Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Complete Collection: Danny Boyle (Part 4)

To celebrate Danny Boyle directing the Opening Ceremony for London Olympics 2012, over the next couple of days, I will be charting the career of one of Britains top director...

So, following the success of 28 Days Later, this time Boyle didn't let it go to his head. He had no cast members that he would stick-with indefinately (though we would see Cillian Murphy again). No sell-out action-films (e.g. directing a sequel - though he played a role as producer of 28 Weeks Later he didn't direct and Alex Garland didn't write it). Instead, Boyle stayed small scale, stretching his talent further. He had tackled the drug-fuelled adrenaline and dance-scene in Trainspotting, he had tackled horror with 28 Days Later and he had even tried the Hollywood blockbuster with an A-List actor with . Next, he made a British Children's film rooted in Catholic Saints and with a strong moral centrepoint ...

Millions (2004)
With nine producers and executive producers (none of which were Andrew MacDonald), Boyle seemed to use most of his crew from 28 Days Later... with Anthony Dod Mantle, Chris Gill and John Murphy on board. Frank Cottrell Boyce wrote the script - a writer who denies the neccessity of structure in a script. Does it have to be three acts? Not really. And I wouldn't scoff at such modern thinking as he won an award at the British Independent Film Awards for Best Screenplay! Millions is the story about a young boy and his brother, who have lost their Mother. It is set within the context of the fictional-scenario of England joining the Euro and, amongst it all, a huge bag of money - at least £1million - is thrust into the two boys lives. John Murphy, with a great ear for sound, even used two tracks by Muse on the soundtrack. Certain skills were gained in Boyle's direction of the children and the start of the film - as the two kids run around their future house as it builds itself around them - is inspired and sets a fast-pace to film. A similar technique to the front-of-car credits in Shallow Grave and the 'Lust for Life' sequence at the start of Trainspotting.

Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper both claimed it as one of the best films of the year. Perhaps inevitably, the Christian-community supported the film - though there is always one who complained about the 'menace' and 'violence' in the film. Indeed, if you like Slumdog Millionnaire, you will love Millions. Vastly underrated, Millions is a must-watch that may even bring a tear to your eye ... because it did bring a tear to mine.

Sunshine (2007)

But alas, the big-budget nature of a blockbuster lured Boyle back - this time to a different genre: Science Fiction. Danny Boyle has stated that all directors inevitably 'do' their Sci-Fi film. Stanley Kubrick and 2001: A Space Odyssey comes to mind, Ridley Scott - now more known for his epics and action films - obviously has roots in Sci-Fi with Blade Runner and Alien. And now Prometheus. The two types boil down to the action-sci-fi, such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Then there are the 'serious' science-fiction that inevitably focuses on faith (tick Danny Boyle atribute number 1...) and humanity. These, more often than not include the 'machine' - Mother in Alien and HAL in 2001 -  and a 'signal'...

Alex Garland wrote the script, with a missing space craft already in orbit, another space craft - Icarus II - flys out to 'deliver the payload' and reignite the sun. A sun, which is dying. As Icarus II gets closer to the sun, it picks up a signal from the first space craft, Icarus. An outstanding film, with fascinating visuals - clear colour schemes in every sequence - the warmth of the 'sun' room, the cool blues and greens of the 'oxygen-creating' room. An outstanding cast in Michelle Yeah, Captain America in Chris Evans, Rose Byrne and star-of-The-Last-Samurai (no, not Tom Cruise) Hiroyuki Sanada. Cillian Murphy played the lead - the lucky charm of 28 Days Later... and, lo and behold, some great reviews but disapointing box-office returns. The budget was $40m but the gross revenue managed to gain only $32m. Personally, I have decided that in many of Boyle's film, there is always an exceptionally awkward moment whereby you feel a little uncomfortable and I have found that this is simply what Boyle wants you to feel. Examples of these moments would include the 'madness' of McGregor in Trainspotting seeing babies on the roof, whilst DiCaprio's madness is equally strange in The Beach. Sunshine switches from its sci-fi roots to a slasher movie in the final moment - Mark Strong playing the murderous Pinbacker (which, on the first watch, is jarring). It feels as if it doesn't make complete sense - though is Pinbacker real or a figment of their mind? should it make sense? Indeed, does faith make sense? Sunshine is one of Boyle's finest efforts - add to this John Murphys collaboration with Underworld (musicians behind Trainspotting's 'Born Slippy', the soundtrack on Sunshine was even used on Kick-Ass) on the soundtrack, and you have a fascinating work of art.

This post was originally released on 16th July 2010, but has been adapted to cover his recent film releases and provide a 'Part 5', to an originally only 4-part series.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Complete Collection: Danny Boyle (Part 3)

To celebrate Danny Boyle directing the Opening Ceremony for London Olympics 2012, over the next couple of days, I will be charting the career of one of Britains top director...

Before we move on, it is worth noting that prior to The Beach Danny Boyle was involved with a three-director-combo of a movie alongside Guillermo Del Toro and Gary Fleder. Originally to be written by Kevin Smith, Alien Love Triangle was due to be thirty-minutes long - alongside the other two movies Mimic and Imposter. Alas, the latter two became feature films leaving Alien Love Triangle on the shelf. So Boyle moved onto The Beach (Go back to Part 2 to see how that turned out... )

Strumpet (2001)

Following The Beach and the fall out he had with Ewan McGregor, Boyle returned to his roots - television and theatre. Made for the BBC, Strumpet and Vacuuming... were both written by esteemed playwright Jim Cartwright, though, unlike the films of Boyle, these television-projects were produced by Martin Carr - opposed to Andrew MacDonald. Strumpet is a rags-to-riches story involving poetry and music. Chris Eccleston plays a poet whilst Genna G plays a musician who, though shy, expresses herself purely through music. The two meet and their passion becomes exceptionally successful and the film eventually leads to London whereby they perform on Top of the Pops. To some extent we see some features of his previous films - and a tantalising glimpse into the future - as the finale in London reminds us of Trainspotting whilst the odd-match between Strayman (Eccleston) and Strumpet (Genna G) - Strayman who can only speak in words of poetry whilst Strumpet, who cannot speak, but can sing - as a slight echo of the strange duo of Diaz and McGregor in A Life Less Ordinary. The special thing about both these films is the use of digital cameras - very bad quality in their nature - Boyle manages to utilise the small-nature of the cameras by placing them in obscure positions capturing characters dancing across a room whilst the camera sits in the corner, on the floor, observing the characters. 

