Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Guns of Nava- I mean Brixton
August 10, 2011 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Catch-up-the-North-American-filter: Please suggest films that I can watch to get up on the socioeconomic situation in Britain, leading up to the current unrest. Bonus if it's streaming on Netflix. Documentary or not.
posted by toodleydoodley to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Harry Brown.
posted by Jimbob at 5:03 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have any sort of authoritative perspective on this, and my suggestion is a fictitious movie from 2 years ago, but Harry Brown was a really good flick. It's streaming on Netflix.
posted by carsonb at 5:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, Harry Brown looks fabulous. Keep 'em coming!
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:12 PM on August 10, 2011


Harry Brown is basically a British version of Death Wish. Is that what you're looking for?
posted by The Lamplighter at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2011


If you're interested in disaffected British youth, you could do a lot worse than Fish Tank, from 2009. It features great performances and is streaming on Netflix.
posted by hoboynow at 5:36 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Definitely Kidulthood. Possibly Eden Lake.
posted by Cortes at 5:48 PM on August 10, 2011


Why watch scripted features instead of BBC docs? I think there's far more facts in the latter. Or maybe BBC news?
posted by Ideefixe at 6:07 PM on August 10, 2011


If you can get hold of Pressure it's a really good film from 1975 about racial tensions in London. With some classic bad acting but an incredible atmosphere and level of insight. Films by the Black Audio Film Collective (which are probably hard to get hold of, but have been screening in galleries etc) document the Brixton Riots from the early eighties. Perhaps This is England which is again set in the early eighties in the midlands.

More contemporary: although Misfits is about a bunch of teen super heroes it has some casually dealt but intelligent social commentary (also some great acting and funny too.)

I'm yet to see it but I hear Attack The Block is about all these issues (but is a comedy adventure film ala the goonies.)

There's also a slew of films like Kidulthood and Adulthood which I get the impression are a bit shit but might give you some context. There's even a parody out now which is meant to be even worse...

And you could give a try with this youtube search or if you want to know why London is run by an seemingly incompetent dimwitted asshole this one. Or yeah, as Ideefixe, you could watch/read some real news or something...
posted by pmcp at 6:18 PM on August 10, 2011


Well, a friend recommended the book Among the Thugs today, if you wanted to read anything. I, too, know absolutely not much about it all, and am curious. I'll be enjoying the links here too.
posted by peagood at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2011


Death Wish? welllll, not so much. I love Michael Caine, will give it a try.

I love documentaries, but why would I trust the BBC to tell me what's wrong with Britain? I'm more interested in your recommendations of dramatic (or comic, or romantic) films that show what's up, more so than someone explicitly telling me, albeit with their own agenda. Yep, I know dramatic films have an agenda too, but you can see really interesting stuff around the edge of the explicit story.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2011


> why would I trust the BBC to tell me what's wrong with Britain?

I don't think this is a derail, but, genuinely puzzled, why wouldn't you?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:41 PM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't udersand the assumption here. You think British movies are going to give you an accurate understanding of British social dynamics? That seems suspect at best.

What British movies will give you is a pop culture filter on a specific period of time used as a plot contrivance.

The BBC seems like the best option, or else some social or cultural documentaries.
posted by dfriedman at 6:46 PM on August 10, 2011


What British movies will give you is a pop culture filter on a specific period of time used as a plot contrivance.

Perhaps, but you can learn a lot from the portrayal of the events too. Sometimes an artist, poet, novelist or a film maker can help you understand or think about events in different ways and art can be a very powerful tool to get insight on the society often with the added bonus that the editorial and bias is explicit because it's not pretending to be fact. You can learn a lot from Shakespeare that you can't from... (damn, I was going to say Samuel Peyps but they weren't alive at the same time - should have got my facts straight, carry on as you were.)
posted by pmcp at 7:03 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if toodley thinks the BBC is some kind of propaganda arm of the British government, a mistake sometimes made about public broadcasting organisation.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2011


To understand British youth these days and to get some idea of how they are different from North American kids you need to watch things like Skins and Misfits less for the story and more for other stuff. You will see a lot of incidental differences that are not part of the plot - like how crowded the living spaces are - small houses where it feels like everyone is right up in each others' faces all the time with little or no privacy, weird educational differences and some of the brutalist ugly bleakness of lower SES urban living.

