Thursday, 30 September 2010

Favourite Film Faces #9: Jason Lee in 'Enemy of the State'

Having just listened to the Reel Insight podcast with Rachel and Jess and they briefly mentioned Jason Lee - having played a small part in a Sigourney Weaver/Gene Hackman film HeartBreakers - and I thought ... oh yeah. Jason Lee ...

Now I'm not a big Kevin Smith fan and I haven't seen a single episode of My Name is Earl so unlike some people, I am in no-way a big fan of Jason Lee, but I always remember him in Enemy of the State. And that ties in with the [ridiculous] possibility of Tony Scott directing the new Superman movie.

Jason Lee's brief role in Enemy of the State is unforgettable (and he reminds me of Ryan Reynolds...). As is the fire truck. And then there is the incredible cast! Jack Black, Seth Green, Barry Pepper, Jamie Kennedy - "I though it was a training op'-, Tom Sizemore and obviously the leads: Will Smith and Gene Hackman. And theres more... Jon Voight! who else ... What a great film! I may watch it soon following this post...

And before anyone says it - I haven't seen The Conversation yet...

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Monday, 27 September 2010

It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)

You know, I had you pegged right from the jump. Just a spoiled brat of a rich father. The only way you get anything is to buy it, isn't it? You're in a jam and all you can think of is your money. It never fails, does it? Ever hear of the word humility? No, you wouldn't. I guess it would never occur to you to just say, 'Please mister, I'm in trouble, will you help me?'


I watched this initially on DVD many years ago anf fully enjoyed it. I think, us young folks, who watch many films from decades ago have a certain problem feeling the context - as we are so removed from the year of release (1934... fifty years before I was even born). But we still have the stereotype 'classic' film expectation - a romance with facsinating leads and some quirky, comedic moments. It Happened One Night is one of those films that has all of that - and more. Clark Gable pre-Gone With The Wind and at a point whereby talkies were becoming the norm ... this was a film that was always going to last for generations and now has the added element of historical-importance. LIke Casablanca and Citizen Kane - this could never be remade because the context and the actors is what makes the film so good. Both aspects could never be reproduced.
Fact is, when I rewatched this during a Claudette Colbert season at BFI Southbank, I took good friend Jenkins and Sarah... both told me post-viewing that it was a rubbish use of a Friday night. I think they are wrong.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The One-Year Anniversary Simon and Jo Film Show!!!

One whole year ago, Jo and I tentatively recorded our first podcast discussing Sam Mendes and Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank.

This week, we celebrate our first Anniversary by recording live in Brighton, the seaside resort one-hour away from London, at The Bystander Cafe - reviewing The Town - Ben Afflecks follow-up film to Gone Baby Gone starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm. This is followed up by a review of Devil, the M, Night Shyamalan-produced Horror-Thriller ... many mock Shyamalan for The Last Airbender ... but should they mock him for Devil.

It includes the latest films news, the London Box-Office and then a finish as Jo reviews London to Brighton and Simon reveals his choice of films at the London Film Festival 2010.

Lots of fantastic friends get involved - Sarah has her opinion on The Town, we hear from the missing Bangor Rep and many, many others.

Sit down, relax, get a coffee and get ready for the 1-hour Simon and Jo Film Show!


So many people to thank - Mad Hatter from The Dark of the Matinee, Scott and Whitney from Frankly, My Dear, Mr Cabin from Blog Cabins.

We shouted out Sebastian over at Detailed Criticisms and Heather at Movie Mobsters too!


All Music is from the soundtrack for The Town available on itunes and


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Jurassic Park Remake... Kind-of.

Right, though I haven't seen Be Kind, Rewind, the idea of 'sweding' movies is fantastic. I stumbled upon this 'Swede' version of Jurassic Park and I am pretty sure many folks would be interested in this ... I know I wish I found it earlier myself!

