★★★ out of four stars

Rating: R for language throughout, including some sexual references.

Theater: St. Anthony Main.

Plenty of filmmakers, alarmed at the rise of Jihadist violence, have made serious movies to help the world come to its senses. The team behind "Four Lions" decided the only way to address the sheer absurdity of suicidal fundamentalism was to out-absurd it. They hit the target dead-on with a dark farce sitting somewhere between "Dr. Strangelove" and "Duck Soup." It will blow you away.

Four inept Islamist radicals in an unnamed English city, eager for the morbid fame that accompanies martyrdom, plot an attack that will redeem their meaningless lives. They order their silver nitrate through Amazon and scheme to evade video surveillance by shaking their heads rapidly, so as to look blurry. Their strategic goals are equally crackers. Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a strident English convert to Islam, thinks it's a brilliant idea to bomb a mosque, thus radicalizing the moderates. British Asian Fessal (Adeel Akhtar) believes he can train crows to be kamikaze bombers. Waj (Kayvan Novak) wants to blow up the Internet, while long-suffering leader Omar (Riz Ahmed) travels to an Al-Qaida training camp, where he spectacularly fails to master the complexities of firing a bazooka. Security forces are on to the plotters, but they are Keystone Kops with SWAT gear.

The first feature from English comedy icon Chris Morris is a showcase of precision-timed slapstick, deft ideological satire, solid performances and lunatic dialogue that comes fast and thick. A bit too much so for my comfort; the thick-as-fudge accents, slang and Arabic terms trample some of the jokes. That's the only issue I have with this frantic, outrageous and surprisingly touching farce.



★★★ out of four stars

Rating: PG for action violence, some suggestive content, language, mild thematic material and incidental smoking.

Theater: St. Anthony Main.

Thematically similar to "Tron," the English-dubbed Japanime "Summer Wars" has a dozen times the visual imagination and infinitely more heart. The film is a free-flowing amalgam of cyberthriller and high school romcom.

Geeky math Olympian Kenji is tapped by cool, independent classmate Natsuki to play the part of her boyfriend at her great-grandma's 90th birthday celebration. Their vacation at the family's estate tumbles into a virtual wonderland when Kenji cracks a digital code that liberates a self-aware artificial intelligence dubbed Love Machine.

The malicious program grabs control of Oz, a worldwide network linking millions of computers, wreaking havoc in the real world. Kenji, Natsuki and even great-grandma must work fearlessly to prevent disaster.

The scenes set in Japan capture its sweltering summertime heat in traditional hand-drawn anime style while the passages set in Oz explode with epic scale, hallucinatory color and dazzling detail. Countless intensely cute avatars populate this world, like a Hello Kitty convention; vast sports stadiums float weightlessly in space; entire civilizations are stored in digital form. It's a breathtaking image of the kind of global online infrastructure that seems only a few years away.

While the identity of the villains behind Love Machine is a disappointing cliché, for the most part "Summer Wars" is a fresh, entertaining demonstration of what animation and imagination can create.