Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Alice In Weirdoland

The BFI, as part of their mission to continue being completely brilliant, recently released Czech fruitcake Jan Švankmajer's Alice on DVD and Blu-ray. It's a loose adaptation of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' filtered through the marbles of a man whose films are the surrealist nightmares of a unique kind of demented genius.

For those unfamiliar with Švankmajer's work, may I refer you to this short film, and the following stills, all of which are considered completely normal in his world:
With this in mind, it will come as no surprise that Švankmajer's Alice, made in 1988 when most people were watching Die Hard, is an insane work of brilliance and a flawed but undeniably powerful adaptation of a dark childrens' classic made even darker by a man who's undecided whether his film is aimed at the playschool or the asylum. As Alice herself says at the beginning: "Now you will see a film made for children... perhaps".

Švankmajer's trademark stop-motion animation and disconcerting editing technique (displayed amazingly in another BFI box set) are in full effect in his first feature length film after nearly 25 years of equally disturbing short films. With a cast of one human, several animals (live and stuffed) and one or two items of clothing, this version of the classic tale is much weirder than anything Tim Burton could ever have dreamt up for his cack-handed adaptation.
Alice herself is played alternately with wide-eyed awe by Kristýna Kohoutová and by a mildly terrifying doll, and is ably supported by sock caterpillars, fish skeletons with legs and birds with monkey skulls for heads. It really is that kind of film.

At its heart, Alice is a surrealist meditation on dreams that just happens to use Lewis Carroll's work as a starting point, but it's also a fine example of the kind of avant-garde cinema that you might only be exposed to on a Film Studies course. It's not perfect - the Mad Hatter / March Hare scene seems to repeat itself interminably - but it is enjoyable, eye-opening bonkersness, and it's exactly the kind of thing we should be cherishing the BFI for making available to us. Stick it on your DVD rental list and impress your friends. Unless you're Helena Bonham Carter.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Hangover Part II

As the world continues to tighten its belt, financially speaking, director Todd Phillips has done his bit for the economy by saving money on a new story for his crazy Wolfpack and curling out a near shot-for-shot remake of his overrated 2009 hit. He's even taken it as far as not spending any money on jokes, leaving one-man LOL-machine Zach Galifianakis to elicit laffs by doing hilarious things like speaking, falling over and having a big beard but no hair on the top of his head.
Perhaps worried that somebody might notice the deceit, Phillips has made a subtle change by relocating the action from Las Vegas to Bangkok, which is, like, such a mental place to be. I don't know where the series goes from here: The Hangover Part III will have to be set on Jupiter if it's going to top the sheer unbelievable craziness of being set in a place where everyone looks and talks funny.

Fortunately Thailand is a place with infinite comedic possibilities. You won't believe this because it's so mind-blowingly original, but there's actually a gag in The Hangover Part II that involves ladyboys. I mean, that's pretty out there, right? And what's so great about this gag is that it gives our lovable heroes the chance to carry out some shouting, which is funny in any language. That must be why there's so much of it in this film.

I didn't actually hate The Hangover Part II for the majority of its running time, despite it clearly being complete bollocks, I just didn't care about it. All that changed spectacularly in the epilogue when, for no reason at all, everyone's favourite ear-chewing convicted rapist made an unwelcome reappearance and delivered possibly the worst few minutes of cinema I've seen in a long time. Still, convicted rapists being lionised is funny in any language, right?
And then, just to ensure I left the cinema with a really bad taste in my mouth, one of the photographs of the "forgotten" night that plays through the end credits (you know, exactly like in the first film) is a played-for-laughs recreation of the infamous "Murder Of A Vietcong By Saigon Police Chief" photograph from the Vietnam War. Because parodying the appalling horror of war in a film full of dick jokes is funny in any language.

Final thought
The Godfather Part II is a portion of a whole that is separate or distinct. Back To The Future Part II is a portion of a whole that is separate or distinct. It's probably fair to say that even Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will be a portion of a whole that is separate or distinct. The Hangover Part II, however, is absolutely not a portion of a whole that is separate or distinct. It's a massive pile of shit.