Vacuuming Completely Naked in Paradise (2001)

I believe this film is the strongest of the two television-projects - written again by Jim Cartwright. Vacuuming ... has a central performance in Timothy Spall as a salesman. He is a salesman who has sold for years and though experienced, he clearly has his own tragic situation that we begin to understand through the eyes of newbie salesman Pete (Michael Begley). Again, digital cameras are used to cover the conversations the two characters have in a car - as the camera seems to be stuffed into the glove compartment. Released within the same period as The Office, this film tackles the monotonous aspects to some characters lives and, it doesn't take long before you realise that Tommy (Spall) and his ambitious attitude to win the 'Golden Hoover', cover some misguided sense-of-self. A sub-plot involving a woman who lives alone in a flat and collects countless newspaper articles adds an interesting dynamic as the film explores the complex issues about memories and the past. The film ends in Blackpool as the characters find out who wins the prize - with a poignant finish on a beach between the two lead actors.

28 Days Later... (2002)

Nevertheless, it was Alex Garland who pulled Boyle from the dolldrums of television as he penned a script for Boyle. Boyle recruited some old-school friends - Andrew MacDonald producing, Alex Garland writing (having written the novel The Beach), Chris Gill - having worked together on the television-films - and even Christopher Eccleston - having starred previously in Strumpet and Shallow Grave. But this also marked a collaboration with crew who would pave the way for the future of Danny Boyle: Anthony Dod Mantle as cinematographer and John Murphy composing the music.

28 Days Later reestablished Boyle, as he created an insightful horror film tackling the parrallels zombies have with a society akin to George A. Romero. Even the mundane, mononous lifestyle of Timothy Spall in Vacuuming... was an exploration of similar themes. Iconic shots of London, completely empty - apparently filmed at 4am on a summer morning - seemed strangely similar to Vanilla Sky's empty New York streets, one year prior - but this set-up was no dream. Opposing to the exceptionally fast-paced running of Trainspotting, 28 Days Later... showed us one character, walking around, like a zombie, trying to figure out what had happened. This was the gritty reality of a post-apocalyptic world with the cold atmosphere from Dod Mantle and the incredible 'used-too-much-in-trailers-since-the-film' music from John Murphy whilst, hitting the jackpot again, with the lead actor: Cillian Murphy.

But Boyle didn't rest on his laurels just yet, a smaller-scale film was in the works - as if to prepare him for work with two child-actors, next stop, Millions ...

This post was originally published on 17th July 2010
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Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Complete Collection: Danny Boyle (Part 2)

To celebrate Danny Boyle directing the Opening Ceremony for London Olympics 2012, over the next couple of days, I will be charting the career of one of Britains top director...

Prior to making A Life Less Ordinary, Boyle was nearly the director behind Alien Resurrection. Personally, as much a I like Jean Pierre-Jeunet, the Danny-Boyle-Alien movie would be something I would like to see. Talk of wooden-planets and man-made-worlds does intrigue me. Nevertheless, Boyle utilised his strongest assets on his next project ...

A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

Ewan McGregor on his third outing with Boyle teaming up with, at the time, the exceptionally fast-rising star that was Cameron Diaz. John Hodge was on script, Tufano with the cinematography whilst Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo were playing angels and Ian Holm, Ian McNiece and Stanley Tucci co-starred. A surreal-film clearly, as if the minor dream-sequences in Trainspotting was now taking over the entire film - but instead of the slums of Edinburgh, it was now the affluent LA-lifestyle leading to a road-trip. An estimated $12m budget, the film made a mere $4m... clearly Boyle was not as good as everyone had hoped. The film features the ideas of heaven and angels and we begin to see the Catholic faith that was a centre point to his life, now come through in this film - a script co-written by Boyle and Hodge. The entire film was tongue-in-cheek and utilied a range of unqiue features - claymation animation during the end-credits, a musical number as McGregor flexes his singing-ability prior to Moulin Rouge by singing 'Beyond the Sea'. This was a film which pulled Boyle back down to reality. After the incredible Trainspotting, Hollywood and all its glory seemed too much to handle...

The Beach (2000)
If we are honest, Shallow Grave was great as a small, indie film - but I find it hard to believe that anyone would believe Shallow Grave is better than Trainspotting. John Hodge, it seems, can adapt material exceptionally well but maybe his original ideas - Shallow Grave, A Life Less Ordinary - are not so well thought out. Perhaps inevitably, Boyle was not ruined by A Life Less Ordinary and so he was given the Leonardo-DiCaprio-vehicle The Beach - a popular cult novel by Alex Garland, with the screenplay written by John Hodge . Rumour has it that Boyle and McGregor fell out through this casting as Boyle, who was clearly confident with McGregors acting ability was pressured by the studios to choose DiCaprio. Boyle accepting DiCaprio meant McGregor was out and poor McGregor went on to ... Star Wars: The Phantom Menace playing Obi-Wan in all three prequels. I doubt he cries himself to sleep about it. But Boyle made a few changes with Darius Knondji (Prior to the beach, he worked on The Ninth Gate, Alien Resurrection and Evita) as cinematographer, replacing Brian Tufano. Though Underworld featured on the soundtrack, 8 Ball, Brian Eno worked alongside Angelo-Twin-Peaks-Badalamenti for the soundtrack. The budget was the biggest he had handled - $50m - and the film made a profit, garnering $144m.

Robert Carlyle was a clear link to the Boyle-of-the-past and though the film made its money back - for the producers sake, it would never have made as much with McGregor in the lead role - it was DiCaprio's female fan base established with '97's Titanic that pulled the audience in. But ultimately, many critics panned the film. Despite the inevitable strange dream-sequences that we come to expect from Boyle (In The Beach with DiCaprio as a computer-game-character...) and the associations with philosophy and the human-choice versus fate argument, linking The Beach to those roots of faith Boyle has, ultimately audiences felt that, though the film started well, it dragged as it went on. The book had scope and was philosophically dense - the film, less so, playing it too safe. DiCaprio was up for Worst Actor at The Razzies for his performance (its not that bad...) and Danny Boyle left Hollywood.