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Friday, 24 September 2010

Favourite Film Faces #8: Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible

So, months ago I visited Prague and, amongst the art, culture, food and good-times that was had by all, I did manage to get together a short video to precede a podcast which Jo and I will inevitably complete on the [current] Mission: Impossible Series. In the same way that we covered the entire Scream, Jurassic Park  and Jason Bourne films, we will cover all three Mission: Impossible films to build ourselves up for M:I-4 or M:I:4 or whatever they are going to call it.

So, Sarah - as a present - purchased the 'Ultimate Missions Collection' and, day-by-day, the time draws closer tocovering all three films.

Suffice to say, Tom Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, in the Mission:Impossible, in my opinion, was the last time he looked good. To some extent, I think, they tried to bring M:I:3 back to the roots of the first one - so that doesn't really count - but most (if not all) of Cruise's other films since Mission:Impossible gives him that long-haired look which looks crap.

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Sunday, 19 September 2010

TSAJS: 19/09/2010 'Winter's Bone' and 'I'm Still Here' and much more!

This week is jam-packed with film-talk! Simon has watched Winter's Bone - the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-Winner, whilst Jo has watched the Joaquin Phoenix, now clarified, mockumentary, directed by Casey Affleck - I'm Still Here.

All the usual news and Top London Box-Office is discussed with trailers for Another Year and The Tourist spoken to a little bit more in depth.

Then we finish with a discussion of Bringing Out The Dead directed by Martin Scorsese - whereby it is clear which Scorsese film is 'update' and, if I'm honest ... it ain't close to the original...



All music is from the soundtrack for Winter's Bone, now available on itunes.


Mad Hatter has some incredible coverage of the Toronto Film Festival
Frankly, My Dear with their fantastic podcast!
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Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)

"There's no hope for us here, there is only death"


This is a tough film. Sarah was bought this film as a present due to the fact that (a) Hugh Jackman was in the film and (b) it looked like there was muchos muscle-shots of Jackman for her to have a gander at. Personally, I was not too fussed about this, except maybe a slight interest in seeing a Darren Aronofsky following watching The Wrestler - a film I liked but didn't obsess about. But, with Black Swan garnering alot of positvity from both Venice and Toronto - and with, already, tickets sold out at the screenings in two-out-of-the-four screenings at London Film Festival (before even us BFI Members can purchase them!), it seems now is an appropriate time to place up a small analysis of this film. Though I strongly suggest you watch the film more than once to truly 'get' it, it is unfortunate for me to admit that I have only seen the film once. And don't intend to watch it again in the near future.

How Do You Cope with Death?

This is a fantasy story focussed on death. The is a futuristic sci-fi story focussed on death. This is a drama focussed on death. And Mourning. Constantly questioning how are you supposed to cope with death? The three desriptions are appropriate through the three different strands that interweave and confuse throughout the film. In the one sequence, Jackman is in a bubble alongside the tree of life - eating pieces of bark to stay alive - the bubble floats through space looking like it is ascending into space and reaching heaven. Then we have the lives of Izzi (Weisz) and Tommy (Jackman) in a semi-modern day context. Izzi is diagnosed with cancer and Tommy needs to support her through her final days/months/years - Tommy is a scientist himself and is desperate to search for a cure, even obsessing over it defining "death" as "a disease". Parrallel to this again, we learn that Izzy is writing a book - about death - whereby a a Spanish soldier seeks the tree of life. Now, bear in mind - the man in the bubble is Hugh Jackman, "Tommy" is Hugh Jackman and the Spanish soldier is Hugh Jackman... thus the confusion sets in.

The Choice of Life

On the first viewing, it is clear that the film has multiple meanings. All the films get intreverted and fall unto themselves - so as 'Izzi' is writing a story that we see, the end further complicates matters as we see each story reversing and finishing throughout time. As Tommy revisits a moment in his life whereby he put his work before Izzy - but instead choosing to be with Izzy, rather than focus on his work. The Spanish soldier, eats a piece of bark from the tree of life and then vomits flowers, becoming one with nature - I guess living life forever within nature (something that death, to some extent is too). The pain of memory is further explored - how can someone mourn the loss of someone they don't believe should have passed?