Friday, 27 May 2011

BlogalongaBond / You Only Live Twice:
Sets Appeal

By 1967, the James Bond brand was so phenomenally popular that even if someone had produced an unofficial spoof 007 film with ten writers, seven James Bonds, six directors, one Ronnie Corbett and absolutely no redeeming features, it would still have become one of the year's highest grossing movies. Of course if such a movie were to exist, we would not speak of it here at The Incredible Suit, so let's move on.

The problem with this success was that it led to complacency: You Only Live Twice's screenwriter Roald Dahl was literally given a formula to stick to by producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and Ian Fleming's macabre meditation on death was jettisoned in favour of a breezy Japanese jaunt that attempts to recapture all that was popular in the previous Bonds simply by lazy repetition. As a result, almost everything in the film is a faded copy of one of its predecessors:
Fortunately director Lewis Gilbert moves everything along with such a light touch and a sense of fun that it's easy to forgive the film's shortcomings. You Only Live Twice cheerily bounces from scene to scene being ludicrous and enjoyable, despite the best efforts of the script and cast to drag it back down to Thunderball-esque depths.

One man who didn't get the memo about kicking back, enjoying the sake and taking it easy, however, was the man responsible for You Only Live Twice's most memorable elements. Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for production designer Mr Sir Ken Adam OBE.
Adam's angular, modernist sets had already graced three of the first four Bond films, but it was on You Only Live Twice that he truly outdid himself. What's especially pleasing about his work on this film is that each of his sets is more impressive than the last, as if he was gradually building up to a grand, mind-blowing finale. Which, of course, he was.

I don't know about you but I can feel "a closer look" at the great man's work coming on.

Adam's first, simplest offering is the site of the antagonistic meeting between stereotypes representatives of the USA (bullish, arrogant) and the USSR (sly, threatening), chaired by global peacekeepers from the UK (statesmanlike, measured). Note the latticework design, simultaneously dividing and uniting the three parties. I've no idea what the massive hole in the floor denotes. Subsidence?

Henderson's Tokyo apartment is a mix of eastern and western influences, as befits a westerner living in Japan. Zaisu seats (cushions with chair backs) can be seen in the dining area - sitting seiza-style, as the Japanese traditionally do, is probably tricky with a wooden leg - while the next room contains more comfortable plush armchairs and a four-poster bed. All of which are about to become completely useless to their owner. Serves him right for serving Bond's martini "stirred not shaken", the galloping ninny.

Tiger Tanaka, essentially a Japanese M, has a much more modern office than his stuffy British counterpart. And whereas M's office is only ever really seen in the background of a character's close-up, Tiger's is afforded lingering wide shots to ensure every penny is on the screen. Adam fills the room with his trademark obscure angles and cheekily sneaks a tiger rug (GEDDIT?) into the middle of the room. I'm not sure what the giant Jenga's for. Maybe that's how Tiger relaxes after a hard day's ninja-ing.

Minor villain Osato's office HQ is an explosion in a perspective factory. Film sets rarely include ceilings because it makes them tricky to light, but Ken Adam doesn't give a shit about "rules". And when the ceiling is this amazing, quite right too. The office also features a personal dream of mine, a walk-in drinks cabinet, conveniently large enough to store unconscious henchmen.

The undoubted star of You Only Live Twice is SPECTRE's ludicrously unlikely but eye-poppingly amazing secret base, improbably carved into the guts of a volcano, and is as audacious a villain's lair as it is an achievement of set design. Neatly, its dome shape reflects Adam's first, simplest set in the film, but whereas that was designed to bring the USA and USSR together, the volcano's purpose is to force them into war with each other.

More than this, though, the volcano represents the peak of extravagance that the Bond series had reached. With this ridiculously over the top set, the films erupted through the crater of believability they'd been bubbling up towards for five years. While earlier Bonds still stand up to scrutiny today, You Only Live Twice became the launch pad for a million spoofs, and the only way the series could survive was by paring down the nonsense, ramping up the tension and going back to Ian Fleming's dark literary roots.
James Bond was about to undergo the biggest change of his life.

