Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. See previous posts for a longer preamble!
We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke.
This week I am following the idea I started last Halloween, where I selected some favourite scary movies that might have slipped under your radar. See that post here. So this time I am going to present a couple that might have escaped the notice especially of folks outside of the UK and Ireland
‘Attack the Block’ (2011)
The Trailer :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0ntk1o4V3k
I admit I really didn’t fancy this movie when it first came out. But picked up the DVD cheap in a charity shop a couple of years ago and I now realise how good it actually is.
The plot is that aliens arrive in a shower of meteorites that happen to land one night near a run-down tower block in South London, where a group of feral youths who live there are in the process of mugging a nurse who also lives there. Now at this point it is hard to see how these kids, the ‘heroes’ of the movie can be seen as remotely sympathetic characters, yet such is the skill of the script and Joe Cornish’s direction, together with great performances, very much turns the viewer in their favour by the end of the movie. Even their mugging victim joins forces with them to defeat the invaders as they stalk the gang into the block.
The atmosphere of the movie is very realistic – with the mugging scene being genuinely scary. The visual effects are remarkably effective, partly due to the aliens sensibly being totally black (and therefore largely invisible) except from their glowing blue teeth. The tower block location is well used and the interiors are filmed in a studio though you would never guess – so well realised are they.
At heart though, it is the performances that make this movie. Given it is produced by the team that made ‘Shaun of the Dead’ the presence of Nick frost is no great shock – but he never steals the movie, instead turning in a great performance as the man who grows cannabis for a living in a fortified growing room in his 19th floor flat (the fortified room comes in handy for our heroes). The female lead (the mugging-victim nurse) is played by future Dr Who Jodie Whittaker. Moses, the gang-leader, is a star-making turn by a young John Boyega. It is no surprise that his performance was noticed and he went on to star in the revived Star Wars movies.
In addition to these main roles, mention must be made of the rest of the youngsters, who are fantastic and very funny too. Initially portrayed as scary thugs, the movie gradually unpicks their circumstances, vulnerability and poor life choices that have made them who they are. But they are not beyond redemption, being really only kids and are ‘wannabe’ gangsters in order to fit in for survival around real gangsters such as the thug ‘Hi Hatz’ who is the dealer that really owns the growing room on the 19th floor. The movie eventually shows Moses take responsibility for his actions.
Be warned though – the South London street slang used is almost impenetrable!
This Irish sci-fi/horror/comedy was recommended to me a couple of years ago and I love it – it is really funny.
Set on a island off the coast of Ireland it is another alien invasion movie after a meteorite landing – this time at sea. This time the inhabitants start discovering mutilated whales washed up on the beach and realise that something in the ocean nearby is really bad news. It soon transpires that the tentacled cuplrits, named ‘grabbers’ by the locals, can move about on land too, when it is raining at least. The local policeman, and hero of the hour – Ciaran, is an alcoholic burnout recently lumbered with a new recruit Lisa – a keen and teetotal woman.
The islanders realise that with a storm approaching, not only will the grabbers be able to move around on land, but the weather prevents any hope of help or evacuation until the next day. The solution presents itself when the town drunk mysteriously survives a grabber attack and a biologist (played by the great Russel Tovey) realises that it was the alcohol in his bloodstream that deterred the grabber.
The solution, therefore, to surviving the coming stormy night, is for the entire community to gather in the island pub and stay drunk until morning whilst under siege!
The performances, again, are what makes this movie, though the effects are remarkably good for the low budget. Richard Coyle plays Ciaran. He has a real gift for comedy and was well known as ‘Geoff’ in the comedy series ‘Coupling’, but also starred in the (best) Terry Pratchett adaptation ‘Going Postal’. Ruth Bradley is great as Lisa – the scene where she is the subject of experimentation to ascertain the number of drinks needed to be drunk enough to be safe but still functioning is hilarious. The supporting cast boast a number of well known Irish character actors.