Film

I, Daniel Blake

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Ken Loach’s new film is an unflinching exploration of the reality of government welfare reforms. The powerful performances illustrate the effects on people at the receiving end of this Orwellian nightmare. Their stories, though fictional, find parallels with many who have found themselves at the mercy of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in recent years.

The Clan

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Based on a true story The Clan is about a criminal family in 1980s Argentina, a period when the military dictatorship was coming to an end and democracy was reinstalled. The Clan follows the Puccio family’s antics in kidnapping rich neighbours for a ransom.

It is a politically turbulent period, with their first victim having already been kidnapped before. It is never made explicit, but it is implied that father Arquimedes learned the tactics of extortion through working for the state.

The Hard Stop

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In August 2011 the taxi 29 year old Mark Duggan was travelling in was forced to stop by police on Ferry Lane, Tottenham, in north London. Four seconds later he lay dying on the pavement, shot in his arm and chest by a firearms officer.

This killing of a black man lit a tinderbox which saw mostly young people riot around the country. Fighting pitched battles with police, they were condemned by Tory prime minister David Cameron as “thugs”.

Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach

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“If you say how the world is, that should be enough”, says Ken Loach at the start of this documentary, adding that “politics is essential”. His is a kind of politics which wants to show how working class people live, find their humanity and resist.

This is exemplified in films such as Kes (1969), which demonstrates how a young working class boy is able to develop his own unique personality through his relationship with a kestrel.

Fire at Sea

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Fire at Sea is a powerful and moving documentary about refugees on the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. So far 400,000 migrants have landed on the island and 15,000 have died making the dangerous journey by sea. The film depicts migrants in dinghies at the mercy of border patrols who exercise complete callous authority over the refugees.

Where to Invade Next

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Michael Moore’s new film is not, as the title implies, a film about overwhelming US military might and another ill-conceived imperialist war. Instead the more bizarre premise involves Moore “invading” various countries himself to take the best from their societies and return to an America he characterises as dysfunctional.

The Complete Alan Clarke at the BBC

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The films of writer/director Alan Clarke are some of the most forceful, passionate and challenging in the history of British cinema and television.

Most of his acclaimed work has been unavailable to the public ever since his untimely death in 1990. Thankfully, the British Film Institute has released a definitive reissue of 23 BBC television dramas spanning Clarke’s remarkable 30-year career.

Our Kind of Traitor

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The secret world of tax evasion and dirty financial dealing revealed by the Panama papers is the setting for this adaptation of John Le Carre’s 2010 novel.

Specifically, Our Kind of Traitor delves into the realm of Russian mafia and oligarchs and their connections to British financial institutions — and politicians.

Every Cook Can Govern

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This is an important documentary on the inspirational life of the Marxist revolutionary, CLR James, structured around his books and illuminating some of his more overlooked work. The film is narrated through interview material with different writers and people who knew James, providing a detailed account of his intellectual contribution.

Love and Friendship

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Love and Friendship is based on an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. Called Lady Susan, it is written as a series of letters and is thought to be one of her earlier works, although only posthumously published.

The film, adapted by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco), is a beautifully shot period piece that you wish was longer than its 90-some minutes.

Lady Susan, played by Kate Beckinsale, is recently widowed, short on funds and increasingly frowned upon for her affair with a married man.

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