The Kobe docks fight
Bond beats off nineteen Japanese dockers with his bare hands (which is odd, given that he had a gun in the previous shot) and a big stick he finds lying around, in an amazing 22-second aerial shot. It's not a particularly impressive scrap - most of the henchfolk opt for a nice lie down rather than fighting back - but it makes a refreshing change to the way most fight scenes are shot. Having done all that, Bond then gets whacked on the noggin by a bad guy hiding behind some sacks. Sloppy.

The assassination attempt
In one of the series' most unnecessarily elaborate attempts on Bond's life (he's asleep! Shoot him!), a SPECTRE type trickles poison down a length of string toward's 007's snoozing chops, only for him to roll over at the last moment and for obligatory sacrificial lamb Aki to taste the deadly juice. Perfectly shot (the lighting on the poison is key to making the whole scene work), edited and scored, it's moments like this that make the Bond films so memorable. Grosse Pointe Blank's loving homage to this scene thirty years later proves its iconicness, which is definitely a word.

The cinematography
Having shot the first four Bond films, director of photography Ted Moore was replaced on You Only Live Twice by genius cinematographer Freddie Young, still basking in Oscar glory from Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. He achieved the near-impossible task of successfully lighting the volcano interior, and romanticised the land of the rising sun to the point where, despite Connery's alarming Japanese "disguise" and unflattering turtle neck sweater, this may well be the most beautiful Bond film of all.

And finally: The one thing Thunderball lacked the most is back:

In Tanaka's bath-house, Bond is attended to by a bevy of bikini-clad beauties, who lather him up with foamy bubbles. Bond glances towards his crotch:

Don't get the soap in my eye, will you?

And even more finally: Mie Hama, who plays Kissy Suzuki, took such a fascinating path to making You Only Live Twice that somebody wrote a song about her many years ago. It didn't make it into the charts and its creator now lives a sad and pathetic life writing about films on the internet for a tiny and long-suffering readership.

"Face Like A Pig"

BlogalongaBond will return with On Her Majesty's Secret Service

What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
Further BlogalongaBondareading here

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The James Bond Books: Better In Croatia

Croatian book publishers Algoritam are doing wonderful things for the good of mankind. Specifically, they're getting shit hot Croatian photographers to create new covers for Ian Fleming's James Bond books.

Marina Filipovic Marinshe has gone to great lengths to ensure that each of her covers, depicting a different Bond girl, is as faithful to Fleming's descriptions as possible. So far she's shot covers for 'Casino Royale', 'Live And Let Die' and the short story collection 'Quantum Of Solace', and they're all amazing:
As the author intended: Vesper Lynd, Solitaire and Judy Havelock

By far the best cover so far, though, is Hrvoje Radeljic's recently-revealed 'Moonraker', featuring Gala Brand (a character who never made it to the filmed version) inside Drax's rocket shaft, staring up at the titular vessel of death. Made up and dressed in period wear to reflect the original publication time of the book, model Ana Kurobasa is every inch the 1950s British Special Branch agent of the novel, specifically the 38-26-38 inches Fleming specified. Whether she went as far as including the mole on the upper curvature of her right breast remains sadly unknown.

Amusing Footnote
The model on the cover of 'Live And Let Die' is called Ana Fuckar. Don't tell Roger Moore, he'll have a heart attack.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Perils Of Watching Screener DVDs

Stop what you're doing, it's a new(ish) Patrick Wilson film! Family Jewels is a recently-released straight-to-DVD comedy about a man who loses his testicles in a surprise trumpet attack, and who subsequently becomes the subject of a paternity suit when one of his one-night-stands comes back to haunt him.

It's sweet but sluggish and unexceptional, and when Malcolm McDowell and Cybill Shepherd pop up at the half-hour mark as P-Willy's prospective in-laws you get some idea of what you're in for.

