Friday, June 03, 2016

versus: the life and films of ken loach…

As you might know (or be able to guess!), Ken Loach is a bit of a hero of mine!
This afternoon, I went along to the Watershed to see Louise Osmond’s impressive documentary about the great man and his work (it was its opening screening at the Watershed… and, sadly, there were only another SIX fans in the audience to appreciate the film!). This year will see Loach celebrate his 80th birthday, release his 50th major work and commemorate the 50th anniversary of his landmark television drama Cathy Come Home(!).
Loach used to run up against the establishment figures and corporations on a regular basis and he frequently found that this ideas and views ran against those who were due to provide the financial backing for a project (eg. television companies who received the bulk of their income from the government of the day) – and, so, many projects had to be abandoned. Indeed, Loach didn’t direct a single film for 12 years in the 1980s/90s.
The documentary is a funny, provocative, revealing account of Loach’s life and career – in fact, his unexpected humour and often “riotous conflict” both came as somewhat surprising. Indeed, Loach’s long-term producer, Rebecca O’Brien, was wonderfully quoted in the programme notes as saying that “Ken can start a row in an empty room”!
He’s clearly one of the most determinedly political filmmakers in the history of cinema… he’s fearless and utterly determined in his work. In fact, he had decided to retire in 2013, but was so incensed by the Tory 2015 General Election victory that he felt he still had more to say… and the resulting film, “I, Daniel Blake”, duly won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last month (can’t wait to see it).
When Loach eventually dies (hopefully not for several years yet), Louise Osmond’s documentary will be shown throughout the world… but, in the meantime, I would definitely recommend that you see it NOW!
PS: The last Loach film I saw at the cinema was the excellent “The Spirit of ’45” (2013). Two of my all-time favourite Loach films are the brilliant “Kes” (1969) and “Looking For Eric” (2009)… but, as the bloke sitting a few seats away from me this afternoon observed: “I think they need to have a special Loach Season at the Watershed!”.
PPS: IMPORTANT: Ken Loach will be at the 6pm (pay-what-you-can) screening this Sunday 5 June for a Q+A session… it’s tickets only (although I suspect it will already be a sell-out).

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