Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Twenty Four Seven (Shane Meadows, 1997)
Having garnered positive praise from the English press - a five-star review in Empire - Twenty Four Seven managed to pick up a bunch of awards. This small-scale, rugged Nottingham-based film was the real starting point for Shane Meadows. Though Shane Meadows has directed Small Time one year prior, Twenty Four Seven was what placed him in the public spectrum and got him the clout to then move onto A Room For Romeo Brass two years later. He cast Bob Hoskins as the lead actor alongside well-known Brit-Actor Frank Harper - whilst the majority of the young lads were up-and-coming actors - who'd have thought that after Twenty Four Seven, the actors would establish themselves in British television - such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street, The Lakes and little James Cordon became exceptionally successful with Gavin and Stacey ... but less successful with Lesbian Vampire Killers.
A Simple Story with a Complex Community
The story shows Darcy (Bob Hoskins) as a community man trying to get the tear-away youths to actually take part in something - so he sets up a boxing club. So far, so good. It is Shane Meadows writing -alongside regular collaborator Paul Fraser. His writing explores more than the rise of this boxing club -
tackling the difficulties these disillusioned young-adults have towards life: Fagash with his criminal drug addiction, Tim with his abusive Father - the vast majority of the youths who simply cannot control their anger. The tragedy is set-up in the first scene - a Tim, older and wiser, finds Darcy sleeping rough and clearly exceptionally ill. We know that the fantastic opportunities and hope that Darcy has set-up will eventually ruin him - but we question how this will happen... and when it will happen.
Nottinghams Raging Bulls
Shot in black and white - potentially for budgetary reasons - there seems to be a passing resemblance to Scorseses' Raging Bull. No Robert De Niro but the 'rise and fall' of someone in a very difficult situation - someone who has boxing in the centre of his life. Shane Meadows, as a child, was part of a boxing club (think of the little fellas in Billy Elliot and the boxing club they were a part of...) and this film is inspired by the boxing club he attended as a child.
The commentary it has on the disillusioned young men of North England is interesting - the fact that the nature of boxing requires self-mangement and control over your emotions stretches further than the boxing ring. The frustrations and anger towards the shit card you have been dealt - if you have drug addictions or have abusive parents ... or even if you are struggling to maintain the tough-physique your friendship group expects, you need to put those emotions to one side and focus on the goal. Do you want to stay where you are? No? So you need to claw your way out - controlled and measured steps, 'floating like a butterfly' and - when the opportunity arises, you take you, bang, with both hands.
This is not as strong as Dead Mans Shoes, A Room for Romeo Brass and This is England, but it sure sets the scene - you could replace the tough kids here with the cheeky fellas in This is England. Small scale, yes, but with brassy ambitions, hell yes.