REVIEW: ATTACK THE BLOCK

CAST

Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who)
John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Alex Esmail (Strippers vs Werewolves)
Franz Drameh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Simon Howard (Green Street 3)
Luke Treadaway (Dogging: A Love Story)
Nick Frost (The World’s End)
Maggie McCarthy (Leap Year)
Danielle Vitalis (Honeytrap)

Franz Drameh, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, John Boyega, Simon Howard, and Sammy Williams in Attack the Block (2011)Walking home on Bonfire Night, Samantha Adams (Jodie Whittaker), a 25-year-old trainee nurse, is mugged by a small gang of teenage hoodlums: Pest (Alex Esmail); Dennis (Franz Drameh); Jerome (Leeon Jones); Biggz (Simon Howard); and leader Moses (John Boyega). The attack is interrupted when a meteorite falls from the sky into a nearby car, giving Samantha the chance to escape. As Moses searches the wreck of the car for valuables, his face is scratched by a pale, hairless, eyeless dog-sized creature; the object which fell from the sky was its cocoon. The creature runs away, but the gang chase and kill it. Hoping to gain fame and fortune, they take the corpse to their acquaintance, cannabis dealer Ron (Nick Frost), to get advice on what to do. He lives at the top of their tower block, Wyndham Tower.Franz Drameh in Attack the Block (2011)Moses asks Ron and his boss, Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter), to keep the creature in their fortified “weed room” while he decides how to proceed. More objects fall from the sky. Eager to fight the creatures, the gang arm themselves and go to the nearest crash site. However, they find these aliens are much larger, with spiky fur which is so black it reflects no light, huge claws and rows of glowing fangs. The aliens kill their dog too. Fleeing the aliens, the gang are intercepted by two policemen and Moses is arrested, identified as the mugger by Samantha. The aliens, following Moses, maul the unarmed officers to death and attack their van, leaving Samantha and Moses trapped inside. Dennis reaches the vehicle and drives the police van away, only to crash into a surprised Hi-Hatz’s car. Samantha runs away while the rest of Moses’s gang catch up and confront Hi-Hatz and his henchman.Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, and John Boyega in Attack the Block (2011)Enraged by the damage to his car, Hi-Hatz threatens them with a gun, refusing to believe their story of aliens, until his henchman is attacked by one, allowing the gang to escape. The gang try to flee to Wyndham Tower but are again followed and attacked en route by the aliens, where Biggz is forced to hide in a recycling bin and Pest is severely bitten in the leg. They find that Samantha lives in their building, force their way into her flat, and persuade her to treat Pest’s leg. An alien bursts in and Moses kills it with a samurai sword through the head. Understanding that the group was not lying about the creatures being extraterrestrial, Samantha reasons that it is safer to stay with the gang than on her own and joins them. The gang moves upstairs to the flat owned by Tia (Danielle Vitalis), Dimples (Paige Meade), Dionna (Gina Antwi), and Gloria (Natasha Jonas), believing that their security gate will keep them safe. The aliens instead attack from outside, climbing up the side of the tower block and smashing through the windows, one of whom decapitates Dennis.Jodie Whittaker, Franz Drameh, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, and John Boyega in Attack the Block (2011)After Samantha saves Moses’ life from one of the aliens, the girls believe them to be the focus of the creatures and kick them out of the flat. In the hall, the gang are attacked by Hi-Hatz and more henchmen. The gang escapes while an alien chases Hi-Hatz and a couple of henchmen into a lift. Hi-Hatz kills the alien, although his henchmen are killed, and continues his search for Moses. Making their way upstairs to Ron’s weed room, the gang runs into more aliens, but using fireworks as a distraction, they manage to get through. Jerome, however, becomes disoriented in the smoke and is killed by an alien. Entering Ron’s flat they find that Hi-Hatz is already there and has been waiting for them. Hi-Hatz prepares to shoot Moses but hordes of aliens smash through the window and kill him. Now joined by Brewis (Luke Treadaway), one of Ron’s customers, Moses, Pest and Samantha retreat into the weed room, while Ron hides in the flat.Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, and John Boyega in Attack the Block (2011)Biggz, still trapped in the bin by a lurking alien, is saved by two unruly children, Probs (Sammy Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao), using a water-gun filled with petrol and a flame to torch the creature from a safe distance. In the weed room, Brewis notices a luminescent stain on Moses’ jacket under the ultraviolet light. As a zoology student, Brewis theorises that the aliens are like spores, drifting through space on solar winds until they chance on a suitable planet. After landing in an area with enough food, the female lets off a strong pheromone which will attract the male creatures to it so that they can mate and propagate their species in their new world. Brewis suggests that the smaller, hairless alien which Moses killed in the beginning was such a female, and it had left a mating scent on Moses that the larger male aliens have been tracking throughout the evening. The gang form a plan for Samantha, who has not been stained with the pheromone, to go to Moses’s flat and turn on the gas oven.Franz Drameh, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, John Boyega, and Simon Howard in Attack the Block (2011)Moses forces Pest to return the ring they stole from her, feeling guilty for having mugged her. Samantha successfully avoids the aliens, turns on the gas, and leaves the block. Moses, with the dead female alien strapped to his back, rushes out of the weed room and into his flat, while the males converge on the scent and chase Moses through the block. Inside his flat he throws the female into the kitchen and the males follow. Using fireworks, Moses ignites the gas-filled room and leaps out of the window. The explosion engulfs the flat and the aliens, but Moses survives, clinging to a Union Jack hanging from the side of the building. In the aftermath, Moses, Pest, Brewis, and Ron are arrested and held responsible for the deaths around the block, including the two officers who had earlier arrested Moses. Samantha, however, comes to their defence. In the back of the police van, Moses and Pest hear the residents of the block cheering for Moses.Attack The Block  is just exactly what it looks like. A low-budget, cleverly-written alien attack movie set in the inner-city, deprived area of South London. The lead characters are products of that environment. Marginalised teenagers who have somehow become convinced that education has nothing to offer and that the only way out of their situation is low-level crime and, very likely, an early death. They’re not heroes. They’re not redeemed by the events of the film. You can not like them, and it’s doesn’t make any difference. But they are characters you recognise … raw and authentic. Don’t take it so seriously. It’s  not a searing social document. It’s not a hard-hitting indictment of our times. It’s just a bloody great sci-fi action movie.