None of which is important. What's important is that production company G2 Pictures, who kindly provided me with a screener DVD, plastered a massive burnt-in timecode across the bottom of the frame, making it somewhat tricky to fully appreciate certain elements of the film:

If you enjoyed Family Jewels, why not read some of the author's other books? You'll find him/her in the library under "Frantcr01:01:51:14".

Here's the aforementioned trumpet attack which is so pivotal to the plot. As a fan of brass instrument / gonad-related violence I was devastated not to be able to see this in all its eye-watering glory. However it more than made up for it when I found out that the business end of a trumpet is called the bell end.

This message, which seems to reveal a previously unknown truth in the epilogue, probably wasn't that important, right?

Tough luck if you're a fan of tits POV shots.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Vallanzasca: Gli Angeli Del Male (Angels Of Evil)

European crime thriller Angels Of Evil is out this Friday. It's the true story of a violent but charming bank robber, kidnapper and murderer who becomes bizarrely elevated to rock star status by an adoring public in his own country. He spends an awful lot of time in jail but becomes adept at breaking out of it in order to carry on a string of doomed relationships and visit his doting parents. The film stretches across a time period that fashion forgot, featuring some alarming '70s and '80s clothes and hair and an array of amusing moustaches, and the pumping soundtrack, hyperactive editing and handsome, charismatic lead actor romanticise the antihero to uncomfortable levels but undeniably add to the entertainment value of the film. It's really quite brilliant.

Oh no hang on, sorry, I was thinking of Mesrine. Let me start again.

European crime thriller Angels Of Evil is out this Friday. It's the true story of a violent but charming bank robber, kidnapper and murderer who becomes bizarrely elevated to rock star status by an adoring public in his own country. He spends an awful lot of time in jail but becomes adept at breaking out of it in order to carry on a string of doomed relationships and visit his doting parents. The film stretches across a time period that fashion forgot, featuring some alarming '70s and '80s clothes and hair and an array of amusing moustaches, and the pumping soundtrack, hyperactive editing and handsome, charismatic lead actor romanticise the antihero to uncomfortable levels but undeniably add to the entertainment value of the film. It's really quite average.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Saturday Playlist #25: Alan Silvestri

"Hello! I'm Alan 'Big Al' Silvestri, and I'm taking time off from finishing off the score for Captain America to present this very special Saturday Playlist from The Incredible Suit.

Of course, this isn't really me typing these words, and in fact in no way do I associate myself with The Incredible Suit, whatever that is, although I'm sure I would if I was asked.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy listening to some of my greatest work, in particular my spine-tinglingly great score for Back To The Future and my none-more-eighties work on Romancing The Stone. I also hope you discover some of my little-known but rather good work on utter turdcakes like Judge Dredd, Van Helsing and GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.

Most of all, however, I hope you forgive me for botching my score for The A-Team by hardly including 'The A-Team Theme' at all. I'd had a bang on the head and didn't know what I was doing.



Thursday, 19 May 2011

You Only Live Twice Poster: Give The Man A Hand

In preparation for this month's BlogalongaBond, I came across Robert McGinnis's saucy artwork for the original poster:
On closer inspection it's even saucier than it first appears:
I'm impressed by that lady's remarkable dedication to the job in hand.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Five Marvel Superhero Spin-Offs Coming Soon(ish)!

Having failed to learn their lesson with the likes of Elektra and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Marvel continue to threaten the world with spin-off standalone movies from their most successful projects.

We already know about untantalising prospects like Deadpool, X-Men Origins: Magneto, Black Widow and Hawkeye, but The Incredible Suit has gone deeper, further and harder into Marvel's inner crevices to hunt down more superhero spin-offs heading our way. Warning: it's not pretty. Except for the last one.

