3 November 2014

Hooray For Chavs

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I was talking to a girl the other day when I was suddenly faced with a tricky decision. We'd somehow gotten onto the subject of UFOs when she revealed that she believed in them, before asking what I thought. Now, obviously I don't believe in Flying Saucers because I'm not a fucking idiot, so what was I meant to do? Lie and tell her that I thought that a group of green men with fat heads were out playing silly buggers with our crops and stuffing things up our arses? I couldn't do that even if I was trying to get into her pants! No, I'm afraid my only option was to tell the truth and unintentionally make her look like a right dickhead. So no sex for me, but at least I didn't have to pretend that I thought Plan 9 From Out Of Space was a fucking documentary. I'm not, by the way, saying that I don't believe in aliens. The universe is a big place and I've seen enough weird shit on this planet alone to think that life elsewhere seems more than plausible. There was this one time for example where my rabbit shat himself so badly that the crap got wedged up his arse hole. Flies then laid eggs in this mess without us realising it and before we even knew what had happened, they'd hatched. I don't believe that aliens visit our planet, however I don't think that we can rule out the possibility of life elsewhere- having seen maggots survive in the hostile regions of my rabbits anus.
This, as I'm sure you've guessed, leads me very nicely onto Joe Cornish's 2011 film Attack The Block. It tells the story of some scummy London kids who begin the film by mugging one of their neighbours. However, before we get the chance to have this turn into some gritty, kitchen sink drama, an alien falls from the sky and attacks one of the gang members. Aware of the vast importance of this discovery, the kids give chase on this beast before catching it and kicking its fucking head in. Convinced that they're going to get rich from this find, they drag the murdered monster's corpse back to their flats. The plan is to hide the body in a secure room that's used to grow weed before discussing the many ways that this might lead to a profit. However things go slightly wrong almost straight away due to the boys naivety, a psychopathic drug-dealer, the police, and a fucking army of kill-mad crazy aliens that seem to have selected them as a target. The posters would have you believe that this is similar to Shaun Of The Dead, but they're wrong. This is less influenced by Edgar Wright than it is someone like John Carpenter or Joe Dante. On the surface, this might seem like a pop-corn film that just wants to have fun but for those who enjoy it, there is also a little bit of social commentary. It says that some members of youth existing within a more working class area might superficially seem a bit scummy but perhaps that's as a result of the poor economic opportunities and prospects available to them. Oh, and look- that ones just had his head ripped off by a fucking alien!!! 

I feel I should say right now that I really love this film and those who have either failed to see it or slagged it off are just plain wrong. I don't care if it's your own personal opinion; you're still wrong! It's a stone cold fact that this film is great and anybody wanting to disagree may as well be standing below an arrow labelled "what a tit". For a start, Attack The Block looks fucking great. The lighting and look of this film is closer to Guillermo Del Toro than it is Ken Loach which, for a British film set within the squalor of London, is quite an achievement. There are scenes in which kids ride mopeds through a neon mist whilst armed with Samurai swords that are about as cool as a snowman's gooch. You can tell too that there's got to be concept art for imagery like this which must match almost exactly to what made it onto screen. 

For a first time director, Cornish has to be admired for firstly picking something so ambitious and, secondly, completely achieving it. I mean, in terms of its look, I don't think anybody is denying how great it is, are they? Perhaps somebody with a similar background to Cornish might be Richard Ayoade with them both being more famous as British comedians than filmmakers and both having a slightly culty fanbase. When Ayoade moved into directing though, he made his debut with Submarine which I'm not slagging off because I thought it was great. However, it's a low budget movie that relies on handheld camera movements and turns its ageing 1970's style shoddiness into a huge strength. It's clearly made by a man who has as much talent as he does afro, however my point is simply that Submarine makes more sense for a first time director to make. Cornish however appears to have simply thought, "Fuck that" and made a film that looks so beautiful that it feels like dragging my eyes across razor wire before dipping my face into rainbow juice.

I mentioned before too about how there is a hint of social commentary in Attack The Block and that's true. For most people, I think this will probably be ninety minutes of bastard extraterrestrial joy, but perhaps what makes it stand out is the subtext. From what I've read, there are two sources of inspiration for this film with the first being when Cornish watched the film Signs and wondered what an alien invasion would be like in London. Whenever I watch Signs, that thought has never occurred to me as I'm distracted by the sheer bollocks on screen. Considering it pisses down in England every day, and the aliens in that film are allergic to water, I suspect an invasion of London would be pretty fucking brief. The second thing that inspired the film though was that Cornish himself was mugged by a gang very similar to those featured in this film. This lead him to wonder why they thought that their actions were acceptable and so he began to research. To be fair, when ex-bbc radio presenters start researching the lives of children, we rarely get something as positive as a feature film out of it. Had this movie been made post-Operation Yewtree, I think the film would have had to include a notice in it's credits confirming that "No Children where fucked during the making of this film". 

Suggestions as to why they did what they did are scattered subtly around the film but it's never focused on as an agenda. It's also sympathetic to them showing that they really are just nice people who have been toughened as a result of being brought up in a difficult area. They have to be on their guard all day and have basically no hope, no money, and no prospects. At one point, the lead gang member gives a speech in which he believes the aliens have been dropped in by the government to get rid of them. Personally I've never heard this mentioned as a political policy, but what do I know? At the very least it shows how lost and hated these people feel as they live in what is essentially its own little world. Considering how twattish these kids seem when we first meet them, the film has a surprisingly left wing stance- particularly when compared to the film Harry Brown. Both films deal with the problems of a similar kind of area however in Attack The Block we're asked to empathise with the muggers unlike Harry Brown where we just enjoy seeing Michael Caine blow off their fucking heads and stabbing the shit out of them.

But, like I say, for most people this will just be a pop-corn movie in which a load of cockneys get ripped up by monsters. It's not as funny as Shaun Of The Dead and it's not as scary as something like The Descent but it is great fun. I mean, I'm not scared by Carpenter's The Fog but I still enjoy it. Although it has been slightly ruined for me as last time I watched it, the pipes burst in our house and I found my Dad walking around the kitchen at one in the morning in just his skiddies and shouting about "the fucking water leaking everywhere"... Spooky! Perhaps I'm slightly biased towards this film because I am big fan of Joe Cornish and his comedy partner Adam Buxton. Or maybe I'm slightly biased towards Attack The Block because I simply love good fucking movies. Either way, I think it deserves more recognition than it currently has and I look forward to the day that it's rightly recognised as a cult film along with An American Werewolf In London, Gremlins, and They Live. I don't think I've even mentioned the aliens yet have I? Fuck, err- well, they look great and nothing like I'd seen before. People in a suit plus effects to enhance the colours make them really unique and scary despite the creatures lacking a thumb which we all know is essential for an affective probing. Oh, and the acting too? Shit, I've not talked about anything. Okay, running out of time before this gets too long. Okay, the performances are all great and I love this movie. Right- that should cover it. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.


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