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July 26, 2012 10:28 PM   Subscribe

Ben Stiller, aliens, and the intersection of onscreen comedy and real-life tragedy. Zach Baron, for Grantland, on The Watch.

Zach Baron previously, Grantland previously.

The single footnote (sidenote?) contains what is probably a major spoiler for the film.
posted by davidjmcgee (81 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that spoiler . . . I mean, ick.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:43 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm glad Attack the Block got a shout-out. It deserves a million shout-outs.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:44 PM on July 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow, that spoiler . . . I mean, ick.

No kidding. That's special.
posted by asterix at 11:09 PM on July 26, 2012


"Ick"? Have you never seen The I.T. Crowd? It's perfect! (Of course, this requires you to see Richard Ayoade and think "Moss.")
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:35 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's funny* is that as soon as I heard that character described as "super horny" in another review, I knew that was going to be the truth behind that character because of trying-to-be-transgressive Hollywood movies I've seen.

(* not necessarily funny ha ha)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:39 PM on July 26, 2012


(Of course, this requires you to see Richard Ayoade and think "Moss.")

I actually have a really hard time not doing this.
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:30 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


This looks... Bad? And then they show me the trailer a few more times and it lOoks worse each time?

I dunno, maybe I am old.

Attack The Blocj is fucking fantastic BTW.
posted by Artw at 12:38 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think you'd have to be old to see that trailer and think you'd enjoy The Watch after having seen Attack the Block, or at least soulless anyway.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:54 AM on July 27, 2012


I guess I'm the odd one out, because I and a few friends watched Attack the Block a few months' back, on the recommendation of someone who said he'd heard "Good things". I found it atrocious: leaving aside the heavy handed "message" or whatever, the 'protagonists' are uniformly horrid people, and I spent most of the movie happy when they were hurt. It seems like screenwriting 101 that if our first impression of the protagonists is in the worst possible light, we won't likely be invested in their journey. It was a frustratingly stupid movie, I didn't like almost anyone in the film, and not unlike Avatar's all-too-pat ending, we're supposed to believe the creatures were defeated for good simply because they were rebuffed in one rough neighborhood.

The first time I saw the trailer for "The Watch", it seemed obviously a rip-off of Attack the Block, although with the spoiler mentioned it doesn't seem that way after all- certainly, the spoiler confirms that the 'antagonists' here are not as mindless as in AtB. Still not going to be seeing this one; it looks like "watch while stoned when it shows up on pay cable at 12:30am" fodder, at best.
posted by hincandenza at 1:16 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like screenwriting 101 that if our first impression of the protagonists is in the worst possible light, we won't likely be invested in their journey.
The problem with screenwriting 101
posted by elgilito at 1:22 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(continued from previous post due to slight laptop accident) is that it's a major provider of clichés. I was glad that the protagonists were unlikeable because it was actually refreshing. A screewriting-101-designed version would have shown the kids as adorable heart-of-gold little rascals but that would have made the movie totally bland.
posted by elgilito at 1:32 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Attack the Block was pretty entertaining but its politics are muddled at best. Most of the white characters live, the baddies are black, blacker than black, it appeals to some kind of faux-nationalism with the flag-hanging at the end, etc etc etc. Why is the attack on the white girl at the beginning somehow resolved by the fact that the kids defend her once they realize she lives in the building? Who are the baddies? An actual invading army? (doubtful) A new wave of immigrants? Muslims?
posted by beerbajay at 2:31 AM on July 27, 2012


leaving aside the heavy handed "message" or whatever

A new wave of immigrants? Muslims?

Or, it was just a funny movie.
posted by iamck at 3:39 AM on July 27, 2012


Attack the Block is turning out to be one of my favorite movies of recent. It's just a good movie but it's absolutely great at exposing racism and intolerance in it's viewers.
posted by uandt at 3:58 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was really sad to see Richard Ayoade next to Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. He's too good for that.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:08 AM on July 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ayoade, last seen in this country directing Submarine — an Ikea bookshelf of a Wes Anderson movie

Nice line, but inaccurate. The book it was based on was very far from the world of Wes Anderson as well.

My friend massively fancies Richard Ayoade.
posted by mippy at 4:09 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was really sad to see Richard Ayoade next to Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. He's too good for that.

