As fellow Southern Discomfort collaborator kb has suggested inevitably the casual banter over the merits of a top ten list creates a little frisson to the usual banality of the everyday. So with this intention in mind here are five further offerings of films about London.
Now we do have a top ten – although still in no particular order. Together they present our rather singular re-imagining of the metropolis. Maybe you disagree with our choices? Your comments and other suggestions are invited.
London: The Modern Babylon (Julien Temple, 2012) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjHnWyJhkzo. This is Julien Temple’s ode to London. Its historical sweep and artistic mediation presents a sentimental city driven by outsiders and the marginalized. (And it’s not a repeat of Absolute Beginners!)
Pressure (Horace Ove, 1975) This compliments nicely Rosso’s Babylon – Horace Ove’s Pressure is about the struggles of growing up in a racist London in the 70s. It’s a film about anger, alienation and social impotency. In a gritty realist style it offers no easy cathartic resolution or multicultural utopia.
(A more ‘utopian’ image is presented in Ove’s later Playing Away, where a cricket team from Brixton heads to play a match in rural England, with all the ensuing cultural conflicts and humorous misunderstandings).
V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005)
Not since Clockwork Orange has London looked so dark and foreboding. The dystopian fiction set in the near future is probably more real than what passes for social reality these days. The graphic novel roots of the film create a surreal totalitarian political imaginary that anticipates the contemporary state of a world in turmoil.
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) You have to love it. Its premise seems all wrong but compared to other more worthy ‘urban youth’ films, this does get the culture and its foibles spot on. The device of having aliens descend on to a housing estate in South London presents so many allegorical readings that we will have to leave them for another day. Has already become a cult classic.
The Football Factory (Nick Love, 2004) Okay, I know that the film is pretty dire, but this is in because of the brilliance of John King’s 1997 novel on which it based. It is probably the best book ever written about football culture (I can see another list looming). Through its depiction of football violence King presents the tribulations of working class male culture in crisis. The film misses the sharp observations on a changing multiracial London, but at least Danny Dyer is passable in the film.