"Attack the Block:" laugh riot?

Perhaps more than any breakdown in the social order since the L.A. riots of 1992, the recent London turmoil has disrupted Hollywood's business as usual.

A screening of a Sundance favorite at the Curzhon Soho Cinema came to an abrupt end because of a power blackout, apparently due to the rioting. Ironically, the film being screened was Steve James's "The Interrupters," about volunteers in Chicago who intervene to stop gang and other violence.

Hooligans burned down the Pias/Sony distribution centre in Enfield, the largest warehouse for home video in the UK, seriously crippling that industry.

And it proved bad timing for the British Government who yesterday attempted to lure big Hollywood names to live in Britain by inaugurating the no fuss, so-called "Tier 1" immigration procedures that would allow A-list stars and filmmakers easy access to citizenship. Hard to make a good case with images of burning double decker buses splashed all over the news.

But it might also have a more indirect impact on the fortunes of a new British film just being released in the United States, the black sci-fi comedy "Attack the Block" (which I have not seen yet).  It's the directorial debut of Joe Cornish and involves some of the talent who made "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz!" In it some London street punks, the same "hoodies" who are now burning the place down, rally together to defeat the common enemy when their turf is threatened by aliens (the outer space kind).

The film came out in Britain in May, leading some in the UK to ponder how the film analyzes some of the social and economic conditions that led to the troubles, as in this fascinating and thoughtful report on Indiewire from a writer in lives in one of the more badly hit neighborhoods in the city. Other writers have speculated that the movie may even have foreshadowed the chaos to come.

After the fact, however, prophesy might look more like bad taste as the film appears in multiplexes across the United States (it opens in Boston on August 19). That's assuming audiences here have much knowledge of, or interest in, the woes being experienced on the other side of the Atlantic.

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