I, Daniel Blake: Movie Review.


Ken Loach does it again.

If you know Ken Loach (and importantly his writing partner Paul Laverty) you’ll know I, Daniel Blake.

It’s a nightmare.

A total nightmare.

Life on poverty line Britain that is.

And Loach hammers this home with gusto.

He chooses Newcastle as his latest political landscape, partly because “it’s grim up North” but also because, in my experience, Geordies are the salt of the earth; kind, lovable folks. And this is the main emotional driver of this nightmare.

Daniel Blake is caught in a trap.

A beaurocratic hell populated by “computer says no” mini Hitlers occupying mainly minor roles in the Jobseeker hell that is Tory Britain.  In  a bid to out ‘scroungers’ the system has eaten itself and is spitting out vulnerable pitiful fodder like Daniel (played deeply sympathetically by comedian Dave Johns.  He’ll never win an Oscar but this part was made for him) and the lovable but deeply vulnerable Katie (played equally well by Hayley Squires – Call the Midwife).

He’s had a heart attack and his doctors say he can’t work but the Benefits Police say he has to go on jobseeker allowance and look for work or lose all entitlement to any money AT ALL.

It’s farcical.

She’s moved from a women’s hostel in London because she can’t afford a flat in London with her two children (one slightly miscast as a rather posh daughter, Daisy).  She’s having the same problems, only hers start from a tinpot Hitler chucking her out of the Job Centre for being late for her appointment.

They bond.  He helps her.  She helps him.  It’s grim but deeply affecting.  We then follow their shared struggle.

In many ways this movie is like a Ken Loach Primer.  It has all his usual trademarks and the ‘working class people are good’ message is laid on way too thickly.


And it’s a big but they are in a profoundly believable real-life drama and I found myself in tears (of collective shame?) three times during it.

It certainly makes the reality of food banks in Britain very, very meaningful.  I won’t pass a collection point again if my conscience holds up.

Everything that is good about Loach is in this film.  In parts it’s laugh out loud funny (but it’s laughs of derision at our State).  In parts it’s deeply moving, even though some of the plot is verging on the ridiculous.

But who cares.  Ken Loach holds a mirror up to our frankly DISGUSTING society and mocks it.

But he mocks it with the most vicious of venom.

It feels real.  Really real.

It’s a must see.

A wee snippet from B2 Productions inaugural concert.
October 21, 2016, 11:18 pm
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A few tickets left for tomorrow night but you’ll have to be fast.

Super Soft Ice
October 18, 2016, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch, Saturday October 15th, 2016.

The spirit of Punk’s not dead, 40 years on.

Supersoft ice.jpg

I do
October 18, 2016, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, food, humour, life, photography, religion, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

We were in Shoreditch, London at the weekend and found this great place called Dinerama.

Here’s what they say about themselves…

Dinerama is back roofed and winterproofed every Thu/Fri/Sat from 5pm to late. Tuck into Street Feast favourites Smokestak, Breddos, Yum Bun and Fundi, plus new heroes Farang and loads more. Head upstairs for Hot Wine and Frozen Toffee Vodka from Dick’s Magic T-Bar, proper cocktails from The Zephyr Lounge and tiki drinks in all the colours of the rumbow in the House of Bamboo.”

It’s a kind of warehouse/ popup venue with bars, DJ’s and lots of food.  It’s great fun.

This couple (Mandy and Reggie) were being married and I thought this image, shot through the reflection from inside the venue, as it poured with rain, was just magic.

I do.jpg

So much so that I got a whole bunch more…












The Girl With All The Gifts: Movie Review


OK I’m a sucker for a Zombie movie.  (One of my all time favourite genres.)

But this trumps mere Zombie movies.  This is a ‘kid’ Zombie movie and that raises the bar in its horrificness.

(That mask.)

(The wheelchairs.)

The main protagonist is a 10 year old Zombie being held captive in a military/medical establishment in the home counties with another 20 of her sort.

They are research fodder.

