Even though it's over and the awards have all been handed out and everyone's attention has turned to the Oscars, I still have two more films to tell you about that we saw at Sundance: Püha Tõnu Kiusamine, or The Temptation of St. Tony, directed by Veiko Õunpuu, and Four Lions, directed by Chris Morris. What links these two films is they are absurd comedies of a sort, though latter is much more direct about it.
This is the trailer for Tony:
Well, maybe it doesn't look very funny from this trailer, but by the time Tony has buried his father, gotten drunk with his boss, watched a co-worker put the move on his wife, help a young girl escape from jail, try to sleep with same girl only to be abused by her father, gets tortured in a man-thong and finally resorts to cannibalism, it does get pretty funny in an absurd way. Shot in black in white with some memorable, creepy-looking people among some bizarre landscapes, if you've seen films like this before there isn't really a lot of new ground covered here or a particularly unique vision, but it is one of those "arty" movies from Europe that are good for the soul every once in awhile. And it's a lot more fun than Eraserhead or The Seventh Seal, two films among dozens with which it shares a cinematic bloodline.
Morris' Four Lions is at once patently funny and yet disturbing. Just when you though Western Civilization had pretty much plumbed the depths of what we can make fun about, along comes this little British comedy about four completely inept English Jihadists who want to sacrifice themselves for Allah in order to rid England of its consumerism and pernicious Jewish influence.
Never mind that one of them is white and wants to blow up a mosque as a rallying cry to Muslims or that these guys make Dumb and Dumber look like characters out of a Woody Allen movie. Never mind they plan to carry out their plan dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other ridiculous costumes during a marathon. There is something funny and disturbing about all of this. There is a bit where a wookie is confused with a bear that is as priceless and funny as anything in a Monty Python film. Still, should we be laughing at any of this? I don't know, but I did, though I still felt a bit uneasy about it afterward.
There are some great bits in this movie, which could benefit from subtitles, and I have a feeling it will get a release. If it does, form your own opinion, and watch out for the man with the box on his head. He's armed and really doesn't know what he's doing. Also, innocent animals are blown to bits- and it's really quite funny.