It is our actions that dictate our perspectives and feelings and Tommy's ring, which he loses early on, symbolises this. His obsession over finding a cure is not what helps Izzy  -she simply needs him to be close to her - to hold her as she passes on. Unlike the Spanish soldier - he will only kill himself in trying to 'disprove' death. The spirtual and non-tangible love is what will keep you alive - and, in the bubble, he is purely obsessed with love - desperately wanting her back. Actions create feelings - and your actions in someones life is what needs to be prioritised - you can't take anything from this world with you when you pass on, but you can take your emotions.

This is only my first exploration of the film and, as it stands, it is sad to say that The Fountain is my most disliked Blu-Ray film. I don't know how I will revisit it - and in what state of mind I will be in - I just pray that I watch it the next time following an inspiring conversation, comment or post that I partake in convincing me of the many merits of the films. Talking of merits, Clint Mansells score is outstanding.

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

TSAJS: Special Episode on 'Kandahar Break: Fortress of War'

Released this week, Kandahar Break:Fortress of War is our focus on a special edition of 'The Simon and Jo Film Show'.

From the website:

"Kandahar, Afghanistan, 1999. A team of British mine clearance engineers, including Richard Lee (Shaun Dooley - Salvage, Eden Lake) and Steve Delamore (Dean Andrews - Ashes to Ashes) are working for the Taliban Government to clear mine in the scorching deserts of Southern Afghanistan.

But when Richard falls for their beautiful Afghan interpreter he soon finds himself at the mercy of the local police chief Ashiq Khan, who instigates a manhunt to kill the British infidel. Now alone, Richard must escape on foot through hostile terrain into nearby Pakistan, aided by a force of rebel guerrillas who agree to help him flee from the vengeful Taliban.

With relentless thrills and an action-packed story, Kandahar Break: Fortress of War is a gripping and exhilarating adventure-ride from start to finish."

The trailer and all other information can be found here

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

TSAJS: 12/09/2010 'Cyrus' and 'Bobby' and much more!

This week we have two films to get stuck into: Cyrus and Bobby. One a mumblecore, recent hit amongst Sundance and the indie crowds, whilst the other is a huge ensemble-cast tackling Bobby Kennedy, the assasinated brother of John F. Kennedy.

As usual, we discuss the Top London Box-Office and then, between us, we choose our new-release film of the week and trailers for Never Let Me Go and Saw 3D.


Because there is currently no soundtrack for Cyrus available, I have tried to hunt down a few of the songs from the film. Included is The Human League: 'Don't You Want Me Baby' and a few songs that I could find on clips and trailers for the film.


So many people mentioned in this weeks episode - Blog Cabins and its 30 Days of Crazy, and Mr Cabin assisted with Movie Moxie and Scott from Frankly, My Dear, with making me choose Cyrus to watch.

Finally, Mad Hatter, having been mentioned so many times - as our opposition - deserves a little link here too...


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Thursday, 9 September 2010

TSAJS: Special Episode on 'The Collectors Room'

Luke Owen from Flickering Myth invited us to the Forbury Hotel for a special screening of the first two episodes of The Collectors Room, a new and exciting TV-Internet series with a horror-drama edge. In this special edition of their weekly film podcast review show Simon & Jo interview Luke and his co-conspirators Daniel J. Brant and Kate Hansell about the project then discuss the shows they watched; The Last Serenade and Sam. We get to the bottom of the filmmakers intentions and future plans as well evaluating the quality of the work. The music is from the shows theme tune.