The charming, intelligent Melanie (played entirely convincingly and extremely empathetically throughout by debutant Sennia Nanua) it transpires has eaten herself out of her mother’s womb at the time that the world had fallen victim to a hideous fungal invasion that turned humans into Zombies.

Few have survived.

One is Melanie and her cronies’ teacher Helen Justineau (also well played by Gemma Arterton).  She and Melanie have a special bond that forms the backbone of the movie.

In the early establishing scenes the tension is palpable aided by an excellent soundtrack by  Cristobal Tapia de Veer, and when Paddy Considine (the good, bad guy army officer) lets  a classroom of the wheelchair bound critters have a ‘sniff’ of his humanity the reaction is unpleasant to say the least.

It becomes a road trip, as Zombie movies often do, with a series of set pieces gradually whittling down the cast (which includes the excellent Glenn Close) and gradually building the relationship between Arterton and Nanua; which is actually pretty believable.

Although the movie slightly outstays its welcome (one or two set ups too many I’d say) it’s good throughout.  Genuinely creepy, an original ‘take’ on the genre although borrowing heavily from 28 Days Later and, especially, I am Legend, which clearly inspired the excellent set-build and CGI effects of an abandoned London.

The ending lacks conviction but overall it’s a highly meritable addition to the Zombie canon.

One of the best in my opinion.

The paralympics. And why C4 is important.
September 18, 2016, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Arts, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Paralympic presenters 2016 Group--(None)_A2.jpg

We all know about the Superhumans and I’ve really enjoyed the Paralympics.

But in my professional life, not in TV but I feel  some empathy to this, it makes me have to comment.

The quality of the coverage of the Paralympics in Rio by Channel 4 is deserving of special mention.  It entirely justifies the taxpayers’ money for the station’s remit to reach out to outwith the mainstream.

Yes, Clair Balding is a national treasure.

But only because she is entirely professional.

But, beyond Clair, the mainly disabled commentary and pundit team were faultless.

It was TV Gold.

Thank you C4.

(And, by the way the BBC 5 Live team didn’t do such a bad job either.)


One More time with feeling; Review of Nick Cave documentary
September 9, 2016, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Arts, bbc, creativity, family, gigs, movies, music, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Don’t get me wrong I was willing, urging this film to be magnificent.  But will as I did, it isn’t.

In fact it’s like the ultimate home movie utilising the finest cinematographers money can buy (Benoit Debie and Alwin H Kuchler – I suspect one was on 2D duty, one on 3D – I saw it in 2D).

The back story is important here.  The documentary was commissioned to film the making of Cave’s brilliant new album, Skeleton Tree, (I know it’s brilliant because it was played in full on its release 11 hours ago on the BBC 6 Music Mary Anne Hobbs Show).  What nobody predicted was that it would become a film about grief because, as I understand the timing, no sooner had filming started than Cave’s 15 year old son, Arthur, died in a climbing accident.  The chronology of this is not clear in the film’s narrative.

When I read of Arthur’s death I was devastated for Nick Cave (I truly love the man) and so I expected the film to be an emotional roller coaster.

It isn’t.

Instead what we get is a strung out self indulgence piece.  And I don’t mean Nick Cave’s self indulgence, I mean Andrew Dominik’s. (Director of Cave-soundtracked, and awesome, movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)

It is sumptuously photographed and of course the music is stellar but the glue that binds it, the storyline, is fragmented, dull and seemingly endless.  OK, I accept Cave is a private man and he doesn’t want to spill his grief out on camera, his wife too, but when he describes breaking down in the arms of a virtual stranger on the High Street in Brighton we get a glimpse of what he is going through.

But that’s it.

My companion fell asleep several times.  Thanks partly to the heat in The Filmhouse, Edinburgh where we saw this.  Extremely uncomfortable.  Did they not know they had a sell out audience?

I don’t like being negative about a film of this nature but if Dominik had an Executive Producer with a firmer hand we might have seen a more pared down and rewarding experience.

If you want to see Nick Cave at his very best on film watch the far superior 20,000 Days on Earth, directed by Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth.  It’s magnificent.