Mini Movie Review: The First 10 Minutes of Attack the Block (2011)

Quick review: I’ve watched Attack the Block half a dozen times now and it remains the best alien invasion film I’ve ever seen.

Why? (It’s ok. You can ask me that.) I can explain it using only the first ten minutes. If you’re not convinced after ten minutes… well, I’m not sure what to say actually because no one I’ve had this conversation with ever turned the movie off once it got started.

Attack the Block opens on a shot of the night sky, with a single star falling from the heavens, before panning down to reveal fireworks over London. The camera settles, not on the downtown, not on the homes of the wealthy, but on a tube station and a young white woman talking to her mother on her mobile while walking home past street vendors hawking flowers and vegetables. Her hat doesn’t match her coat that doesn’t match her pants and her scarf – well, let’s just assume that an elderly aunt knitted it for her and move on. Kids run down the street with sparklers, as the woman walks into a residential neighborhood with more graffiti than street lamps. A sudden burst of fireworks startles her but there’s no one behind her; she’s jumpy, though we don’t yet know why. She finishes her call with a plan to meet for Sunday dinner, and looks up to see her way blocked by a group of kids wearing dark-colored hoodies and bandanas over their faces. Crossing the street doesn’t stop them from surrounding her and mugging her. Suddenly that falling star is a meteor crashing into a car only a few feet away from them, and the invasion’s begun.

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Movie Review: Were The World Mine (2008)

This is a reprint; I first posted this review as part of “Fae Awareness Month” in 2011.

Tom Gustafson’s low-budget, independent, gay musical, Were the World Mine, arrived in 2008, swathed in lace and glitter and hot boy-on-boy action. Interspersed with the traditional Shakespearean scenes, acted out on a prep-school stage, are musically-enhanced fantasies that are some of the best moments of the film. Even when the film’s fairies aren’t in costume, the boys are still by turns argumentative, mischievous, aggressive, and tricky. Exactly as the Bard would have wanted them to be. How does the play – and more importantly, the mischievous fairies – fare as a small-town tale of homophobia and love?

Beautifully.

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Movie Review: Stray Dog (1949)

Every year on the anniversary of Toshiro Mifune’s birth, I tell everyone I can to watch Nora Inu (released in the US as Stray Dog). It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, one of the best noir movies to come out of Japan, and an incredibly strong example of Akira Kurosawa’s films. It’s also, strangely, the Kurosawa/Mifune joint people talk about the least.

First, let’s all remember the hotness that was Toshiro Mifune:

If you were expecting to see him in film-faux samurai garb, sorry to disappoint you. Mifune appeared in nearly 170 films as an actor, including 16 of Kurosawa’s, and most of them weren’t period pieces. He was an extremely versatile, expressive, and talented actor, with a wide range — which included dark, murky, detective film noir like Stray Dog. Continue reading

Movie Review: Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (2015)

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives is basically a love letter to Adrian Bartos and Robert Garcia, who hosted “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show” from 1990 to 1998, on the Columbia University radio station, WKCR. If you don’t already know the fundamental difference between a DJ who makes music, and a DJ who talks between playing tracks on the radio, this documentary won’t be for you. If you don’t already know the difference between rap and lyrical hip-hop, this won’t explain it. If you’re not intimately aware that the 90s rap scene in New York was unlike anywhere else in the world, well… you get the idea.

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Movie Review: “Pride” (2014)

Poster for the film

I know this is an older movie, and in fact I’ve watched it a couple of times before, but I saw it again last week because it’s streaming free on Amazon Prime. Plus, it’s a great movie to watch when you’re stuck at home as a precaution against the plague because at its heart, it’s about found family and community building. It’s about the small ways we win even when we don’t succeed at defeating the big problems, and the repercussions of having hope.

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