Back in the UK, Boyle and long-time producer, Andrew MacDonald, utilised what they had learnt. They dumped John Hodge, and begun a new screenwriter-director relationship with the writer of The Beach. The original writer: Alex Garland ...  

This post was originally published on 9th July 2010

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Friday, 27 July 2012

The Complete Collection: Danny Boyle (Part 1)

"It's a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations." - Danny Boyle

To celebrate Danny Boyle directing the Opening Ceremony for London Olympics 2012, over the next couple of days, I will be charting the career of one of Britains top directors ...

Much like myself, Danny Boyle was born into a Catholic family with Irish parents. Though, unlike me, he was born in Radcliffe in Lancashire. This may come as no surprise to most people as Danny Boyle has often made films that have a spiritual element. Like Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle considered being a priest prior to becoming a filmmaker - having been an altar boy for 8 years. I can only thank God that he did not 'select' Boyle to be a priest because he is currently one of the most sought after and if not the strongest British director working today. Lets go back to the early days of young Danny Boyle, shortly after he left Bangor University...

Prior to Shallow Grave, Boyle worked in theatre - working at the Royal Court Theatre back in 1982. This is something he returned to with a production of Frankenstein at The National Theatre a few years ago. Indeed, the Olympic Ceremony is very-much a performance. He directed a range of Shakespeare plays for the RSC and, at the Royal Court, directed theatre by Howard Brenton and Edward Bond. He moved into television and became successful within this world, directing episodes of Inspector Morse and For the Greater Good.

It was John Hodge who had written the script for Shallow Grave, Boyle's first foray into film with Andrew MacDonald as producer. Both MacDonald and Hodge would stick with Boyle for a while to come. Alongside Hodge, some unknown actors were cast  - a Scottish lad named Ewan McGregor and another bloke, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox... who wouldn't do so well post-Shallow Grave. Certain interests were established - Danny Boyle's interest in greed and trust. The suitcase full of money, though a staple of many thrillers, this Hitchcock-inspired quirky-thriller in a shifty-flat paved the way for the future. Certain folk made an impression on Boyle - Leftfield's music, McGregors charming - but sinister edge - and cinematographer Brian Tufano who would be utilised in the future. Shallow Grave was warmly accepted, achieving many awards, but ultimately only gaining a fraction more than the $2.5m budget spent. Inevitably it has made its money now, due to its connection and inevitable "predecessor credibility" it had behind his next film; a film whereby the screenplay was based on a novel by Irvine Welsh ...

Though based on Welshs' novel, John Hodge wrote the screenplay with MacDonald, again, producing. Brian Tufano created the grimy cinematography of a heroin-addicts paradise and we begin to see a few theme's return - as a couple more add to Boyle's ouevre. Leftfield, again, appear on the soundtrack - but this time with a host of others representing an eclectic mix of different music from the eighties and nineties - Underworld, Brian Eno, Primal Scream and Damon Albarn to name a few. So far, so Indie. Bumped up from a $2.5m budget on Shallow Grave, MacDonald gave Boyle $3.5m to play around with. In exchange for a $16m return. Not only did the film exceed expectations commercially, but additionally it garnered prizes and awards from all over the world. Empire's 'Best Director' awarded Danny Boyle and, from Warsaw, he recieved the 'Audience Award'. Even BAFTA awardded it 'Best Feature' in Scotland. It was even nominated for an Academy Award for Adapted-Screenplay... but John Hodge walked away empty handed. Together, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave changed the British Cinema landscape - clearly, Britain had alot to offer the world of cinema in the mid-nineties. So, obviously, after Britain does exceptionally well ... Danny Boyle hops over to America to make the big-time.

This was originally published on 6th July 2010

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963)

"Right about now is when he's supposed to ask me if I hear voices..."


Back in 2010, I noted Shutter Island as my favourite film of the year. I stand by this. Now, influences are funny - they can sometimes border on remake, they can sometimes be subtle hints within one film which has been carried over to another. The influence here rests in protaganist John (Peter Breck), a journalist desperate to win a Pulitzer prize. He is so desperate, he commits himself into an asylum, in the hope of finding out who killed Sloane, by pretending to be mad. We see him practice the answers he needs to give to get in - his voiceover explains his understanding of psychology and how he aims to use this to get into the asylum - and he succeeds ... but sometimes the most difficult thing in getting into an asylum is how you get out...

Colour or No Colour, that is the question...

Made in 1960, colour-films were common-place. We all know that Psycho was chosen by Hitchcock to be made in black and white to create a old, B-Movie atmosphere and, it seems, this is the same purpose with Shock Corridor. This is why it becomes a shock when colour manages to sprinkle itelf within the film - when John's dreams are visualised, they are in colour. In the entire film, it is only two sequences. The cinematic-experience as you begin watching something you think you understand - oh, its a black-and-white thriller about who killed Sloane - shifting to a strange, unsettling territory - you question whether it was in colour? or is John going mad? etc. The use of a Maguffin too is Hitchcockian unto itself.
In one haunting sequence, I found it terrifying to see John breaking down and to see him begin believing the lies he set-up to get into the asylum. At one point we hear his narration as he loses his ability to talk - the terror which he can't explain. What you initially believed was a film you are entertained by becomes more significant - what if such a thing happened to me? Terrifying.
Mentally Damaged

The question is raised as to where Johnnys madness is from. Thematically, I believe Fuller indicates how it was greed and self-importance (in winning the Pulitzer prize) that destroyed him - the idea that through choosing to go into an asylum for his own gain is verging on madness. His girlfriend (Constance Towers) does not agree with this 'plan', but he goes against her. Against that, there is a clear difference between the Johnny we know before shock-treatment and the Johnny we see afterwards. 

