Posts Tagged ‘Raining Stones’

Ken Loach is marvellous

28/06/2013, 01:32:08 PM

by Kevin Meagher

I’m always puzzled by the contrast between Ken Loach’s politics and his films. In person, Loach is a quiet and modest man with fairly run-of-the-mill and defiantly unreconstructed socialist views, having left the Labour party in the mid-1990s.

In contrast his films, although clearly polemical, are brilliantly nuanced. They take the broad theme of the value of collectivism but Loach’s amazing talent lies in small detail; nailing characters and situations with brilliant realism, simplicity and compassion.

His 2006 Palme D’or-winning film about the Irish War of Independence, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, is one of the finest parables about the clash between the politics of idealism and the politics of pragmatism that you will ever see.

Although his recent documentary, The Spirit of ’45, has been widely talked about before, it was two of his older films, shown this week as part of a Film Four series of Loach classics, that stand out for me.

The first, Riff Raff, was made in 1991 and sees Robert Carlyle’s jailbird, Stephen, an itinerant loner with a mysterious past, finding comradeship working on a London building site and love with a pub singer while squatting in a flat.

When Ricky Tomlinson’s character, Larry, a fellow labourer, complains to the management about the dangerous working conditions the men have to endure, he is sacked. Another man later falls to his death from the same scaffold Larry had been warning about. Given what we now know about the blacklisting of building workers in a notoriously un-unionised industry, the story is particularly poignant.


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