Ken Loach is a Director I've known about for decades. I first remember being engrossed watching the film "Kes" in the 1970s. The film was about a schoolboy who had a pet Kestrel and the star (apart from the kid and the bird) was the British wrestler-turned-actor Brian Glover as a lazy PE teacher.
Ken's films seem to rely on the acting/improvisational ability of the actor who in most cases was making their debut right in front of you, which is the case I believe of the lead in this film.
Another interesting thing about Ken is that actors who have worked with him love him, which is more than can be said about the people who have had the (mis) pleasure of working with me, I've been reliably informed (but I'm digressing).
In researching Loach, I discovered that he was not always universally accepted. During the 1970s and '80s, his films were less successful, often suffering from poor distribution, lack of interest and political censorship.
His film "The Save the Children Fund Film" (1971) was commissioned by the charity, which disliked the finished movie so much that they attempted to have the negatives destroyed. In fact, it was only screened publicly for the first time on 1st September 2011, at the BFI Southbank.
Here's a list of films brother Ken has done that you will agree, if you know them, are classics;
Cathy Come Home, Poor Cow, Kes, The Save the Children Fund Film, Family Life, Days of Hope, The Price of Coal, Black Jack, The Gamekeeper, Looks and Smiles, Which Side Are You On? Fatherland, Hidden Agenda, Riff-Raff, Raining Stones, Ladybird Ladybird, Land and Freedom, A Contemporary Case for Common Ownership, Carla's Song, The Flickering Flame, McLibel (1997), My Name Is Joe, Bread and Roses, The Navigators, Sweet Sixteen A Fond Kiss... Tickets, McLibel (2005) The Wind That Shakes the Barley, It's a Free World... Looking for Eric and Route Irish.
You would imagine that with his extensive body of work he would have been honoured by The Queen or maybe standing with the masses during the Jubilee celebrations which we had recently? Actually, he turned down an OBE in The Last Jubilee Year of 1977.
In a Radio Times interview published in March 2001, he said: "It's all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire
, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest. I turned down the OBE because it's not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who've got it".
Loach sounds like Benjamin Zephaniah!
Anyway, that's the background, here's a breakdown....
A tongue in cheek comedy follows violent thug Robbie as he goes to the maternity hospital to visit his young girlfriend Leonie and hold his newborn son Luke for the first time. Before he can get to see his loved ones, his violent past catches up with him and he's attacked on the fire escape at the hospital.
Harry, the foreman on the Community service programme that Robbie is on, sees the attack and stops Robbie from making his situation worse by persuading him that if he stands before the courts again he's looking at a custodial sentence.
Robbie vows that his son and first born Luke will not have the same tragic life he has had. While serving the community service order, he meets Rhino, Albert and Mo who, like him, find it impossible to find work because of their criminal records.
Harry (who reminds me of a compassionate version of the PE Teacher immortalised in the film Kes) takes the group to a Malt Whiskey Distillery where Robbie discovers he has a nose to distinguish the ingredients that make up a quality Malt.
Robbie hears about a certain barrel of distinction and rarity is coming up on the market and he quickly realises that maybe turning to drink might change their lives. We are not talking bargain Booze, rather the best malt whiskies in the world. It appears their plan is for them to steal the liquor.
Want to know what the title of the film means? Well when the barrel gets filled with Whiskey, 2% of the alcohol evaporates and the distillers believe it's the Angels taking their share. So now you know...
If you like your films with a gritty story, like "Ill Manors" but less violent though equally adept with the use of the profane, then this is for you; if not then wait for the next hidden meaning Disney Production coming to a cinema near you soon (check press for details).
"What's the 411?"
You know it makes sense!!
Article by @gmanzen / 12th June 2012
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