Tag Archives: conflict

Four Lions: Terrorism at its Finest

In this dark comedy/mockumentary of the Islamic world of terrorism, four “lions” of men come together for one reason only, to attack the Western infidels of Sheffield, England in order to send a message. And what a message they send. In one of the funniest movies of the past five years, for me, I couldn’t stop laughing as these moderately incompetent terrorists attempt to lay some waste and terror all over some English peoples. There’s mishaps, wavering trust and faith, and even some exploding sheep. Nothing could be better than one of the most controversial films to ever deal with a hot button issue.

This misfit group of terrorists are really intent on blowing up something. Be it a drug store or the members of a fun run, Hell, even their own mosque, they plan to incite some rage and tension between countries. There’s Omar (Riz Ahmed), the leader of the group with the best head on his shoulders. He plans to leave his family and be truer to the Muslim faith than his bookworm of a brother. What shocked me most about this film was why Omar’s loving and beautiful wife and son are okay with all that

Some kooky terrorists on the prowl.

he’s doing. There’s Omar’s dim witted friend and “bro” Waj (Kayvan Novak). Always wanting to travel on those “rubber dingy rapids”, Waj has the best of intentions but always seems to screw it up along the way. Throw in the wild card Barry (Nigel Lindsay) the white Muslim converted Englander who feels he’s better suited for terrorist acts than anyone in the group. He screws up a lot, but will never admit to his mistakes. And there’s Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) the man who blows up crows in preparation for an airborne attack.

Hassan pullin’ off some Muslim rapping.

Bring together this rag-tag bunch of Muslim extremists and you have a recipe for disaster. They cook up bombs in their flat with huge amounts of bleach and other cleaning products and slang it around with one of the funniest escape scenes you’ll ever see. There’s arguments on what a Wookie is (a bear or not?) and whether being a Muslim rapper is the right path in life. There are some great scenes in Afghanistan where Omar and Waj go for training and one of my favorite muck-up scenes takes place there as well. Is it racist I attempt to put on a English tinted Muslim accent? RUBBER DINGY RAPIDS BRO.

I was mightily impressed with Chris Morris’ directing and writing in this film. He researched information on the situation of terrorism and the “War on Terror” prior to this film. This helped accurately represent the frustrated characters he created in this film that just want to blow shit up. Coming from an actor turned director that I’ve watched in a few seasons of The IT Crowd, his humor wasn’t represented, and replaced with a much darker and brooding one. The council scene in which the local residents in Sheffield debate about terrorism is hard to watch and quite frightening when Hassan (Arsher Ali) is introduced. Their ideals and views may come across as ridiculous, but there are those out there who believe infidels must be killed and women must be locked away.

Explain this. Word.

Get some, Omar.

Not recognizing any of the actors from this film really helped enhance the experience of watching this film. They’re all fine actors and you begin to believe they are strong extremist Muslim supporters in this film. The gorilla style of shooting and set ups are all interesting and give a gritty feel to the film. The Afghanistan shots seem a bit unbelievable but its only for a short time that you have to jump into the warfare of the sands. The conflicts and characters develop as the film progresses and you learn that there is a serious side to the film. The dark humor becomes more real and you’re forced to realize situations like this happen, the terrorists have families and faces, they have feelings and emotions just like us. It’s not so much a sympathy film as it is a humorously dark look into what exactly terrorism means outside of our own perspectives. And I applaud that outlook. This film accomplishes its comedic elements and also delivers a message at the same time. Impressed as I was, this movie does deserve all the critical acclaim it got. Best film of 2010? You got it. A definite 9.7 out of 10.

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Ergo Proxy: Existential Confusion

Even after watching this anime and reading about it, I am still at a loss for words. This anime, in a word, is confusing. To a high degree. I mean, this is intelligent, philosophical musings about the world and the purpose of life. As seen by the praying AutoReivs. That is one of those images that has stuck with me throughout the anime. Those androids, staring up into the sky, arms brought together in prayer, a rare piece of imagery that will continue to perplex me as I muse upon the meaning of Ergo Proxy.

