film note: Attack the Block

Attack the Block
UK | France 2011
Directed by Joe Cornish

What I find refreshing about this energetic, alien-invasion movie, set in a high rise apartment building on a “shitty council estate in South London” (The Block of the film’s title) is how it effortlessly grafts an urban youth narrative onto a sci-fi premise (with lots of nods to other genre movies, including E.T., Critters and The Warriors) and then transforms it into a political awakening — the birth of a leader even — for its main character, Moses (John Boyega), and maybe for us if we’re paying attention, all without getting heavy.

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It also exhibits simple but elegant and propulsive storytelling with CG serving the story rather than the other way around (something that seems harder and harder to accomplish in Hollywood); snappy vernacular diagloue (ditto); a deft and evocative use of urban architecture and public space, both interior and exterior; and finally the thing that makes it so re-watchable, a raft of lively, funny performances from its mostly teen ensemble cast, For me, this is a lot more satisfying and less grandiose than District 9, for example. It’s that rare sci-fi in which we discover people and language in our own world, not just monsters from other ones.

For an interview with director Cornish, go here.

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April 10, 2019 8:26 AM

[…] other films I’ve felt this way about have been: Attack the Block, Lifeguard, Pump Up the Volume, and The Philosophers, also known deceptively after its theatrical […]

May 10, 2019 4:12 PM

[…] has told me that he’s a big fan of Chronicle and Attack the Block, two of my favorite features, as well. Comparing them to Quintero’s own Six Pack and Panquecito […]

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