Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Attack the Block'

31 May 2011

We were at the cinema last Friday to see ‘Attack the Block’ – a stunning directorial debut by the comedian Joe Cornish (best known as part of the double act Adam & Joe). Comparisons have been made with British zombie comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and the two films have plenty in common: ‘Attack the Block’ includes a cameo performance from Nick Frost and Edgar Wright is among its Executive Producers. But ‘Attack the Block’ lacks the silliness of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and is much more realistic and believable – which is impressive for a film about an alien attack on a South London tower block. (“What kind of alien would invade some council estate in South London?” “One that’s looking for a fight!”). This tale of a gang of young teenagers teaming up with the nurse they have just mugged at knifepoint to fight an army of vicious alien creatures is very funny precisely because it is so scary and real. There is some graphic violence but it never seems gratuitous and is genuinely frightening. The focus is mainly on the children (led by the excellent John Boyega as Moses the gang-leader) with the adults left in the background (with the exception of Jodie Whittaker as the nurse, Sam) making the film strangely reminiscent of an old Children’s Film Foundation production (albeit with considerably more swearing and violence!). There are clear references to E.T. (boys on bikes, light emanating from a shed etc) but I was also reminded of the comic gangland of ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and Kevin Smith’s debut ‘Clerks’ (which similarly was filmed entirely without sunlight). The child actors are all great and there are some wonderful characters. Their mock-American street slang feels initially threatening but soon reveals their naivety and is often unintentionally amusing. (Moses has a tendency to use the qualifier “get me?” as in “you get me?” which leads him to say at one point “the aliens are coming to get me get me?”) ‘Attack the Block’ is a fresh and exciting new British film: I loved it.



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