Scott Stark: Serious Absurdities

•12/10/2013 • Leave a Comment

It always baffles me when an artist introduces themselves with the least characteristic/enjoyable/understandable work in their oeuvre.  Is it so that there is nowhere to go but up with the works to come?  Is it to plant the seed of disinterest in me – so I am predisposed to be against whatever I see subsequently?  Is it really intended to fill me, the viewer, with dread?  It certainly feels like it.  The printed stills and their effect on the soundtrack had an equally agitating, fruitless, and inconsequential effect on me.  I gleaned nothing from it, other than the beginnings of a headache due to the flashing frames and discordant cacophony.  Whatever the reason Scott Stark started with the jarring film (who’s title escapes me, as do many of the rest) he did, I was able to overcome my distaste swift, quick, and in a hurry.

Luckily for him, his second film, titled similarly to An Exercise in Futility (well, similarly in my head at least) was quite entertaining due to its film student-y qualities.  It was a study of the Bolex as much as a study of Stark himself, and his arduous, repetitive runs up that San Francisco hill.  Unintentional elements made the film, such as the emergence of a VW Westy at the top of the hill – obviously as unsure about its abrupt introduction of the camera as the camera was of it.  The greatest amusement came on run #14, when Stark betrayed to us his own disinterest and annoyance at having to run up the hill yet again by the way his arms hung and swung with apathy.

By the third film, cleverly titled Hotel Cartograph, I was fully on his side, appreciating his odd, humorous, yet contemplative way of viewing the world.  The double entendre of his title didn’t make sense to me for the first 30 plus seconds.  I was taken by the geometric shapes made, and remade by simple readjustments of the camera, and enthralled with the way each seemed to be a symbol in its own right.  They looked to me like Chinese calligraphy characters – telling a story destined always to be foreign, one word at a time – as if still reaching for my understanding by speaking so very slowly.  When he zoomed out I laughed at the cart wheel visible in the bottom of the shot, firstly because: um…dude…there’s a cart wheel in the bottom of your shot… and then immediately after because I got it.  I was on board with almost every move – so quirky and meaningless, yet full of critique and allowing room for humanness to explode.  The throwaway chatter of unseen hotel guests, the chance run-in with a chair, Stark’s feet and the impatient elevator door.  These elements pushed me to dwell upon our strange, arbitrary interactions with the material world around us, personifying it as something that always is, with or without human validation, something that brainlessly, continuously asserts its purpose even when that purpose is obstructive.

Afterwards, I’ll Walk With God offered a snarky transcendence, combining critique with the heartfelt in a way I highly resonated with.  There was an element to this film that dwelled on the beauty to be found in its subject matter – for instance the slowly wavering delicate hues of blue in the middle of the film, or the calm, collected peace exuding from the faces of the flight attendants.  The mockery here was more-so of iconic secular imagery and its kinship with the religious that it so desperately tries to ignore, rather than the religion – something I find refreshing and connect with.

Shape Shift took his humor to another, appreciable level of quirkiness.  I thoroughly enjoyed the strait faced mockery of interpretive dance (or as he called it: faux yoga), mixed with an interesting double camera setup.  I find myself interested in the same dual-lens scenario he used (in fact I have already used it in a video of my own) and was extremely inspired by the concept and editing of this work.

Sadly, Stark ended on a note, which again, was not a strong point.  The Realist was too long and bogged down with story/too many ideas.  Stark is at his best when dealing with only two or three simple, oddly interrelated ideas which permeate the work consistently from beginning to end.  This piece tried to be too complex, losing any solidity of statement for each of its several ideas.

I have to say, for the most part I enjoyed this show much more than I expected to.  I was consistently engaged with the films because their technicality and form were integral to the ideas being expressed.  They managed to be at once serious and absurd, successfully mocking some thing while at the same moment bowing with honest reverence to its beauty.  In the simple, Stark stumbles (intentionally) on the complex – a quality I aspire to in the future of my own films.


Lewis Klahr: Nostalgic Fairytales of Plastic Suburbia

•12/09/2013 • Leave a Comment

As the first film began, I felt a bit disoriented, but quickly settled in to the alternate universe of the strangely multi-dimensional characters – flat as they were.  The first two films recanted to me a narrative arc of love gone awry.  I see a man tethered to suburban nightmarish perfection.  He longs to be released from the incarcerating denial and repression his four walls of the American Dream encapsulate him in.  I see a woman who loves him with villainous ferocity, the intensity of which overwhelms the love itself – suffocating it to a point far beyond death – pushing her lover ever further out of the marriage bed, and ultimately the door.

