Four Lions on Channel 4 tonight

Four lionsThis evening (Sunday September 4th) Four Lions, the début film from director Chris Morris, gets it first UK screening on Channel 4. The film, which tells the story of four bumbling Jihadists from Sheffield, caused controversy when it was first released in cinemas, and the Daily Mail thinks the screening will cause outrage because it’s so close to the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11th 2001.

So, what’s the film like? In my considered opinion, it’s excellent. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the film presents us with five would-be terrorists who span a very wide character spectrum. The leader is Omar, a sharp, quick-witted yet flawed man who speaks fluent Urdu, who sees terrorism as an answer to the evils of Western capitalism. He persuades his brother Waj, who rivals Father Dougal for child-like stupidity, to join his cause, as well as the naive and shy Faisal, who specialises in training explosive crows to fly into buildings. They are backed up by the white convert Assam al-Britani (who everyone calls Barry), an angry hot-head and founder of the Islamic Republic of Tinsley. Later they are joined by the enthusiastic student Hassan, who’s more concerned with getting back on his media studies teacher than righting the wrongs of the world.

The first half of the film is a straight up comedy, with some great one-liners and comedy situations. However, the whole tone of the piece changes at the half way point. From then on, it is challenging for the viewer, who is fed comedy and thought-provoking tragedy in equal measure. No element of terrorism and counter-terrorism is left untouched by Morris, including the police, politicians and the intelligence services.

Sadly for the Daily Mail, the film isn’t nearly as controversial as they would like it to be. It does not make light of terrorism, it puts it in a very human context. The film has nothing specifically to do with 9/11, anyone who goes on the Mail website and complains about this clearly hasn’t seen it.

I think that the perspective on terrorism that Four Lions offers parallels with the huge amount of good that Morris’ Brass Eye paedophile special acheived. Back in 2001, the right wing tabloid press was awash with scare stories about paedophiles, whipping certain members of the population into a mad hysteria. Even innocent doctors weren’t immune from the baying mob, there was even a case of a paediatrician having “PAEDO” daubed on her house. Then the “Paedogeddon” Brass Eye special thundered onto our TV screens and changed all that. It made everyone take a step back, and the paedophile hysteria disappeared pretty much overnight.

One thing Four Lions does not do is glorify terrorism. Who knows, perhaps a would-be terrorist will see this film and be convinced that they are on the wrong path? Anyway, you can judge for yourselves at 9pm, Channel 4 tonight.

A trip to the brand new Museum of Liverpool

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to get an invite to an evening reception at the brand new Museum of Liverpool. Not being a native Liverpudlian, I found it very informative to learn about the history of the city, and overall I was very much impressed. Highlights include a scale model of what the original catholic cathedral was meant to be like, the views from either end, and numerous exhibits on the art, culture, history and sports of the city of Liverpool. I can highly recommend a visit! Here are a few pictures.

Model of Everton

4 models of West Everton through the ages. I've only taken this picture because you can see our flat in it! :)

Union Flag

Obviously I couldn't resist taking this picture! A Union Flag dating from the first World War.

View from the the north window

A splendid view from the north window4 models of Wet Everton through the ages. I've only taken this picture because you can see our flat in it! :)View from the south window

View of the north window

View of the north window

Boxing weight

The sports section has an area dedicated to local boxers. you can weight yourself, I just about creep into the heavyweight category!

Painting of Liverpool

A huge parnoramic painting of Liverpool, found on the top floor

Back from Lisbon, Portugal. Bible hidden!

I’ve just got back from a trip to Lisbon, capital city of Portugal. Despite their economic problems and a ridiculously strong Euro (which is almost on par with sterling) I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, with many notable highlights.

Day one was spent largely at Lisbon Zoo. I’m not sure what they put in the feed there, but the animals were certainly more active than most zoos! I came face to face with a gurning chimp, the dolphin show was excellent, and one of the tigers walked right up for a perfect photo opportunity. I was also heartened to see human evolution represented very well, the primate house contained a great mural showing the relationships between us and the rest of the apes.

Lisbon Zoo TigerThe rest of trip was spent on the usual tourist jaunts, including some spectacular views from the caste, Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Food wise, we got a great lunch deal at the Michelin-starred restaurant Tavares, complete with it’s stunning gilded dining room. We had a curry at a Goan place, and the authentic Portuguese fare was very good too. Egg custard tarts for breakfast accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice and a proper black coffee is certainly something I could’ve gotten used to!

I was slightly surprised by the lack of woo in Lisbon. I couldn’t see any homeopathy in the pharmacies, and the closest I came to a dodgy advert was a flier advising meditation. However, I’m sure that homeopathy must be available in Portugal, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen a Lisbon element of the 10:23 campaign. Overall, Lisbon seemed pretty rational. In fact, I remember seeing a discussion on gynaecological problems on a morning chat show where Candida albicans (a yeast I used to study) got a mention. I’d love to see that on This Morning!

Of course, I couldn’t resist leaving the hotel without taking up the challenge of hiding the Bible. In case you are not aware, the idea is that some people don’t want Bibles in their hotel rooms. Taking it away with you is stealing, writing on it is vandalism, but one option available is hiding it. I placed it underneath the cushion of the chair, safely out of sight!

Hide the bible 1Hide the bible 2

Hide the bible 3Hide the bible 4
All in all, I thought Lisbon was a fantastic place, I had a great time, the people were friendly, and the climate lovely too. They also had a massive flag, which of course made my trip!big flag