Ken Loach’s new movie ‘I Daniel Blake’ wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016

Ken Loach’s latest film is about the impact of austerity on millions of British citizens and residents whose only crime is that they are poor, unemployed or disabled in the fifth richest economy in the world in the second decade of the 21st century. What Loach describes as the Government’s policy of “conscious cruelty” towards the poor has destroyed lives on a daily basis in this country.

However this is a policy that requires people to administer it, which is why I have never accepted, and do not accept, that people working in Jobcentres, depicted in the scene below, have no choice but to go along with the policy. They do have a choice. They can say no.

63 comments on “Ken Loach’s new movie ‘I Daniel Blake’ wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016

  1. John on said:

    Nick Wright:
    Absolutely. They can say no to a wage and jump the counter.

    Not only do we have ‘socialists’ lining up alongside the far right against migrant workers, they’re also siding with those terrorising the poor in Jobcentres.

    Wonderful.

  2. John: Not only do we have ‘socialists’ lining up alongside the far right against migrant workers, they’re also siding with those terrorising the poor in Jobcentres.

    Well I wouldn’t work in a job centre myself, but I am a skilled engineer with highly marketable skills, so it is easy for me to say. But even within the greater choice that I have as a skilled worker, I have had to make choices to accept assisting projects for clients that I totally disapprove of; or potentially lose my employment.

    The issue here is that as individuals, working people have less bargaining power than the employer, and in the context shown in this film, the employer is the state.

    Even when combined together in their union, the staff in job centres are not in a position to change government policy.

  3. A strategy based on moral appeals to state employees to abandon their jobs and voluntarily place themselves in the position of humble petitioners for alms rather than workers exchanging their labour power for a temporary escape from the status as claimants is unlikely to achieve much success.

    A test of how effective moral appeals to ordinary people might be would be to offer claimants the opportunity to exchange their present status for a wage (with all the moral burdens that accepting such an offer carries with it.)

    If we substitute concrete analysis for abstract moralising we can determine that the actual conditions of life for both groups of people (who are, even in conditions of relative capitalist stability, absolutely interchangeable) are both characterised by exploitation and alienation.

    Demonising state employees is a strategy guaranteed to undermine any political approach based on finding elements of class unity in overcoming the predicament both groups experience.

  4. John on said:

    Nick Wright: If we substitute concrete analysis for abstract moralising

    Spoken like a man who’s never known what it is to be subjected to bullying in a Jobcentre or being thrust into destitution at the touch of a button on a computer keyboard.

  5. Vanya on said:

    #5 Well I have, and I also spend a great deal of time providing assistance and representation to victims of the benefits regime, who are fully aware of the fact that some of those who do the job are either better or worse than others. More of the former quitting their jobs will improve their position not one iota. And clearly the ones who are most likely to quit are the ones who are least keen on what the job entails.

  6. John on said:

    Vanya: I have, and I also spend a great deal of time providing assistance and representation to victims of the benefits regime, who are fully aware of the fact that some of those who do the job are either better or worse than others

    I also have and know that what you are saying is complete and utter garbage.

  7. John on said:

    Vanya:
    #7 Oh no I’m not.

    touche 🙂

    i accept that this is your experience, but not mine. of course there are decent people doing their best to minimise the impact of this system, but too many who are in the other camp and couldn’t care less.

    it goes beyond a wage. it comes down to basic decency and humanity.

  8. Vanya on said:

    #7

    So you “know” that the people who are most likely to leave their job are the ones who like what they do?

    Interesting theory.

  9. John on said:

    Vanya: So you “know” that the people who are most likely to leave their job are the ones who like what they do?

    you’ll need to unpack this for me.

  10. Vanya on said:

    #11 Sorry I thought you were saying all that was in my comment was garbage.

    I just noticed that you didn’t include that bit about people leaving their jobs.

  11. John: Spoken like a man who’s never known what it is to be subjected to bullying in a Jobcentre or being thrust into destitution at the touch of a button on a computer keyboard.

    John,you might find your arguments better recieved if you confined your speculation to things you actually know about.

  12. Nick Wright: you might find your arguments better recieved if you confined your speculation to things you actually know about

    It would break the first rule of the Internet if we started down that road

  13. David Murray on said:

    Andy Newman: It would break the first rule of the Internet if we started down that road

    Well said. There’s a regular on Harry’s Place that shouts his ignorance of Islam as a mark of his imagined virtue.

