I've met Noel Clarke. In fact, I think I've met him twice. He seems like an alright bloke. In some ways I admire him greatly because he seems a lone voice in Britain's incestuous cottage film industry. Unlike many ethnic minority folk working in the British film industry, Noel doesn't seem to whitewash his image, nor does he seem to be a phoney urbanite artificially heightening his street credentials. Unlike the vast majority of young filmmakers working in Britain, Noel actually makes movies audiences want to watch.
So, why am I berating the geezer if I think so highly of him? Well, that's because I don't think highly of him. Granted, he is a working British filmmaker who actually clawed his way up from northing. He was a gym instructor who became an actor, ventured into scriptwriting, which eventually translated into directing gigs. Yet, his films don't have anything profound to say about seemingly profound subject-matters. It's obvious that Noel is inspired by the American 'Hood Movies' of the early 90s, but unlike those films neither KIDULTHOOD nor ADULTHOOD convinced me that Noel had something serious to say about the plight of Broken Britain. Seriously, when Mathieu Kassovitz released LA HAINE 15 years ago it shook France to the core; enough to encourage the French National Assembly to actually hold a screening of the movie as means to better understand the plight of Paris' urban angry youth. When BOYZ N THE HOOD and MENACE II SOCIETY were released it got news journals to take notice of a decayed interpretation of the American Dream. Unfortunately, none of Noel Clarke's efforts have hit both the commercial bullseye as well as provoking serious discussion about how bad life for Britain's inner-city youth has become. It seems Mr. Clarke is a one-trick-pony, lacking the intelligence to adequately present stories that can be elevated from base sensationalism. Sure, they're movies that certainly connect with a considerably wide audience, but can they get people to actually take them seriously as credible stories?
2nd June 2010 marks the release of Noel's new film called 18.104.22.168, which is co-directed by some guy called Mark Davis (Yup, never heard of him either). It stars Julia Robert's niece and some talentless middle-class slags from the Italia Conti Stage School trying to act street. It also stars our mate Noel giving the same performance he gives in all his films. From the look of the trailer this comes across as a movie version of HOLLYOAKES LATE NIGHT SPECIAL. Distributor Universal Pictures are releasing 22.214.171.124 in the same slot as 2008's ADULTHOOD; hoping the slot may prove lucky again the way it did when the former went up against Universal's THE INCREDIBLE HULK that year. (Note: ADULTHOOD never usurped HULK, but did give it a good run for its money.) It'll be interesting to see how well 126.96.36.199 plays considering it's removed from the KIDUL/ADULHOOD brand, although the posters make great effort to remind us it's made by the same powers that be.
I don't totally dislike Noel: I just wish he was a better filmmaker with more to say.