Finally free from the demanding constraints of her nuptial desires, the man moves to the city, where, though surrounded by the bustle of cars and fresh faces, the lying kitsch of 1950’s utopia haunts him still.  It is inescapable.  Perhaps as Klahr himself admitted, it is the compulsion of the Boomer generation to live and relive the realness hidden in the kitschy pop culture in their formative years.  These first two films, fighting against the surface deceptions those times consistently, ubiquitously leached, find below that surface a desperate, confused humanity.

Much as you may find yourself a disenchanted viewer of music videos, you must admit Klahr’s third film was an audiovisual masterpiece in its own right.  There was more feeling in this short, the first in the Nimbus series, than I am generally privy to in the entirety of a week.   The images of the man and woman (whom I imagined to be the same from the first two films) wore the past of their fragile interactions on their sleeves, lack of facial expressions replaced by the telling distance between them.  Melancholic despair intertwines with nostalgic adoration – each image inferring the loss of something that once had the potential for great beauty.

Yet just as quickly as this film welled up tears within me, its immediate reworking seized them away and replaced them with suspicious confusion.  The new soundtrack seemed disingenuous.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a good rule to live by, especially in the sensitive world of art.  Intuition reigns, and should be heeded.  Though Klahr admitted he was worried his peers would condemn him for using such a sacred song, he did (presumably because he felt the power in it), and he should have left it at that.  Potent on its own, in its intended form, all its influence was stripped from it by its bastard twin.

From here on, Klahr lost me.  The reworking of Nimbus was disappointing, but even more so were the next several films, which blur together in an inconsequential haze.   Finally in Lethe some release is found – release from this life even – forgetfulness takes over and the animate paper people are free to live in the world anew.  The meaning that has built on and on and on itself over a lifetime of meaning-ridden gestures has been lost – left behind – Meaning is free to make itself over again.  To start anew…but there is a darkness in it…will perfection strive to solidify, quantify itself and thus again corrupt its own purity?  Is the kitsch of the first life doomed to be repeated in the second?  Klahr knows no better than the rest of us, and thankfully doesn’t pretend to.

Gravity: “The Movie Experience of the Year!”

•12/08/2013 • Leave a Comment

On the one hand, I can understand – appreciate even – the qualities of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity to which others bestow a teary-eyed standing ovation.  Getting away with an 18 minute opening shot in Hollywood today is no small feat, I’m sure – let alone the subsequent extreme long takes that comprise a majority of the film.  And to coax the audience into such ecstatic response to something so adamantly opposed to the hyper-editing this generation (for some godforsaken reason) finds comforting and natural – that implies a hefty dose of divine intervention.  Which is not to say that Alfonso Cuarón lacks talent, skill, depth, ingenuity, or any other quality awarding him worthiness of perhaps one day sitting in the cabinet of canonical filmmakers.   It is to say, however, that I do not believe Gravity furthers him towards such a seat.  Y Tu Mama Tambien does.  New and daring, it crossed uncomfortable boundaries and humanized moral dilemmas which people oftentimes fear and repress.

The fodder on which Gravity apathetically chews, however, is the same slop fed on by all its factory-farmed, genetically modified, hormonally regulated peers.  It is a dismally simplified tale of a person, triumphant against all odds, regaining the will to live after tragedy has stricken.  A story we’ve heard a zillion times no doubt, and they all taste the same.  All the prescribed bits are lined up in order: the initial whoa-is-me sulking/dwelling in the past, the lecture that “it doesn’t have t be this way”, the almost-attempt at giving up, the cheaply bought “Eureka!” moment, and the triumphal “look at me, I made it, te-he-he!” ending.   But wait!  This one’s in SPACE!  I’m sorry, but: A) Space may be the final frontier, but its certainly not new territory in the cinematic world, and B) the “novel” setting of this narrative doesn’t make it any less a clone of other Oscar-bait blockbusters, or make it interesting.  But back to grounds for merit, I would like to applaud Cuarón on his (still surprisingly rare) choice to cast a female lead, in fact being the sole body we have to identify with for a good portion of the film.  Perhaps he stripped some of its daring by bringing George Clooney’s Matt Kowalski back from the dead to save the poor dear with his charming, sexualizing ways and superior brain function.  Woops.