  14. Andy Newman: It would break the first rule of the Internet if we started down that road

    Even John Wight’s famous historical sweep is insufficiently far-reaching for him to be able to conclude with certainty that my views on unemployment, job centre bullying etc are formed purely on the basis of theoretical speculation.

  15. John on said:

    Nick Wright: Even John Wight’s famous historical sweep is insufficiently far-reaching for him to be able to conclude with certainty that my views on unemployment, job centre bullying etc are formed purely on the basis of theoretical speculation.

    Oh I think I’m absolutely bang on the money with that one, Nick.

  16. non-partisan on said:

    The choice is not just leave your job, or act like a complete arshole. I haven’t suffered it personally this time around, but friends and family who have, report obnoxious job centre staff who seem to revel in the power they have to sanction. Just I’m sure there are others who try to mitigate the situation for claimants.

    But are the unions involved linking up with claimants? helping campagn against the regime, fighting the imposition of targets? And if there are, honestly still requires that we say, there are members of our own class who by there actions place themselves outside our framework of solidarity, unless and untill they show who’s side they are on.

  17. Vanya on said:

    #18 PCS have jointly produced a number of leaflets with Unite Ckmmunity Membership giving guidance on sanctions, your rights in respect of your job search, to be accompanied at the job centre etc.

    There was a joint conference in Birmingham recently which discussed relevant strategies. I wasn’t there myself but a leading activist from my Unite Community branch attended.

  18. non-partisan on said:

    Thanks Vanya, although they do seem to be produced by Unite, with the PCS logo appearing on them.

    I still think John’s anger is completely justified, and its not just moralising, I’m guessing PCS coverage is around 50-60% of front line job centre staff, so the question the anger poses is, what can be done ?

  19. John on said:

    Vanya:
    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-526f-This-film-is-a-message-of-hope#.V0RIehnTXfo

    From the article: “Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip said if jobcentre staff agreed to stop sanctioning people “the whole system would fall apart.”

    Everyone on here who has mounted a defence of those involved in sanctioning claimants in Jobcentres should hang their heads in shame.

    That is, of course, if they still have a shred of decency left in them.

  20. Hoom on said:

    #4

    A strategy based on moral appeals to state employees to abandon their jobs and voluntarily place themselves in the position of humble petitioners for alms rather than workers exchanging their labour power for a temporary escape from the status as claimants is unlikely to achieve much success.

    To an extent I agree. We need to be more strategic than that. People aren’t going to walk out. However, anyone who has signed on fully understands the difference between JSA workers doing what they have to and those going above and beyond to be dicks to claimants.

    The latter should be focused on. It’s time to revisit the old “three strikes and you’re out” argument of early 90’s JSA campaigning. Target claimants. Get targeted.

    If we substitute concrete analysis for abstract moralising we can determine that the actual conditions of life for both groups of people (who are, even in conditions of relative capitalist stability, absolutely interchangeable) are both characterised by exploitation and alienation.

    That’s just substituting it for abstract theorising. It’s true. But it says nothing about how we deal with the issue in the here and now. Without concrete results, it’s meaningless.

    Demonising state employees is a strategy guaranteed to undermine any political approach based on finding elements of class unity in overcoming the predicament both groups experience.

    As a veteren of claimant campaigning, I see little that has been gained from that approach. It’s acted as a stumbling block to certain kinds of actions in the part, but only JSA workers have gained from that. The unemployed have seen nothing from your “class unity”.

    I would, of course, prefer that JSA workers weren’t assholes to people signing on because they recognise their shared class interests. Failing that, I’ll settle for them not doing so because of the potential ramifications.

    Because at the moment the cost being paid is very one sided.

  21. Vanya on said:

    # 23

    From the same piece:

    The film shows how staff as well as jobless and disabled people are targeted by the increasingly punitive benefits system. Mr Loach said: “Clearly the staff are in a situation where it’s very difficult not to act as instructed.”

    Ken Loach, hang your head in shame!

  22. Bern on said:

    Vanya:
    # 23

    From the same piece:

    The film shows how staff as well as jobless and disabled people are targeted by the increasingly punitive benefits system. Mr Loach said: “Clearly the staff are in a situation where it’s very difficult not to act as instructed.”