Yeah, but you could have said the same thing about Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn fifteen years ago if they'd been in something hacky with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd -- and the same thing about Chase and Aykroyd fifteen years earlier if they'd been in something hacky with Dean Martin and Shecky Greene, etc. etc. etc. Very few comedians and/or comic actors get to stay fresh and transgressive, especially in Hollywood, where piles of money are thrown at you if you can make "Night at the Museum 3," and if you're lucky, you can pay a bunch of your friends scale to make the occasional "Greenberg." Trust me, by 2025, Richard Ayoade will be in something really embarrassing, and someone somewhere will be posting about how some fresh young actor is slumming it working with that stupid old big-haired big-glasses Brit weirdo.
posted by Etrigan at 5:26 AM on July 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


the baddies are black, blacker than black, it appeals to some kind of faux-nationalism with the flag-hanging at the end, etc etc etc.

I saw how they did the aliens--jet-, coal-, raven-black--as a clever cheat to do some inexpensive CGI. They absorb light, so there are not even any contours, just two lights for eyes and the rows of teeth. I don't think it was a political statement.
posted by zardoz at 5:31 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Broken white men, be healed!," for what it's worth, is probably the plot of a good 75 percent of all Hollywood films, and is definitely the plot of 100 percent of the movies by, for instance, a guy like the aforementioned Wes Anderson. . . .
Hey! I love it when an article articulates something I had never been able to put my finger on: why I have no interest in Wes Anderson movies and just don't get why people adore them. Metafilter is the best for this.

Anyway, I've "seen" (by which I mean, they've played while I was in the room) a couple ads for this movie and had no idea it wasn't a movie in terribly bad taste about a conventional neighborhood watch. But I'm not its audience anyway, I guess.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:56 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ayoade's Submarine is well worth a watch... much better than the twee indie flick I was expecting
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:16 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, Ben Stiller looks old.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:19 AM on July 27, 2012


I also hated Attack The Block, which seems to have the message "it's cool to kill dogs, as long as they are from space."
posted by Greg Nog at 6:23 AM on July 27, 2012


I'll admit to looking up Richard Ayoade last night after seeing the trailer a few times. I was almost sure he was Brad Pitt in blackface with an English accent, acting under a pseudonym.
posted by achrise at 6:29 AM on July 27, 2012


Here to second or third or whatever the recommendations for Submarine, "ikea Wes Anderson" is a scorcher of a line, but totally unfair and inaccurate. I'm really afraid Ayoade is goign to be mediocre in this new film - I honestly don't think I've seen him be anything less than brilliant before.

And wow, some people got really different impressions of Attack the Block than I did.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:47 AM on July 27, 2012


Attack the Block was awesome and Greg is WRONG ON THE INTERNETS.
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also hated Attack The Block, which seems to have the message "it's cool to kill dogs, as long as they are from space."

Fuck space dogs. They're at my garbage bins every other night.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:07 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


You think space dogs are bad? Try keeping the time dogs out of your trash. They got in mine from next week, and I was pissed to find out my coffee maker will break again.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2012


I thought they were more like space gorillas than dogs anyhow
posted by ominous_paws at 7:14 AM on July 27, 2012


I knew Stiller was short, but I had no idea how short. Or is it that Vince Vaughn is tall?
posted by lodurr at 7:21 AM on July 27, 2012


Vince Vaughn is a reasonably towering 6'5.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:23 AM on July 27, 2012


In re: Attack the Block
elgilito: "I was glad that the protagonists were unlikeable because it was actually refreshing. A screewriting-101-designed version would have shown the kids as adorable heart-of-gold little rascals but that would have made the movie totally bland."

Yes, exactly this! The film is pro-redemption, unless you are a space dog. Unlike Moses and his gang, space dogs - like xenomorphs - do not appear to have any redeeming qualities.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:27 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


also, stiller looks more like his father all the time. especially the way he walks with skinny bowed out legs. that's not meant as an insult, I think jerry's pretty cool.
posted by lodurr at 7:38 AM on July 27, 2012


Man, fuck gorilla space dogs. That shit is fucked up.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every noble family (probably everywhere) is descended from some complete bastard who people decided was better than the alternative. That's why I liked the ending to Attack the Block: for that very British comment on feudalism.
posted by BeeDo at 7:48 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The important thing is that we all learned a valuable lesson about how any living creature sufficiently different than us should be burned alive.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:50 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


trust, bruv
posted by elizardbits at 7:53 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Greg, are you for real? How do you feel about, say, the Aliens franchise?
posted by ominous_paws at 7:54 AM on July 27, 2012


SPOILERS

The thing is, Greg Nog is right - doing in that first space golum in the shed was a bad idea. Everything bad that follows is a consequence of that. And the movie actually makes that pretty clear in the UV scene where they figure it out.

