For 15-year-old Trife, life is a day-to-day struggle. Trapped between the worlds of his school friends, the girl he loves and the draw of his powerful and dangerous uncle, Trife must choose between the path he knows is right and a life of guns, drugs and violence that he has come to know only too well. When a classmate’s suicide leaves Trife and his crew, Moony and Jay, with the day off school, the tragedy seems overshadowed by the opportunity to shop, get high, get laid and party; but in a world where sex is currency, drugs are easy and violence is a way of life, trouble can never be too far around the corner. On these streets kids grow up fast and 48 hours can be a lifetime.
2005 – Certificate: 15 – British Film
Rating Details: Strong violence, language, sex references and drug use
8.0 out of 10
I haven’t really enjoyed this week. It’s hard to identify one particular thing that’s made it a bit rubbish, it just was. It’s been the sort of week where you’d spot a pound coin on the pavement, then when you’ve bend over to pick it up a car’s driven through a nearby puddle and soaked you. To celebrate the better parts of the week and the fact that I’d got to the end of it, I decided to treat myself to an Indian takeaway. However, to also enable the latter to best reflect how things have been recently, I decided to get a vegetable phall. I really like curry, but this version is basically a few bits of vegetable with a goo made out of chillies all over it. It’s virtually impossible to eat and tastes of nothing, except chillies and the inside of the Sun. It’s the sort of thing guys eat when they want to try and impress other guys. (I know, how on earth did humans manage to get to the top of the food chain?) As I’ve got no friends and I ate it on my own, I’m not quite sure who I was trying to impress. I think it was simply a cry for help, a punishment for not being good enough at work all week. I imagine if I’d not eaten it I’d now feel obliged to roll around naked in a patch of stinging nettles instead. And I didn’t win the National Lottery either. Still, things could be worse; I could live in the ‘wrong’ part of W11, where this film is set.
I went to school in central London. In my day we didn’t have mobile phones or gangsta rap; drugs were something you took for a toothache (and in any case were always called tablets) and oral sex meant talking about it, not that we knew what ‘it’ really was. So films like this are really helpful in enabling me to keep myself ‘street’, ‘happening’ and ‘down with the kids’; although as anyone who’s a teenager now would have been about 7-years-old when it was made, I suspect things have moved on a bit since then. Eschewing the fascination that movie-makers have with the East End, south London, Camden and Hackney, this movie mostly takes place in that forgotten realm west of the West End, where only the Hammersmith & City Line dares to go. A land of council estates and old terrace housing hidden away behind the ‘glamour’ of Notting Hill, it’s about as uncool and unfashionable as you can get. If it wasn’t for Portobello Market and the nearby Carnival, it would probably hold the world record for being the most unhip and dowdy place in any capital city anywhere. In fact if you Google it, nothing comes up. Despite my trashing of the location, this is actually an excellent film; (awful title though). I’m also lucky to be gangsta enough to be able to understand what they’re all saying most of the time, which is just as well because my copy didn’t come with any subtitles. I haven’t heard so much slang since I watched “Attack the Block”.
With a soundtrack that’s almost pure London hip-hop, grime and rap, it’s as good (or as bad) as you think that is. Rodney Smith, Maxwell Ansah, Dylan Mills and Michael Skinner all provide parts of the soundtrack. (And if you don’t know who they are then that makes you a total square.)
Recommended for ganstas, bros, crews and feds, init?
One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. A cute grey cat makes a brief but scene-stealing appearance, jumping off a sofa and then wondering about a bit.
Top badass moment? There are plenty of small ‘growing-up’ badass moments scattered throughout this film, but I’m going to choose Alisa giving some home truths to the bullies on the tube. They were really horrible! Still, at least I know they’re probably all junkies, prostitutes or unmarried mothers by now. I blame the parents. (When I write things like that they so make me sound so like a Tory. I’m really not, honest!)
August 18, 2013 | Categories: The Thoughts of Cactus | Tags: 2005, Adam Deacon, Aml Ameen, Attack the Block, Baseball Bat, British Film, Bullying, Cat, Curry, Drama, Drugs, Drunk, England, Femi Oyeniran, Gangsta, Gun, Hammersmith & City Line, Inner City, Jaime Winstone, Kidulthood. Trailer, Ladbrooke Grove, London, Madeleine Fairley, Menhaj Huda, Noel Clarke, Oral Sex, Party, Phall, Red Madrell, Suicide, Teenagers, UK, Underage Sex, W11 | Leave a comment
I feel a bit disconnected from the world at present, even more than usual. Nothing I do at the moment seems to satisfy me and I’m not sure anything I’m doing is making the slightest difference to anything or anyone. In the last three days I’ve done loads of stuff at work, yet somehow it all feels a bit pointless. “Is That All There Is?” by Cristina pretty well sums everything up at the moment. (I think it was first recorded by Peggy Lee; PJ Harvey has done a version of it too, but the Cristina Monet version from 1980 is the definitive one.) I realised today, that with so many of my colleagues at work having recently been ‘restructured out of existence’ I’m suffering from a form of ‘survivor’s guilt’.
