ATTACK THE BLOCK: A fun and smart alien invasion film that starts with a bang, builds nicely AND spends time developing some interesting characters. When an alien creature smash-lands in a poorer section of (London? I think), a group of teenage street thugs take umbrage, chase down the escaping creature and kill it. Then a whole bunch MORE creatures come down in the same block evidently seeking payback, requiring our sorta-gang-kids to fight back. The alien creatures are basically black blobs with glowing blue eyes and fangs... and boy are they pissed. Nice performances and funny/realistic reactions from the kids toward the alien invasion. (One 10 year old fills his super soaker with gasoline to take them on.) This isn't ET, though, some of the kids don't make it and the creatures are taking no prisoners. I liked it!
THE DEVILS: Ken Russell's 1971 masterpiece remains unavailable except for a murky transfer on a DVD available from Amazon. I saw this film with my father (I think I needed a "parent or guardian" to get in because of the X rating) when it was first released and images from it have remained burned in my brain. Oliver Reed plays Father Grandier, a Priest who ran afoul of the French government in the 1630's and wound up being (falsely) accused of witchcraft. His inquisition-style torture remains really, really hard to watch. (Sledge-hammers and legs... say no more!) Russell's flamboyant visual style gives this an almost surreal feel, and the uncomfortable experimental score adds to the overall feeling of depravity and madness. Also included on the disc are some supplemental pieces on how The Devils was censored back in the day, and the great fervor that ignited over Russell's debauched vision. I managed to make it about halfway through the main documentary before I'd seen one too many snotty British critics sniffing about how they suspect Russell would actually approve of the cuts imposed on the film. Yeah, right, about as much as these stuffy gits would appreciate seeing one of their tedious columns hacked apart by editorial fiat. The clips in the documentary are much sharper and clearer than the film presentation, so here's hoping the Criterion guys get their hands on this soon and put out a definitive, uncut version! (If they can reissue Pasolini's Salo on blu-ray, surely this one can see the light of day!)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Quite a mixture of genres in this set of comments! I missed this in the theater, finally caught up to it on DVD. Don't have a whole lot to say, it was fun and captured the Kirby-esque "feel" of Cap, though I found the eventual stand off with the Red Skull a bit truncated and unsatisfying. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the movie is how they turned husky Chris Evans into skinny dweeb Steve Rogers, pre-"Vitaray" injections. I think the best thing about the film is that they didn't blow it...