On the other hand, once you're cornered by space dogs you gotta do what you gotta do.
posted by Artw at 7:59 AM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fuck space dogs. They're at my garbage bins every other night.

If you think that's bad, just wait until the space raccoons start showing up in your neighbourhood.
posted by asnider at 8:14 AM on July 27, 2012


I blame Ice Cream Eyes.
posted by whuppy at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2012


Any gorilla space dog coming round my gaff is gonna get mashed up, you get me?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And here what I first thought the weakest point of the movie was the detail that Stiller's character works at Costco yet lives cushily in the 'burbs. I see that he's the manager of the Costco, so, I guess it makes more sense. I know movie jobs have much less actual work time and pay about double what real jobs pay, but that punctured my suspension of disbelief.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2012


Attack the Block is brilliant because it de-Others the Other. Teenagers in the UK are this scary Other. It is very British in this sense, American or Brazilian muggers would have totally different motivations. The kids in the movie steal not because they need the money, but because they need an outlet for something - they need to be warriors, to have a gang, to have their turf, to be men - and there's no healthy outlet for that in their context.

So in the beginning the kids adhere exactly to that stereotype. MUGGERS! BAD! In a sense the whole movie is about overcoming that initial impression - If you are unable to see the protagonists as something other than muggers, you'll hate it.

Then Something happens, the classic trope of the countries of the earth overcoming their differences when facing an alien threat, only the trope is reduced to a city block. It's brilliant. Social barriers are broken because of this emergency, and thus characters are richly fleshed out. The kids are not just muggers, that's only one side of them. They're fully 3D characters.

And then there's the action, in a delightfully small scale. It doesn't need to be about destroying New York to be exciting. Sometimes hiding in a dumpster from a really big dog is scarier. It's a boy's movie - because the action is smaller, it plausibly fulfills your inner 10 year old boy fantasies. Yeah piloting a jet is a stretch, but riding a moped into battle? THIS IS SICK
posted by Tom-B at 8:24 AM on July 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Spoilers for Attack The Block follow:

The protagonists of the movie are completely awful; they begin the movie by surrounding a woman and threatening her with violence, apparently just for funsies. I was initially under the impression that because they're so unsympathetic, they were going to be easy narrative cannon fodder; that they'd be the first to be killed, simply in order to demonstrate to the audience how vicious the dogs are.

But no, they kill the first dog they encounter, for no apparent reason. The movie then makes clear that, as Artw points out, everything that follows is a consequence of that. If we believe the dogs are unintelligent, they're just following a basic olfactory instinct; if we believe the dogs are actually as intelligent as humans, they may be sentiently avenging the death of their beloved, who, again, was beaten to death just for kicks. (ominous_paws, you asked me if I feel the same way about Alien; I think that if we're comparing this movie to Alien, Moses maps on to the facehugger, as the one who begins the tit-for-tat exchange of aggressions.)

Given this setup, there was no part of me that wanted the boys to survive; they are obviously the vilest creatures in the movie. The movie later points out that the dogs are ONLY after them, and that all the other deaths are occurring simply because those victims were unfortunate enough to be within the general scent-range of the boys, who are the prime target (because, again, they beat the dogs' beloved to death for no reason).

How does Moses deal with this knowledge that he's the main target? Does he sacrifice himself in order to let everyone else live? Does he try to clear up the misunderstanding? No: he takes a hardline racist stance: Exterminate All The Brutes.

Along the way, of course, they coerce the nurse (the same one they'd threatened earlier) into helping them. The only thing she gets by way of apology is the assurance that they wouldn't have robbed her if they'd know she was part of the same housing project they were; the excuse they offer is the same shitty us-vs-them tribalism that prompted them to rob her in the first place, and that prompted them to (not to point too fine a point on it by repeating it yet again) beat a creature to death for no reason.

The end of the movie has everyone chanting Moses's name, cheerfully expressing the point that it's pretty cool to murder lots of Others, even if the conflict began with the killing of an innocent woman.

The whole film is pretty repugnant -- so much so that if I believed the director was a smarter man, I might think it was meant as an indictment of the audience, a la Haneke's Funny Games.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:27 AM on July 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


My wife worked at Costco a decade ago as a regular cashier. With three years on the job she was making $15 an hour with time and a half every Sunday. Glassdoor puts the average total pay (salary, bonuses, profit sharing) of a General Manager at $177k per year.