    Ken Loach, hang your head in shame!

    What’s your source for that quote please. ?
    And what’s your argument for that extraordinary comment about Loach

  23. Bern – Vanya gave the source at the top of the comment.

    Also, “extraordinary comment about Loach”? Why does every discussion have to be conducted in tabloid terms? It wasn’t extraordinary. It was just a comment, and I’m sure Vanya will happily explain what it means. I might disagree – while I think the PCS unions has played a terrible role, the brutal truth is that staff on the ground in most workplaces have no sense that they could say “I’m not doing this”, let alone fight back against the entire system. The working class, even the militant organised working class, is extremely weak, and the fact that there has been no ground-level rebellion among the benefits agency’s staff – as in, nothing that could even pressure the union into action – gives a good idea of how little confidence staff have. Of course the PCS should be doing more, but even a fantastic politically astute militant Union can’t force its members to be confident and engage in a fight. It needs a process of education, agitation etc., and the PCS has really not done enough. But it’s possible that the most they could have ever done was try to organise better – you need the virtuous cycle of a militant political union, members engaged with it, space to breathe, potential for a fight back, a few victories here and there etc. Unions can’t Magic a fight out of thin air, and workers can’t magic themselves into a collective fight back without a LOT of work being done.

  24. Vanya on said:

    #27 and #28 My comment about Loach was an example of something I know and yet frequently ignore- that irony and the internet rarely mix.

    It was aimed at John, not at Ken Loach.

    John was saying earlier that those on the left who defend benefit staff over the issue of sanctions should hang their heads in shame, I was pointing out that in an article we had already discussed, the link for which appears above, Loach had made the comment I quoted and in which he appears to do just that.

    I don’t agree with John on this issue for avoidance of doubt, at least not his emphasis, as I believe in trying to work constructively with the PCS and any benefit staff they represent, while not compromising in defending those people who are the membership or at least the catchment area for my union branch- Unite Community membership in Greater Manchester.

    As it happens I have yet to see the film but am enthused by reviews. I am a huge admirer of his, although I admit I tend to prefer his less directly political stuff, and am very critical of Land and Freedom and Spirit of 1945.

    And Ken, if you have read this link and think my comment was an attack on you, I reiterate that it was not. My apologies if it caused you any offence.

  25. John on said:

    SU editor: Unions can’t Magic a fight out of thin air, and workers can’t magic themselves into a collective fight back without a LOT of work being done.

    I disagree with this. This is not an issue that requires a high level of political education or consciousness to navigate. It is a matter of basic human decency and again I maintain that there is no justification, none, nada, for anybody who works in a Jobcentre to go along with this brutal policy, especially given the huge controversy it has created.

  26. John on said:

    Vanya: And Ken, if you have read this link and think my comment was an attack on you, I reiterate that it was not. My apologies if it caused you any offence.

    GROVEL
    [gruhv-uh l, grov-]
    verb (used without object), groveled, groveling or (especially British) grovelled, grovelling.

    1. to humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility.
    2. to lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc.
    3. to take pleasure in mean or base things.

  27. John on said:

    Vanya:
    #32 Whatever

    Indeed. I don’t think there was any need to apologise for your comment. The context in which it was made is clear enough, I think. I do share your respect for Ken Loach though.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the film also and plan to review it. I think that while it is arguable who is the best British filmmaker in the history of cinema in this country, there is no argument when it comes to who is the most important.

    I have met Paul Laverty, his writing partner on every movie Ken’s made since Carla’s Song, a couple of times. The first time came around the time of Carla’s Song after I watched a BBC2 documentary on Paul, who worked as a human rights lawyer in Nicaragua in the early 80s, when the story is set. He wrote a speculative letter to Ken, whom he had never met up to that point, laying out the idea for the the movie and the rest is history, as they say.

    Anyway, literally the following week after watching the documentary I was in London, walking through Covent Garden, when this guy approached me to ask directions somewhere. It was Paul Laverty. When I told him I’d just watched a documentary about him he offered to take me for a bite to eat, which I did.

    Really nice guy.

