Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Is England Is Powerful, Timely

With the recent snowstorm covering much of South Carolina, I have been able to catch up a little on my DVR stuff that has been building up for awhile.

From that queue comes This Is England - Shane Meadow's semi-biographical film about growing up in early 80's Britain. Set in 1983, the height of Thatcher's England, with massive unemployment and an unpopular war combine to create an atmosphere of despair. In that atmosphere frustrated members of the populace begin to attack the immigrant population as the cause of unemployment. I couldn't help but be struck by the similarities between the period/place and the current climate in America. Eerily familiar - so much so it is disturbing.

The film is defined by the kitchen sink realism and the staggeringly authentic performances from the ensemble cast. Lightning rod skinhead Combo (played by the criminally underrated Stephen Graham) tears through the scenes like a bull in a china shop, destroying all around him. But it is the performance of the young Thomas Turgoose as main character Sean that carries the film. Having never acted before, Turgoose is startling as a 12 year old boy who has lost his father.

This is not good film making, but great film making, and is essential viewing for any film lover. It is also a timely reminding of what economic collapse can lead to.

Terrifying and brilliant.

The Future Is Unwritten Is Seminal

As most of you know, I am an out of control, over the top fan of The Clash. Joe Strummer - the frontman of The Clash - has long been one of my biggest heroes, not just musically, but for life.

I finally got to see the Julien Temple directed Joe Strummer documentary The Future Is Unwritten. Wow, it did not disappoint. Taking in archival footage and current issues with such luminaries as Mick Jones, Topper Headon, Paul Simonen, Bono, Steve Jones, Johnny Depp, Martin Scoresese, Bobby Gillespie, Damien Hirst, Jim Jarmusch, Anthony Kiedus, Matt Dillon, Don Letts, John Cusack and Steve Buscemi - to name just some of the eclectic mix of individuals whose life and work (regardless of medium) were profoundly effected by Strummer. But this is a warts and all style documentary, that doesn't pull punches or shy away from touching on the flaws of the man as well.

It's Strummer himself that gets that last word, and it's profoundly heartbreaking. While not as epochal as Temple's previous Sex Pistols documentary - The Filth and The Fury - it is a deserving tribute to a great man. Watch it. It's fantastic.

BTW - the above is not a trailer for the film, rather a cool introduction to the Clash for those unfamiliar. Enjoy.

Portable Homeless Shelters Are Genius

I recently read about the wearable homeless shelters invented by Detroit CCS student Veronika Scott. Not only do they work, but Veronika spent every cent she had in order to create them. They are really amazing.

Currently Ms. Scott is attempting to raise money to create more of them for the massive homeless population of Detroit.

Awesome - check them out here.