Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

Barry Ward

As political filmmakers go, Ken Loach makes the admirably committed John Sayles look like a tenderfoot. Now in his sixth decade of filmmaking, the British director shows no signs of softening his stance, even amid recent rumors of a possible retirement. A dedicated social-concern standard-bearer in his films and a strident activist in his life, Loach is capable of balancing his passions when he’s on his game (see My Name Is Joe and Sweet Sixteen, for instance). When he’s not, his films can get talky and obvious—and alas, Jimmy’s Hall finds Loach working with stilted material.

Loach and his frequent screenwriter Paul Laverty return to Ireland, the setting for their beautiful The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006).

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Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘The Angels’ Share’: A Comic Scottish Heist Film From Ken Loach

Whisky galore: Jasmin Riggins, Gary Maitland, Brannigan, and William Ruane

Ken Loach, that old British leftie director, keeps up his commitment to the poor and disenfranchised with The Angels’ Share, his latest collaboration with equally socially conscious screenwriter Paul Laverty. It’s set in the familiar Loach environs of troubled youth, the unemployed, and the eternal underclass—here specifically the slums of Glasgow. But after the political dramas Route Irish and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Loach instead builds an underdog, offbeat comedy on the scruffy camaraderie of some two-time losers. He directs it with warmth and affection.

Robbie (Paul Brannigan) has his past carved into his face like a road map. He’s got a prison record, a history of violence, and a short temper. But now he’s also a young father desperate for a fresh start, even while admitting he’s “stuck in the same old shite”—at least until his community-service supervisor (John Henshaw) introduces him to the venerable Scottish tradition of distilling whisky. Then Robbie discovers he has a nose and a knack for fine spirits.

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