Monday, 23 May 2011

Okay, hold the phone!

Right, as far as upcoming films go, I can't wait to get all hyped up for the end of the world while watching Melancholia, I'm so excited to get a huge history/science lesson while being dazzled by The Tree Of Life (that is, if it actually gets a bloody release) and I'm pretty sure Super 8 will bring out every geek particle I have in my body.

But I really can't imagine any other motion picture being released in the next couple of years that has got me wanting to hibernate until the day of release, than this. I'm not even kidding.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Hot off the press: My Attack the Block review

If you’re even the least bit interested/excited about Attack the Block, you’ve probably already read a gazillion reviews of it as the first press screening was quite some time ago now. I’m not going to get all emo again about how no one is inviting me to press previews of films, but I’ve just been to see the first showing of the film at the Liverpool Odeon, just so I can post a review of it before everyone is sick of hearing about the damn thing.

To give you a brief but extremely lazy sum up of the film, it’s like any alien invasion movie meets any gritty English movie about the hood, ya get me blud? Believe me though; it’s a lot better than that sounds. Its director comes in the form of Mr Joe Cornish, from The Adam and Joe show fame, which is responsible for moments like this;

Joe is the one in the bath washing the toy baby. He decided a few years ago that he’d go off and follow a dream of his to write and direct a film, and Attack the Block is what he made.

Even though I hold a soft spot in my heart for them, films like Kidulthood have one fatal flaw, they never address that their main protagonists are complete tossers and still expect their audience to root for them. In a way, Attack the Block turns this on its head within the first scene, we are shown the main characters, 6 or so teenage boys, mug a completely innocent women. Therefore, the film sets itself a huge task for the rest of the its run time, as the audience needs to get on the gangs good side to make sure that we actually care about themwhen the aliens land and start to tear up everything.

This is a target that is most certainly met, not through cheesy montages or ‘we have to work as a team and be nice to others’ speeches, but through pretty harrowing action sequences and a really fun script which tries to make the guys as relatable as possible.

As I’m not from London, I hardly hear anybody use words such as ‘merk,’ ‘shank,’ and ‘blud’ all that often, unless they’re being ironic. Unfortunately Attack the Block used dialogue like this a bit too much, nearly to an extent where subtitles would have been helpful, this was something that was not really needed as after half an hour it got quite stale and it got in the way of some lines that would have been fairly LOL-worthy (I hate myself for using that phrase.)

A lot of credit should also go to whoever designed the aliens in the film, I was fairly worried that they’d just be a pastiche of famous creatures from older films, but they looked like nothing I’d seen before. Crawling on all four legs with a blacker than black coat of fur and sharp as nails teeth that light up in the dark, they made for some pretty scary villains, and they really helped make the climax of the film incredibly thrilling.

Hopefully I’ve got it through to you that I thought the film was a lot of fun, not the masterpiece that some people have made it out to be, but great fun all the same. At times I thought there were moments that could have been made a lot bigger, this is probably down to Cornish’s limited experience and small budget, and also, it really didn’t need the scene where they loosely tried to explain why the aliens were there, but yeah, awesome fun.

As it’s just May and we’ve already had two super fun British films, this and Submarine, I’m hoping that there’s still more in store for us throughout the year, but for now we should all be proud that these two pieces of work came from our little island.

Also, two posts in two days, I’m spoiling you aren’t I!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Be prepared to feel some serious emotions bro.

As I finally got to witness the band Noah and the Whale on stage last night, it reminded me of two things that are relevant to this blog. Firstly, that the band are named after my favourite Noah Baumbach film, The Squid and the Whale, and secondly that the band’s lead singer Charlie Fink made a film to accompany their sophomore album The First Days of Spring way back when it was released in 2009. As an ever clear example of how efficient I am, it’s taken me until today to actually watch this film, despite the fact that the album it accompanies is one of my favourites of the past few years.

Anyone familiar with the album will know that’s it’s very emotional, it’s pretty much a concept album about a break up and Charlie’s lyrics manages to encompass every shitty feeling that a human being can feel after they’ve been dumped. So I was expecting the film to echo all this emotion, and boy, I was not let down, there was emotion coming out my ears (whatever that means.) I mean just look at these stills;

Yup, pretty damn emotional.

The album plays over every scene with only a few seconds of dialogue spread out through its 40 minute duration, and for something to look at while listening to the songs, it really serves its purpose. It’s shot incredibly well and manages to capture the essence of the album perfectly, a big criticism of the film is that some people only view it as a really long music video, but it’s definitely a lot more than that as it has a lot more depth than most music videos, and without sounding incredibly pretentious, you can tell that the film was very personal experience for Charlie and a lot of his heart evidentially went into making it.

Hopefully this won’t contradict everything I’ve said so far, but the films main downfall is that the plot is very hard to distinguish. The lack of dialogue and concentration on visuals makes sure that the narrative of the film takes a back seat, there’s also an un-linear timeline to distort it even more. There’s definitely a story taking place and I was desperate to work it all out, but it was only when the characters names came up in the end credits that I realised that I had just watched three segments of a man’s life.

If you know the album as well as I do and you haven’t seen this yet, I urge you to watch it as soon as possible. If you have never listened to it, this is definitely not the best place to start. You can watch it HERE, free and legal.