Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chris Morris' 'jihad comedy': a throwback to Ealing?

See full article (including clip from the film) at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jan/25/four-lions-chris-morris

Halfway through Four Lions, Chris Morris's dark comedy about a hapless British gang of wannabe suicide bombers plotting death and destruction in London, one of the antiheroes, surveying the aftermath of an unscheduled encounter between a co-conspirator and a flock of sheep, screeches, "Is he a martyr or is he a Jalfrezi?" It's one of the movie's great lines, and as it floated above the heads of a largely American audience unfamiliar with the nomenclature of Indian cuisine, the thought dawned that it asks a pertinent question of the movie itself.
  1. Four Lions
  2. Production year: 2009
  3. Country: UK
  4. Directors: Chris Morris
  5. Cast: Kavyan Novak, Riz Ahmed
  6. More on this film
Morris's brilliant work on The Day Today, Brass Eye and Blue Jam set the bar vertiginously high and his first foray into movie writing and directing arrives saddled with expectations. The story – which follows a Sheffield-based gang as they train, bicker, strategise, bicker, bicker some more and finally set off to London on their dastardly mission – is by and large engaging, and occasionally very funny. But you get the sense that the demands of cinema, namely a longer run time and the need for a linear, conservative story structure, have coerced Morris into sacrificing his anarchic vision in favour of a curry of not entirely complementary flavours.
By turns Ealing comedy, tragedy, thriller, buddy movie and satire, Four Lions isn't well served by the tonal shifts, but is always watchable for the performances of Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay and Adeel Akhtar as the jihadis. Their internecine warfare brings the biggest laughs, and there is much fun to be had from the trademark Morris doggerel; bilious, surreal convoluted outpourings coated in invective that spill out in Urdu (the gang switches between Urdu and English).

If anyone gets a chance to see this, I'd be interested to hear what they thought about it (just add a comment below)

[UPDATE FEB 8TH: see the co-writers' festival diary as they take the film to Sundance looking to find a distribution deal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/feb/06/four-lions-chris-morris-writers-sundance]
[UPDATE 15TH APRIL: feature on Chris Morris; excerpt: 'The most sustained impression to date of his character, as well as his working practices, comes in Lucian Randall's new biography of the satirist, Disgusting Bliss: The Brass Eye of Chris Morris. Randall didn't get to interview his subject – that willingness to engage is far from universal – but, thanks to the co-operation of Morris's colleagues and acquaintances, he builds a portrait of a determined, uncompromising artist; loyal, generous friend and boss; and occasional pain in the arse.
His work is structured around the key insight that the ever-increasing presence of the camera in both public and private life legitimises or even occasions behaviour that would otherwise be recognised as absurd or harmful. Work predicated on this notion is now central to mainstream comedy, from the faux-documentary style of The Office to the various provocations of Sacha Baron Cohen and the persona of Stephen Colbert. Morris has done more to identify and skewer this cultural shift than anyone else and deserves wider recognition – whether he wants it or not.']

Saturday, January 16, 2010

WT & Warp web 2.0 Marketing

[I'm re-posting this from the AS blog, especially useful for any A2 students submitting coursework next month - with regards to issues of audience feedback and use of new media for marketing/distribution/exhibition]

You want to be examining the variety of tools employed by both companies through their own, and specific film, websites to promote their productions. So, follow the steps below:
1: look at the WT site and list all promotional tools they use (games, downloads, film features, wallpapers etc), being precise in your notes (so, don't just note 'games' but Hot Fuzz Pacman, as an example). Where you can, add brief notes on the likely target audience for these (you'll find some specific details through Q2 below)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Best British Film of 2009...?

The website RottenTomatoes.com has spoken on this:
Lone Scherfig's coming of age drama An Education was the best-reviewed British film, and also picked up an award for best drama. There was more UK success for Armando Iannucci's political satire In the Loop, which won best-reviewed comedy.
What do you think? Any comments with your own suggestions would be most welcome!

We're into the 'awards season', which can make fairly obscure films (that pretty much describes 99% of all British cinema!) become multi-million blockbusters, as was shown last year with the eventual success of Slumdog Millionaires (I've posted on this), which initially opened on a mere 10 screens in the US but went on to hoover up an incredible $141m after its Oscar nominations and wins.
The Guardian (who else?!) have of course been reporting on this; the BAFTAs kick off the award season and are often seen as a decent indicator of possible British success at the Oscars; see what you think of the BAFTAs selections:
Lone Scherfig's An Education is officially the frontrunner for this year's British Academy film awards, following the publication of the Bafta longlists. Avatar, The Hurt Locker and – perhaps the biggest surprise – District 9 also emerged as strong contenders. And Moon looks like the main rival to An Education for the title of best British film.
... Two years ago, Atonement was the most longlisted film, but ended up winning just two Baftas (though one was best picture). This year, An Education leads the way with 17 longlist entries (including seven in the acting categories alone), followed by Inglourious Basterds with 15.
... An Education is one of just two British candidates on the best film list, alongside Moon, bearing out the suggestion of a weak year for UK cinema. Bright Star, made in Britain by the Australian director Jane Campion, missed the best film cut but figured strongly in other sections. Andrea Arnold also made the director list for Fish Tank, and there were mentions here and there for Nowhere Boy, Damned United, In the Loop, Me and Orson Welles, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Young Victoria and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. But Ken Loach's Looking for Eric was notable by its omission.
(Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jan/08/an-education-leads-bafta-longlists)

So...what do you think? What's YOUR best UK film of 2009? Did you actually see ANY or was your cinematic diet 100% American?! Has anyone seen Nowhere Man out of interest (a great example of a new director successfully using a short film as a 'calling card' which eventually won funding for NMan)?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Brit Cinema Since 1990 Ppt

This is a PowerPoint I came across when googling for something else; it is actually for the old A-Level but most of the info remains useful. Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20359588/British-Cinema-Since-1990

British Cinema Since 1990                                                                                                                                            

Good essay on British Cinema

SOURCE: http://fatmir-terziu.blogspot.com/2007/07/british-cinema-national-cinema.html (the following is an extract from this, use the link to read more)


By Fatmir Terziu
There has been a considerable and encouraging growth in the study of British filmmaking over the years, but the question about British cinema in what sense is a national cinema is still complex. As Street pointed out “there is a British film industry with relatively clearly defined economic boundaries…and the cultural conception of what we mean by British films…” (Street, 1997:1). It can be said that five important themes have affected British filmmaking:
“Hollywood’s economic and aesthetic prominence; Britain’s weak production base; the stylistic and thematic variety of British cinema; the importance of class and gender; and …film culture” (Street, 1997:197).

This essay aims to analyse in what sense is British cinema a ‘national cinema’ and to discuss with reference to British films released during the past ten years.