Check out an extended clip from one of the year's best movies before it arrives on DVD tomorrow.
In case you missed one of our favorite 2011 movies, Attack the Block, during its theatrical run this summer, you can correct that mistake when Joe Cornish's terrific monster movie hits DVD tomorrow in an extras-laden edition that includes three commentary tracks and five featurettes. To further whet your appetite, we're premiering an exclusive extended clip from the movie, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Check out the clip and look for the Attack the Block DVD and Blu-ray in stores tomorrow.
Cornish himself was in Manhattan recently for a post-screening Q&A of Attack the Block held at MoMA the night before he and some members of the film's cast stormed the New York Comic-Con. Read on for some excerpts of that Q&A.
On how Attack the Block relates to his own personal life:
I grew up nearby where the film was shot in South London. I didn't live in a block like that, but London was bombed in the Second World War and where the bombs hit, a lot of this municipal housing was built in the '50s' spirit of optimism. So as a child, I always found the architecture really futuristic and exciting. I would play there even though I didn't live there. The thing that really motivated ATB was this sense in British culture that young people like the kids depicted in the film get a pretty bad time from the press. Obviously, in the film, we do depict them doing a bad thing in the beginning of the story, but the film is a reaction to the more pessimistic [stories] that depict that kind of environment in a very negative way. I tried to fashion a more upbeat narrative set in that environment. So it's very personal really -- it comes from an affection for that area as well as the people that live there and the circumstances they find themselves in.
On the specific films that influenced him:
We have 11 actors in this film, most of whom are new to the screen. So I gave them a set of DVDs [for reference]; I gave them The Goonies, Aliens, Over the Edge -- an amazing movie, it was Matt Dillon's first role -- and Predator. All the classics. These kids were 16 when they made the film, so those were movies that meant a lot to my generation, but less to them. I suppose the primary influences for me are E.T. and also The Warriors, particularly the way Walter Hill accomplished so much on a low budget and shooting mostly at night. I also thought of those John Carpenter movies like The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13 that have a sociological subtext; you can watch them as genre movies or as political movies. And that was our aim, to make a fun movie that had something a bit political and provocative in it. One thing we were very keen to do was not make a movie that was about references or that depended on people having seen these other movies. We wanted it to stand on its own.
On his decision to give his lead character a Biblical name like Moses:
I wanted to challenge Passion of the Christ as the most powerful religious film ever made. [Laughs] No, a friend of a friend is called Moses and I liked the name, so I used it. Initially, I thought it might be a little too heavy, but then I thought ,"Fuck it, I like it." It made me think about the strength of will his parents had to give their child that name. That, for me, offered an emotional touch to the film as well. Plus, my name's Joseph so we have a connection there. [Laughs]
On the scenes he didn't have the time or money to shoot:
We've got an extra on the DVD that describes a couple of the scenes that were storyboarded but not shot. There was an amazing Errol Flynn-style fight up the side of the block with Moses hanging off the side of balconies and the creatures climbing around him. We storyboarded it, but just couldn't afford it. And this happens very often on movies. As you get closer to production, everything crunches and you have to be very conscious about how much time and money you have. At the time, I was reading that amazing book about the making of Star Wars and it talked about how, in the original screenplay, Darth Vader had a planet and a spaceship. As they got closer to shooting, they couldn't afford all that and so George Lucas merged the planet with the spaceship and named it the Death Star. So the Death Star is actually a problem-solving thing that has turned into one of the most iconic images in cinema.
On getting the kids' slang right:
I did lots of research. I wrote a seven page treatment and then researched how people spoke in these kinds of environments. I'd even go around to youth groups and record everything they said and then I transcribed it for myself as if I was learning Italian or another foreign language. I did that again and again and again and then I went back and talked to two or three people from each group and spoke with them in more detail. And this was mainly out of fear of not being able to write good dialogue. I kind of had a brain freeze, so I went to the source and that's how I ended up with two big files full of transcripts. I've been told that James L. Brooks and Elmore Leonard do a similar thing. And then when I went to casting, I told them that if anything didn't ring true, they could change it in rehearsal. So the film was written in collaboration with the actors in a sense.
On co-writing the upcoming Tintin movie and the character's problematic past:
The Tintin comics were written over a very long period of time. Herge started in the '20s I think and he drew his last books in the '80s. So Tintin and some of those early books are very much a product of their time. And Herge himself regretted some of the things he wrote and drew and went back and adjusted his earlier work. Funnily enough, Tintin in the Congo is very popular in Africa, even though that's the book that's probably the most questionable out of his body of work. The Tintin movie I'm involved in is an adaptation of The Secret of the Unicorn, which is nine books into the sequence and he's well beyond that by then. It's fascinating, in the final Tintin books, Tintin turns into a pacifist. When one thinks about Tintin, one can't separate the evolution of those books from what was happening in the world around him.
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