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REVIEW: ONE DAY

CAST

Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas)
Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)
Jodie Whittaker (Venus)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
Georgia King (The Duchess)
Romala Gaai (Atonement)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Emilia Jones (Utopia)

The film opens with a short scene from the “current” day in 2006, which appears later on, before going back 18 years.

Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) and Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) meet on 14 July 1988 after their graduation from the University of Edinburgh. They spend the night together but agree to be just friends, and plan to spend the following day together, the 15th, St. Swithun’s day. The film chronologically reconnects Dexter, Emma or both of them on that one day over the next 18 years after they go their separate ways.
One year later in 1989, Dexter helps Emma move into a flat in London where she plans to pursue a career as a writer. However, after little success, she ends up working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant by 1990, and meets Ian (Rafe Spall), an aspiring comedian who is hired soon after. Dexter is travelling the world while drinking and having sex promiscuously with a succession of girlfriends, but they keep in contact via phonecalls and letters. He then visits Emma on 15 July 1991 and, to get her out of her rut, suggests they go away for the weekend. They flirt back and forth and it’s made clear that Emma may have deeper feelings for him, but since she knows that Dexter is not boyfriend material, nothing comes of it and two more years fly by. Dexter is now a wealthy and successful television presenter on a raucous late-night television show, where he meets Suki (Georgia King), who later becomes his new girlfriend.

Dexter visits his parents on 15 July 1994 after his mother (Patricia Clarkson) has been diagnosed with cancer and is terminally ill. He arrives at the family home still under the influence of drugs and alcohol from heavy partying the night before, which his father (Ken Stott) notices and is furious about, telling Dexter he will ban him from visiting again if he keeps it up. Also, his mother appears very unimpressed with the nature of his television show and reveals that she no longer believes he is a nice man. On the same day, Emma goes out on a date with Ian. Although there appears to be no romantic spark between them, she knows he means well and so they continue to date anyway.

By 1995, Emma is now a school teacher and has moved in with Ian. However, she grows more and more irritated with him because of his lack of ambition and failure to contribute to maintaining their household. Dexter is the presenter of another television show, which isn’t doing so well, making him “the most annoying man on telly”. On 15 July 1996, he and Emma meet for dinner. He turns up high on cocaine, leaves the table every thirty minutes, flirts with another woman down the hall, and insults Emma. She storms off and, out in the street, decides that they must break off their friendship due to them outgrowing each other. She tells him that although she loves him, she no longer likes him anymore.

Two years later, Dexter’s television career has gone into a steep decline because he is 32 years old and television executives prefer presenters in their early 20s. Meanwhile, Emma and Ian have split up and she becomes a published author of children’s books. By 1999, Dexter is in a long-term relationship with Sylvie (Romola Garai). On 15 July 2000, Emma’s former university roommate and Dexter’s old best friend get married, and both Emma and Dexter are invited to the wedding. There, Dexter receives a job offer from Calum, his old roommate who has since become a multimillionaire from owning a chain of organic food restaurants. Dexter and Emma leave the party to talk on the rooftop, where he tells her about Sylvie, who is now his fiancée, and is on his way to becoming a father. Emma tries to hide the fact that she is upset and they share a very brief but meaningful kiss.