If you like the sound of the programmes then check them out here and don't forget to tune into The Simon and Jo Film Show this weekend for more reviews, news and stuff. If you'd like us to review your film/tv programme/anything else then please get in touch here.
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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Favourite Film Faces #7: Jon Hamm in Mad Men

In anticipation and excitement for Season 4 of Mad Men, starting tonight at 10pm, BBC4 we have Jon Hamm. Maybe more a TV face than a film face but, his ridiculous masculinity simply forces you to aspire, to some extent, to be a little like him. Maybe not so much cheating. And drinking. Hell, he has alot of flaws - but he still looks a little like Superman and as Mad Men is so good, much like Clark Kent is to Superman, you completely believe in the multiple-sides of Jon Hamm.

Also, the Film Cynics must watch the programme. Now.
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)

"Don't say that, Raimunda, or I'll start crying. And ghosts don't cry"


I was positive Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her performance in Volver. Alas, I am wrong. She was nominated for her role - but lost out to Helen Mirren playing The Queen. Though she did win at the Empire Awards and Europeon Film Awards. At any rate, I expected alot from this film and, going in without any knowledge, seemed to help as the film jolted from one narrative-thread to another. A film combining death and feminity is what Volver attempts to achieve and it indeed does do this ... but I think certain aspects did jar just a tad.

Without putting too fine a point on it, I was not keen as it shifted between murder and abuse to mythical stories and Motherly tenderness between family-members. The story itself is rather conflicted in the lead character and, dare I say it, though a lead and important role it seemed a bit unemotional. But maybe that was the point - a character who simply deals with a situation and doesn't get upset about it. For one thing, Penelope Cruzs' Raimunda is not fussed about death.

Deathly Reserved

The exploration on the theme of death is established from the start - as multiple women clean gravestones. We are introduced to sisters
Raimunda (Cruz) and Sole (Dueñas) cleaning down their Mothers gravestone - Raimunda's daughter assists too. The Sisters were brought up in La Mancha, whereby the culture of death is something to be celebrated - to the point that we see a friend, Augustina (Blanca Portillo), preparing her own gravestone for when she dies. When we get back to Raimunda's house we meet Paco, he husband, who si clearly a peadophile as he fantasizes and spys on his daughter getting changed... the following day, Paco is dead, as Raimunda's daughter has killed him when he attempted to rape her. Together, they hide his body in the cafe of a next-door neighbour. Another death - only for Raimunda and Sole's Auntie to die the same day... as Sole goes to the funeral of her Auntie she finds her Mother...

As Almodóvar is dealing with such a sensitive subject, it is no suprised that the comedic and bizarre elements are not seen - and, other than Paco's brief perversions - there is no overt-sexual scenes or sexuality-issues raised. So, though restrained for Almodóvar the colours still reek of pastels and calmness. Nothing too bold and nothing too cold - pastelly-blue's and pinks all over the place.

Death and All His Friends

On the one side, Almodóvar focusses on mourning and loss - but on the other side, he includes a murder plot (killing off the only male character...) whereby the abusive partner of Cruz is killed by his daughter - and buried. This is not the centre-piece of the story - the Mother returning is (Volver means 'coming back' or 'to return') - and so there is no 'criminal' angle to this murder plot. I felt like it was an unfinished thread - as if it seemed too easy to have any repurcussions - so they might as well end the thread without returning. But maybe, in the same way that Raimunda not telling her daughter Paco was not her father, the murder of Paco will come back to haunt her.

Paco, though virtually the only male character (there is, briefly, a man who flirts with Cruz ... but., who wouldn't?) sets-up an attack on men throughout. As Raimunda's Mother reveals the reason for her survival and disappearance, we find that Raimunda and Sole's Father was a cheater and cruel character too. As if maybe, Almodóvar's intention was to bring this family together again - "to return" - after the tragedy without men. Men created the problems and anger for these women - so they should celebrate their lives without them.

