Four Lions (2010) & Dead Man (1995)
I know I should write about death here, but somehow I want to talk about the beauty of young men.
It took me a long time to appreciate Johnny Depp for his looks. I do now, I don't deny that. The way young men look used to be of no appeal to me because I mixed youth with unreliability, arrogance, disconnection between expression and intention. When I was the age of young men, I simply found men uninteresting. I was absorbed in women of all ages and older men. Maybe the problem was that I wanted to be a young man. I envied their place, their freedom, I saw a lot of freedom out of my reach.
The other night when we watched Dead Man, I was in pain and through the discomfort I lost myself and felt I looked exactly like Johnny Depp in Dead Man. I was also experiencing his discomfort on screen as if it was happening to me, so we had to stop for the evening. The next day I no longer felt such affinity. I was a woman watching a kind of rock'n'roll lost soul in a western. Beauty wasting away. Nick said he was lost and that was the point. I thought the point was the way he looks, but I didn't say anything.
Young men seem to have the freedom and naivety to act on completely short-sighted plans. It's a gendered privilege. Some can afford to play with their lives and die, they like the idea of war. Yes, many still do. There's always the talk of justification through necessity. Four Lions is a story of young men who plan a bomb attack in London. Their plans go wrong, the deaths that follow are not the right kind of death. How bizarre. I felt uneasy watching Four Lions. Comedy has a piercing way of highlighting the ideological contradictions that we continue to live with each day. Also, the stupidity of beautiful young men can sometimes be a tragedy in itself.
For me it's a taken that people consider their mortality on a far deeper level in Finland than in other countries I've visited or lived in. I feel this on a spiritual level, not just on a depression level (although I think the harsh winter contributes to a certain level of contemplation in these matters). Death, either pending or delayed, is a common theme that links Four Lions and Dead Man.
Chris Morris acquired hero status for me many years ago through his work on The Day Today, Brass Eye, Blue Jam (Jam) and the only partially seen Nathan Barly. You could call him a black-humored satirist, but that simplifies matters. I'm sure Four Lions upset a lot of people who support the War On Terror with its subject matter: the film follows a group of British Jihads' attempt to blow themselves and something up. I love the fact that Morris humanizes his Jihadists, they have a sense of humor about themselves and their religion. Amongst the laughs (there are many) Morris' film ultimately leaves a feeling of sadness and outrage. It's a crazy messed up world out there and even the birds have got to go come the final reckoning.
Is Johnny Depp any good? Before he hit his payday with the Pirate franchise, he was the doyen of many an art house picture.