By 2001, Dexter is a father but later learns that Sylvie is having an affair with Calum and they divorce. Two years pass and Emma has moved to Paris, where Dexter visits her on 15 July in the hope that they will get together again, this time for good. It is revealed that they had a one-night stand after his marriage to Sylvie broke down. However, Emma reveals that she has a new boyfriend (Sébastien Dupuis), a French musician who plays piano in a jazz band. Smitten with Emma but taken aback by the revelation that she has moved on, Dexter decides to leave. Suddenly, she has second thoughts and chases after him, exclaiming that she thought she had gotten rid of him. He promises to never hurt, lie to or cheat on her, and they share a passionate kiss and finally start a full relationship together.

Emma and Dexter become engaged in 2004 and eventually marry. Parlaying his restaurant experience into a new career, Dexter opens his own cafe in England, which proves to be very lucrative, and he and Emma start trying to have their own baby. However, they are unsuccessful and become frustrated with one another. On 15 July 2006 (the scene from the very beginning of the movie), Emma is hit by a truck while riding her bicycle out of a blind alley, and she dies. Dexter becomes inconsolable and self-destructive, and is particularly desolate each year on their day. Over the years, he gets support from his ex-wife, their daughter Jasmine, his widowed father, and even Ian, who also mourns Emma every year. Ian has since married and had children, but he visits Dexter and tells him that Emma was never the same with him as she was with Dexter, that she “lit up” whenever Dexter was around, and that “she made you decent and you made her so happy”.

On 15 July 2011, Dexter visits Arthur’s Seat in Scotland with Jasmine. The movie flashbacks to 1988 when they met and reveals they spent their day together at the same place. At the top, Dexter and Emma promise to always be best friends.
The juxtaposition of the present with the past near the end of this film makes the events even more potent than they would have been. Audience members who do not fall into the “half-wit” category can follow the story.

REVIEW: VENUS

CAST

Peter O’ Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch)
Leslie Phillips (The Jackal)
Vanessa Redgrave (Nip/Tuck)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Cathryn Bradshaw (Like Minds)
Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)

The plot concerns Maurice (Peter O’Toole), an elderly actor who finds himself increasingly attracted to his friend Ian’s great-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) while simultaneously finding himself in deteriorating health due to prostate cancer. Maurice’s friend describes the great-niece as a trouble maker and a nuisance, but Maurice discovers that Jessie warms up to him when he starts interacting with her. He takes her to the National Gallery in London to view his favourite painting, the Rokeby Venus, by the Spanish artist Diego Velázquez.
Jessie had expressed interest in modelling (Maurice initially mis-hears this as “yodelling”) and Maurice arranges for Jessie to model nude for an art class. As a result of Jessie posing for the art class, and inspired by his favourite painting, Maurice decides to give Jessie the nickname “Venus”. Maurice and Jessie develop a passive/aggressive relationship over the course of the film. Maurice is forward in terms of his attraction towards Jessie while Jessie occasionally indulges his whims to a limited extent, such as touching her hand and smelling her neck, but also retracts the indulgences when she feels that he has gone too far. The plot of the film revolves around the evolving friendship or relationship between the two characters. For Maurice, this appears to be the last attempt at something approaching a love life, as his prostate operation has left him impotent. For Jessie, it is less clear what she sees in Maurice. During the course of the film we see her do everything from exploiting him (trying to get him to buy her presents, trying to use his flat to have sex with a boy), taking care of him, flirting with him, and rejecting him sexually to engaging with him as a friend. During the course of the film we learn that she has been rejected by her mother and great-uncle for her promiscuous life style; it is implied that she is drawn to Maurice because he does not judge her as harshly as her family members have.
The plot comes to a head when Jessie becomes involved with a boy. The two young lovers convince Maurice to take a walk so that they can have sex. Maurice initially obliges, but returns to kick them out of his flat. A scuffle ensues and the boy knocks down Maurice, injuring him. Jessie leaves with the boy but she later returns to check on Maurice. When the paramedics arrive, Maurice claims he cannot remember who attacked him, much to Jessie’s surprise. Then Maurice calls for “Venus” to take care of him. Jessie, remorseful, agrees to look after Maurice. Some time later, after Maurice has at least partly recovered, he takes Jessie to the seaside at Whitstable in Kent.[2] As they sit down by the water Maurice says to Jessie “Now, we can really talk”, and dies, leaning on her. At the memorial services, Jessie meets Maurice’s ex-wife Valerie (Vanessa Redgrave), who could not find satisfaction in Maurice’s love life either. The last scene shows Jessie and others posing as models for the Venus character.
This film is amazing. The acting is superb and story very moving. It manages to be happy, sad, funny and uplifting all at once. The ‘disturbing’ moments work and are integral to the story.