Even with all its solitude and long takes, this film scarcely leaves me room to breath.  For the four minutes Sandra Bullock (and for me, at this point, she is all I see – not Ryan Stone) is lost in space, we never feel…well…lost.  Four minutes on screen is more than enough to feel like an eternity, if treated correctly.  She tumbles on in a disorienting, convincing manner, which I can appreciate for what it is, but I anticipated at some point, feeling a sense of fear – a sense of my own inconsequence in the vastness of space.  This was denied me.  Immediately after I was up close and personal with Bullock – moving “inside” and back “out” of her helmet (a very distracting CGI gimmick by the way – the only respectable element of which being sound), Clooney came to save me – unbelievable in his role as well.  Not only was I barred from being alone, but I found myself assaulted by the radiance of all this star power surrounding me.

Other films (Moon and Love come readily to mind) convinced me of my aloneness, so though Bullock and I were unaccompanied for most of the film, why was I unable to experience this sensation here?  Perhaps it had to do with the soundtrack – forceful and ever-present – it disallowed me the quietude required to simply be.  It steered me instead, reinforcing Hollywood’s opinion its audience is not capable of sustained contemplation.  Or, for that matter, that we have no knowledge of film history – which seals the insignificant fate of Gravity in my eyes.  Call me persnickety, but for Cuarón to thank several directors in the film’s end credits, and deny Stanly Kubrick any mention for the influence 2001: A Space Odyssey *clearly* had on Gravity is inexcusable – bordering on grounds for a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Upon first viewing, I thought the fetal position imagery (among others) was an homage to the quintessential lost-in-space film, turns out it was just flat stolen.  Great job guys.  Everyone and their dog can see the rip-off – even Stephan Colbert acknowledges it (—honoring-ed-stone?xrs=synd_facebook_120813_cn_49) so why not Cuarón?

Yes, Gravity causes hearts to be wrenched from tears of sorrow to tears of triumphant joy in a matter of mere minutes, and yes, that CGI space stuff looked pretty ok, but at the end of the day, there was nothing new here.  There was nothing interesting.  There wasn’t even…just nothing.

The Human Experience: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

•04/26/2011 • Leave a Comment

Charles Kinnane, 2008.

The Human Experience is thoroughly intriguing, and nothing less than consistently sensorially stimulating. Director Charles Kinane and Sound Director Cliff Azize take a fresh out of film school approach to filmmaking, creating a captivating, if not a little over-active series of images and sounds.  Too much of a good thing is possible to achieve, and they both took one step proudly over the line.  They pulled out all the stops, and I mean all of them.

Kinnane follows brothers Clifford and Jeffrey Azize (and periodically a few others) through three experiences foreign to stereotypical western life.  The mens’ goal through their travels is to obtain deeper insights of what exactly it is to be human.  They do not attempt to explain the meaning of life, rather, they set out on a journey to find out how people experience meaning in their own lives.  The Azize brothers visit outcast groups full of suffering, and find counter intuitively that those who suffer seem to be the most fulfilled people of all.  In the communities they visit, they uncover the secret to joy that the people thrive on: their relationships with one another.

During the documentation of this process, Kinane chose to not only focus on the subjects he was documenting, but made it a clear point to fiddle with every knob and dial on the camera in every which way imaginable, and then some.  The film commences with found footage shots that are each quite striking on their own, but the viewer becomes numb to them individually, due to the fast pacing and quantity of shots. Throughout the rest of the film, Kinane again makes sporadic use of found footage, as well as time lapses, stutter shooting, zooms in and out, swish pans, handheld shooting, tripod and birds eye shots, reverse motion shots, rack focuses, and at some points an obvious use of the automatic focus setting, betrayed by the focus shifts that occur when the subject moves out of center.  There was also a lot of artistic play with the composition of shots, which, don’t get me wrong, much of it was exceptional, but again, too much of a good thing is possible.

As for the sound, it was quite chaotic.  Sound Director Cliff Azize mixed multiple tracks throughout a vast majority of the film.  This placed the tracks not only in competition with one another, but with the images as well.  The music score jumps all over the place, often times lacking cohesion, and it drowns out the voice-overs the audience should be focusing on.  There are quite a few times where the sound is mixed phenomenally, but  there is such a massive heap of it that things are bound to go wrong, and a lot of times that happens too.