I think it was Mark Kermode who mentioned one particular sequence as Johnny enters a room full of crazy women and he mutters to himself "my god, Nymphos" (Nymphomanics - women obsessed with sex...) before being attacked in a more zombie-flesh-eating fashion, rather than sex-obsessed women fashion. It may be sequences like this that is a little dated and shows a lack of understanding towards madness and the sympathy and support neccessary for people with any type of mental condition. 
Influence and Maguffins...

As previously mentioned, the macguffin in the 'killing of Sloane' is core to the film - but it is Johnnys descent into madness that we realise is the real story. You are forced to ask if he can be helped.

It is a great film that pushes farther than thriller territory - whereby you are forced to consider the wider implications and, perhaps, your own mental state. Much like Johnny - can you trust your own mind? The film finishes with a huge fight as Johnny fights who he believes is the killer of Sloane - the fight is huge and breaks everything in shot (seriously, at one point the fight spills into the kitchen and you are looking at every item knowing that, at some point, it will be knocked over). What is stranger, is how all the patients stand back and ignore the fight - there is no connection between what is going on in their lives and the fight happening next to them. Maybe even a minor point as people damage themselves (physically in this case, but mentally is the point) whilst no-one will react until its too late.
There is an influence clearly from Shock Corridor to One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest as in both films the protagonist commits themselves and both films explores the morality behind these institutions. I think, in closing, if you like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Shutter Island than it is neccessary for you to watch Shock Corridor - because this same situation presents a talking point about your mind and how much control you have over your mind. It could be merely one choice you make that separates you from the patients we observe in these institutions.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan."


As a sequel to Batman Begins, Nolan completely changes the dynamic without adjusting it too dramatically. Indeed, Gyllenhaal is much playful in the role of Rachel Dawes whilst it seems the Wayne Industries headquarters is in a different building all together - did they build a skyscraper in a shorter-space of time than Wayne Manor? Maybe it was merely a different building in Gotham. At any rate, the status of Wayne Manor - incomplete - gives the impression that Nolan himself knew that this film would go off on a little tangent. As noted in the analysis of Batman Begins, I believe that the first film criticises Capitalism and, though The Dark Knight does not tackle it directly, it does highlight a specific challenge to the Western world. Those who are motivated by something more destructive than money...

The Foundations

Batman Begins plays off the conflict between two competing ideologies. The right-wing attitude of Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) against the left-wing approach from Thomas Wayne. In The Dark Knight, the conflict between Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is central to the film - but early-on, it is clear that Bruce and Harvey want to join forces, despite their differences, for the good of Gotham.
Furthermore, the theme of 'Fear' - an integral issue in Batman Begins - is clearly downgraded as the reintroduction of Batman portrays him easily defeating the arch-enemy of the previous film, Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) with ease, even making a glib remark as he escapes. He doesn't fear Scarecrow, he doesn't fear dogs and he doesn't worry about much. The obvious problems of the city of Gotham are now fixed - Gotham is not afraid anymore. Criminals have conversations indoors - indeed, criminals don't operate at night if they see the 'Bat' symbol in the sky. But as 9/11 showed the world, alongside our inability in the West to truly tackle the deep-rooted issues in Afghanistan, The Dark Knight exposes how there are much-more complicated issues in the world. Some villains don't fear anything. Bruce Wayne even paraphrases Ra's Al Ghul's right-wing approach to criminal-behaviour - "Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred". It doesn't take long before Alfred recalls a story from his military days and reminds him that "some men just want to watch the world burn".

This "better class of criminal" is portrayed in The Joker (Heath Ledger). An iconic role that has no history or clear motivation - "like a dog chasing cars". He is evil personified. One thing The Joker mocks is Western arrogance and pride - especially the pride we have in money. You only have to see the arrogance of Dent as he dodges a bullet of Maroni's (Eric Roberts) goons - instead of seeing the luck of the situation, he turns to Maroni: "If you want to kill a public servant, Mr. Maroni, I recommend you buy American".

This affluence and arrogance is something The Joker see's no value in. As further support to this theme, the two polar-opposite criminals are portrayed in The Joker on the one side - and Mr Lau (Chin Han) on the other. In a scene when The Joker infiltrates Gambol's (Michael Jai White) gang, he uses pseudo-business terms such as "aggressive expansion" and then, in the next scene, Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Bruce Wayne visit Lau under false pretences and, they themselves, mock his business as the visit was unneccessary and embarresses Lau. The parrallel between Joker and Batman is clear enough. Batman is chasing both villains - Lau is rich, affluent and easy to catch as he is motivated by money. The Joker is not as easy to catch.

Like 'Fear' in Batman Begins, 'Trust' is the unique theme in The Dark Knight. As examples - Dent believes Gordon's team is corrupt and has difficulty understanding how he can trust such a team; Dent has 'a leak' in his own office; Police find it difficult to trust Batman; Criminals are forced into trusting The Joker - despite their anger towards him. And when it comes down to it, Harvey Dent trusts in Batman in the final act as, after he claims he is the Batman - when asked why, he said that he "trusted Batman would do the right thing".

Our trust, especially in the last few years, has been in the government and banking corporations that dictate the financially-motivated society we live within. How interesting how this trust was without merit. By the same token, our trust gave these positions power and (inevitably?) too much power corrupts you - hence the dilemma Lucious Fox has when faced with the Sonar System Bruce Wayne creates to track The Joker. And so we return to the social-issues of the first film ...

The Social Divide Widens...

The social inequality tackled in Batman Begins, is not as strong in The Dark Knight initially. Harvey Dent comments briefly on Wayne's Manor, noting how it is "outside city limits", to which Wayne retorts "I was raised here". The further difference between Dent and Wayne is their approach to society - and how Dent's DA position establishes him out at the forefront of crime in Gotham whilst Wayne, a billionnaire who 'contributes' to the economy clearly doesn't understand the social injustices prevalent in Gotham. We know otherwise, but this is clearly a conflict between the two roles. Batman is hidden, whilst Dent is out there in the public eye - and putting his life on the line.

