Capital Celluloid - Day 200: Thursday July 21

Mars Attacks! (Burton, 1996) & Attack The Block (Cornish, 2011)
Riverside Cinema, 6.45 & 8.55pm

Now the Riverside know how to programme double-bills and this is a brilliant sci-fi combination.

Chicago Reader review of Mars Attacks!:

'Tim Burton's attractive and funny 1996 SF extravaganza, inspired by a series of Topps trading cards, has been described as satire, but whether its target is the present, the taste of SF fans in the 50s and 60s, or some combination thereof isn't entirely clear. Jack Nicholson plays both the president of the United States and a real estate salesman (bringing a lot of brio to both parts but especially the latter), Glenn Close is the first lady, and Natalie Portman is first daughter. A large segment of the American population gets wiped out during the movie, but Burton and company play it all for laughs, finding derisive humor in pacifists as well as warmongers, ecologists as well as capitalists, media types as well as gun-toting hillbillies. The movie reserves most of its respect for a couple of youngsters (Portman and Lukas Haas), a partially senile grandmother (Sylvia Sidney), and a splintered black family (including Pam Grier and Jim Brown). I'm not sure what it all means, but, as in Ed Wood, Burton's visual flair and affection for the characters make it fun.'

'At first glance, it looks as though Cornish has set the bar low for his first movie. A storyline inspired by the ’80s genre movies he grew up with (and lovingly parodied on ‘The Adam and Joe Show’), tied to a currently popular film fad – the London yoof movie – and set literally on his doorstep, ‘Attack the Block’ could easily have been a lazy, smug sci-fi parody: ‘Morons from Outer Space’ goes gangsta.

But, like the aliens that rampage through a Brixton tower block, this is an entirely unexpected beast. An unrecognisably well-spoken Jodie Whittaker plays Sam, the jobbing nurse whose decision to move into a south London estate backfires when she’s first mugged by teen thugs, then chased by marauding monsters. But Whittaker, and comic relief Nick Frost as weed dealer Ron, are merely the audience-friendly commercial face of ‘Attack the Block’. The real stars are those thugs, led by taciturn wannabe player Moses (John Boyega, stunning), whose decision to tool up and defend their turf kicks the plot into high gear. . . .

These kids start out as caricatures – the moody leader, the speccy geek, the mouth – but the respect shown to them is hugely refreshing, and their progressions are heartfelt and wholly believable: Shane Meadows would be proud.

All of which elevates ‘Attack the Block’ from fun creature-feature throwback to this year’s unmissable British movie, and Cornish from just another geek-turned-filmmaker to a major talent: if he can strike a similar balance between sympathy, insight and crowd-pleasing thrills in future projects, his status is assured.

‘Attack the Block’ isn’t perfect – the aliens are a tad unremarkable and the final blowout never hits the frenzied peak it might have – but it’s hard to imagine British audiences having more fun in a cinema this year.'
Tom Huddleston

Here is the trailer.

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