Monday, January 11, 2016

Now That You Know Who John Boyega Is, Go Watch Attack The Block


Attack the Block (2011) is a clever UK film about an alien invasion in London on Guy Fawkes Night, and how a teenage street gang defends their tower block in Brixton.  That’s really all of the elements you need to make a fun and entertaining movie, at this point it’s yours to screw up.  And this being from the producers of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, they of course did not screw up.
The story is told in South London accents and peppered with “bruvs” and “fams” and substituting “well” for “very”, so much so that the producers considered releasing it in the US with subtitles.  As an American viewer I was far more interested in the portrayal of British hip hop, and wondered if this was what the Brits had experienced in the 80’s when seeing American punk rockers for the first time.  Britain has had such a rich youth subculture with punks, mods, skinheads, new romantics, teddy boys & goths and now they’ve woven hip-hop gangstas into the tapestry.
John Boyega, who you will later come to know and love as Finn aka FN-2187, debuts in a starring role as Moses, the gang leader.  He was 18 at the time, auditioned off the Internet, and completely outshines the rest of the cast with his undeniable star power & innate charisma.  Producers and directors often talk about an X-factor, a star quality that is indefinable but immediately recognized and acknowledged, and it is easy to see that in John Boyega’s guarded performance as a troubled yet sentimental street thug.
I especially enjoy movies that take place in a single night, from the first act in the evening to the last act at sunrise.  The time frame creates its own internal tension and framework for the viewer, and imparts a classic, almost mythic aspect to the story, much like Cinderella having to be home by midnight or American Graffiti.  A single night becomes a life-changing moment,  a turning point or a crossroads after which your life will never be the same.  Also these characters being teens, they have to constantly reassure their single parents, grans and various guardians that they will be home soon, are over at a friend’s house or simply walking the dog when they are in fact in a fight for their lives defending London against an alien threat from outer space.
 It’s hard to write about British Science Fiction without trying to fit it into the Doctor Who universe.  2011 would have been the time of the 11th Doctor, or the Raggedy Man, and it’s very easy to imagine Matt Smith and Karen Gillan running around another more posh corner of London, fighting the same aliens.  Of course the Doctor would have resolved the situation with less violence, but the Doctor’s not from South London, bruv.
Attack the Block also stars Nick Frost and Jodie Whittaker from Broadchurch, and if you haven’t seen that fantastic BBC series about a murder that tears apart a seaside town like the ones Morrissey sings about, I don’t know if we can still be friends.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.