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Monday, 6 September 2010

Bad Education/La Mala Educación (Pedro Almodóvar, 2004)

"I think I've just lost my faith at this moment, so I no longer believe in God or hell. As I don't believe in hell, I'm not afraid. And without fear I'm capable of anything."


I thought I would start with what is fastly becoming my favourite Almodóvar film. Initially, when I began watching the film I thought it was a little bit ... ahem ... gay. Not that it makes it bad but as I have no personal experience of homosexuality, I was worried it was a film that was effectively targetted towards the gay-audience and that personally I wouldn't really 'get' it. Without putting too fine a point on it, it is a very 'gay' film but ever since I watched the film I have thought more about Bad Education and pondered on the characters, the complexities and relationships intertwined and, eventually, realised how incredible it truly is.


The film constantly flicks between one story, and another - beginning with a director meeting a old school lover, Ignacio (Gael García Bernal) who has a script for him to read. He reads this story and we see the story being played out - a story semi-representative of their childhood and their initial love during a Catholic boarding school. We then come back to the director who meets again with Ignacio, who the director eventually finds out is not Ignacio at all - and so we then see how the director then begins a romance with Juan, who still believes that the director thinks he is Igancio. They make the film, which is what we saw when we were shown the story initially - same actors and what not - only to then be confronted by someone, who reveals the actual end of Ignacio. A dark story - Pedro Almodóvar is obsessed with film and you always see so many different aspects within his films to show this and, I think, to some extent this is Pedro Almodóvar's attempt at a Hitchcock - akin to Stage Fright, whereby Hitchcock showed us a flase flashback, only to reveal the truth later on. In a similar way, Bad Education gives us a false-flashback - changing it at the end. The difference being, to some extent, that we are clued into the fictitiousness of Ignacio's/Juan's script - making the film that much more introverted and confusing.

The title credits even evokes Bernard Herrmans scores in the strings and beautfiul orchestral sound - setting the film up in the same vein as Hitchcock's thrillers.

Darkly, Even Black

When the film leads into its final act - showing the murderous ways of Juan, it almost becomes a film noir as themurder plot finale shows Juan/Fr Manola assist in the murder of Ignacio (who has become a heroin-addict/transexual). This adds a further dynamic as we know that Father Manola abused Ignacio as a child - Manola continues his false-identity as he left priesthood and married - but is clearly a homosexual, especially in his fascination and love for Juan, whereby he cheats on his wife with Juan. The film flips and changes direction again, as we see that Ignacio is not the innocent child he was as a pupil in school - Ignacio uses and, to some extent abuses Fr Manola and, more importantly, Ignacio abuses his family - stealing from them to fund his heroin habit. Is Igancio a product of Manola's abuse of him? Should we understand Juan/Manola killing Igancio? The films multiple perspectives - and expectations of you as an audience member - continues to fester in your head as, at different points in the story, the "bad guy" and "good guy" changes. If anything - maybe it is a simple case of "Nobody is what they seem"...


To conclude - everyone seems to be playing a role: Father Manola and his 'hidden side' abusing children, Juan pretending to be his brother, Ignacio himself, - as a transexual - in an excpetionally false feminine look. These multiple characters make the film irresitably intricate - multiple levels and understandings behind each characters - nobodys motives are clear. Even the director abuses Juan - as he takes advantage of Juan's lies and begins his own romance with him. The various levels to the story show how never is a story simple to tell. The director, searching for an idea, cuts out newspaper articles .... but alas, these are only one side of the story, it is always more interesting to find out every angle, every motive - and every dark secret that lurks behind so many stories of love.
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Sunday, 5 September 2010

TSAJS: 05/09/2010 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' and 'This is England' and much more!

From Sweden to the North of England, this week Simon and Jo for the main review, both discuss the new film from Daniel Alfredson  -The Girl Who Played With Fire starring Noomi Rapace.

