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Great question. If I only had one video I could play it would be this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

People: Attack the block


Venetians created the word ghetto to describe an area where the Jews lived. 1940's Germans picked up on it later for the same purpose. Nowadays a ghetto is described as an overcrowded urban area which is more often than not associated with a specific ethnic or racial population that lives in economic disproportion with the rest of the area. There are many names for a ghetto now, America calls it the hood, Brazil have Favelas, and Great Britain has council estates.

Attack the Block focuses its cameras on a particularly nasty South London stretch of council estate. We meet a young bird with an uptown look waking the streets at night head down clutching her handbag when a young street gang patrolling the night for cake, hoodied up, masked down, and tools tucked, find their meal in her.

They look to be no more than teens but move like an experienced wolf pack. The bike scouts make a quick pass before the leader and his right and left arms descend on her turned back. They heartlessly run her for her purse and valuables until a falling object crashes into a nearby car, providing her a means to escape.

The crew, led by a kid with dead eyes and malice charisma named Marcus, decide to let her be and instead investigate the crash site for valuables, only to find the object to be a small but ferocious alien. Together they manage to kill the alien and decide to take it to their local guru/weed dealer to figure out how to profit from their trophy.

Pest is the youngest of the group and carries a punker ethos of mayhem and destruction for shits and grins. Dennis is the hardheaded but loyal chief of staff to Marcus' president. Biggz is the closest to innocent of the group, he loves his mother and wants to do right but manages to curtail these urges to keep face within the gang. Jerome is the intelligent pragmatist, and also serves as the moral compass of the group.

And it is in this this crew of kids' search for the truth of what is invading the council estates and why it is happening that Attack the Block truly shines.

All of these actors are first time performers, and most other science fiction or horror films that introduce these types do so to dispatch them without the audience getting too attached or creating an order of death based on importance of the actor. But in Attack the Block the viewer gets to watch this crew go from street monsters to simple children dealing with an environment that would kill them aliens or no.

The action involves them trying to survive the night by fighting, running, or a combination of the two. They are supported in this endeavor by neighborhood friends and enemies, but unknowingly bring trouble to anyone that helps.

The film is bright and quick and the monsters plausible and vicious. The crew approaches the invasion as I imagine these real life kids weaned on only the best parts of war through Call of Duty would. They run out full of piss and vinegar ready to catch wreck , then retreat as fast as their legs can take them when they realize that heroes die violently and there is no pause button or respawn in real life. Biggz sums it up best in the film when he says, "Right now, I feel like going home, locking my door and playing Fifa."
 
This is enhanced by the fact that during their plight they must face not only aliens but gangsters, police, and the ramifications of their own decisions through a begrudging alliance with the lady they robbed at the beginning of the film.

This film could not have come at a better time as the rioting in Brittan eerily mirrors the films themes. As the kids mature and begin to realize what is behind all of the chaos they start to understand their role in it and in the end face the issue head on, sacrificing themselves in order to save the small plot of land that others may see as better off gone, but to them it is the only home they know.    

This film is a throwback to 80's adventure films like the Goonies or Monster squad in that they too were not afraid to let kids be kids while also dealing with adult issues. But it better serves as proper social commentary on how a group of people economically trapped in a small place develop a sort of Stockholm syndrome to their environment. Learning at the end of the day it is the people you share your cell with that you grow to love and trust, and external forces notwithstanding, It's how you accept the truth of your actions and move forward from them that make you what you are.

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