But the final act, suddenly ties these threads of trust, money and inequality into full-focus:
You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
The 'insanity' is change. Is creating change. The "plan" Joker speaks of is how the injustices fit with what an unequal society wants. The reason why Dent is easily turned to the dark side, is because of how is opinion and attitude towards the world changes. Two-Face reacts not due to money - but due to anger at the injustices that have now, as he physically changed, has affected his future and livelihood. He is reacting to what he believes is 'right'. Rachel is killed because of what he believes is an unfair society. A society built on money and the neccessity of financial gain - a capitalist society - will inevitably fail as some people are content without money. And somebody who is not motivated by money - and place no value in a capitalist economy - are not a part of the Western 'plan' for the future. Even the opening heists show how banks are corrupt - The Joker attacks mob-banks.

But in the final third, we then see this rebellious attitude in motion - a hospital or an innocent man trying to make a point. Nothing to do with money - just people motivated by their love for their families. With money out of the equation - people will commit any number of crimes. Then the two boats - prisoners on one, innocent civilians on the other - have their own conflict, without factoring money, simply by thinking about themselves and what they, selfishly want. Personally, I always feel like the outcome - as no-one decides to flick the switch - is a bit of a cop-out. But obviously, if either boat exploded, then it would prove The Jokers point and that would be a very pessimistic ending.

The Right Thing To Do

Instead the film ends by determining Batmans role in society. He needs to take responsibility for the crimes Harvey Dent/Two-Face has committed. He needs to set himself apart from 'the plan', as his ethics and purpose does not fit within it. He cannot be a semi-accepted law-enforcer, but he is neither a mad-man, with a belief system that will damage the society he lives within. But he doesn't have to be either of these things either. He can be whatever he wants to be. He is not a person or one-man-with-a-plan. He is an idea, as we recall the teachings from Ra's Al Ghul, and an idea that may attack the ills of society - but purely, honestly, without expecting acceptance or thanks. The film regularly visits the theme of capital punishment - and whether Batman can kill someone. You could argue that if he ploughed through The Joker in his Bat-bike, then that would've been for the best. But he didn't - and this conflict is resolved as he is now seen as capable of killing - through the sacrifice of Harvey Dent. As viewers, we know he won't kill to save Gotham - but we also know that this compassion, recalling Batman Begins, is his weakness. Well not anymore -
"A hero. Not the hero we deserved but the hero we needed"
This is a different position to the start of The Dark Knight. Batman is now truly feared - and Gotham, though forever against Batman, will have their faith restored in justice and the powers-that-be. Power that is rightfully the states - and not power of a shadowy figure in the night. As we wait with anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises we can be sure of one thing - Bane is not a shadowy figure in the night. And unlike The Joker, Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul, the chant implies that he has power and leads others into battle...

On a sidenote, amongst the many things Chris Nolan wrote in his "Farewell to Batman" letter, he stated how - regarding The Dark Knight - he could "burn... up the villain’s blood money to show a complete disregard for conventional motivation". This links in with my own analysis above.
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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Tate Modern - Damien Hirst: Retrospective

Damien Hirst is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, he is one of the most famous contemporary artists in the world. On the other hand, he is the first artist people choose to mock when discussing the absurdity of contemporary art. "How can a shark, in a tank, be Art?" they say. Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin are the two popular artists who are automatically deemed 'not good enough' for an Art gallery. Ironically, both have had exhibitions in London recently (Emin's at The Hayward Gallery) that show a full retrospective of their careers to critical acclaim. And in both cases, I loved the exhibitions. It seems that their popularity is not without reason.

I firmly believe that Art is much more than an attractive landscape or a modern, abstract painting. Art is about experience and how, for a moment, you can feel out-of-this-world. Art can be about changing your attitude to something or making a subtle, but important, point. The question is never "What Is Art?", the question is whether it is worth your time and attention.

So it came as no suprise that Hirst is now exhibiting the first 'substantial survey' of his work so far at the Tate Modern. His 'Untitled' dot-paintings from the late eighties through to the unforgettable 'shark' (aka The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) and his latest butterfly paintings from circa 2007. His work tackles death and the temporary nature of life. Cigarette's stubbed out represent a 'mini life-cycle' according to the guide - and upon seeing cigarette-stub pieces in Crematorium and The Acquired Inability to Escape, one wonders whether these temporal fags mean much at all. Nevertheless, the clear theme is established and you begin to realise that temporal life, seems to be what every other art piece is about.

The use of dead animals is common in Hirst's work and, upon visiting the gallery, I really felt drawn to the art that highlights our own attitude to death. A butterfly. A cow. A fly. A shark. They are (just) animals, like us. One has no more value than the other, does it? Maybe the splitting of a cow in Mother and Child shows the completely fascinating intricacies within a cow. Kandinsky compared the colour of green to a "cow chewing the cud". He felt green was a dull colour and represented little. Are cows that dull? Maybe they are when "chewing the cud", but perhaps the decapitated head of A Thousand Years changes this. It is almost horrific seeing this bloody head  on the floor as flies slowly hover around the head - before their own timely fate in the Insect-O-Cutor above. So if we see shock and horror in the cows head - do we see the same about the insects dropping dead to the ground when hitting the blue-light? No? Why? A cow. A fly. Just animals.

The butterflies are not all dead. And, I am told, they are cared for and lead a very full life. As far as butterflies go. To have an exhibition piece, In and Out of Love, whereby butterflies hover around a room amongst paintings which are blank, surely highlights how death is not all doom and gloom. And some animals, really are, a thing of pure beauty. The butterfly images became more religious as they are displayed (deceased now and stuck-fast to a shaped canvas) to recreate what appears to be a stained-glass window in Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven. Beauty, faith and animal-life. Death is not confined to the formaldehyde solution in tanks.

Ironically, when you emerge from In and Out of Love, the attendants check that the butterflies have not joined you as you leave. I assume, if they find one, they put in back in the correct room. Then, as you stand, head a little busy from all the butterflies, you see The Pharmacy; a complete re-creation of a pharmacy. It is static and nothing moves. Lots of colour, but nothing natural. Indeed, everything is created - created to extend life? created to assist in life? It looks unnatural, especially as we know that in the room next door, butterflies hover around in wondrous beauty. The only 'life' in this room is you and the other gallery visitors. Now that is dull. 