So yeah, living in the burbs is totally doable.
posted by sideshow at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2012


once again, i'm convinced that reading the discussion is way more interesting than the movie would be. thanks, guys! you saved me the trouble AND gave me some stuff to think about.
posted by lodurr at 8:31 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I've known people who worked at other warehouse stores that were paid not much above minimum wage. I guess Costco is different.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:32 AM on July 27, 2012


Most of the Costco stores are union (Teamsters) shops, and even the non-union stores pay very well.

Costco is an good example that you get what you pay for when it comes to taking care of your employees. The difference in service and professionalism is striking when I go to a warehouse like Sam's Club, which does pay their people just above minimum wage.
posted by sideshow at 8:40 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a pretty amazing Q & A with Joe Cornish here, covering the genesis of the film, casting, alien design and cinematography here - that last one being important because they capture the feel of dingy housing estates just right without making it seem artificially bright or overly murky. I'd give it a listen of you're at all into the film.

I'd also say that Joe Cornish is a better man than me - if I got robbed by little hoodie shits the last thing I'd do is probably make a film about how little hoodie shots are people too.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on July 27, 2012


How does Moses deal with this knowledge that he's the main target? Does he sacrifice himself in order to let everyone else live?
HE TOTALLY DOES. The final scene is all about that! He only lives because of sheer luck. But he's fully staring death in the face to save the others. His journey is 100% about learning that " actions have consequences"

Also, he's not the one who initiates the violence. He goes into the car to investigate it after the explosion, and the alien attacks him.
posted by Tom-B at 8:50 AM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Greg, that a brilliantly smart reading of the film that gives great support to hating on the protagonists, but I'm not sure there's super-steady support from it in the actual film.

I can't honestly remember how strongly it's implied that Moses is attacked in the car in the very first encounter, though I'd sympathise with the argument that even if this was the case, to purse it into the shed and stab it up was a shitty thing to do. However, I'm not sure there's any real basis to assume the monsters were intelligent and avenging loved ones; all we really get from what we see in the film is a swarm of horny gorilla bastards ready to disappointedly tear anything they can't fuck to shreds.

If you're determined to see the protagonists as nothing more than monsters, then you can go to these more speculative interpretations for support - I'm more inclined to see the initial stabbing as a fuck-up that's nonetheless part of Moses' on-othering, as set out by Tom-B above, especially given that the writer / director put the film together after being mugged in his block in South London.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:50 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


support FOR it in the actual film. sigh.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:51 AM on July 27, 2012


Also worth noting that the only negative top-critic review for Attack on rottentomatoes.com is from the hoodie-hating Telegraph, who take a similar line on the protagonists.

Although they stop short of only being happy when the teenagers get hurt, which I guess is something.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


He only lives because of sheer luck.

That's not luck; it's part of a plan. He fills a room with flammable gas, then jumps out the window while igniting it, saving himself while they're burned alive.

I'm not sure there's any real basis to assume the monsters were intelligent and avenging loved ones

The film never tells us they're not intelligent, is the thing. All we know about them is that, like us, they form strong bonds in re mating, and like us, they're willing to kill for those bonds. All else that we know about them is that they've mastered interstellar travel, which is certainly more than the apes on this planet have done.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:58 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or that someone else mastered interstellar travel and likes dropping them on yokels.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right, but it's a valid point: How do we read the presence of incomprehensible aliens in these movies? Do we rationalize it by creating a narrative that makes stupid interstellar-voyaging aliens nominally plausible (they're the real aliens' pets! they stole the ship! they're a practical joke -- on us!) -- or do we rationalize it by assuming that they're actually intelligent, and we just don't understand them?

We get an awful lot of dreck in that regard. The starfarers in Cowboys & Aliens make very little sense if we assume they created their own technology.

The line of least resistance is to blame the storyteller for creating stupid aliens. And I think in most cases that makes the most sense.
posted by lodurr at 9:07 AM on July 27, 2012


Sure there's a plan, but it's one of total desperation - he's relying on the flag holding to live - I think it's fair to say he doesn't rate the odds of his own survival well.

The film shows us the apes behaving unintelligently. It's possible that they could be intelligent, but that requires conjecture. You've made this conjecture to support your position that the boys are irredeemable monsters. But as ROU_Xenophobe shows above, it's just as easy to conjecture the other way, or to support just about any position about the film.