Let me give you a bare-bones explanation of what I took away from the plot of this anime. This anime is

What is a Proxy?

focused mainly around the upper class citizens of Romdeau, one of the last vestiges of life on Earth. This is because of some great ecological disaster that happened sometime in the past that has forced dome-like structures to keep out the pollution and destruction of the outside world. Humans and AutoReivs (androids who are created for specific purposes to help humans) like in harmony, helping one another in their struggle to survive. And, even in this devastated world, there are those humans who are considered not to be citizens of Romdeau. One of these immigrants is Vincent Law (Liam O’Brien). With no past and what seems to be no future, this lowly character has some connection to the murders and soon to be discovered Proxies of this world. It is up to Rie-l Mayer (Megan Hollingshead) to discover the connection, and it is up to Vincent Law to discover his purpose. A daunting task that leaves me in awe and confusion.

Dark and foreboding? I think so.

This being a crime/suspense/thriller anime, and my wonderful girlfriend recommending it/loaning me the DVDs, I knew I would like this anime. I just didn’t realize how confused it would leave me. But, in this instance, I was not confused in a frustrating way. This anime invites watchers to come back and re-analyze this anime more than once. I feel its the only way to really grasp what this anime is trying to put across. Every episode, although some may seem disconnected to the flowing plot, are important in their scope. (One of the episodes deals with a Walt Disney look-alike and cartoon characters.) But these episodes enhance the meaning of what these characters are trying to discover. And, if you watch very carefully (as I will again), I’m sure the meaning of the show is laid out right before your eyes.

One difficulty I had following this anime was the dark way in which it was produced. The artwork is all dark from the very beginning. It’s hard to see things onscreen (or T.V.) and I felt like I was missing things that were quite important in the first few episodes. Looking back on it now, maybe you are supposed to view the anime through this lens as if you are in the dark, just like the characters. For the anime does begin to brighten as it progresses. Maybe that was the intention. Either way, this anime was truly dark, visually and psychologically. The implications that lay just beyond the plot gave it the weight of the foreboding apocalypse of the world, a comment on our own and the theorized one presented in Ergo Proxy. The way in which these images are presented is a whole other story. The combined animated mediums bring together a visual experience unlike most anime I’ve seen. This gives it that sci-fi feeling that the show really goes for, and I quite enjoyed the ride.

There were a few, although not many, notable good voice acting performances in this dubbed anime. (I might watch it subbed for fun later.) Most notably was Liam O’Brien as Vincent Law. His voice really stood out to me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was as if O’Brien knew the anguish that Vincent Law was facing in not knowing who he is and what his purpose is. Travis Willingham does a great job as Iggy, Rei-l’s AutoReiv and friend. (Loose term.) As funny

Confusing and good. Thank you Dameon Clarke.

as he is for a n android with little/no emotions, he brings life to a character that comes to realization that his purpose is flawed. Some of the best episodes come when Iggy comes to terms with that. Bravo, Travis Willingham. Patrick Seitz is amazing as Raul Creed, my favorite character in the anime. This Security Bureau head is a character of duty and conflict that comes because of that duty. He is always being pressured by the Regent and feels he has no breathing room. But when he lets all that go, then Patrick Seitz’s voice really shines through (best episodes towards the end). Another two voices that I’d just like to commend in passing are Troy Baker (my boy) and Dameon Clarke as two of the Proxies in the show (I won’t be specific, might ruin it). These elegant voice actors really bring a menacing element to the table in the way they present their characters, and they really flesh out the plot and bring to light just what Vincent Law is. Really amazing work.

Besides all this, you really have to watch  the anime for yourself. If you’re a fan of dark, twisted, suspenseful anime, this is indeed for you. But make sure you’re willing to commit to a re-watch and thorough analysis. This may just existentially blow your mind. 8.8 out of 10.