I really do believe Damien Hirst is an important artist and he does require your attention. This exhibition seems to cover his work and truly shows how - and why - he is an important British artist. A great exhibition that I hope Londoners - and Olympic visitors - will manage to see in the coming months.

Tate Modern presents the first major Damien Hirst exhibition in the UK
The Damien Hirst Exhibition is running from until 9th September 2012 at the Tate Modern.
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Monday, 16 July 2012

The Weekly Review: 15/07/2012

A weekly round-up of what I have been watching, listening to and discussing. Rather than just posts about film, this is a bit more all-encompassing as I think my interest in cinema and art crosses over and between a variety of sources...

A day late! Well, it will get worse as (unless I am exceptionally organised) I doubt there will be one next week as I shall be sunning it up in Ibiza. Happy days indeed. Bring on the holidays!

Highlight of the Week

Spending the weekend on a canal boat couldn't have been better. Simply outstretched on the top of a boat gently sailing through the Staffordshire countryside and stopping off for a Guinness and exceptionally cheap beer (good ol' non-London prices...) was just what I needed. Hats off to Tom-o to getting married!


A Star Is Born: Since I watched a documentary on Judy Garland (A great special feature on The Wizard of Oz DVD), I have wanted to see this film. James Mason has become my new favourite actor - yet I have only seen him in this and North by Northwest. A must-watch as it is a pessimistic version of the story that is preented in The Artist. But without the silent-to-sound era context.

Batman Begins: Rewatching in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises. Anyone who hasn't, needs to check out my writing on the film on either this site or Man I Love Films. It proves how skilled a filmmaker Christopher Nolan is.

The Dark Knight: Guess what this week's 'Modern Classic' is discussed in detail...


Reel Insight: Managed to catch up on the Michael Fassbender episode. I'm (a) shocked that the ladies disliked Hunger and (b) love the slick-ness of the show. I think the 10-film limit is great as it ensures a concise and quick pace to the show. Especially as, if you haven't seen the film, its not a problem. Even the segments are effective and interesting. The fact that the next one is Jimmy Stewart ... woo hoo!

Graceland: Paul Simon's seminal album. I am desperate to watch the London Sundance Opening film, Under African Skies, as it details the huge controversy that surrounded its release. But, having said that, I would also strongly recommend the follo-wup album, The Rhythm of the Saints. Flawless albums.

Now Playing: Having covered the four Spiderman films, they are just about to get back into the Batman series. They spent almost an entire year discussing every Marvel film available and it culminating in a scathing attack on The Amazing Spiderman. I think the Raimi comparison is neccessary but unfair - but the boys really argued their point well as to how problematic the film is. But, I think it was Stu, who noted that it will be worth giving Andrew Garfield one more chance. I couldn't agree more.

TV/Theatre/Art Galleries/Books/Misc

The new Empire, Sight & Sound and Little White Lies arrived. Always a good time of the month. Sight and Sound even has many pages discussing Christopher Nolan's back catalogue alongside lots of writing about Hitchcock. A great month of reading material. Even more importantly, Nick James writes about how this is the 'last edition' of the current version of the magazine. Its exciting - what chasnges await us next month. One thing though, is the subscribers recieve access to the full digital archive. Fantastic!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)

"Now, you think because your mommy and your daddy got shot, you know about the ugly side of life, but you don't. You've never tasted desperate..."


I can imagine that the selected quote is not the first one which comes to mind when you think about Batman Begins. The glib remarks Batman uses and the philosophical theories of Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) all have a more memorable place in the franchise. But I think the scene between Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) sets the scene for what plays out over the three films. Ever since I re-watched Batman Begins, I wanted to analyse these themes. I believe that there is an undercurrent to these films that will peak in The Dark Knight Rises, whereby social inequality is at the centre of the Christopher Nolan series. Each film has their own narrative and unique elements that are unto themselves, but I am interested in the themes that run throughout the trilogy. I have not read the graphic-novels or comic-books, so I shall not be informing you of the roots of pre-production. Instead, I'd like to deconstruct themes and ideas that you may not have noticed - and may provide an additional layer to your own understanding of the series.

The unique theme that is set-up at the start of Batman Begins is the notion of fear. How fear can strengthen you ("What do we do when we fall? We pick ourselves up again") and how it can destroy you (The fear of the underbelly of Gotham - Falcone tells Wayne how it "is a world you always fear and don't understand"). The very guise of the Dr Crane/Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) is about instilling fear and panic in others - as fear and panic then gives an opportunity for control. Indeed, Dr Crane is abusing his power as a psychiatrist by moving patients, incorrectly, to the Arkham Asylum for his own means to complete the directive from Ra's Al Ghul.

More interesting is the fear which Bruce Wayne has. Deep down, Ra's Al Ghul questions what he truly fears. At the same time, he is questioned about his anger and where it comes from. The answer is one and the same. His Father is his role model - the man he looks up and the man who saved him from the bats. His Father is also the one who he is told is responsible for his own death - a death which Bruce blames himself for. Such a fascinating way to connect fear to anger. Yoda has a similar message in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering".

Wayne's deepest fear is that his Father, his role model, was flawed and at fault - but Ra's Al Ghul ensures he faces this fear; his Father was at fault. More importantly, Bruce realises he is not responsible for his death.

Social Desperation

The fear aspect of the story is the central theme throughout the film, but it is the opening third of the film that establishes a range of political attitudes and approaches to social-decay. One of the first things Ra's Al Ghul tells Bruce is how "someone like you is here by choice" stressing how Wayne, a man of affluence, cannot be a victim of poverty. And surely cannot be in such dire circumstances without a certain sense of self-loathing. When we see the flashback, we see how his parents directly challenged the social-decay by setting up the "cheap transport system" to bridge-the-gap between the social-divide. His Father did not fear the crime on the streets and fell victim to the reality of desperation - his "understanding" towards the mugger is what ensured his fate.

Ra's Al Ghul is the polar opposite to Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne's Father. Ra's Al Ghul believes that "a criminal is not complicated" and that capital-punishment - taking a mans life - is sometimes a neccessary form of justice. Al Ghul has no tolerance for criminal behaviour whatsoever. This is a very right-wing agenda at odds with the left-wing stance Thomas Wayne holds. Thomas Wayne believes that "Gotham's been good to our family, but the city's been suffering. People less fortunate than us have been enduring very hard times.". Thomas Wayne knows that crime is complicated and it is a product of a broken society. A society he wants to re-build. Opposed to Al Ghul - who wants to pull it down.