And as Tom-B pointed out, if we're going to make it such a lynchpin of our views on Moses et al - the alien attacked first in the car.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dog, as far as the kids know at that moment, bites kid in car. Kid chases dog to shack and kills it. More violence ensues. I never thought the kids were in the wrong for killing the dog after being bit. If a "dog" bit a kid in my neighborhood and proved to be aggressive when the police were called out it would be shot. The kids in the movie were not "call the authorities first" types so them taking action against it themselves seems neither malicious or unexpected.

When Moses goes into the apartment it seemed very likely he thought he was going to die and is resigned to that. As the audience we know he won't but as a character Moses never seems like he feels like he is John McClane or James Bond, he is not positive he will survive but he is going in anyway.

I cringed at the beginning during the mugging but after watching the whole thing it seems to me that Moses and his crew are no worse than Selina Kyle.
posted by M Edward at 9:14 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The dog jumped out of the car, giving a superficial injury to one of the aliens that surrounded it, and immediately fled into a small, enclosed space, where it was pursued by the aliens, one of whom subsequently beat it to death.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:15 AM on July 27, 2012


For about a month, I maintained that the single Harry Potter film I've been dragged to was about a psychopath called Harry stalking this nice (if insecure) kid called Draco from the start to the end of the film, occasionally giving him violent beatings. That was fun too.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:20 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


At any rate, I feel like I just keep hammering my interpretation home, so I'll get out of the thread now, but basically I'm summing up by saying that I see the movie as a celebration of unthinking othering -- that if we see something like looks sufficiently different than us, we are justified in destroying it rather than understanding it. We can round them up in an enclosed space and fill it with toxic gas, or we can turn that enclosed space into an oven and burning them alive; but whether we're gassing these greatly outnumbered Others or putting them in ovens, our violence is justified, because they are different than us, and they had the temerity to come into our Homeland.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:21 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why can't Attack the Block be good? Why does it have to be "fucking fantastic" or "terrible" and "hated"? You know, it was fun. It was good. It was neither "fucking fantastic" nor "terrible". STOP THE PRAISE INFLATION, internet.
posted by xmutex at 9:29 AM on July 27, 2012


Sometimes an alien in a movie is just a bug that needs squishing

Like how sometimes a rock is just a rock but we call it unobtanium.
posted by M Edward at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2012


I beleive you'll find that's a highly valuable room temperature superconductor.
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on July 27, 2012


it's a big room

full of weed

and it's ron's
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on July 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow, I'm shocked by Greg Nog's utterly wrong interpretation of Attack the Block.

It's a film about choosing your means to success. In upper-class white society, you become successful by buying in to the standard norms of society. You don't react in violence, you don't steal, you don't do illegal shit. Moses belongs to another society, though--he's an impoverished black kid. You see him struggling with subversive means of success at the outset. He's leading a gang of mugging, thieving, sniveling kids; violently (and unthinkingly) lashing out at anything that would hurt him; and contemplating dealing drugs. For people like Moses, for whom college is not an option, these seem like the only ways you can ever become a man--to prove yourself, get money, and, hopefully, get some modicum of social mobility.

Of course, we, as viewers, know better--we know that no good can come of him selling drugs.

But that's not to say those within his society are amoral; they're simply differently-moral. Moses, in fact, has a strict moral code which involves loyalty to those who are part of his tribe, as well as fierce protectiveness over his turf. You see this again and again, when he saves the little kids, when his attitudes toward the nurse shift, when he finally decides to be a mensch and destroy the monsters. That's not to say that the last is not in many ways a horrific act. It's actually clear that the boys sympathize with them more than not ("blacker than black"). Like Moses and company, they actually aren't amoral, but operate under an alien moral code. However, Moses' character arc is one that takes him from mindless destruction to something else--moral destruction. Under his moral code, the worst possible thing anyone can do is to bring destruction to the block. It's a moment of sinking realization, and selling drugs, or acting like a hooligan--the only means to success for a boy like him in his society--will not get him out of it.

He has to act like a fucking action movie hero to save his people. And for most poor black kids, that's never an option. In fact, it's incredibly risky--we see this in the end, when the police cart him off.