Kinane and Azize have the potential to make phenomenal works.  This film shows off how truly talented they both are, but in the future I would like to see them exercise more self control: filming and mixing with an eye towards cohesion.  Most of their techniques aided in creating extraordinary shots in, but they give the viewer no time to rest their senses.  In this documentary, the techniques constantly draw attention to the medium and artists, often times stealing focus from the subject.  Kinane was trying to show off his skills, and he had trouble curtailing his filmic ADHD.  Although this film is in many ways filled with too much of a good thing, it is a desirable alternative to too little.  I am optimistic that in the future, Kinane will find a striking balance.

Watch the trailer:

Mugabe and the White African: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

•04/20/2011 • Leave a Comment

Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson, 2009.

Covertly filmed documentaries are particularly striking in that they bring issues to light that the powerful are trying desperately to sweep under the rug.  In this film, directors Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson expose not only Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe’s racially driven crimes, but also the injustices he perpetrates against those he claims to be favoring.  The directors bravely filmed against the laws of Mugabe’s dictatorship, using hidden cameras much of the time so as not to get thrown in jail, be beaten, or worse.  In the end, their courage paid off, and Mugabe is seen for the self-serving dictator that he is, and we the viewers are compelled to fight for basic justices that should be known the world over.

More specifically than Mugabe’s political wrongdoings as a whole, this documentary focuses on the effects of his land reforms.  It tells the story of a 78 year old, self proclaimed “White African” named Mike Campbell, who fairly purchased his farmland from the government, only to have it seized from him 25 years later, without compensation, by Mugabe’s ethnically discriminatory laws. The film centers on Campbell’s fight against the racism his government and countrymen are carrying out against him, his family and other white Zimbabweans.  Though this is a documentary, it is rather narrative in style, following the Campbell family from the beginning of their court battle with the Zimbabwean government, through a great deal of conflicts, finally hitting a climax, and coming to a seeming resolution.  The audience follows the family through high and low points, rooting for them all the way.

Although this film was made by a British duo, to the American eye, it seems the camera intends to focus on what is sometimes referred to in the U.S. as “reverse racism” (although there is no such thing – racism is racism).  This is what we see because the story is of a black community discriminating against the white man due to his ancestors’ crimes.  Plausibly, this story seems so compelling to us for exactly that reason.  Being a white middle class American, perhaps watching someone of another culture fight for their equivalent of the “American dream” is the only lens through which we can understand their plight.  Though this film is set deep within Africa, the colonization that swept over the continent centuries ago has a lingering effect on it, just as slavery does on our own soil.  Because of this, race is a driving factor in Zimbabwean politics, as is see in the images of the film, but it also bleeds over into the film making.

The objectiveness of this documentary is arguably contaminated by the fact that Bailey and Thompson are both Caucasian themselves.  However, the debate about color does not negate the fact that two wrongs do not make a right.  After all, this is the intended theme of the film in the broadest sense.  To this end the filmmakers stay true, and they thoroughly make the point that justice means equality through their film’s subjects.  The Campbell’s and countless other Zimbabwean’s of both races want justice, and to many of them it means the same thing.  They want to be treated like equals, and Ben Freeth (Mike’s son in law, fighting alongside him) even speaks at one point about publicity being the heart of justice.  Along with the Campbell’s, countless ethnic Africans announce to the camera that they feel what Mugabe is doing is a terrible injustice and it is destroying their lives just as much as the white folks’ lives.  Through these statements we find that even though the documentary is told from a western vantage point, it stays true to the will of the nonwestern people it speaks for, all of whom seem hopeful that the publicity of the film will help their cause.

Bailey and Thompson, as well as the Campbell family and their ethnically diverse friends and farmhands put their hearts and souls into telling the story of racial retaliation that global news organizations are largely ignoring.  This is a poignant account of the atrocities being committed in Africa due to racism.  If you value being a well informed citizen about the plights of others kept from you by the media, then this film is right up your alley.

Watch the trailer:

Motherland: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4/10)

•04/09/2011 • Leave a Comment

Jennifer Steinman, 2009.

