GEMS OF 2011: Attack The Block

In a year that saw the release of a film, Super 8, that seems to be begging for a world that goes back to Reagonomics, dominant ideology and false innocence, another film, Attack the Block by Joe Cornish, was also released into multiplexes. The latter is better in every fundamental filmmaking way, from it’s strong cast to it’s energetic cinematography to a terse script that leaves little room for the fat that has infiltrated American moviegoer diets. To mention the film is also far more entertaining than Super 8 is just a cherry on top. In some ways these comparisons are a useful way to show how far gone the Hollywood machine has become. A machine churning out fodder in an effort to keep a culture controlled and spending. However, the comparisons also diminish the brilliance of Cornish’s picture.

On it’s own, Attack the Black is a biting social commentary about the increasing divide of race and class throughout the world. The characters are young urban children who, unlike the suburban white kids in American pictures, have seen almost everything there is to see on the darker side of life. There are no contrived emotional events to overcome or recent deaths to grieve over or love interests to kiss. These are just your run-of-the-mill poor kids from the projects who happen upon a bunch of horny aliens one night. The fact that they fight the aliens (who themselves seem to just be a normal species of animal rather than a greater intellectual human force) with a brotherhood and quiet John Wayne-like heroism also catapults the film into profound genre satire. I suppose the ending channels Dark Knight by questioning what it means to be a hero. Only Attack the Block doesn’t assert it’s intended meaning through voiceover but acts it out as our main character sternly accepts his fate.

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