Sunday, October 08, 2006

Heart Of The Country

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands is probably Shane Meadows' least interesting film. But it's still got something that a Mike Leigh film will never have.

Real characters. Actors acting like real people.

That's why I wouldn't cry at a Mike Leigh film or laugh at a Peter Kay or Paul Abbott tv comedy. And Abbott used to write for Corrie - what happened there?

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands isn't that good, but it did make me laugh and cry. Shane's better films don't have the Robert Carlisles and the Kathy Burkes and the Ricky Tomlinsons.

God, don't you hate people who speak of actors as if there's more than one of them?

They do tend to feature thinking women's crumpet and best British actor of his generation Paddy Considine, though.

Paddy and Shane met at Burton College.

That's Burton College, Burton.
Not Burton College, Oxford.


  1. Erm - this is a bit esoteric Geoff. But I've been over to the imdb and I'm clued up. The only one I've seen is 'A Room for Romeo Brass' which is good.

    So you don't like actors or real people - sounds about right to me.
    Or did I miss something?

  2. They're all worth seeing, Kaz.

    Sorry, I meant I do like actors as long as they're not showing off. Of course that's not their fault as they're only doing what they're told and the fault lies in the script and the direction. Shameless seems to me so OTT, like a really awful party which I don't want to be at. As is the case with a lot of OTT character led comedy nowadays. And although Mike Leigh's stuff is supposed to be naturalistic because the actors are part of the creative process - I'd prefer to see the actors come in at the end of the process and just read the lines.

    I guess I'm just a low-key kinda guy.

  3. I would second that Geoff. The only one of Leigh's films that works for me is 'Naked' although most hate it. Because it touches on the strength of hate that can exist within one man. I think this is captured, without the all knowingness of Leigh jutting in. It's much less forced than his other work.

    And, I can't really forgive him and Loach for making McDonald's Adverts.

    I'd be interested to see this as I haven't seen it as yet.

  4. "He makes a few commercials (for booze and McDonald's) to keep his bank account in credit. Even Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, he remarks, are not above knocking out adverts for the multinationals (Loach and McDonald's? I gasp. Surely not). 'A couple of those commercials mean I can make the films I want to make.'"

    That's Shane Meadows in a Guardian interview at around the time this film was coming out.

    On a course I was doing years ago one of the students said the ICA was funded by the CIA to keep the arty crowd away from revolution and into making their art and disappearing up their own arses. I thought that was hilarious: ICA/CIA.

    Do McDonalds really need talented directors to make their shitty ads?

  5. Which side is the most honest of Leigh and Loach: the one that makes the commercials or the the other? And there I was thinking they had principles.

    I don't watch much art house cinema because I often feel it's akin to drinking the 6th pint of strong ale while depressed but without the joyous benefit of the previous 5.

  6. If you don't like the wonderful Mr Kay, why have you included a picture of him from "Max & Paddy" in this post?

  7. I think Shane Meadows deserves more attention in this country than he actually gets - and thus more funding. Paddy Considine blew me away in A Room For Romeo Brass. I think he is in danger of being typecast - Summer of Love (Dir:Pawel Pawlowski) was almost the same character as Morell (Romeo Brass) but churned out in a slightly different way. He just about got away with it. I loved Dead Man's Shoes and was expecting not to. In fact, I howled with laughter at the most sickest of moments but that is what makes it so great.

  8. Richard - I'd be extremely ill by the 5th pint. I wouldn't class Shane Meadows as art house cinema any more than Vic and Bob are art house comedy. Vic & Bob actually appear in this film as clowns.

    Murph - I had to google Max & Paddy to see what he looked like. Now I know who Surly Girl's other half went as in fancy dress last year. I've tried Peter Kay's stuff but just don't get it, I'm afraid.

    RoMo - Shane should be head of drama and comedy at the BBC.

  9. Geoff, yes maybe arthouse is a bit off kilter but I was on the Loach and Leigh gritty realism kick there, which I kind of lump together with the all the other depressing stuff. I'm not at all familiar with Shane Meadows' work. Can it be joyful?

    You ought to try Peter Kaye again. There was an interview with him the other day and someone, can't remember who, asked him how he writes his material. He replied that he doesn't, it's pure observation, straight out of real life. I'm inclined to believe him, too.

  10. I'm guessing that you enjoyed 'Dead Man's Shoes?'

  11. Ricky Tomlinson. That would be Ricky Tomlinson, star of Party Election Broadcasts for the left. Or would that be Ricky Tomlinson, star of British Gas ads?

    Or would that be Ricky Tomlinson, consistent high-scorer on the KtheB Completely Unutterable Nauseating Twat scale?

    Ken Loach? It does tend to be hard work, doesn't it, all that suffering and worthiness. Still, I can forgive both Loach and Tomlinson for 'Raining Stones'.

  12. God - Yes I did.

    Krusty - There's a new Barclaycard ad starring a couple of the Green Wing actors. Even the bloggers' favourites are at it!