Sunday, 29 May 2011

Rabbit Review: Attack The Block

The inevitable search for points of reference and the fact that it was produced by the same guys has inevitably resulted in comparisons between Attack The Block and Shaun of the Dead. The comparisons are not helpful. Shaun of the Dead was North London and overwhelmingly white, Attack The Block is South London, seriously multiracial and funnier, scarier and with an underlying moral grounding not to be found in Shaun of the Dead. Don't get me wrong - Shaun etc is a quality film, sharp and sassy but Attack The Block is a different class.

Sub-titled Inner City meets Outer Space. The plot is set around a gang of feral teens from a South London estate and a young nurse who they make the acquaintance of (by robbing her) played by Jodie Whittaker shortly before aliens starting crashing out of the sky to the estate and surrounds. The first alien crashes through the roof of a nearby car just after the robbery and Moses, leader of the gang (played by John Boyega - the star of the show)  kills it. Bad move. Given psycho aliens with row after row of dayglo razor sharp teeth it's best not to piss them off.

The script zings. One exchange I liked was...

Q Why of all the places in the world would aliens attack a shitty council estate in South London?

A Maybe they were looking for a fight.

The aliens get a fight from the teen gang as they defend their estate ('the block'). There are verbal and visual gags aplenty plus a lot of street slang. How the slang will play before wider audiences remains to be seen. Some of it, I suspect, would be incomprehensible in North London let alone North America. I can only wonder how information about a collison between a whip and a bully van plays elsewhere. Having lived in South London for longer than I care to remember and having been involved in the criminal justice syatem for almost as long, I was in the loop but wondered about those outside it. The slang is cleverly limited and repeated so context provides assistance and some is altered for comprehensibility. "Low (pronounced to rhyme with cow') it" becomes "allow it" which helps to make sense of the expression but has never previously seen the light of day save in police versions of things said popping up in criminal trials from time to time. The police generally have a tin ear for street slang and make and endlessly reproduce mishearings (notably 'blood clot' for 'blood clat' (long 'a'), a Jamaican obscenity now absorbed into street English English but I digress.

It's even scary. My companion for the evening screamed (rather loudly) at one point! She went in to see the film unenthusiastically expecting to hate it but came out saying it was brilliant.

It even has a moral. You start off understandably seeing the teen gang as your worst nightmare. They rob Sam, the nice young nurse, at knifepoint in the street. But there is a worse nightmare in prospect - the aliens. Gradually and warily (on both sides) they form an alliance and then a bond with Sam. The unfolding drama becomes redemptive for Moses - some critics have suggested this does not work. I thought it did. Go do yourselves a favour - go see it.

On a personal note, I've had a lot to deal with on all sorts of fronts but I'm still standing and my fur barely singed. More blogging will hopefully follow soon. In the meantime here is some informative stuff.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Of odds and ends and bloggers...

The rabbit was amused and entertained by a couple of gems from the Guardian this morning. The first relates to a tv quiz programme called Million Pound Drop. The general idea is that you start with a million pounds and lose money by giving wrong answers. Yup, we are heading into stupidity territory. Deep into stupidity territory. As in really, really deep.

Here is a question for plucky contestants Andrew and Vanessa...

 'In 1954 Roger Bannister was the first man to...

  • Run a sub 4-minute mile
  • Go into space
  • Put the toilet seat down
(There is a pictorial clue as to the right answer for the hard of thinking above)

After much hesitation, Andrew and Vanessa went for.....
Yup... The toilet seat option.
Such stupidity is truly on the heroic scale. They should be given a medal or something.
On the other end of the intelligence scale, there was a piece by Sarah Churchwell touching on the vexed question of British and American spelling issues. Professor Churchwell, an American herself, mounts a spirited defence of American spellings. The rabbit considers himself better informed but less than convinced.

Meanwhile John Hirst aka Jailhouselawyer e-mails the rabbit with cartoon from the Torygraph attached asking what I have been up to. The answer is of course nothing. And even if I had been up to anything I would not be seeking a super-injunction (overseas readers - please google - they are injunctions to protect very important people and are so secret you can't even mention their existence - or something like that), The rabbit has always approached rumours about him on the basis that they should be admitted especially if untrue.

The above woodcut is of Thomas Cranmer, sixteenth century archbishop of Canterbury having a full and frank exchange of views with a Doctor Cole shortly before being carbonised for heresy. The rabbit mentions this as Cranmer has a contemporary imitator who seems a rather thin skinned fellow. For why? The rabbit described the Cranmer impersonator in a (fairly) recent posting as an 'irritating blogger'. Oh dear! Our hero picked up on this description and commented as will be seen here.

Calm down dear (to borrow a phrase). And please also understand that the rabbit writes any old rubbish that comes into his head without even the pretence of fact checking. Get over it. If you like religious blogs Nick Baines - who has the virtue of being a real as opposed to pretend bishop - does a much better one. 'Cranmer' may consider himself awarded the second (in succession to the egregious Grant Shapps) Knob of the Week.

Finally on bloggers and commenters, a comment by Alconcalcia to an over one year old posting 'Did you know an anagram of Gideon Osborne is "Go soon, inbreed'

Ummm, no Al (if I may call you Al). Didn't know that...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Royal Wedding Cut Out And Keep Souvenir

What exactly is going on above is a matter for some conjecture. Suffice it to say that from the page girl (or whatever she is called)'s reaction, it must be very noisy. Hat Tip to Charles Christian via Charon QC.

'Socialism' George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier (1936), draws towards it 'with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist and feminist in England'. Warming to his theme, our man's tirade against such 'cranks' is memorably extended in other passages of the book to include 'vegetarians with wilting beards', the 'outer-suburban creeping Jesus' eager to begin his yoga exercises, and "that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of 'progress' like bluebottles to a dead cat'.

The quote came to mind in relation to the Royal Wedding. I start by saying that the rabbit had little to no interest in this event and only caught a few minutes of it as it was on a great big screen in front of his exercise bike down at the gym. The only thought the coverage provoked was that the much traduced Rowan Williams would make a splendid Gandalf. And yes, as previously outlined in White Rabbit, the Windsors are an utter shower.

And yet. And yet. Oh and you can knit your own royal wedding if so inclined.

Some of the reaction to the Royal Wedding has been graceless in its splenetic nature - a classic example is the commentaries of charmless lump Tanya Gold (google if you can be bothered). It does strike me that we are rapidly developing a British variant of the 'culture wars' that have paralysed US politics for many years now. The effect is a social and intellectual paralysis as two camps who hold large numbers of their fellow-citizens (the other camp) in a kind of uncomprehending contempt, pass the time glaring at each other and exchanging insults. As the memorable line in Educating Rita has it 'there must be better songs to sing'. Roll on the republic. But nicely.

Then I am brought back to earth by the news of - talking of Orwell - Orwellian 'pre-emptive arrests' by notably the Metropolitan Police. Prominent among these was Chris Knight, a 68-year-old retired anthropology professor, his partner, Camilla Power and 45-year-old friend Patrick Macroidan on the eve of the wedding near their home in Brockley, south-east London on the charge of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance (sic).  Knight's group, the Government of the Dead, (doublesic) was planning to behead an effigy of Prince Andrew with a theatrical guillotine in an act of street theatre on Soho Square in London.

As you do.

The clunking mindless authoritarianism of this grates. Even vegetarians with wilting beards have rights. Including the right not to be incarcerated for hours before being released without charge on the grounds that they may do something embarrassing. Probably mostly to themselves.