    I met him a second time in LA of all places, when through a friend of mine I managed to get tickets to a special screening of Bread and Roses. Ken and Paul were there, doing a Q&A afterwards. I caught up with Paul in the foyer and lo and behold he remembered me, even though a good few years had passed since our first meeting.

    No point to this story, other than to say I’ve met Paul Laverty 🙂

    Finally, though like you I don’t agree with all Ken’s politics, I give him huge credit for the role he played in supporting a campaign I was involved in back in 2006 to boycott the Edinburgh Film Festival over an Israeli film that was scheduled to be screened with Israeli government backing. As soon as we made contact with Ken he didn’t hesitate and threw his full weight behind the campaign to have the film pulled, which it was.

  28. Bern on said:

    John,

    John,

    John: I think. I do share your respect for Ken Loach though

    I don’t think so, otherwise you would not have launched a thread about his movie on the basis of such moralising claptrap.

    The aim of your angling of this thread, seems to provide an opportunioty is to imply and say Loach and his team are in effect apologists for the way the system is administered. Although it’s baseless, it doesn’t stop you going further with the slander in.
    # 2 “Not only do we have ‘socialists’ lining up alongside the far right against migrant workers, they’re also siding with those terrorising the poor in Jobcentres”

    You obviously know nothing about his film, haven’t bothered to engage with the lengthy Cannes press conference where this issue was touched on by Paul Laferty.

    Is this just more attention seeking on frequent spurious ground, or your equally frequent malicious attention seeking?

  29. John Grimshaw on said:

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/may/23/ken-loach-i-daniel-blakes-shock-cannes-palme-d-or

    The above is a link to a Guardian review. I have followed the debate here but find it difficult to comment without having seen the film. The link does give a way some of the plot of the film.

    As it happens I understand John,s point but equally understand Vanyas defence. It is a real conundrum for socialists especially in our sort of economy where workers are paid to implement government policy which impacts on other workers.

  30. John on said:

    Bern: The aim of your angling of this thread, seems to provide an opportunioty is to imply and say Loach and his team are in effect apologists for the way the system is administered

    What a lot of shite.

  31. Andy Newman on said:

    John: I think that while it is arguable who is the best British filmmaker in the history of cinema in this country, there is no argument when it comes to who is the most important.

    I cannot go along with that. Well meaning though he may be, I find Loach’s later films to be one dimensional, didactic, unsubtle and earnest. Artistically he has not lived up to the tremendous early promise of Up the Junction, Cathy Come Home and Kes.

    Indeed, it is arguable that Loach’s best work was while he was collaborating with Tony Garnett and/or Jim Allen; and that his work was best suited to the BBC drama format of that time, especially as even an artistically unconvincing but politicaly controversial work, like the Allen/Loach collaboration “The Big Flame”, could – in the era of 2 or 3 TV channels – create considerable social impact. (Socialist pub quiz question, that the main protagonist of “Big Flame, was called Jack Regan, the same name as the DI in The Sweeney)

    It is also worth reminding ourselves of how much overtly left wing drama British TV was producing back then, for example not only the Loach/Allen series “Days of Hope” for BBC, but Trevor Griffith’s drame series Bill Brand for ITV. Or the “play for Today” drama’s like “Stocker’s Copper” or Colin Welland’s “Leeds United!”. At a point where industrial militancy and radical polictics was centre stage of British life, this was reflected in popular TV drama.

    Incidentally, I noticed that Garnett was originally linked with the recent dire and reactionary BBC drama “Undercover”, but the project proceeded without him; we can only imagine how much better it would have been, with input from the producer of what was for its time the hard hitting “Between the Lines”

    For Loach himself, his later films always puts me in mind of Preston Sturges’s fantastic 1941 satire about socially relevent film making “Sullivan’s Travels” with Joel Macrea and Veronica Lake.

    I think you overrate Loach’s standing. There are so many outstanding British film makers who have made more entertaining and cinematically challenging films than Loach, like Alan Parker, Micheal Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Carol Reid, David Lean, or Alfred Hitchcock, even Terence Fisher or Alexander Mackendrick. In the TV world, I would think that Loach is overshaddowed by Dennis Potter.

    The problem with Loach’s later films is that they don’t start with a basically good story that people want to see, and then introduce insights about class and politics; they take a basic propagandist point and go route one with it, so that only people already interested in having a film exposition of that political point, which they typically already agree with, are interested in seeing it.

