Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:03 pm 
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MARCHANT DAVIS IN THE DAY SHALL COME

Morris moves to Miami, with middling results

In the nine years since his Four Lions besides four episodes of "Veep" sadly Chris Morris has apparently not done much but lose his comic edge. There may be several reasons for this. The times are too close to self-parody now; moving from London to Miami takes him out of his element.

Like the earlier film The Day Shall Come focuses on four...revolutionaries of a sort. But the 2011 ones were Muslims in England. Moses (noble and confident newcomer Marchant Davis) is a grandly delusional African American off his meds who wears robes and eschews modern weapons, rides a horse. He leads three men (like Four Lions) and dreams of living "to see the accidental dominance of the white race overthrown" - and bring down the tall city cranes of gentrification. He believes he can communicate with God and the Evil One through a duck. And so on.

But alongside that, Moses is an impoverished preacher who enlivens the dreams of the Miami projects, and who is at first only looking for cash to save his family from eviction. His Middle Eastern sponsor, unknown to him, is working for the FBI. He has a wife and child (his "baby girl"), who are involved in a donut shop. He seems tempted by nuclear weapons at one point, but at the end he is guilty of nothing specific so the female FBI agent has to wing it. This is after all a parody of a type of sting operation that is so flimsy it's its own parody.

Indeed this time the focus is more on law enforcement, particularly FBI stings that create fake terrorism plots to have them to fill their dossiers. Morris, reportedly, listened to a lot of personal testimony by victims of such frame-ups and these fed directly into his screenplay, so some of the implausible stuff is true. (This was his method for Four Lions as well.) A lot of the action of The Day consists of scenes featuring Anna Kendrick and Denis O'Hare set in a war room where cops, FBI and politicians profanely plot and squabble. The style of their dialogue and interactions recalls Armando Iannucci, an early Morris partner and "Veep" collaborator.

One can see the appeal this material may have had for Morris. There is much warmth and picturesqueness in the looks and aura of the bumbling black conspirators, their homemade royalty funky-grand look, the shower-curtain robes, plumed cap, the crossed-star insignia, and rough training. The look of this motley crew is the best thing about the movie.

There's nobility too in their doomed, deranged wishes to empower the underdog. When what happens to these guys comes up on the screen at the end, it's a brutal shock: heck, it all just seemed silly. But though Kendra (Anna Kendrick) insures that nobody gets shot, the end notes point up that what might seem parodic can be hideous and tragic,when so much power is on the other side.

Through most of the action the anger is muted (till the men in uniform amass for the finale) - but so is the wit. The whole thing, though it's too short to drag much, plods more than it sparkles, despite Morris' assistance in the writing from Four Lions' Jesse Armstrong and "In the Loop's" Sean Gray and Tony Roche. The earlier film was bolder and more surprising. This one may be marginally slicker (though it looks like it was shot on an iPhone). I noted that (putting it politely) Four Lions "was not devastatingly well made," and that its dialogue was "funny, slangy, profane, but hardly incisive." The idea was more provocative, this one's basically rather obvious.

The Day Will Come, 87 mins., debuted at South by Southwest in Mar. 2019, also showing at Jerusalem. Its US theatrical release is 27 Sept., UK and Ireland 11 Oct. Current Metascore 75%j. It got 4/5 stars from Guardian's Benjamin Lee, but BFI's Leigh Singer thought he'd "lost his edge" and the final shift to tragedy "feels unearned." Current Metascore 75%.

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┬ęChris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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