In both cases, Bruce Wayne knows that his role models have conflicting expectations of a society; His Father is too compassionate, saying "don't be afraid" to a child who has witnessed someone murder his Dad and constantly re-assuring the mugger when he is robbed; Ra's Al Ghul believes that actions are neccessary and, justice, can be determined by eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth logic. Indeed, 'Economics' are what Ra's Al Ghul explains the Legion of Shadows attempted to use to destroy Gotham - but it was Thomas Wayne who thwarted their attempts as he used the money for good. Bringing people together - Wayne is optimistic about the future whilst Al Ghul is pessimistic about the actions of man. The social-inequality, front-and-centre of the Batman story. Both want better worlds and both want a better society - but their ethics are completely at odds. This is what shapes Batmans image and outlook - he will "turn fear to those who prey on the fearful", effectively shielding his compassion with an image of mythical-power and legendary-combat-skills. In contrast to this, he reveals his role, not as a judge-and-executioner but as a believer in justice, by ensuring the criminals are put to trial.

Revenge is not Justice

The defiition of law is what clarifies the social injustices further as, to paraphrase Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), revenge is selfish whilst justice is about harmony. It is a cross to bear, sacrificing the personal desire for the sake of others. Bruce Wayne initially attempts to shoot his parents killer, but upon witnessing the act, realises that there is no solace in committing murder himself. This understanding is rooted in his belief system when he refuses to kill a separate murderer in the house of Ra's Al Ghul.

To close this analysis, it is worth reflecting on the opening, and closing, scenes. Rachel finds a spear-like stone shouting "Found it!" as Bruce retorts, "In my Garden". Again, he stresses what he believes is rightfully his. It is Bruce's garden, and does this automatically gives him power and control of everything in it? Children, wherever they are born, should not be in a world of injustice and inequality. The owners of that world - or Bruce, in his garden - has a responsibility to look after it and without that responsibility, he can get hurt. He falls down a well, he see's what is underground. He see's what the foundations are of the garden he claims is his. He is scared and is protected by his Father - he is protected by his priveledged upbringing. Re-emerging, he realises that the stone is not his to take - and passes it back to Rachel. Society is something we are all a part of - and those in a position of affluence and power have a responsibility to keep for everyones sake.

Batman is giving back the stone. He is giving society back what it deserves. The final lines of the film: "I never said thank you"/"You'll never have to". To be protected from the evils and ills of a society is not a gift from above - we shouldn't be saying "thank you" to governements squeezing out a few pennies to support schools and health. It is the duty and responsibility of those in office to, above all, look after its citizens.
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Incredible Soundtracks #25: Rocky (Conti)

The music attached to a film creates the environment, I believe, moreso than the literal environment depicted through the visuals...

I think it took me until Rocky III before I thought, sod it, I need to get the soundtrack. At the time, I was also jogging, so that is always going to help. I considered getting the Rocky Balboa soundtrack but decided against it as I prefer the completest element to owning a full soundtrack from a single film. And also, a 30th Anniversary was available of the original soundtrack, remastered. So that pulled me to it also.

I'm sure half of the choice-picks come as no surprise...

1. Gonna Fly Now - Iconic and unforgettable. It really boosts your spirit as well when running. There is this underlying element which, slowly, rises behind the brass that peaks when the strings 'take the lead'. Fantastic.

3. Going the Distance - The song which forces us to cheer. The solemn, slow - almost, marching - beginning before bringing up the tempo into celebratory brass. Again, great to listen to while running a tough stretch.

8. You Take My Heart Away by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford - Was there a love-song, with words, to the tune of 'Gonna Fly Now'? Yes indeed - Enjoy!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Weekly Review: 08/07/2012

A weekly round-up of what I have been watching, listening to and discussing. Rather than just posts about film, this is a bit more all-encompassing as I think my interest in cinema and art crosses over and between a variety of sources...

I watched very few films last week. But this week, I watched a bunch. It was also my birthday yesterday so I recieved great gifts including The Artist, Hugo and Le-Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee. They will be watched I hope, within the week. We shall see...

Highlight of the Week

Andy Murray: I'll be brief. I didn't think he would do this. In fact, when he was playing Baghdatis, I dind't think he'd beat him. But I am completely wrong. I hope he goes all the way. As I understand, he won the first set in the final (which is on as I write this) - the first time he has ever won a set in a Grand Slam Final. "C'mon Murray!"


Kes: For the Classic Columb, and now it puts me in a position to watch more Ken Loach. Good times.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Fincher's film.I'd never seen it before and yeah, it's fine. I think a thriller story can only do so much and, as I have watched the Swedish version, the story is the same anyway. Yes its better but just because its more stylish due to a huge budget.

The Great Train Robbery: Never knew this was available on YouTube. Indeed, there are many, many films, available free on YouTube. Check out my 1001 Page to see how many are available.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Its not brilliant, because we have seen it before, but it has set up the potential for a better franchise and, now they have jumped this hurdle, I reckon the next film will be better than all of Raimi's.

The Fox and the Hound: A new Disney Blu-Ray which looks incredible, again, in Hi-Def. And, I think the only purpose for 'Vixy', the love-interest for Todd, is to establish that the animals are not gay.

The Artist: A present from Sarah. Still a brilliant film which I wish I could show the kids at my school. Having said that, there is 20min chunk which drags a little. As soon as Peppy is famous it loses a bit of pace. But definately deserving of Best Picture.


Shame Soundtrack: I blame Stevee from Cinematic Paradox for this. She had it on her page as a great soundtrack and, after a listen, I bought two tracks from the album. It is a fantastic score.

Hannibal Soundtrack: Still brilliant.

The Hollywood Gauntlet: Well, I have finished listening and they are both great listens. I need to watch more films from 1982 and I loved the comparison and discussion of both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films, with further scope about the book itself. A good start ... what's next?