    Indeed, there are several good films made in the UK that have addressed issues of the working class life, or the left and labour movement which have reached a much more mainstream audience than Loach has, such as the Full Monty, Brassed Off, Billy Elliot, Pride, Made in Daganham, even Shane Meadow’s This is England explored questions of working class identity in an accessible way.

    Personally, I cannot imagine wanting to see “I, Daniel Blake”, but the Paul Verhoeven film “Elle” which was denied a prize at Cannes this year, sounds really good.

  32. John on said:

    Andy: I cannot go along with that. Well meaning though he may be, I find Loach’s later films to be one dimensional, didactic, unsubtle and earnest. Artistically he has not lived up to the tremendous early promise of Up the Junction, Cathy Come Home and Kes.

    This fits with the old Hollywood mantra when it comes to political movies – ‘if you want to deliver a message put it in a bottle’.

    Loach’s work is far more layered than you give him credit for. I think what you are responding to is how uncomfortable his movies are, given their harsh and unfiltered depiction of reality. We are a cinema-going public that has been conditioned to expect movies to offer an escape from reality rather than be a harsh reminder of it. We typically go to the cinema to be inspired, excited, filled with hope, etc., and this expectation, when not met, leads to an unconscious resentment towards the film and filmmaker that is tantamount to a sense of betrayal.

    Andy: It is also worth reminding ourselves of how much overtly left wing drama British TV was producing back then, for example not only the Loach/Allen series “Days of Hope” for BBC, but Trevor Griffith’s drame series Bill Brand for ITV. Or the “play for Today” drama’s like “Stocker’s Copper” or Colin Welland’s “Leeds United!”. At a point where industrial militancy and radical polictics was centre stage of British life, this was reflected in popular TV drama.

    The point is that none of this material is being shown on TV today, and hasn’t been for some years now. Loach’s importance therefore is cemented by this fact alone, else a demographic – the so-called underclass – would remain anonynous to the majority of society despite being the victims of said society, thus compounding the injustice of their condition.

    Andy: I think you overrate Loach’s standing. There are so many outstanding British film makers who have made more entertaining and cinematically challenging films than Loach, like Alan Parker, Micheal Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Carol Reid, David Lean, or Alfred Hitchcock, even Terence Fisher or Alexander Mackendrick. In the TV world, I would think that Loach is overshaddowed by Dennis Potter.

    The work of the aforementioned certainly possesses artistic merit. The point I was making was on social merit. Art for art’s sake is a conceit of those who don’t know what it is to go without three square meals a day.

    Moreover, Loach has never pretended to be ‘creating art’, which is to his credit. However his movies certainly have a raw quality and docu-dramaesque feel, which comes with a lack of production value and the use of real people rather than professional and practiced actors. While it is a style that may not be to everyone’s taste it has certainly played well with the critics at Cannes over the years, where he is lauded as he isn’t here.

    Andy: The problem with Loach’s later films is that they don’t start with a basically good story that people want to see, and thenintroduce insights about class and politics; they take a basic propagandist point and go route one with it, so that only people alreadyinterested in having a film exposition of that political point, which they typically already agree with, are interested in seeing it.

    In matters of injustice how can there be any disagreement? You show me anyone who agrees with the policy of sanctioning human beings in Jobcentres, for example, reducing them to destitution as conscious punishment, and I will show you a piece of shit.

    Andy: Indeed, there are several good films made in the UK that have addressed issues of the working class life, or the left and labour movement which have reached a much more mainstream audience than Loach has, such as the Full Monty, Brassed Off, Billy Elliot, Pride, Made in Daganham, even Shane Meadow’s This is England explored questions of working class identity in an accessible way.

    The giveaway here is the term ‘accessible way’. I take this to mean in such a way that doesn’t offend the virtuous middle class or those members of the working class who’ve made good and would rather not be reminded of the plight of those they have left behind in the process of rising from their class rather than with it.

    Andy: Personally, I cannot imagine wanting to see “I, Daniel Blake”, but the Paul Verhoeven film “Elle” which was denied a prize at Cannes this year, sounds really good.

    This is a shocking admission from someone who runs a socialist blog and is a trade union activist. Anyone who possesses even a tincture of class conciousness has a duty to see this film, I contend. given the subject matter.

