Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bombcom blows up preconceptions

He’s only gone and done it now – Four Lions shows a quartet of small-m muslim twats whose shambolic course is still devastating enough to direct the shitscared into the hands of the EDL. However they go about it, these caliphaters will stop at nothing to wreck our nation, including putting on an upside down fancy dress costume and detonating during a marathon – proof be sure be that it’s time to lock the border gates and open them only for ‘Asians’ on a one-way trip out of here. While the BNP is being wiped off the electoral map Chris Morris is doing its rejuvenation and recruitment drive, nice work son.

That’s one (erroneous) interpretation, about as misplaced as all the columnist inches lauding the team, which includes Peepshow writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, for their ‘bravery’ and ‘creative freedom’ full in the face of the threat of a fatwa if they overstepped the mark (as ever, not quite sure who this commentary on the upholding of our freedom of expression really serves – still feel free and unthreatened enough to take this for granted. actually). And in totally discrediting the jihadi course he’s incited the real Islamists just by touching on the subject in a way that avoids laughable Amis-like opprobrium. He’ll pay for that.

In reality Four Lions, a Warp Films and Film Four effort, succeeds as an uneasy comic drama that does a good job of sending up the British milieus where such Islamofascism can breed, the kind of people it can ensnare and the dreadful results (not always predetermined) it can generate. Though you have Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Nowak) blowing up the ‘Arab emir’ (Bin Laden?) by mistake while at training camp in Waziristan or somewhere, this film does not denigrate the ‘cause’ outright, as witnessed by a few moments of impassioned oratory from Omar in acknowledgement that it is the fate of ‘the brothers’ in certain areas of the ummah that will always drive this resentment (and it wont always take such pathetic turns). It would have been dramatically pointless and factually unrealistic to deny this, and such balance makes the film more credible as social commentary.

Omar aside, who is presented as burning with hatred at the treatment of Muslims and with a genuine desire to be a martyr, we’re left with no doubt that the three or four others are typical of the kind of marginalised cranks that jihadism can inspire. Most of the comedy from which Morris cultural stakeholders depend on (we won’t let him do straight yet) is derived from the interplay and dialogue between the members of the cell. Waj is backward, lonely, easily manipulated and needs the final phase of the plan explained in terms of getting on the Alton Towers big dipper; Barry ‘Azzam al-Britani’ is Nigel Lindsay’s white convert whose reading of the situation is Revolutionary Clash of the Civilisations – so his plan is to bomb the mosque and blame it on MI5 in order to get the moderates to rise up. He’s a conspiracy theory freak who is not sufficiently converted to stop using the term ‘paki’. Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) is another outsider whose mission has been to buy up the local supplies of bleach in disguises that fool no-one (he’s the first to autoblow when shifting the bleach to another house, though his crow was martyred first); Hassan (Arsher Ali) is young, disaffected and gullible – Barry groomed him after he disrupted a lecture with a fake suicide bomb. He’s just a kid in it for the crack, which is why he analyses the situation in terms of gangster-rhyming. During these scenes we hear debate on what is haram and what isn’t (being filmed isn’t, for Faiz, hence the box), woeful attempts at martyr videos, differences of interpretation on the final goal and a general lack of any disciplined adherence to Actually Existing Islam and its key tenets.

As the preparation continues in a house in the shadow of the M1, in the CCTV room of Meadowhall and in houses on hilly Sheffield streets, there’s well worked scenes that hint at the ramifications of such a plan. Liberals may not be too comfortable with the fact that Omar’s wife is pretty much in on the plot and helps embed it in the family fabric and that Omar’s son is now having his bedtime stories thinly veiled in shaheed talk. And while the cell moves a shitload of nails and H202 from house to house, the crackdown begins on the devout, Koran-reading Muslims of the area, which include Omar’s brother.

Omar wavers but gets enough signs to go for it. As the team of crack mujahideen head down the M1 in the van for their date with destiny, they get in the mood for the shot at paradise by having it to Topbloater’s Dancing in the Moonlight – Oliver eat your fat tongue out – which only Al-Britani out of the group and the audience disdains (Barry’s a bit Wahabbist). It’s a funny scene but not the last as the film pleasingly does not change tack to pure didactic even as the four lions go off in their pathetic ways. The crackdown on the usual suspects (after rendition) begins as the credit rolls. Four Lions is a film that succeeds by wider implication: As The Sauce says: “the really sick, dark, nasty, spiteful joke is that so many people in Britain have quietly acquiesced to a narrative about Muslim extremism which has led to our civil liberties being stripped away.”
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