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“I get the besssst munchies…” (01 / 03 / 10)

"its a game of...survival"

on a day marked with light humidity and sunshine, I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview screening of Shank, a dark and probably soon to be controversial UK or more to the point London film set in 2015 where feral youth live according to survival of the fittest / fastest. add a dash of lawlessness and we have a not too original screenplay which does try to buck the numerous pre-conceptions laid upon its shoulders. unfortunately it ends up slumping, worn out by the pace of celluloid before it and stock imagery from Inner City 101

the film has already garned much attention due to one of its leading actors, Ashley Thomas aka Bashy, being an extremely hot recording artist for some time. you may know of him from Black Boys fame which still ranks as one of the greatest moments (or movements) in youth Black music yet in the UK. actor, entrepreneur and more this would seem to be his vehicle

but it isn’t

[ right before I continue…*DISCLAIMER* I like many hate to have a story or such being spoiled so early on so there may be content in this review you consider to be spoilers. I will try not to do that but if you’ll prefer to go into this blind on March 26th “please turn away now” (c) Grandstand ]

Junior

it’s his

the main protagonist of Shank is Junior aka Kedar Williams-Stirling, a young Global African male of indeterminate age who happens to be a sometime thief, otherwise free runner of sorts fathered or brothered by Bashy‘s Rager. as usual an alive father was not scripted for these two but that stereotype is forgiven with the paternal absence allowing for a few touching brother to brother scenes

making up their merry (and I use that literally) band of men is the typecast Adam Deacon with Kickz, Jan Uddin as Sexy Boy and Michael Socha as Craze all neatly ticking the boxes of cultural inclusion (African / Black – Check, Asian – Check, person who could pass for mixed heritage – check…) though casting Craze as a particulary unhinged Northerner is inspired

the structure of the narrative adheres to basic theory with the equilibrium being savagely broken early on and the films linear progress also staying to type. despite this saddening fact there are at least 3 themes of interest you might like to keep an eye out for

1. Circles
whether its the jarring early representation of African / Black femininity being reconciled by the cute teenage innocence of Lexy or Robbie Gee‘s role being similar to one he played more than 10 years ago in the breakthrough UK BBC Sketch show The Real McCoy its interesting to note some cyclical movements in the storyline. see if you can spot anymore

2. Food
the representation of this energy source is explored in two ways I noticed. Appetite is subtly and overtly explored as  food is not only a scarce resource but its attainment able to ensure a livelihood and one’s survival. Hunger – whether it be a lust for flesh…or flesh and plain ol’ bloodlust also rears its distressed and ugly head

3. History
this is more an extension of the first idea or in relationship to it. for all the UK educated heads: remember learning about the disgust and filth of Dark Age European cities or pre-Industrial / Industrial London with its suspect human or non-human meat on sale, faeces in the streets, disease riddled population? well you won’t be surprised by the general squalor and oh so familar scenes of the inner city-scape in this. a man defacating on the pavement, ramshackle markets, random vagrants, an air of pervasive paranoia…its all there illustrating that axiom ‘what goes around…’ nicely

unfortunately

its not all good

the sheer amount of inconsistencies are overwhelming and jus…just when you expect to lean back (as I often did *ahem* in the plush chairs) and get lost in the storyline…a jolt, a barge to the brain knocks you back into understanding this is after all a first attempt. lets look at some examples

1. The Humour
why so many jokes? I don’t mind humour in…’dark’ films. light is always necessary for balance but the consistent jesting in such oppressive circumstances really throws the balance off. one particular scene has the Fab 5 lying in wait for a food delivery and then start cracking various jokes to…I guess…lighten the situation but it just drags on culminating in the invention of a skank? in 2015? they might not even make it to the end of 2010

2. Plotholes
as some attendees noticed in the foyer when leaving…”why have they got such good trims?” or “if there’s no food…then why are they not skinnier? I’ve never seen hungry people look so good” one sista said in particular. sadly its was true. also where did Colin Salmon‘s Boogie go? if there is such a divide between rich and poor…why did we see some well to do’s in the hood? spot more when you go to see it and report back *points to comments below*

3. The Heritage
at one point when the gang head back to their Den, Junior turns to look at a poster on the wall briefly. its of Kidulthood. the groan was audible. it was exciting to see cameos by two of Grime‘s brightest: Tempa T and D Double E but…why did it go on and on or as someone else stated a liitle more succintly “why did it start turning into a music video?”. not another Plan B song in the soundtrack? enough said

let’s finish…

In many ways this film reminds me of another debut motion picture by a director associated with Black music promos: Belly by Hype Williams. not in scope…maybe in morality (hood escape, Utopia being Africa or…’The Wilds‘ in this case) but rather the interesting ideas related to having a music video rites of passage: the hallucinatory computer game trip and (personally) heart wrenching, skewed anime dream sequence both experienced by Junior, the timesaving and plot explaining pop-up graphs with matching synths aswell as the the two promos sneaked in as stated earlier but these are not enough for the slight ambition of this project to fall foul of an uninspired script, lack of originality and general tired theme. the soundtrack is banging yes (props points for new Klashnekoff in the end credits)…I’m sure I even heard a Doves track sans vocals but…I need more than walls of sub (and there were WALLS) to appease my Corpus Callosum

its a vibrant first attempt with an ending / resolution I, plus others, unsurprisngly were not happy with (it seems to embody the problems which would in time bring about such a Doomsday scenario) but it sticks to its guns, has some Zeitgeist-y type moments (girl gangs etc) and you would have to be crazy not to be excited for what’s to follow from the walking talent that is Mo Ali but sadly this is just another one of “those films” (c) attendee. but hey…speaking of circles lets close with the lead soundtrack song from this film. here’s Bashy (“OI! NAAAAAAH”)!

and as a bonus treat!

The Almighty’s Blessings

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