Mark Ruffalo
Hulk: Third Time Lucky
Plot: In this re-re-boot of the doomed franchise, Ruffles stars as Bruce Banner, a man forced to relive his own origin story time and time again. Aiming for a grittier, more realistic version this time, Marvel do away with Banner's ridiculous indestructible trousers and Hulk finally gets to swing his mighty green todger around. A generation of kids is permanently traumatised, Marvel are sued to within an inch of their lives and Ruffles is sacked and blamed for the whole sorry affair.
Obligatory Post-Credits Scene: A phone rings. An actor answers. A voice asks: "Fancy playing the new Hulk?" The actor looks into camera, smiling. It's Chris Evans. Cut to black.

Gwyneth Paltrow & Angelina Jolie
A Salt With A Deadly Pepper
Plot: Iron Man's PA Pepper Potts goes it alone as a superhero, fashioning a suit whose primary weapons fire ground pepper up her enemies' noses, causing them to sneeze themselves to death. In a further crossover twist she hires Salt's Evelyn Salt as her sidekick, and when evil is finally defeated they pursue their dream of launching a range of containers for dispensing ground corns from the piper nigrum plant and fine grains of sodium chloride. The final scene sees them proudly opening their first branch of "Pepper Potts And Salt: Sellers Of Pepper Pots And Salt Cellars". 
Obligatory Post-Credits Scene: John Travolta turns up as Vincent Vinegar with an intriguing business proposal.

Rosemary Harris
Aunt Mayfly
Plot: Spider-Man's annoying aunt is bitten by a radioactive mayfly and becomes a super-strong pensioner / insect hybrid with gigantic compound eyes and two vaginas. Suffering from dementia, she believes Peter Parker to be Doctor Octopus and devises a plan to gather all the world's mayflies together and beat him to death with their membranous wings. Sadly she also forgets about the mayfly's short lifespan and, 30 minutes after being bitten, drops dead and is eaten by a cat.
Obligatory Post-Credits Scene: One of the 3,000 eggs Aunt Mayfly laid before she died cracks open and a hideous human-mayfly-spider-octopus creature emerges in a tease for Marvel's forthcoming Doctor Octospidermayflymanwoman.

Stan Lee
That Guy
Plot: Stan Lee plays master of disguise That Guy, who wickedly plans to distract the attention of global cinema audiences by popping up in summer blockbusters as, variously, That Guy In The Truck, That Guy Drinking From A Bottle, That Guy In Times Square, That Guy With The Hosepipe, That Guy Dodging Debris, That Guy Selling Hotdogs and That Guy Crossing The Road. In a piece of casting so meta it hurts, Stan cameos in his own film as That Guy Who Plays That Guy In That Guy, at which point the whole exercise disappears up its own arse.
Obligatory Post-Credits Scene: Characters from every film in which Stan Lee made a cameo appearance turn up to get their own back. Marvel decide to make this scene 150 minutes long and call it The Avengers.

Kat Dennings' breasts
Tits Of Fury
Plot: Natalie Portman's kooky comedy sidekick from Thor gets her own movie as a woman blessed with unbelievable knockers. Using the hypnotic powers of her astonishing décolletage, she, uh... um... excuse me, I just need to pop out for a minute.
Obligatory Post-Credits Scene: Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as That Guy Who Has A Big Wank.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Arena Of Destiny: Attack The Block Special

Last week's competition to win an Attack The Block hoodie was a popular one: in many ways the response reflects the enormous popularity of the film and of this blog. In another, far more likely way, it could be down to the fact that you would have to be a teabag to get the answer wrong.

Anyway as we know, all entrants to The Incredible Suit's competitions must do battle in The Arena Of Destiny, from which only one may emerge victorious. This time I had the assistance of Picturehouse Podcast legend Mr Simon Renshaw, and a very short man who happened to be passing. So let's don our armour and prepare for battle!

Congratulations, (insert winner's name)! I'll be in touch soon pestering you for an address and whatnot.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Attack The Blog - Day 5: Another Exclusive Interview With Joe Cornish!

No week of fawning free publicity for Attack The Block would be complete without a few words from its director Joe Cornish, and a few words from its director Joe Cornish is exactly what follows.

