Product Type: other TV channels
Newest Review: ... This guy will leave you open mouthed and so a must see documentary guys... --------------------------------------- ----------------------... more
I'm in freeview clicking winter wanderland!
Member Name: thedevilinme
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Film4, as the title suggests, is Channel Fours film channel, playing films pretty much all day long. Most of the films are older and well known and often delivered in weekly and monthly themes, like crime, war or comedy etc. At the moment it's the Eddie Murphy season (what happened to his career!). They do have newer films on although they tend to be foreign. They like to stick to the classics at prime time and also a good section of younger adults stuff around teatime. Don't expect the newest titles though, this not Sky movies showing off territory. Like More4, they also do great documentaries in their mix and one such film is 'General Butt Naked', an extraordinary account of an African warlord and his somewhat disingenuous conversion to Christianity to try and escape a war crimes trial. As dooyoo wouldn't add this film to their database (don't bother trying if it's not on Amazon) and it was rather good I have added it to this review. Let's just say it's my example of the type of quality films you can get on Film4.
Run Time - 85 minutes
Imdb.com - 7.4/10.0 (47 votes)
Certificate - 15
Year - 2011
Looking at the title of this you would have thought it would be more at home in a Catholic priests home movie collection than on Film4. But it's not from the Vatican's Blockbuster Video but an extraordinary documentary about a one 'General Butt Naked', a rather notorious and sadistic warlord who terrified just about everyone during the 14-year long Liberian Civil War by fighting butt naked, hence the name, only a headband and a pair of Nikes between him and the bullets, machetes and RPG's. Because he never got hit or stabbed he was quickly revered on the battlefield and acquired Godlike status for his apparent immortality, many believing 'Ju Ju' (witchcraft) was protecting him, earning big support from the locals who quite frankly chose to rally behind his militia over the many others in the capital Monrovia where the war raged the longest in fear of being victims of him. But in 1996 he left the conflict and disappeared, the killing of men, women and child even too much for a sadist like the General.
It was a terrible war and the west stood back because there was no oil to steal, but the instability allowing the west to exploit the blood diamond trade that was coming over the border from Sierra Leone. Americans inaction was a particular poor show as they had been the ones that created Liberia in the first place, the word meaning freedom, the country created for a homeland for liberated slaves after the American Civil War. Haiti, the first country ever to have been run by slaves, is also being equally exploited right now by America, the next Liberia in most commentators' eyes.
The film picks up on the Generals return to Monrovia in 2006, but as a born again preacher, the right Reverend Joshua Milton Blahyi, his wild evangelicals style of sermon in the small steamy churches of Liberia as equally manic and fearsome as his battlefield antics to the locals, although this time around seeking an unlikely redemption from the same people rather than mayhem, cutting an equally imposing figure in his sharp white silk suit waving his bible not an AK47. The devil doesn't always wear red you know.
If you have ever been to Africa you know life is cheap and people fear their Gods the most of all but religion always their escape from the chaos in search of hope, religions responsible for most of Africa's problems behind colonialism and aid dependency. But the scary thing here is Joshua not only expects his people to forgive and forget he was a psychotic killer but seeks out those he maimed, or the nearest surviving relatives of the many he killed, for a face-to-face to apology and then lay hands on them on behalf of Jesus, almost getting a sadistic pleasure from seeing them squirm again. He openly admits early on in the film that he enjoyed the killing and pain he and his men inflicted (believed to be around 20,000 victims) and you can see that sadism may not have gone far away. It's an extraordinary thing to see when he does meet them and you can see them not only cowering in front of him but God too, wondering why people like the General are allowed to exists by their almighty God.
The most amazing accounts and recollection in the film are of the Generals antics to keep his child soldiers onside, many recruited as young as five-years-old. His most popular brainwashing tactic was to get the frightened children to watch Hollywood action and war movies with big stars in them who got killed. He would then show those same stars alive again in a latter movie to prove that heroes can't die on the battlefield and so come back to life, just like they will if they get shot or stabbed. If the kids didn't believe him he would simply cut off the finger of one of them and say if you don't fight then you will lose an arm and your friend will lose a leg etc. They don't get much nastier than this guy. Sadly there lots of civil wars raging right now in Africa and lots of people like him in Africa, the so called 'dark heart'.
As the documentary presses on it becomes clear that the country hasn't fully healed and they want to hold a truth and reconciliation forum, guys like the General first up for questioning, the General having every intention to confess. You then contemplate that perhaps the film has an ulterior motive, Joshua trying to paint himself as the reformed man by seeking his absurd redemption, yet all along the same evil man alone and scared as his past catches up with him, cutting a rather lonely and somewhat delusional figure when he finally arrives in court.
All the gruesome sadistic stuff aside I really enjoyed this and found the General a fascinating character study. It's a documentary that will just draw you in deeper and deeper as you try to get to grips with the validity of this guys contrition and mental state, clearly a charismatic at what ever he turns his hands to, be it caving in babies heads with a rifle butt or passing around the collection plate, and who knows, maybe a reality TV career on African TV! This guy loves the camera and a real attention seeker and speaks English throughout to increase his audience.
The films true power is the disturbing incite into just how easy it is for a civil war to break out in African countries as the young men are prepared to kill their neighbor after a simple tribal instruction, as we saw with terrifying candor in Rwanda. Sadly the west's lunge into the third world for oil and rare metals and minerals kicks off a lot of these places into war and so plenty of General Butt Naked's to do the killing. This guy will leave you open mouthed and so a must see documentary guys...
With the analogue system to be all but gone this time next year, Freeview (channel 14 for Film4) and the like mean we will stay in more and more as there are plenty of channels to flick through, and with ITV4 and Channel 5 showing a lot more films on their three channels its hard not to find a decent flick on digital most nights. Even ITV are doing top of the range themed nights to rival Film4, their crime season last month a belter! I can't see home movie rental survive this and Blockbusters sure to fold like their American counterparts soon. The big advantage Film4 has over their rivals is the Channel4 group has their own film company - Film Four Productions - and so recently released exciting films they made or part financed like Attack the Block, Four Lions and The Kings Speech will premier on British television much faster on Film or More4 than they would other channels.
Whilst More4 is trying to set itself up as HBO now that HBO has its whole subscription channel to itself called Sky Atlantic here on the Sky platform, concentrating on running quality and intelligent TV to hoover up the lucrative and coveted top end advertising revenue all stations chase. Subscriptions channel also allow for riskier content and Film Four (what it was called when launched) used to show a lot of that type of uncensored stuff when it was also a subscription channel. But now it's a free platform they have tried to keep the audience by simply dumbing down the quality with more mainstream films. The move to free also introduced watersheds and adverts during the films to pay for it. Film4 is also broadcast on the Sky and Virgin platforms. It's interesting to note that in 2005 it managed just 400,000 potential viewers but by its 2006 free re-launch on a free platform it saw it available to 8 million households. People just won't pay for stuff they can rent occasionally at their leisure for a quarter of the price, why Sky Atlantic won't last.
The arty film types support Film4 with gushing glee and actors all too keen to do promotions for the station as they think it's dedicated to showing classier films compared to Sky's more eclectic mix. Its selling point has always been that middle-class demographic that don't want to be patronized by idiot TV. But there are 72 basic channels available on freeview in my region and it encourages you to flick and so that means when the ads are on you swap channels, exactly what Film4 don't want, and the adds all seem to be on at the same time across the platform and so you flick a lot, and if you are male nearly always ending up on Dave watching Top Gear. Welcome to American style TV folks!
Summary: No excuses now for not finding a good movie on telly