Director Jennifer Steinman started with an exceptional, unique idea.  She was struck, as anyone would be, by the plight of a friend whose child had tragically passed away.  According to Steinman, her friend needed healing, and she was determined to find a way to bring it about.  With this thought in mind, she devised a process for said healing, which turns this film into a contrived, marginally informative, occasionally entertaining jumble.

Steinman documents her friend and five other women who have lost their children, while on a trip to Oudtshoorn, South Africa, where they live together for 17 days.  Here, the ladies serve needy children and are able to mourn amongst one another – and herself.  There are six American women being documented on this trip:  Debbi, Cathy, Anne, Lauren, Barbara and Mary Helena.  It is implied in the film that they share times of great heartache, laughter, and learn to do things that are best for themselves again, despite their painful losses.  These scenarios are told by narration a good portion of the time, rather than being shown filmicly.

This documentary is built on an interesting concept, and it is refreshing to see an idea that is so goodhearted and intentional.  Though, for all Steinman’s good intentions, her execution lacks necessary elements to show her objective visually, and thus effectively to the audience.  It is admirable of her to have chosen such a touchy subject, and no doubt it was complicated to navigate the filmmaker/subject relationship in times of such unimaginably great sorrow.  But for all the emotionality the subject matter itself conjures up, there is a notable lack of intense moments of emotion on-screen.  This creates a sense of insincerity and is dishonest to the subject.  It would more effectively compelled viewers to sympathy if the women we’re shown in truly emotional states, instead of simply being interviewed in between times of glee and breakdown.

Depending on the viewer’s background with such an issue, one may be able to feel appropriate emotions for the situation these ladies are in.  However, this would not be explicitly caused by any information provided visually by the film, but by the viewer’s own experiences. Likewise, if one has not had a close encounter with this sort of occurrence, then the rawness of the subject matter itself won’t be nearly as comprehensible as film is capable of making it.  Motherland doesn’t do its job to show the audience the immense sorrow experienced through the loss of a child, much less what healing from the experience might look like.

Although there was no doubt an intensive healing process, the film was thin on showing the depth of it, or distinct steps of said process for these mothers.  It ignores the fact that healing is by no means an easy, one-size-fits-all method.  Instead, it focuses on the women’s back stories and gives a chronological account of their short trip, while only nominally explaining their struggles and healing experience.   Ultimately the film tends to stay on the surface of the anguish instead of peering into their minds, hearts, bodies and souls.

With film, one has an opportunity to show rather than tell the audience a story, but Steinman hesitates to take hold of her artistic tools and utilize them to their full capacity.

If you have personal experience with the subject matter this movie will touch you deeply, simply because of the emotions your familiarity draws out.  However, if you are looking for a film to express to you what it is like to be in the shoes of a grieving parent seeking healing, look elsewhere.  This documentary won’t give you much understanding or sympathy for the situation of these women, or urge you towards contemplation.  Here you will only find a dry, factual account of six women’s melancholic mission trip.

Watch the trailer:

4 Lions: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

•04/05/2011 • Leave a Comment

Christopher Morris, 2010.

When director Christopher Morris of the television series “Brass Eye”, and “The Day Today” teamed up with writers Simon Blackwell, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain to create a laughable story about Islamic jihadists, their witty chemistry certainly paid off.  With the men’s shared sense of British satirical humor and culturally relevant subject choice, Four Lions emerged not only exceptionally comical, but at the same time it emanates solemn, thought provoking under-currents.  The filmmakers poke fun at Muslim extremists as well as the forces that supposedly protect us infidels from acts of jihad in a way that removes the viewer just enough to keep the film from being unbearably offensive.  Although, it is still by no means a show for the faint of heart.

The story is presented with a “day in the life of” approach, and is filmed in a documentary style which alleviates the audience’s need for the succinct beginning, middle, and end of a traditional narrative.  Being free from these constraints, the filmmakers were able to provide viewers with a smattering of seemingly inconsequential and/or accidental events in a way that eventually adds up to a meaningful story, while highlighting the characters on the way.

