, they’d be kind of well-meaning.
While it likely won’t change your thoughts on terrorists or the response to them (the authorities don’t come across particularly bright either), you’ve got have a laugh, don’t you? In the Joan Rivers doco, she asks one audience where’d we’d be after 9/11 if we couldn’t laugh. Allowing ourselves to laugh, even in the bleakest of times, is what helps make us human.
I laughed a lot.

Costa Botes new film is the, somewhat depressing, tale of David Klein – the inventor of the Jelly Belly jellybean who has now been all but written out of history. It’s the all too familiar tale of an intelligent, creative person who invents something wonderful being screwed over by the money men. But David Klein hasn’t let it ruin his life; sure, he had a dark period there (how could you not?) but he’s still around today, inventing new candies and helping up-and-comers in the candy business.
This could be, at least in part, because he’s addicted to helping people, addicted to ensuring their loyalty as his son, Bert says. Bert really seems to have a handle on his old man; he may even know him better than David knows himself. David wanted Bert to join the family business, but Bert went off and entertained kids in his way: he became an animator at Disney.
David is a fascinating character, a man who genuinely believed in and loved his product, Botes’ distinctly low-fi approach allows us to just get to know this strange, wonderful man and his story. His story of passion, bad decisions, regrets, family and generosity. As one person puts it “Willy Wonka’s got nothing on him.”

Once Upon a Time in the West
Oh man, this was so slow! Gods! Just a bunch of guys standin’ around staring at each other, with an occasional gruff one-liner. Where’s the action? The gun fights? The…waitaminute. No, that’s not right. Oh yeah, this is a friggin masterpiece. It’s the Spaghetti Western as Epic, with a white-hat Charles Bronson facing off with the black hat Henry Fonda. There are villainous bad guys, heroic outlaws and a damsel in distress. It’s violent, epic and surprisingly romantic.
This was, to my great shame and honour, the first time I’d seen Once Upon a Time in the West. My shame that I haven’t seen it before (even though I own the DVD. I know, I know). And my great honour and pleasure to see it for the first time, in a restored print on the massive Embassy screen, in a full house. You couldn’t ask for a better first experience of such a cinematic film: like Leone’s other Westerns this was made to be seen on the biggest canvas possible. The vistas just stretch on forever, and Charles Bronson’s eyes fill the screen.
I won’t say too much else about this: I’ll be having an In Appreciation of… column for this coming soon (by a guest writer!). But if ever there was an argument for seeing more classic films at the cinema, this is it. The Embassy has been doing really well recently with their 80’s classics (and I salute them for it) but I want to see more of these; more of these films that should be experienced at the cinema.

No comments:

Post a Comment