Demented Podcast: I always enjoy Steve Honeywell (from 1001plus) on the LAMBcast so I downloaded a couple of episodes of the podcast and listened to an episode discussing my favourite film of 2011, The Skin I Live In and Cronenbergs Dead Ringers (a film I watched for a podcast with Ryan McNeil last year). I shall ensure I write a more detailed, spoiler-filled comment on the relevant website, but their discussion of The Skin I Lived In missed out great discussion about gender and sexuality. What defines masculinity? what defines femininity? What about if you are transgender? What would you do if you were? Should you kill yourself over such a "horror"? These are what I believe the film is about - and it is what makes the film so brilliant!

TV/Theatre/Art Galleries/Books/Misc

I won't mention The Simpsons again. But Sarah recieved a gift of the two series of Sherlock so I believe that will be viewed very soon. Suffice to say, the TV has been filled with tennis this week.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

"He's got this hawk Sir, and he goes mad over it..."


Whenever I think about social-realist directors from Britain, two names come to mind: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Whilst Mike Leigh has roots in theatre and has films characterised as 'Kitchen-Sink Realism', Ken Loach, though an actor briefly, has roots in television drama. His films are deemed as socially-realist as, like Loach's belief, the films are sensitive to socialist issues in communities in the north of England. Kes is set in Barnsley, Yorkshire, and - in the hope that this may spur you on to watch the film - I would recommend the American readers to pop on the subtitles to clearly understand the dialects used by the actors (as I would put on subtitles to watch The Wire).

The Poor Boy

It is interesting to note that 10 years prior saw the release of The 400 Blows from Truffaut - a story about a poor boy in a broken family. Billy Casper (David Bradley) is from a single-parent family. Mum (Lynne Perrie) struggles to cope with the two sons - both of which are reckless and, in the case of Jud (Freddie Fletcher), aggressive and selfish. The first scene we see is Jud and Billy sharing a double-bed, as Jud bullies his younger brother by refusing to reset the alarm and leaving the door open as he leaves the room.

But it is Billy who we follow. Billy completes a daily paper round which takes him around the estate and area. We see him enjoy his own space as he reads the 'Dandy' and walks through farms, interested in the wildlife and birds. He has stolen from others before and so his newsagaent employer always reminds him that he will lose his job if found stealing from him. We see Billy at school and he is mocked by bullies in the school and the teachers also fail to truly support him - and instead remind him about his hopelessness. From this perspective alone we see how challenging life is for 'Casper' (as his friends call him) and, a line from The 400 Blows comes to mind: "Sometimes I'd tell them the truth and they still wouldn't believe me, so I prefer to lie."

On one visit to a farmyard in the morning, he see's a Kestrel and asks about how to train a creature. The farmer explains how much hard work is neccessary, but Billy doesn't mind and before long he is besotted by the animal. He slowly trains the kestrel - naming him 'Kes' - through the assistance of a book he steals from a local bookshop (he inistially tried to borrow a book from the library but was refused as he couldn't join the library without his Mum's signature...).

Abuse of Power

The parrallel between young Billy and 'Kes' is clearly set out. The patience, effort and time Billy needs to give to 'Kes' is in contrast to the lack of patience, minimal effort and short-time given to Billy in school. This lack of support is clearly portrayed in a ten-minute sequence consisting of a P.E. lesson whereby the class play a game of footaball.

The teacher is high on his ego - in addition to "teaching", he also designates himsef as lead striker and referee. This results in a completely unfair game whereby the rules are changed to suit his own ends. A penalty is taken twice after he fails to score on the first attempt. The small and thin Billy, amongst the tall footballers, is not in his comfort zone. We are told how he never brings his kit and so doesn't take part - but the teacher this time scrambles together scraps of ill-fitting clothes forcing Billy to look a state before even playing. He is last picked and forced to stand in goal.

The weather is appalling (true British weather) and, upon losing the match, the teacher forces Billy to have a shower and, when in the shower, he turns the cold tap on. On the one hand this is a sequence whereby you can laugh at how horrible the teacher is - but, within this realist context, you understand the truth of the situation. Billy is abused in this manner every day. His lack of money and attititude has permanently placed him in the "unimportant" sector of society. This teacher preys on his weakness and give the students plenty of opportunity to mock him further. A school to educate only seems to reaffirm social-status. This is not right.

The patience, time and effort Billy gives to a kestrel is better than the treatment he recieves in the society around him. This is tragic and heart-breaking. The child didn't have a chance.

Set within Yorkshire, the community is in an important time whereby coal-miners are still active and the beauty of nature and the countryside is in conflict with the industrial factories. Chris Menges (The Reader, The Mission, The Killing Fields) is cinematographer and he manages to depict a fascinating environment whereby Billy runs through the dirty streets in deep shadow highlighting the deprived area he resides within. Even his clothes are dull and grey, as if the coal and soot from the mines has tainted the children around the town.

 The One Hope

In true realist fashion, the film ends in tragedy. Kes is the one passion and hope for Billy. Kes focuses Billys' attention on other things. The distractions of teenage life are put on the side as he see's the beauty of the creature in flight. Billy mentions that he has been "doing alot better" since he hasn't hung around with the bullies in the school and, through his careful rearing of 'Kes', he begins to trust others and gains respect from the people around him. There are many facsinating monologues as Billy talks about his observations of Kes.

He explains how he doesn't see Kes as a pet - you can't control a creature like Kes. He has to be free and has to be admired and respected.

But it is not anyone from outside of this community who destroys his dreams - indeed, it is his own family and the desperation for money that indirectly kills the one hope Billy has. His brother Jud kills Kes as an act of revenge when Billy fails to place a bet at the bookies. Is Loach hinting at how sometimes the people closest to you can be the people who hold you back? Is he noting how money is the destructive element - and the unspoken desperation for escape from the working class that is destroying communities from the inside? Considering the film was made in 1969, maybe the education system has changed dramatically and pupils like Billy are much rarer to find. But watching it in 2012, you can see how the hope of the uneducated is still shot down as working-class jobs are moved to other countries and carried out by technology. The uneducated and deprived areas still exist and still need jobs. Billy is not a 14 year old in school now - he is the 17 year old without any qualifications. Where do they go?

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