This was your first feature film as director. Was everyone mean to you on set, like that time I moved house and joined big school and got my head flushed down the bog?
No, everyone was really supportive. If anything, I was a bit shouty for the first few days, as I had a lot of pent up energy and anxiety inside me. Nira, the producer, had to take me aside and say "Joe, you know, the first assistant director can shout at the crew". I think if I'd carried on like I was carrying on everyone would have just fucked off and done something better with their day. Learning how to get the most out of the great talent and experience of your crew is one of the biggest and most rewarding lessons I learnt from the whole experience.

Edgar Wright was an executive producer on Attack the Block. What was his single most worthwhile contribution?
It would be reductive for me to single out one thing Edgar has done for me, because he’s done so much. He helped the film in every way possible. Being his friend and working with him has taught me a lot over the years, and although Attack the Block is very much its own thing, everything I learned from him is in there in one way or another.

Your film isn’t overburdened with CGI, motion capture or other in-your-face effects. Was this purely down to budgetary reasons, or do you feel strongly about how certain SFX should be employed?
I love practical effects. When I was a kid every effect I saw in movies was either a painting or a model or a puppet. It had been made by hand, and as a result you felt it was a magic you could achieve yourself if you tried hard enough. Perhaps the same is true for clever, computer literate people today, but for Attack the Block I wanted to evoke those old school, physical effects. So I went for practical monsters that were there on the set with the actors. I reckon that, where live action films are concerned and whenever possible, CGI is best used to enhance or adjust real physical in-camera things. That’s how we approached it.

Did you encounter any unwanted attention while hanging around the streets of Brixton in the middle of the night? I’m referring to the time you were shooting your film as opposed to just casual nocturnal wandering.
No, we didn’t. I wish I had an exciting story to tell you but the residents, police and councils on whose patches we shot were nothing but welcoming, accommodating and tolerant. Apart from one woman who marched onto the set while we were shooting the police van sequence and shouted "why don’t you take your tuppence ha’penny film and fuck off!". But I’ll gloss over that.

What do you make of all this fuss about Attack The Block needing subtitles in certain (English-speaking) foreign markets (called America)?
I liked it because it meant people were talking about the film and that they cared about the film. I don’t think it’ll happen though. I think everyone’s smart enough to deal with the way the characters speak. The slang is a fun strength to the movie, not an obstacle.
Tom Townend told me that the alien effects were created very simply, by using real aliens. Is that true? Because if so that’s quite a significant scientific breakthrough and I’m surprised you’ve kept it so quiet.
Tom Townend is an extremely talented and intelligent man who would not waste The Incredible Suit’s time with idle nonsense or frippery.

Given the title of your film, are you concerned that there might be a rise in unprovoked attacks on innocent blocks?
You sound very distant all of a sudden. Can you hold the handset closer to your mouth?

It seems to me that along with Chris Morris, Edgar Wright, Garth Jennings, Duncan Jones, Gareth Edwards, Richard Ayoade and some others I’ve forgotten, you’re creating a bit of a “movement”. Do you feel like there’s something going on right now with hip young British director types?
I really don’t know why some glossy mag doesn’t hurry up and do a sexy photo shoot of us all looking bored, sitting on rusty oil barrels in a disused garage in the east end. It's only a matter of time.
I asked lots of people who worked on the film for juicy gossip from the production with which to annoy and/or blackmail you, but they both failed miserably, so it’s down to you to tell me about something that happened that you don’t want anyone to know about. Go!
Maybe I should call you back on your land line?

Already people will be dying to know what your difficult second film will be. I know you won’t want to talk about it but you can tell me, I won’t tell anyone, promise.
Hello, can you hear me?

This month, blogs around the world are reviewing You Only Live Twice for The Incredible Suit’s future award-winning BlogalongaBond initiative. What are your thoughts on the fifth Bond film?
I like it. But I haven’t seen it for a while. Get in touch when it’s The Man With The Golden Gun time.

