DID YOU READ

“Attack the Block,” reviewed

“Attack the Block,” reviewed (photo)

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A version of this review first appeared as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2011.

A satisfying genre movie is good. But a satisfying genre movie with a brain — a film that combines visceral excitement with cerebral smarts — that’s the film geek holy grail. And that’s “Attack the Block,” a mash-up of 80s alien horror and sci-fi films like “Critters,” and “Predator” and gang flicks like “The Warriors” and “Streets of Fire” with a sly metaphorical critique of rebellious youths who defend their poor behavior as “protecting their territory.” If the five kids at the center of “Attack the Block” are wary of outsiders in their neighborhood, you can imagine how they react when the ultimate outsiders, a bunch of toothy, “gorilla-wolf” looking aliens with no eyes and glowing neon fangs, start invading their turf.

Writer/director Joe Cornish — a collaborator of Edgar Wright’s on their as-yet unproduced Ant-Man screenplay and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Tintin film — begins things with a bold stroke: by introducing his protagonists as cruel thugs. This ragtag bunch of British teens jump a woman named Sam (Jodie Whittaker) on her way home from the bus, and steal her wallet and jewelry. The robbery is interrupted by a falling meteor; inside is the first alien, which attacks ringleader Moses (steely-eyed future movie star John Boyega), prompting the gang to pursue and then kill it in retaliation. While the crew tour their trophy around the giant housing complex (or “block”) where they all live, a whole bunch of bigger, angrier aliens of gorilla-wolf looking variety arrive. Refusing to call the police (you don’t trust the 5-0 on the Block, yo), they dump the corpse in the local weed dealer’s stash room, grab some baseball bats, fireworks, and a samurai sword, and head out to rid their hood of the extra-terrestrial terror.

It feels a little strange to call a movie about bloodthirsty gorilla-wolf aliens authentic, but that’s exactly what “Attack the Block” is. From the characters to their conversations to their home to their reactions to those aliens, everything about the movie feels real to life. Though “Block” has its share of crazy cool moments, these kids aren’t super-heroes. They don’t have artfully choreographed wire-fu moves or big shiny handguns to fire whilst leaping through the air and screaming. The kids of the Block (who, I suddenly realize, could really use their own gang name) might not realize it at first, but they are sorely out of their league, and their actions have intense unforeseen consequences. Because Cornish grounds the film so believably in this world and these characters, we personally feel every single one.

That’s not to say “Attack the Block” isn’t also very funny, thanks to Frost’s deadpan disinterest as Roy the weed dealer, and especially Luke Treadaway as one of his rich kid customers, whose perpetual bad luck is the audience’s comedic good fortune. Balancing laughs and scares in this sort of movie is no easy task. If the film’s too funny, the horror isn’t horrifying, and if the horror’s too horrifying, we’re too scared to laugh. Cornish manages to find the sweet spot.

He also manages to find something to say with this story too. Buried none too deeply beneath all the alien excitement is a critique of territoriality and the dehumanizing effects of the housing projects like the Block, which turns neighbors into complete strangers. Cornish deconstructs our preconceived notions about the people we live with and around, and then he blows them all up, figuratively and literally.

“Attack the Block” opens in limited release on Friday. If you see we want to know what you think — tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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