  33. John: While it is a style that may not be to everyone’s taste it has certainly played well with the critics at Cannes over the years, where he is lauded as he isn’t here.

    Critics at Cannes are not however the agents of social change.

    John: This is a shocking admission from someone who runs a socialist blog and is a trade union activist. Anyone who possesses even a tincture of class conciousness has a duty to see this film, I contend.

    Not at all, if I want to understand the reality of being sanctioned then I can speak to the members of my close family who this directly affects. I don’t have a duty to watch a film that I know I will not find entertaining.

    John: I take this to mean in such a way that doesn’t offend the virtuous middle class or those members of the working class who’ve made good and would rather not be reminded of the plight of those they have left behind in the process of rising from their class rather than with it.

    The problem with this argument, John, is that it is at cross purposes to what I am arguing. Notwithstanding your spirited advocacy of the ghost of Prolekult, I would contend that not only is artistic merit an important consideration, that a work of art or entertainment does need to succeed in its own terms; but there is an additional threshold for work that seeks to have social impact, in that it needs to reach an audience and change that audience’s perception.

    Ironically given your contempt for the “virtuous middle classes”, that is actually the audience which Loach’s film will reach, and will largely be restricted to.

    Accessibility relates to the ability of a work to not only find an audience, but also to engage with that audience. Art is of course not just created by the author, it is also actively consumed by its audience who create a synthesis of their own with how elements of the work interact with their own experience, understanding and sensibilities. And audiences can be nudged into seeing an issue in a different way, I recall how much a number of US critics disliked Alan parker’s Mississippi Burning, because Parker had not confined the story to being about race, which they were comfortable with, but had also made it be about class.

    John: a raw quality and docu-dramaesque feel, which comes with a lack of production value and the use of real people rather than professional and practiced actors

    When you put it like that, it really does sound grim 🙁

  34. John: The point is that none of this material is being shown on TV today, and hasn’t been for some years now.

    No but even back in the 1970s there would not have been as hard hitting a TV series as “Line of Duty” about corruption of the police, and collusion of the state in covering it up.

  35. John on said:

    Andy Newman: Critics at Cannes are not however the agents of social change.

    No, but they are taken seriously when it comes to artistic merit by the entire industry, including Hollywood.

    Are the critics at Cannes wrong or you right when it comes to Loach’s work. The merit, or not, of any artistic work is of course a matter of subjective opinion, but there is no doubting the influence that Cannes has when it comes to validity of any film in this respect.

    The publicity garnered just by Loach winning the Palme d’Or has put this issue into the public domain as it hasn’t been throughout the years of Tory austerity.

    This a bad thing, do you think?

    Andy Newman: Not at all, if I want to understand the reality of being sanctioned then I can speak to the members of my close family who this directly affects. I don’t have a duty to watch a film that I know I will not find entertaining.

    I never knew you were related to people who worked at Jobcentres. Sorry, this explains a lot. 🙂

    Andy Newman: Ironically given your contempt for the “virtuous middle classes”, that is actually the audience which Loach’s film will reach, and will largely be restricted to.

    Perhaps because they are the only ones able to afford the price of admission in these straitened times?

    Loach’s films have enjoyed far more social weight than you care to admit btw. Cathy Come Home led directly to the founding of the homeless charity Shelter, for example, and his respect within the international film community is inarguable, attested to by the fact his support and influence when it has come to boycotting state-sponsored Israeli films at various film festivals in recent years has had in having those films removed.

    Andy Newman: Accessibility relates to the ability of a work to not only find an audience, but also to engage with that audience.

    Well, we know that in the case of ‘I Daniel Blake’ members of the viewing audience at Cannes were reduced to tears. I suggest that this is the very defnition of engagement.

  36. John: I never knew you were related to people who worked at Jobcentres. Sorry, this explains a lot.

    Almost funny.

    John: Cathy Come Home led directly to the founding of the homeless charity Shelter, for example,

    Yes, “Cathy Come Home” had an enormous social impact, and can be spoken of in the same breath as Wilkie Collins’s “The Woman in White” or Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Toms Cabin” in changing the broad social perception of an injustice, and bringing about actual change.

    It was however 50 years ago, and was also artistically innovative for its time as well.