Before I moved to the UK I thought Monty Python was ridiculous over the top farcical silliness. Now that I have been here for seven years I think of it as subtle social satire. Also Brazil is a documentary.
posted by srboisvert at 4:03 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to derail slightly but I would question why you consider film to be the ideal medium to ingratiate yourself with the socioeconomic changes writ large over an indefinite timespan that have lead to the current unrest. I would have thought that this is a good case where the primacy of books specifically addressing this question are appropiate. And on this question any of the following from the opus of Theodore Dalrymple will assist you in this quest:

Our Culture, What's Left of it: The Mandarins and the Masses
Spoilt Rotten: The toxic cult of sentimentality
Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline
Life At The Bottom

Only film medium programme I can recomend is Monkey Dust which may be out there on netflix or similar. Agree Harry Brown / Misfits / This is England / Fish Tank.
posted by numberstation at 5:21 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very useful and streaming online. . . documentary focusing on the recent street demos leading up to the current unrest in England Rule Britannia: Teenage Riot
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:30 AM on August 11, 2011


Surprised no one's suggested Shameless. The last series had an interesting sub-plot involving a white woman and a black man arguing about participation in/importance of the Toxteth Riots (among other things).
posted by Cuppatea at 5:42 AM on August 11, 2011


Venus (2006) starring Peter O'Toole did it for me -- more a catalyst for my own research than enlightening on its own, however.
posted by Rash at 8:17 AM on August 11, 2011


I'm wondering if toodley thinks the BBC is some kind of propaganda arm of the British government, a mistake sometimes made about public broadcasting organisation.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:35 PM on August 10 Other [2/2]: «≡·


Well, pretty much for the same reason I don't trust NPR to tell me what's wrong with the US, let alone ABC or FOX. Everybody has a bias, and the bias is set by whoever is paying.

Maybe Pacifica, LOL
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:55 AM on August 11, 2011


I dunno what part of the US you're from but thought I'd let you know those Black audio Film Collective films are screening in NY on the 30th.
posted by pmcp at 3:47 AM on August 12, 2011


Skins is pretty middle-class, is it not? Remember some of these will be exaggerated for dramatic/comic effect - Shameless seems very pantomime IMHO.

The best film about young people and violence I saw recently was Ken Loach's Looking For Eric. The trailers would have you believe it's a goofy little film about a working class guy who gets advice from a footballer - it isn't. I haven't seen Fish Tank or Red Road but it treads the same territory.

I'd also recommend seeking out documentaries about the BNP or EDL, because they have a role to play in terms of getting poorer people involved in racist activities.

Well, pretty much for the same reason I don't trust NPR to tell me what's wrong with the US, let alone ABC or FOX. Everybody has a bias, and the bias is set by whoever is paying.

You know that the BBC is funded by the license fee and not by advertisers, right? It's not controlled by the state, it's funded by the public. People accuse it of various biases all the time, but having worked in BBC News I know how strict policy is in terms of maintaining a useful viewpoint.
posted by mippy at 5:08 AM on August 12, 2011


mippy, thanks for that. I'd love to pay a licensing fee to have less bias-loaded content, but since I'm U.S. born and educated, I have no real idea what that's like.

pmcp, if only. I'm in Florida.

Rash, I like Peter O'Toole too. more than I should, probably

numberstation & peagood, thanks for the book selections. I actually do read a lot, but film is nice in that it kinda shows what stuff looks and sounds like, sort of. I mean, I haven't seen any films that look like me, but...
good point.

everyone, big thanks. These are some great suggestions and I'll be some time getting through them. FWIW, I watched Harry Brown the night it was suggested. I enjoyed it, but it seemed to deliberately make everyone but Brown a bit unlikeable (I'm sure that was kind of the point). I teach school in the kind of neighborhood that graduates rioters, so I'm looking for as many viewpoints as possible, but that's a good start.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:29 PM on August 13, 2011


« Older My sister is interviewing for ...   |  I'm a guy. Can I get domestic ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.