2002 – Certificate: Not Rated – United States
By a strange co-incidence, this move has an equally uplifting plot. This is a drama about a play of the same name, being performed by a character in a similar position as the character in the play. (Oh oh, I think I’m going to need a painkiller soon, that sounds way too complicated now I’ve written it down.) It’s a film about bullying in schools and the effect it has on some individuals who’re the victims of it. This is a very American movie. In the UK, victims of school bullying generally hide in their rooms and self-harm or commit suicide; in American it seems they build bombs or get guns and go to school and kill people. Okay, I’m hugely trivialising and oversimplifying something that’s really tragic in reality, but it did feel a little over dramatic at times; then again, this sort of thing really has happened. This film was made in 2002 and is based on a play written in 1999, so there’re no mobile phones to be seen anywhere in it, which makes it feel a bit dated now, especially as the mobile has become the modern-day school bully’s weapon of choice; all those embarrassing and humiliating videos, it’s what YouTube was invented for after all. If most American schools really are like this, then it mystifies me as to why the country manages to turn out so many clever, imaginative and decent people; (I like Americans in general, even though I love to snigger behind their backs at their lack of culture and understanding of irony; and get frustrated by their politics.). The original play has apparently been performed thousands of times in schools and similar places and from reading the comments on IMDB and Amazon (USA) it’s clearly had a massive impact on lots of people, yet I didn’t fully connect with it myself; I guess I’m too old and too much of a Brit to fully appreciate it. However, even taken as a stand-alone film it’s well worth a watch; but when you then take into account its background it takes on a while extra dimension. It does feel a bit weak in places, but the power of its general narrative and all-around American goodness drags it through these parts with sufficient force to make you, you know, ‘a believer’. Good quality drama with a social conscience.
Recommended for bullies. If it makes a difference to any of them (and considering how many people have seen the play or film, I’m sure it must have had a positive effect on some of them), then it’s all been worth it.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? In that very American ‘we fucked up but then overcame our failure thus proving we were right to do what we did all along’ kind of way, it’s the big ‘penny drops’ scene when everyone watches Trevor’s videos taken by the police from his house; giving people a serious guilt trip they deserve is definitely badass.
April 18, 2012 | Categories: The Thoughts of Cactus | Tags: 2002, Bang Bang You’re Dead, Ben Foster, British Columbia, Bully, Bullying, Canada, Cristina, Cristina Monet, Drama, Excerpt, Guy Ferland, Janel Moloney, Peggy Lee, PJ Harvey, Play, Randy Harrison, School, Shooting, Tom Cavanagh, United States, US, USA, Vancouver, Video Camera, William Mastrosimone | Leave a comment
My amplifier has broken down. This nightmare scenario means all I can do at home now is sit and stare at the walls. Life as I know it, is over, so in many ways it’s a bit like being assimilated by the Borg, without the good parts. Films like “The Terminator” and “War Games” paint a frightening vision of the future, where computers and machines control and ultimately try to eliminate humans. I’d like to think this sort of thing is just entertainment, but sadly I know better. When I switched on my laptop at work today many of the keys failed to function, despite my abuse of the keyboard in an attempt to get it to type them; (who would have though the letter Z was so important)? The mouse was quite dead too (and I can’t pin the latter on Penny either). It now needs fixing. No one is going to tell me that this is just a coincidence. The amplifier and the laptop are clearly communicating with a level of sophistication that us stupid humans cannot even begin to comprehend. My amplifier and laptop are just the start; tomorrow it’s probably going to be nuclear missiles and stuff. Great, that’s going to really mess up my weekend of wall watching. How depressing.
1979 – Certificate: 18 – United Kingdom
On a similar(ish) theme, this is a powerful and depressing film about life in a borstal. It was made in 1977 as a drama for the BBC, which then promptly banned it before actually showing it (duh), so it was eventually remade as a film in 1979, (which incidentally was the best year ever for music). It offers a peek at how genuinely crappy Britain was in the late 70s; (a bit like now, but without mobile phones, big TVs or climate change). Thank goodness for punk! Anyway, it’s got loads of ‘proper’ violence in it; none of that woosy American stuff with guns and knives, just metal pipes, fists and pool balls in socks etc. It’s also got genuinely harrowing scenes of suicide and male rape, as well as some dreadful racism too. However, none of this feels glamourised or put in just to liven things up. It’s quality stuff, but ultimately just reflects the futility of life. Deep. I’ve always felt I was a bit of a philosopher on the quiet.
Recommended for people that want to see high quality drama. It’s an ideal training video for London’s street gangs too, now the police have confiscated all their guns and stuff.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? It has to be the riot in the food hall. Pointless, stupid and ultimately achieving nothing (except a beating). However, taking back a feeling of controlling your own destiny, however fleeting, is badass.
February 11, 2012 | Categories: The Thoughts of Cactus | Tags: 1979, Alan Clarke, Amplifier, Borg, Borstal, Bullying, Drama, England, Fighting, Hertfordshire, John Blundell, Julian Firth, Laptop, Male Rape, Mick Ford, Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Riot, Roy Minton, Scum, Shenley, Suicide, The Daddy, The Terminator, Trailer, UK, United Kingdom, Vegetarian, War Games, Young Offender | Leave a comment