I’m planning on starting a rumour that you’re directing the next-but-one Bond film. Would you care to neither confirm nor deny that you’ve been offered the job?
Hey, don't joke about stuff like that.

If you do direct a Bond film and you need someone to play the handsome, charismatic blogger that the series has so far sorely lacked, you know who to call. (I’m referring to myself. Not sure if that was obvious)
When you came to the Attack The Block press junket, I was secretly auditioning you for the role. As I’m sure you’ll understand, it’s important that Bond looks tough and confident, rather than gentle and a bit nervous, and on that basis I’m afraid we can’t offer you the role at this time.

Well, that’s all we’ve got time for. Have you got any final golden nuggets of witty genius you’d like to share before we say goodbye?
You should really upgrade your mobile phone. What network are you on? You should get onto one with better coverage, because I kept losing you. Oh, and thank you for supporting Attack The Block, I’m very happy that you enjoyed the film. Long live The Incredible Suit!

I conducted this interview via email, so I'm not sure why he kept banging on about the phone connection. Anyone would think some of my questions were completely fatuous and stupid.

Anyway, massive thanks to Joe for all that, and also to Tom Townend, Jon Amos, Marcus Rowland, Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, Leeon Jones, Alex Esmail, Simon Howard, John Boyega, Franz Drameh and Nick Frost and everyone at Optimum and ThinkJam for all their time and help, without which this week would have been full of more whining about X-Men: First Class posters. The Incredible Suit's viewers are no doubt at least grateful for that.

Attack The Blog - Day 4: The Incredible Suit's Big Press Junket Adventure!

Last week I attended an Attack The Block press junket. It was the first time I'd done anything like this, which meant that I was the most excitable person there, surrounded by battle-hardened, cynical, "proper" journalists with dictaphones and everything. I had to use the microphone on my mp3 player, which isn't an iPod or iPhone or iAnything and therefore stuck out like a sore todger.

I was there to interview actors Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Simon Howard, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Alex Esmail and Nick Frost, as well as director man Joe Cornish, although most of the day was spent waiting in the press equivalent of a dentist's waiting room in a ludicrously fancy hotel deciding whether to go for "gently sparkling" or "delightfully still" water. I went for "delightfully still", but I couldn't really say that its stillness was any more or less delightful than that of a lower class of hotel water.
But enough of this contextualising backstory. What did the talent have to say? Well, quite a lot as it happens, because my interviews with them were of the "round table" variety, where a bunch of journalists fire questions in turn. What this boils down to is that a) everyone walks away with the same interview, and b) I only got to ask each person a couple of questions. If you want every answer to every question that was asked, they're all out there somewhere, but I haven't got room to steal everyone else's Qs and As so here are the tiny fragments of the day that are 100% pure The Incredible Suit.


First off were actors Luke Treadaway and Jodie Whittaker. Luke is terribly handsome and has excellent chest hair; Jodie is equally attractive but I was unable to gauge how hirsute her chesticles were. Probably for the best.

Luke, Joe based your character on his own experiences as a twenty-something posh kid buying drugs from a dealer in a tower block. How did you research playing a young Joe Cornish?
It was touched upon when we first talked about the part that Joe had gone to a tower block to procure the odd jazz cigarette in his youth, so I was aware of that. Maybe bits of him did bleed into it a bit but but I never felt like I was trying to play a young Joe. I think that would have been odd and weird.

Jodie, how did the boys treat you? I’m guessing they thought you were like a cool older sister.
No, I was made to feel like a complete loser. In no way did they make me feel cool. They kept calling me Mrs Whittaker. You know, I'm 28, I'm not your art teacher. I'd be like, "d'you wanna listen to an Arcade Fire track?" and they were like, "no". They made me feel like an absolute sad cow. But it was affectionate.

Before I had time to question Jodie about her chest hair we were ushered out of the room and into another, which contained Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, John Boyega, Simon Howard and Leeon Jones: the five young actors who play Attack the Block's leads. As we entered they were finishing a story about a woman who gave birth to a chicken which went sadly unexplained.

