Thursday, 19 May 2011

Film:'ATTACK THE BLOCK' - yes, but why attack the audience too?

Yesterday went to see this new alien-invasion/comedy-thriller British film which has had some very favourable reviews. (South London mixed-race gang team up with their former female mugging victim fight to fight aliens attacking their apartment block). It's one of the laudable breed of film made on a relatively small budget - as was last year's 'Monsters' , which itself was an object lesson in showing how you don't need anywhere near the millions of bucks to create a worthwhile entertainment that can easily stand up against or be superior to so many of the multi-million blockbusters, which often end up provoking more yawns than true excitement.
But this new film was painful - literally. Why did this cinema (Odeon multiplex, Brighton) have to have the soundtrack turned up to such an ear-splitting, brain-bashing, mind-mashing level of volume that it not only distorts the words of conversation (and I refer here to normal talk, not shouts) as to make them near-indecipherable, and actually causing physical pain? As for when background music or sudden, far-too-frequent extra-loud thuds and crashes happen (intended to make you jump, but you can see them coming a mile off), apart from the agony they give rise to, they are counter-productive because the unnecessarily fortississimo sounds actually distract from what's going on on the screen. But I wonder if it's just me? Do the younger generations, towards which films like this are primarily aimed, have their hearing sensibilities already so damaged by the constant thud-thud-thuds found in night-clubs, bars and discos? - and then so many of them have those ubiquitous MP3 players plugged in all the time. Is that the reason why they can take these absurdly loud sounds without feeling the level of pain that I experience?
At the other extreme, I complained that last year's much-praised film 'The Social Network' was ruined for me because I just couldn't make out what they the characters were saying amongst all their under-the-breath mumblings. So if I also can't enjoy films like 'Attack the Block' for precisely the opposite reason, surely it can't be that my own hearing is at fault. Or could the rather scary truth be that my age is making me intolerant at both ends of the sound-spectrum? However, Ive not noticed any deterioration of my hearing in other aspects of my life - certainly not in face-to-face conversation, so I can't explain it.
Well, I suppose the next time I go to the cinema I ought be armed with cotton balls and be prepared to stuff them into my auricular orifices when necessary. As for this particular film - I'll grudgingly award it a 5.5/10. I really wanted to like it more.


  1. It's definitely the iPods causing the hearing problems among today's youth. However, I fear you have hearing problems of your own. Perhaps your self-diagnosis is flawed, and it's time for a professional evaluation.

    My father-in-law (Greg's Dad) is losing his earing and refuses to admit it. He has to have the TV blasting to hear it and accuses everyone else of being deaf. I've learned to make sure I speak up and always face him so he can watch my mouth. Someday he'll see a professional... oh who am I kidding. He never will.

    I love alien invasion films. I put this one in my Netflix queue. It will be at least a year until I see it, as I have 81 other films in the queue. LOL

  2. I suppose you COULD be right about my having hearing problems, Cubby, though I don't see how that could be, because (a) I don't have any 'everyday' hearing difficulties and (b) it's only in cinemas where I find it can be so LOUD that dialogue is undecipherable. But when I next see my doctor in 2 months time I suppose I could mention it. I know only too well how reluctant people can be to admit that they've any problem, and it would certainly be unusual to have someone at my age experiencing no deterioration at all.

    As for TV, I'm always conscious that mine should never be so loud as to disturb the neighbours - yet I can often here my downstairs neighbour's TV playing so loud that I can make out every word, and know which channel he is watching. (The neighbour is 20 years younger than I am!)

    Btw If you haven't seen it yet I do hope that 'Monsters' is in your 'queue'. Well worthwhile watching.