John Boyega

Star Wars

This may come as a surprise to you (if, say, you haven’t gone online, spoken to an acquaintance or left the comfy confines of the rock you live under for several days), but another intrepid soul has claimed to have the keys to J.J. Abrams‘s mystery box. The secrets held inside? Significant story chunks from Star Wars: Episode VII. Earlier today, we referred to this leak as “ridiculous-sounding plot details,” and that’s just about as accurate as accurate could be. But for the sake of blindly trudging into the unknown, let’s take a look at these ridiculous details anyway. Also, if any of this turns out to be legit, it will count as a SPOILER, but it’ll really only spoil the first five minutes or so. Maybe 10.

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Princess Leia in Star Wars - Troopers

Diversity is of vital importance to filmmaking, not only because of how powerful movies can be as a social tool, but because variety is what makes the engine of storytelling run. In an industry built on sharing experiences — one that’s notoriously slow to innovate on certain fronts — finding The New is the only way to ensure survival. Sometimes that comes in the guise of technology, sometimes in structure, and sometimes in the people whose stories are being shared. The Star Wars: Episode VII casting announcement yesterday was, as you may have noticed, swift in causing some to reach for pitchforks over a lack of diversity. Several voices let their outrage be known, even without a full public actor roster or a detailed description of the roles. I personally find that kind of kneejerk reaction less than useful because at best it’s well-intentioned but meaningless and at worst it serves as ego-tripping, more for the pundit’s own notoriety than a genuine concern for equality. Naturally, a healthy portion of outrage was fomented by assumptions about J.J. Abrams‘ and the production’s intent, which drew their PR machine to announce that another prominent female role had yet to be announced. I’m impressed that they had the restraint to avoid saying, “Maybe wait until we reveal everything before you slam us?” in their release. Particularly because representation is important, but it cannot be the only rubric for judgement or quality would always be in question. Also because it’s possible for creatives in Hollywood to consider […]

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Oscar Isaac in The Nativity Story

If you saw today’s Star Wars: Episode VII casting news and said “who?” more than once, this guide is for you. But even if you saw the names and were mostly familiar with them, this guide is also for you. Sure, everyone knows Andy Serkis, but has everyone seen the movie that makes him best suited to work with director J.J. Abrams on a Star Wars movie? Especially if, as I would wish, he isn’t just doing another motion-capture character? And yeah, yeah, there’s the whole Inside Llewyn Davis reunion going on with Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, but there are other more appropriate, if not better, movies to see in anticipation of the big one. For each of the newcomers, I’ve selected one movie that you can watch right now and one movie that will (hopefully) be out between now and the December 2015 release date for Episode VII. That gives you plenty of time and a fairly small pile of titles to get through. Of course, if you have some extra room for more, you can always add at least 20 more necessities for Max von Sydow. That guy has been in a lot of great stuff. And a lot of bad stuff that’s at least pretty cool.

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One of the biggest, most well liked movies of this summer was Joe Cornish’s hoods vs. aliens movie Attack the Block. Well, if you’re talking to only films buffs that is. I don’t think too many regular people ever heard about the movie let alone went to see it. But those of us privy to genre film weirdness totally dug Cornish’s unique yet sort of old school approach to doing an alien invasion/monster movie. Surely there’s got to be a cult of Attack the Block loyalists growing somewhere out there in the land of the Internet, and I bet they’re thirsty for more punk on gorilla dog violence. Well, according to comments that Cornish recently gave IFC, some random day happening an unknowable length of time from now just might be your lucky day! Probably.

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A year ago, John Boyega was a name that nobody knew. And, okay, it’s probably still a name that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. But if the hype he’s been getting from film critics for his starring role in this summer’s Attack the Block is any indication, Boyega won’t be able to enjoy anonymity for very much longer. Attack the Block director Joe Cornish found Boyega performing in a small stage show in London and cast him in his hoods versus aliens monster movie based on that. One to take his work seriously, first-time film actor Boyega then took to studying season 4 of The Wire to get a handle on how to approach playing an urban youth, and brought reality to the character of Moses, in a performance that felt genuine and raw even when there was tons of alien monster insanity going on around it. Suddenly, it looks like the mess of film critics who have been pimping for Attack the Block all summer aren’t the only ones who noticed the work Boyega put in, because THR is reporting that Spike Lee has taken notice of the young actor and cast him as the lead of his HBO dramatic series Da Brick. Da Brick is about a young man from Newark, New Jersey (Brick City) who, upon being released from juvenile detention on his 18thbirthday, must traverse the harsh environment of his hometown and learn what it takes to be a man, with a little bit of […]

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You may have noticed that we here at Film School Rejects took quite the shine to Joe Cornish’s debut feature film Attack the Block. Brian couldn’t praise it enough after its premiere at this year’s SXSW film festival and our resident Brit Simon Gallagher loved up on it in his Cannes coverage. Screen Gems picked it up for a domestic theatrical run and while it opened in 7 top markets a few weeks ago, it expanded to 6 additional markets over the weekend. It’s also now playing in big chain theaters like Regal and AMC which will hopefully encourage the popcorn-chomping masses to give it a shot. I fell in love with this movie at SX and can’t get enough of it. This is a film that deserves to be seen. I had a chance to sit down with writer/director Joe Cornish and star John Boyega to talk about the movie, their respective first outings into film and their inevitable slide into drugs and infamy.

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Attack the Block is high-concept fun, pitting deadly invading aliens against a motley bunch of inner-city Londoners in an all-out war. Writer/director Joe Cornish imbues a simple, straightforward premise with character-driven depth and relentless full-throttle activity, sustaining the adrenaline through the entirety of the picture’s 88 minutes. The film centers on the unlikely intersection of public housing-dwelling waitress Sam (Jodie Whittaker) and some of the wayward youths that live in her building. A gang led by Moses (John Boyega) has its attempted mugging of our heroine interrupted by a squealing, straining fanged alien that crash lands into a car. They kill it, bring its body home to the towering apartment building they call “the block” and are soon forced to team up with Sam to fight off an invasion of these enraged, deadly creatures.

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Attack the Block has of course already screened in America, at SXSW, and FSR already have a review live, thanks to Brian Salisbury and let’s be honest, no matter what I write here, I’m not likely to meet the mastery of that particular article. But then, I wouldn’t want to, and I honestly feel as strongly about the excellent British film as Brian does, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to review the film slightly differently, in order that my article can stand as more of a companion piece to Brian’s. And there’s the also the small matter of me being British as well, which will no doubt mean what I’m about to write will be full of patriotic bluster and lashings of jingoistic pride, what what.

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Moses and his friends live in the roughest part of South London. They all reside in an apartment building in an economically arrested neighborhood. Part of the “hoodie” culture that gives older Brits nightmares, Moses’s crew gets into more than its fair share of mischief – going so far as to mug a woman in the street. But when meteors begin raining from the sky, toting vicious aliens in their wake, the hoodies in the street may no longer be the most dangerous thing on the block. They teach us not to use the word “I” in reviews. The first person voice is said to be less professional and less in the mold of the old school of journalism. While this is not an unreasonable standard, Attack the Block spoke to me on such a deeply personal level and suppressing that experience does the film no justice. I don’t know what it is about Britain, but over the last ten years or so they have been churning out genre films that carry the keys to my soul and therefore find easy access. Not only that, but they seem to be released at just the perfect interval to find me at precisely the right moments in my life.

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