Nick Frost plays a kind of surrogate father figure to you guys. Was he like that off screen too? Did he take you to the pictures and buy you drugs and stuff?
John: Nick brought a playful energy to the set, he was more like an older brother. He was also good for hugs. He's like a big teddy bear.

Franz: He wasn’t around for long, he was there for like four weeks maybe, we were there for four months, but when he was on set he was a joy to work with, constantly cracking jokes and shouting randomness just before a take. You'd be two seconds away from doing your scene and he'd suddenly shout "ACTING!"

Simon, you spend quite a lot of time in a bin in this film. How did you feel about that when everyone else was getting a bit more action?
When I first found out that I was gonna be away from the gang I was actually sad, because it's like, they're my boys, man, I'm not with youse lot! But when I'm actually in the bin it's like I've got time by myself and I have to really smash it because it's in a closed environment and the pressure's on. But I'm good with it.

Is there one specific thing any of you learned that you'll carry through in your future career?
Franz: Don’t be afraid to a) improvise: if you wanna quickly riff something you might as well do it ‘cause if it's too much or they don't like it they'll just cut it. But if they do, then you'd feel like an idiot if you didn't do it before; and b), if you've got any questions, just ask. Don't be scared to look dumb.

John: For me, just to remember to just do your job and play another person. You can't just play yourself. Create another character.

Simon: Yeah, obviously you won't always be getting the same role, so your mind's got to be set into taking other people's roles, even if it's playing someone who's a geeky person in an ICT lab, a madman, anyone.

Leeon and Alex didn't say much. They must have been in awe at being in the same room as The Incredible Suit. Right?

Next we were introduced to Nick Frost, who plays drug dealing slacker Ron. He and I immediately bonded over my The Karate Kid t-shirt, which Nick also owns "in a massively different size". And when I say "immediately bonded over" I mean "exchanged ten words about".

Did you and Joe work out a back story for Ron?
We did. Ron just wants an easy life. I think he’d spent some time in the military and just hated it, or he got injured or it just wasn't for him, and then he bummed around a bit and lived in India for a while, psychedelics, brain leaks, you know, and then lost love - you see he's got a tiny little ring on his chain, and you imagine that was a girl that he loved and it didn't work out.

That's sad.
It is sad, and as an actor that helps with the other side to Ron, which is he's getting kids to deal weed for him. There's also a bum bag in there which was full of stuff. It had lighters in it and secateurs and little bits and pieces, little ties for the plants and stuff. They let you muck about a bit and go a bit crazy with character minutiae.

Slightly off-topic, what's your favourite colour?
Oh, shit.

Yeah, probably shit. No, my heart wants to say black, but...

Bit obvious, isn't it?
Yeah, but blue's even more obvious, isn't it? If I ever see a sports car in the street and it's bright yellow, I always want it. So let's say bright yellow.

With that Pulitzer-troubling question in the bag, we then had to wait yonks for Joe Cornish to arrive. As a result I spent a long time looking at this sofa:
When he finally arrived I only got to ask him one question, the answer to which you can find seamlessly slotted into tomorrow's slightly more exclusive interview which I did with him shortly afterwards. As a result my presence there was somewhat superfluous: in fact it might have been better if I hadn't been there at all as, while answering someone else's question about which character in the script most resembled him, Joe took the opportunity to reveal one of my darkest secrets to a room full of journalists:

But enough about my smack habit. Come back tomorrow to find out, amongst other things, which three words Joe Cornish chose to use when I asked him to review You Only Live Twice for BlogalongaBond!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Attack The Blog Bonus Post: An Exclusive Self Portrait By Director Of Photography Tom Townend!

For no apparent reason, Attack The Block's director of photography Tom Townend furnished me with this self-portrait which he whipped up with his trusty Sharpie the other day. I felt it was too special to keep to myself, so here it is for everyone to enjoy.

I believe there may be literally no end to this man's talents.