    Of course if Loach wants to make worthy films today about social issues, then that is not a bad thing, but no reason to exaggerate the contemporary impact of his films, nor to overestimate how good his films are.

    John: Perhaps because they are the only ones able to afford the price of admission in these straitened times?

    No, I went to see “X Men Apocalypse” at the weekend with my boys, and it was rammed. The Odeon in Trowbridge is not exactly a destination for the upwardly aspirational.

    John: Are the critics at Cannes wrong or you right when it comes to Loach’s work.

    wrong I would say,

    John: The publicity garnered just by Loach winning the Palme d’Or has put this issue into the public domain as it hasn’t been throughout the years of Tory austerity.

    Well no, because the issue of foodbanks has already drawn huge attention to the question of foodbanks, and has led to much more effective engagement of thousands of people with practical action.

    I struggle to think of anyone I know (in the real world as opposed to the Internet)who would ever go to see a Ken Loach film or even know about them

  37. John on said:

    Andy Newman: I struggle to think of anyone I know (in the real world as opposed to the Internet)who would ever go to see a Ken Loach film or even know about them

    This says more about the company you keep than Ken Loach or his films.

  38. Vanya on said:

    I think the extent to which people outside the normal niche audience watch Loach’s films depends on the subject matter and/ or location.

    For example, I know plenty of people who wouldn’t normally go to see anything of his who have seen “Waiting for Eric” because I live in Manchester, support United and worked for the Post Office for 15 years. (Cantona himself being in it obviously helped as well!).

    I’m sure plenty of people affected by sanctions will watch the current film- I suspect many because special showings will be put on by people campaigning on the subject.

    But it never ceased to amaze me how so many of the people I worked with who lived in Middleton, even on Langley estate (Jim Allen was extremely well known there btw, regularly to be found in one of the estate’s main pubs), didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked if they’d seen Raining Stones. The ones who did were all people with a certain level of left political consciousness, even though it isn’t one of his directly political films.

    Which is one of the reasons I think that it’s amongst my favourites.

  39. Vanya on said:

    #45 It’s also clearly hyperbole, but where would this blog be without it?

  40. Andy newman on said:

    Vanya,

    One of the pubs I drink in was featured in Poldark a couple if years back, we noticed that as the boozer was shut for filming

  41. Vanya on said:

    #51 It wouldn’t have worked otherwise I suspect.

    Unless the blokes round your way all wear their trousers tucked into knee-length socks 🙂

  42. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: back in the 1970s there would not have been as hard hitting a TV series as “Line of Duty”

    With you there. Line of Duty’s been outstanding. Pity about the ending of the last one though – got a bit Jason Staitham there … But it’s the only Brit series I can think of that gets close to the quality of say the Bridge, the Killing, the Wire…

    And I agree about Undercover – somebody recommended it to me. Not quite dire – had some strengths, but pretty lame in large parts, and reactionary in outlook yes,

  43. Vanya: Keeley Hawes was scarilly awesome.

    Series three of Line of Duty was a bit of an “Ashes to Ashes” cast reunion, with not only Keeley Hawes, but also Daniel Mays and Adrian Dunbar.

    I see that Dunbar,who perhaps provided the best ever TV performance as a police officer as superintendent Hastings, in real life is planning to direct a new biopic of James Connolly – BTW he was the guest speaker at a Sinn Fein fund raiser I went to a few years back.

  44. jock mctrousers: But it’s the only Brit series I can think of that gets close to the quality of say the Bridge, the Killing, the Wire…

    It is an interesting point, while my only expertise here is as a viewer, UK TV tends to have shorter series runs, with more inconsistent quality. It is perhaps the Dennis Potter effect, that British TV still hankers for the days of individual genius, which sometimes comes off, and sometimes doesn’t.

    In contrast, American TV shows have more episodes per series, and seem to have bigger teams of writers, which means they are more consistent (though that can mean consistently mediocre).

    Nowadays British TV seems to have become entirely colonised by Homes Under the Hammer though

  45. Vanya on said:

    #55 She played a very different sort of character in this to Life on Mars though 🙂

  46. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    None really jock it’s just Andy and Vanya were going on about pubs. This one is near me in the East End and is one of the few that still seems to be resisting gentrification.

  47. Vanya on said:

    I’ve just learned that DPAC are calling a national day of action on the question of PIP on 13th July.