Chris Morris

The Day Shall Come

 

16/09/19

Once dubbed ‘the most evil man in Britain’ by a tabloid newspaper, Chris Morris arrives at a sold-out Cameo Cinema for the public screening of his first new movie in nine years, in advance of its October general release. In conversation afterwards, he proves to be anything but evil – a genial and entertaining fellow, who, like so many others, is just appalled by the everyday madness of the modern world. While it might not carry the devastating punch of Four Lions, his debut feature, The Day Shall Come is nevertheless a fascinating tale, inspired by real events – or, as the movie’s strapline prefers to describe it, ‘based on a hundred true stories.’

Moses Al Bey Al Shabazz (Marchánt Davis) is an impoverished preacher, living in the Miami projects where he runs The Church of Six Stars. He is constantly assuring his followers (all four of them) that one day they shall inherit the earth, which has been ‘accidentally dominated by the white man.’ But it’s hard to keep your followers on board when you’re feeding them on whatever the staff at Wendy’s are about to throw into the dumpster every night. Moses also believes that God and the Devil regularly converse with him through the medium of a duck, but this might be more symptomatic of the fact that he refuses to take the meds that prevent his delusions.

Unfortunately for Moses, ambitious special agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) has him in her sights. It seems the FBI find it easier to meet their targets by entrapping hapless individuals than by catching actual terrorists in the act, and Moses is clearly a possible target. Kendra sets about trying to lure him aboard with offers of large amounts of cash and/or some plutonium. As Moses and his family are about to be evicted from their ‘farm’ for non-payment of rent, he finds the offer of $50,000 tempting – though it drives a wedge between him and his wife, Venus (Danielle Brooks). He’s not so keen on the plutonium, however, as he maintains a stringent ‘anti-weapon’ policy. Indeed, his follower’s only have one: a toy crossbow. As the planned sting steams headlong into ever more surreal waters, it’s clear there are no limits to the depths the FBI will plumb in order to fill their terrorist quota, and no barriers they won’t smash down in their haste to disassociate themselves from any suggestion of wrong-doing.

The Day Shall Come takes a little while to get into its stride but, once all the elements are in place, it delivers a large helping of caustic laughs, before heading in an unexpectedly poignant direction. Davis makes an auspicious debut as the film’s central character, a man who exudes likability even as he careers towards his own self-destruction, and there’s a nice performance by Kayvan Novak as FBI stooge, Reza.

It will be interesting to see what American audiences make of this film, but fans of the elusive Mr Morris will not be disappointed by what’s on offer here.

4.4 stars

Philip Caveney

 

Oxide Ghosts: the Brass Eye Tapes

16/09/17

It’s hard to believe that it’s twenty years since Brass Eye was first screened on Channel 4. This is something that has not escaped the attention of original director, Michael Cumming. He has been lugging around a suitcase full of VHS tapes of the outtakes ever since and has finally taken the opportunity to show them to the public. Michael is currently touring cinemas all over the UK to show audiences the contents of those tapes. Tonight it’s the Cameo’s turn to grab an eyeful.

Few people would dispute the fact that Chris Morris is a comic genius and even fewer that over the years he has repeatedly gone where few comedians dare to tread. His ‘Paedophile Special’ briefly had him tagged as ‘the most evil man in Britain.’ (I happen to know that he keeps a framed copy of that tabloid cover hanging in his toilet.) More recently, of course, he’s made a successful transition to the big screen with Four Lions. But is Oxide Ghosts really the tribute he deserves?

What we get is an hour of fuzzy, time-coded excerpts thrown together onto the big screen. In some cases what we see is genuinely funny, but more often it’s just glimpses of Morris corpsing, or (whisper it) trying something that doesn’t really come off. There are reasons why many of these clips didn’t make it into the final cut. In the end, it feels rather like watching some DVD ‘extras.’ I can’t help feeling that a ‘best of’ compilation would have been a much more satisfying way to commemorate this anniversary.

There’s a Q & A with Cummings afterwards, where he tells us that he has Chris Morris’s blessing on this project, but like his film, the talk isn’t particularly edifying. This is one for Morris completists, I think. If you have no idea who he is or what Brass Eye was, this really isn’t going to be much help. And the chances are you’ll leave the cinema feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

3 stars

Philip Caveney