Our shout-outs this week to many people, but Mad Hatter's MatineeCast features a review of The Disappearance of Alice Creed, whereby he states that Jo is incorrect stating J. Blakeson makes an amateur-looking film. Additionally, we mention Richard Bourne and his Brain Bafflers which should come soon enough ... but alas, I feel Richard is committing the precious time he has to his own blog on football called The Beautiful Game?

The London Box-Office is discussed and Simon and Jo choose their release recommendations and discuss the trailers for The Freebie and Nice Guy Johnny.

To finish, we celebrate the release of Channel 4's This is England '86 and go back to where it all began with Shane Meadows This is England. So, obviously, all the music this week is from the soundtrack for This Is England available on Amazon, itunes and any decent music store.

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

"These are great days we're living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know."


As many can see from my choice of films, the films I choose to watch is more for their importance in film history than for the current trend of zeuitgeist. Perhaps I am watching the back catalogue of a highly influential director (Speilberg, Hitchcock, Lean), perhaps it is an international-inspiration (French New-Wave, Italian Neo-Realism, Contemporary Latin-America) or it is simply one of those 'must see' films. Full Metal Jacket, and most of Kubricks work is in the latter category. Fact is, though I choose to watch these films, in some cases it is a bit of an effort (a family member asked recently "How on earth can you watch a film in the morning? films are for the evening!" Answer, it is the love of film and focus of understanding film that drives me...). So, sometimes, I put one of these films on and realise that it is actually, from the get go, something that I am hooked on. In these cases, I will often pause the film and save it to watch it with Sarah... or Sarah will promise to watch it on a later date. Suffice to say, this is one of those films that became one of my favourite films almost instantly - and within a week, my passion for the film inspired Sarah to watch it on her own.

The Duality of Man

On his head is a symbol or peace and, next to it, the words "born to kill". This complete conflict, two polar-opposite attitudes to war, is what roots itself in the themes of this film  - these two stances are what makes men so conflicting in their stance towards war and violence. They can make a man go mad.

Set during the Vietnam war, the first 40-minutes of the film is exclusively set in the boot camp, on American soil, as the new privates are grilled through their paces by Hartman (Lee Emery). Hartmans attitude is aggressive and violent - everything that war is - beginning the soldiers career in a completely controlled and inhuman environment. We specifically follow Prvate 'Pile' - an overweight, gun-obsessed soldier - who Hartman takes great pleasure degrading and insulting. This culminates in Private Pile killing himself - after having killed Hartman. A complete shift in the film as we now move to follow Joker (Modine) as he is deployed to fight in the war.


The sondtrack is rooted in pop-music, making the whole film that much more surreal: Rolling Stones and Nancy Sinatra playing over hyper-masculine men training and flirting with prostitutes. The small sections of score used is composed by Abigail Mead.

The complete contrast between the unified, clean and controlled environment in the boot camp completely contrasts with destroyed, burnt out buildings of an uncontrolled war. When we move into war territory, the camera becomes more disorientating - handheld and rough, almost like documentary footage as we see stark silhouettes across the war-torn landscape

A Real Finale

It ends it horror as a woman is revealed to be a sniper - can Joker, Mr "Born to Kill", kill this female sniper? The world is a different place - the environment is different. Soldiers choose to fight, they choose to defend, the choose to have the constant conflict of 'peace' against 'brute force'. This woman clearly does not choose - her hand has been pushed to protect herself and her family.

Having watched this a few years ago, and only revisiting it now through this review, it makes me desperate to get stuck in again. The entire film you wait to see the 'war' within the film genre it resides - but we see the madness of war and the madness of training men for war.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Favourite Film Faces #6: Stephen Graham in This is England

Having just written about This is England, again, I simply cannot praise Stephen Grahams performance enough. Flawless acting from an incredible actor.

A testement to British actors and, considering how good an actor he is, it comes as no surprise that Stephen Graham is appearing in Martin Scorseses' Boardwalk Empire and playing Al Capone.

