Monday, 10 May 2010

Reversing my position, plus a new article, an interview and reviews at OWF

I have some new stuff up at Obsessed With Film as of today: a full interview with Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson (directors of the documentary 'Mugabe and the White African'), a review of the 'Caligula' Blu-ray release and a review of the documentary 'One Night in Turin', which is screening for one night only across the nation (11th May). Aside from this I also have a load of news stories up on the site and, of course, the podcast.

Speaking of which, Jon and I recorded no less than two new episodes the other night (Jon is going away for a week and we needed one in the bag for then). The first covers 'Life During Wartime' (which I still need to review for this blog since seeing it weeks back) and 'Lebanon', whilst the second was about 'Iron Man 2', 'The Avengers' and a nice Romanian film called 'The Happiest Girl in the World' (which I'll write a review for nearer the time of release).

Anyway, now to the bit about "reversing my position": I wrote this in my review of Chris Morris' excellent 'Four Lions':

"Where the film differs from the rest of the Morris oeuvre is that his work usually combines incisive satire of both form and content. The way things are said is always as rich and funny as what is being said. However, in ‘Four Lions’... this formal and generic parody is absent... stylistically there is none of the directorial wit and experimentation seen in Morris’ series ‘Jam’... there is a sizable portion of what makes Morris pioneering and unique that is clearly missing."

The more I have thought about that since I have begun to change my mind. I saw the film again last night and it confirmed that I was probably wrong about the lack of satire of the form of film itself. (Potential spoilers ahead) I think that actually Morris is playing with the structure of movies and the way in which they can manipulate audiences to sympathise with potentially nasty characters.

I a lot of films you follow a gangster, a bank robber or some other kind of violent criminal (or even violent anti-hero) and the film is constructed in a way which makes you identify with that protagonist. When the police almost catch the crook you get nervous. If the movie was about the police, however, you'd anxiously want them to best the crook.

In 'Four Lions' Morris sticks to a conventional structure where Omar (Riz Ahmed) faces a crisis of confidence just prior to the films third act. In typical movie style he is given a pep-talk by his wife and young son, who persuade him he should, in fact, destroy himself. It's a dark and disturbing scene and the more I think about it the more I think that Morris knows exactly what he is doing by combining that sort of scene with this sort of character. He is playing with convention and structure and highlighting, almost, the dangerous power of film to manipulate an audience. The home-life scenes with Omar are quite sweet and sometimes a little cheesy, but I now think this is part of the satire.

Of both form AND content.

Anyway, that's how I feel about it now.

On a side note, I saw Bogdanovich's 'The Last Picture Show' yesterday and it was amazing from start to finish. Here is the trailer... for no real reason.

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