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Attack the Block's Cornish Keeps VFX Practical for His Super 8 Mile

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 13, 2011 at 2:00AM

I like interviewing up-and-coming talent because there's a curiosity factor. Like, who's this rookie writer-director out of Britain everybody's talking about, whose movie won audience awards at both SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival?
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Thompson on Hollywood

I like interviewing up-and-coming talent because there's a curiosity factor. Like, who's this rookie writer-director out of Britain everybody's talking about, whose movie won audience awards at both SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival?

Insiders have been tracking Joe Cornish not only because he's a protege of Attack the Block exec producer Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), with whom he co-wrote Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and Marvel's Ant Man, but because he's also a TV writer-personality (late night Channel 4 homemade sketch comedy series The Adam and Joe Show). (All Cornish will say about Tintin is that because Herge drew each panel from photographs, performance capture is a "good fit.")

Cornish does talk below about his $13-million debut film Attack the Block, which Screen Gems picked up out of SXSW (July 29).

Thompson on Hollywood

It all started about a decade ago when Cornish was mugged near his home in the south London neighborhood Stockwell, where he still lives. He decided to write a movie about just such a mugging, but instead of following the victim, he'd track the perpetrators. Gifted newcomer John Boyega plays the thug leader of a teen gang in the projects who sees an alien crash through the roof of a car just as he's ripping off a neighbor's purse. He pursues and kills the simian-like alien, only to be assaulted by wave after wave of much bigger, blind, dark, glow-jawed alien apes. Clearly, not only Spielberg's E.T., but Joe Dante's Gremlins, Walter Hill's The Warriors and John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 are antecedents for this funny, fast-paced, surprising movie, which Cornish dubs Super 8 Mile.

The only limits on this film's success are its thick Brit street accents, which audiences will hopefully be able to overcome.

Part 1: His SXSW debut; writing with Wright, Jackson and Spielberg.

Part 2: Why Cornish loves the 80s--and doesn't like computer graphics.

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Studios, Video, Interviews , Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Sci-fi, Horror , Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.