I mean, yeah, it's a movie about tribalism, but it's a movie about exceeding what's ever expected of you for the good of the tribe. It's about cleaning up your mess and acting like a grown-up in a society that closes grown-up means of success to a whole population of people. Yes, the aliens get unthinkingly destroyed. But, I mean, c'mon, I am probably the only person on metafilter who loves aliens as much as Greg Nog, but it's narratively necessary here and also necessary under the moral code the characters hold dear to them.

It's a movie that looks at the world not just from a teen perspective (which I wrote about here), but a poor black teen perspective, with no insertion of adult white middle-class morality into it. It's the only movie I've seen to do that under an SFnal lens, and I think that makes it fucking fantastic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:55 AM on July 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why can't Attack the Block be good? Why does it have to be "fucking fantastic" or "terrible" and "hated"? You know, it was fun. It was good. It was neither "fucking fantastic" nor "terrible". STOP THE PRAISE INFLATION, internet.

Nah, still going to go with fucking fantastic. Greg Nogs take on that merely confirms that for me - if it was merely good I don't see him getting nearly so hung up on Space Dog rights.

The Watch may be "good" (I doubt it) or it may be terrible, per the trailer, but it is not important and interesting filmmaking. Attack the Block is the real deal.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


For about a month, I maintained that the single Harry Potter film I've been dragged to was about a psychopath called Harry stalking this nice (if insecure) kid called Draco from the start to the end of the film, occasionally giving him violent beatings.

When you realize that Harry Potter is a rich jock who's riding on the names of his parents and accepting worship for something that just happened to him without any agency on his part, the whole storyline gets a little... odd.
posted by Etrigan at 10:05 AM on July 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


if it was merely good I don't see him getting nearly so hung up on Space Dog rights.

future headline: Area Man Assists In Hostile Alien Invasion, Insists They Are Just Huggy Dogs.
posted by elizardbits at 10:13 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also he is just not as awesome as Hermione, frankly.
posted by elizardbits at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ack. Somehow neglected to quote the "When you realize that Harry Potter is a rich jock who's riding on the names of his parents and accepting worship for something that just happened to him without any agency on his part, the whole storyline gets a little... odd." comment I meant to. I am not unfavorably comparing Greg to Hermione.
posted by elizardbits at 10:15 AM on July 27, 2012


I am not unfavorably comparing Greg to Hermione.

Well, why the hell not? I'd unfavorably compare Greg to Hermione. I think you're biased in favor of Greg.

I mean, not that I actually know Greg. But I'm willing to be he's not the Cleverest Witch Of His Generation.
posted by lodurr at 10:26 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to bet that there is no actual practitioner of actual magic alive today who is clever then Greg.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd ask Glycon about that.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi: "It's about cleaning up your mess and acting like a grown-up in a society that closes grown-up means of success to a whole population of people."

I think this observation is of paramount importance in this film, because part of Moses' journey in the film is child to grownup. Greg Nog's analysis is excellent, but fails to acknowledge that one of the fundamental differences between Moses and the space dogs is that Moses is a child leading a pack of children. While Moses learns a difficult lesson that actions have consequences and demonstrates a capacity for redemption, there is never any indication that the space dogs are capable of a similar acceptance of responsibility for their actions, which I would argue is necessary to break the chain of violence set in motion at the beginning of the film.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Teenagers in the UK are this scary Other. It is very British in this sense, American or Brazilian muggers would have totally different motivations. The kids in the movie steal not because they need the money, but because they need an outlet for something - they need to be warriors, to have a gang, to have their turf, to be men - and there's no healthy outlet for that in their context.

I'm skimming as I haven't seen AtB yet, but there's now a wave of more serious films dealing with this - Plan B's Ill Manors, Noel Clarke's stuff, Sket, etc. However most of these are set in East, not South London so I don't know if it's different in how it depicts gang culture/poverty.
posted by mippy at 11:39 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to bet that there is no actual practitioner of actual magic alive today who is clever then Greg.

Oh, all right, fine. I'll stop comparing him unfavorably to Hermione.
posted by lodurr at 12:03 PM on July 27, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi — YEAH, EXACTLY

BLOCK! BLOCK! BLOCK!
posted by Tom-B at 4:20 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: "Yeah, but you could have said the same thing about Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn fifteen years ago if they'd been in something hacky with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd"

That's not true. Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn were never good.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:25 PM on July 27, 2012


Vince Vaughn is excellent, but the apex of his career was in "Swingers".
posted by Tom-B at 4:40 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I thought he was pretty amazing in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

What a bizarre cast that movie has.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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