So, if you want to be prepared for what will be a phenomenal performance - hunt down This is England.

Oh, okay, heres a picture of him as Al Capone...

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This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2007)

"Lovely, lovely, love you for that, that's fucking great. A proud man, learn from him; that's a proud man. That's what we need, man. That's what this nation has been built on, proud men. Proud fucking warriors!"


This is Shane Meadows masterpiece. Even since, with Somers Town and Le-Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee, he hasn't managed to top the epic-nature of This is England. Even now, a four-part drama, renuniting the cast of This is England is due to start of Channel 4. It has got rave reviews and does look awesome, but this is an ideal time to flash back to what started it all and what started real respect for Shane Meadows from the mainstream crowd. Having watched the film many times - and indeed I shall watch it moreso in the future - I have collected many notes on the film so I shall try not to ramble and keep them as concise as possible. Seriously, I beg all of you - especially the Americans and Canadians who may not know much about Shane Meadows - hunt this film out because it is a testament to British Cinema. One of the best films of the decade.

From 1983, we have reality ...

Documentary-footage from '83 shows footage of the policitcal climate - the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher, etc, before cutting to Shaun (Turgoose) and angry and aggressive 11 year-old (same age as the two lads in A Room for Romeo Brass) who is the Son of a soldier killed during the Falklands War. Clearly he is a bit of a social outcast and we see him begin a friendship with Woody and his group. Woody and Co are older boys who clearly enjoy joking around with Shaun as much as he enjoys there company - rough boys who break into houses and fool around, give the impression that, although they are having fun, they are rebelling to some extent themselves. But who doesn't at that age? Its not long into the film before we meet Combo (A flawless performance from Stephen Graham) an ex-prisoner, recently released from prison with his own views on what he believes England is. This is where the film gets exceptionally sinister - and the lack of intelligence of the minor characters, and emotions of Shaun, gain a small few acceptance into Combo's elitest group of racist skinheads.

Combo's Deep Rooted Character

Shane Meadows neo-realist style mean that you can truly dig deep into the characters portrayed. Combo alone has such intricate plot details that fuel his jealousy and rage against immigrants. Akin to Paddy Conside's 'Morell' to Romeo in Romeo Brass, Combo becomes a semi-father-figure to Shaun and, through this very strong bond, Combo begins to let slip small details about his own father - someone who was clearly aggressive towards Combo. The finale, between Combo and Milky, reveals Combo's real frustration - the famiyl unit Milky has, the love between members is what supports Milky, whilst Combo never had such support. The friends he has, have SEN (Special Educational Needs), specifically Gadget and the older fella with the rimmed glasses.

The improvised acting forces the realism to a deeper level - as viewers you cannot help but feel that what you are watching is rooted in reality. Nothing is hidden - not the awkward moments as Shaun first interrupts Combo's stories from prison, not the awkward realisation that Shaun wants to stay friends with Combo rather than stick with Woody. Milky himself clearly wants to be accepted in society, but his naivety and brotherly-love is what places him in danger.

The Title

Named 'This is England', the title provokes anger into the situation Thatcher potentially created - the deaths of soldiers on the front line (a fascinating parrallel with soldiers in Afghanistan perhaps?) and the ignorance of some and influence they have on the minds of the uneducated. Combo's Nationalists use the term 'England' as a front - as the focus - of their racist campaign. 'England needs proud men', etc. This is, quite clearly, not England but it does explore deep-rooted racism and I know personally of how this continues today - simplistic attitudes towards immigration and no consideration for the country that believes in multi-culturalism. This is England shocks and appalls - and yet forces you to consider the national concerns raised. It is Meadows style that brings it to the forefront as we cannot escape the reality of the situation.

This bring us to the end of the Shane Meadows reviews but, suffice to say, I strongly recommend watching these films. If unsure, 'Netflix' (as you folks across the Atlantic say) This is England because I can guarantee - you won't look back.
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