The film rides on the eccentric personalities of the main characters and their absurd interactions with one another, providing many a laugh throughout.  The group’s leader Omar (Riz Ahmed), the brightest of the bunch by far, still manages to be as dense as a bag of bricks.  Waj (Kayvan Novak) is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz’s brainless Scarecrow, and thus relies fully on Omar’s gray matter for guidance, which seldom leads anywhere pleasant.  The token white convert, Barry (Nigel Lindsay), happens also to be the token nihilist of the bunch, who would just as soon bomb a mosque full of Muslims as city of reprobate sinners.  The most reserved of the group, Fessal (Adeel Akhtar), takes to martyring animals, shirking the fact that he doesn’t particularly feel like being a martyr himself.  Hip-hop boy Hassan (Arsher Ali) is recruited by Barry after a political stint he pulls at a community forum in which he raps a little ditty about the annoyance of being stereotyped for his faith, and subsequently pretends to blow the group up with party-poppers (as if that helps his cause).

In addition to its merrymaking, Four Lions reveals to us the humanness of these radicals through their male bonding experiences, thoughtless mishaps, and indecisiveness on how, or even if to become martyrs.  The naivety and joviality of the main characters compels viewers to empathize with them; with the probable exception of Barry.  Every aspect of their lives, aside from the whole death and destruction thing, points to them being normal guys, if not a little (ok, a lot) on the slow side.

The camera follows these characters at random during what seems to them to be nonchalant day to day tasks.  Some of the humor is so off the wall that one can’t help but burst out a hearty, bewildered chuckle while wondering how someone ever comes up with this stuff.  The film gives the impression that it is more a story from imagination in which there are slight tinges of reality, rather than the other way around.  This keeps the audience laughing lightheartedly most of the time, with only a faint (albeit consistent) voice in the back of the head linking it to any form of truth.  Reality creeps into the humor since it mostly finds its roots in stereotypes or absurd information gathered by intelligence agencies on actual terrorists.  The writers’ incorporation of research and real events keep the audience in subtle contemplation of the subject matter, while the wacky antics give a steady relief from it.

Most of the situations the characters find themselves in are either exaggeratedly ironic, or just beyond what one would think to be in any way plausible, creating a lot of the laughs.  In addition to amusement, these situations provoke our honest inspection of the characters.  This scenario is created in one scene where Omar is passionately speaking of his reasons for wanting to blow unbelievers to smithereens.  He goes off about “this damned culture” and how westerners always have everything they want, living in their nice middle class houses, etc… all the while he’s sitting in his nice middle class house, enjoying all the comforts of western life.  Curiously, his reasoning seems to be the most coherent out of the group.  Barry wants to blow anything and everything sky-high because “We’ve got women talking back, we’ve got people playing stringed instruments, it’s the end of days!” which somehow indicates to him that extreme violence is in order to put an end to such unrighteousness (and the world if he could have it his way).  Waj, on the other hand is simply excited about the prospect of being able to skip to the front of the line for amusement park rides like “Rubber Dinghy Rapids” once he’s in heaven.  It is most apparent in scenes like these that the intention of the filmmakers is to satirize terrorists, not Islam or the culture said terrorists are fighting against.

However, westerners are not free from criticism in this picture.  The system which is supposed to protect civilians from acts of war is relentlessly bashed for its ineptness.  Policemen are shown trailing the wrong suspects after obvious evidence points towards the main characters as the war wagers.  The police are also portrayed as being dim-witted enough to not understand differences as simple as those between a bear and a wookie; one of which they have orders to neutralize, and the other they do not.   This lack of distinction provokes a verbal scuffle between the officers, after the eradication, of course.  Shoot first, ask questions later, right?  On another occasion, a S.W.A.T. team kills an innocent civilian, allowing the suicide bomber to detonate himself and massacre the officers.  When the news report is released, however, a police chief informs us that the men shot the right guy…but then the wrong guy blew them up…choosing to cover the mistake instead of admit their idiocy.

The choice of subject matter for Four Lions combined with the genre in which it is told add an interesting perspective to the dialogue of current world events and concerns that is undoubtedly worth exploring.  The film effectively pokes fun at the people behind Islamic jihad, demystifying them, and mocks law enforcement, deflating our puffed up image of them as well.  At the same time, the film gives the audience food for thought about the humanness of said jihadists, which is a lens rarely looked through due to the acts of war perpetrated by such folk in the past few decades.  Although us westerners are comfortable with our simplistic worldview, striving to always look at things from inside our safety bubble, the filmmakers of Four Lions battle against this one-dimensional view.  It is a war well waged and certainly worth watching.  The film has not only succeeded in entertaining, but also penetrating the minds of the audience with the thought that one can’t merely write off a person or group as unadulterated evil, or infallible good for that matter.

Watch the trailer: