Category Archives: Reviews

Get On Up | review

Get On Up

by Ashley Clark

[Editor’s note: an edited version of this review first appeared in the October issue of Sight & Sound Magazine, which hit shelves in early September. The film’s UK release was put back a couple of months after the mag went to print, so the review was unfortunately published way ahead of schedule.]

With his debut The Help (2011) — a whimsical, formally conservative Driving Miss Daisy for the ‘post-racial’ generation — director Tate Taylor offered little indication that he’d be the most appropriate choice to bring the life of the electrifying, pioneering funk musician James Brown to screen. Yet within moments, any notion that Taylor has played it similarly safe are up in smoke; PCP smoke, to be precise.

Get On Up begins in Atlanta in 1988, where an evidently high Brown (Chadwick Boseman, giving an energetic and charismatic performance), clad in a green velour tracksuit, marches into his offices, and reacts furiously upon discovering that an interloper has had the nerve to use his toilet: a transgression he can discern by the lingering smell (“Which one of you gentle folks hung a number two in my commode?”) Brown fires his shotgun into the ceiling, reprimands the culprit, then stares straight down the camera in a baroquely Brechtian flourish, beckoning us to join him on his journey of memory. Repurposing this bizarre incident — which allegedly really happened — constitutes a boldly disarming way to kick off a major Hollywood biopic, and is curiously microcosmic of what follows: a portrait that’s irreverent, loose and often fun; but also deeply strange, chronically indisciplined and never quite serious enough about its subject.

Beginning with Brown at his lowest point might imply that a traditional rags-to-riches-to-rags arc is to come, but Taylor and British screenwriters Jez and John Henry Butterworth (who wrote the recent, chronologically playful blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow) fashion an elastic narrative which, initially at least, places proceedings closer to experimental cinema than any traditional biopic template. Key influences seem to be Shirley Clarke’s Ornette: Made in America (1985), an elliptical documentary about the saxophonist Ornette Coleman, which uses an actor to portray its subject as a small child in flashbacks; and Francois Girard’s Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), in which discrete stories clatter together to conjure an impressionistic vision of its enigmatic pianist subject. In its first 20-or-so minutes, the equally impressionistic Get On Up hops from Vietnam in 1968 (where a boisterous Brown arrives to play music, and harangue the U.S. Army), to dreamlike passages of a troubled childhood in 1939 Alabama, where alcoholism, abuse, and nebulously-rendered racism lurk in the shadows. We then jump from a 1964 support gig by Brown’s first band for The Rolling Stones, to a press conference at an airport (a scenario which is frequently returned to, and acts as the closest thing the film has to a framing device.) The filmmakers’ desire to do something different with the form is laudable, but the bizarre editing and wild tonal oscillations prove exhausting rather than exhilarating.

The film’s bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors ultimately render Brown an enigma, but Boseman’s nuanced performance at least hints at his character’s transformation from cocky, gauche extrovert into a shark-like businessman who’s as much of a performer offstage as on it. It’s telling (perhaps also of the filmmakers’ priorities) that the sudden death of Brown’s manager, Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd) is depicted as the single life event that hits Brown the hardest. The death of Brown’s son Teddy in 1973, by contrast, is skirted over in quite literally a matter of seconds, while the portrayal of his relationship with wife Deirdre (Jill Scott) is comically undercooked. If it is Brown who’s supposed to be telling this story, as the inconsistently-applied fourth-wall breakage implies, it never feels like he has much control over it. Sometimes, the use of the straight-to-camera gambit is downright bewildering, such as the late scene where Brown punches his wife in the face, then wanders up to the camera and stares at the viewer with a gormless expression.

Get On Up‘s biggest flaw — other than the rather pedestrian nature of its musical sequences, and a tendency to suggest Brown’s signature talent was somehow magical rather than the result of militaristically rigorous practice — is its failure to engage directly with why Brown meant so much to African-American audiences in the politically tumultuous 1960s and 70s. Brown was a complex, contradictory figure — he considered arch-segregationist and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond a mentor figure — but his commitment to black self-actualisation was unambiguous and influential. One snippet of ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud’, and a couple of shots of Brown sporting a dashiki hardly suffice. The filmmakers (a white director and two white screenwriters) have the time to include cosily apologetic jokes about the white appropriation, and misunderstanding of, black culture, but they’d have been better served tackling what made Brown’s black audiences tick.

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Dispatch from NYC – 2001: A Space Odyssey & the NY Philharmonic

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By Cathy Landicho

The New York Film Festival is currently on, but the week before it opened, the New York Philharmonic opened its season with its first ever Film Week: The Art of the Score, featuring the sights and sounds of Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick. As an avid fan of both film and classical music, this seemed too unique an opportunity to miss. The Hitchcock program was a montage of selections, while the Kubrick option was a full-length screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey with a live score. I opted for the latter.

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The Lincoln Center complex was abuzz with activity before the 8pm curtain. The crowd was younger than usual for this event, as you’d imagine. There were far more young couples, students and families, many likely visiting the venue for the first time. The Saturday night screening of 2001 was filled to capacity in Avery Fisher Hall (at right), the largest of the concert halls which seats about 2700 in four tiers. I’ve been to packed classical concerts in huge venues before – a sold-out Prom at Royal Albert Hall would seat 5000+ people – but I’d never seen a film with this many people before. The closest by comparison would be a packed screening in Screen 1 of the Leicester Square Empire, which seats about half of Avery Fisher Hall’s capacity.

As you took your seat, you couldn’t help but notice the 10+digit counter next to the conductor’s stand and imagine the recording of a score, and how the orchestra had to transplant the experience from the studio to the concert hall. Taking it all in, I thought of how bands like Radiohead have to practice and adapt their complex studio recordings for live stadium shows. Another noticeable difference from your average classical concert were the choir members visible in the front two balcony boxes with individual lights and hanging mics, rather than standing behind the orchestra. This enterprise involved more stagecraft than I had anticipated.

Before the screening began, Alan Gilbert, the Music Director of the NY Philharmonic for the past four years, led the orchestra in the film’s overture, Ligeti’s Atmospheres for Large Orchestra (1961). The ambient, spooky piece with no discernible time signature or melody established an anxious tone to frame the film, with its swelling discordant pulses overlaid with screeching strings. After a tense ten minutes, the lights came down and we all held our breaths awaiting the sun’s appearance. The wall of sound that hit me from the orchestra performing ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ by Strauss at full volume combined with Kubrick’s simple, dramatic images, plus the sight of the orchestra’s exertions was goosebump-inducing, a visceral high; the audience spontaneously burst into applause afterward.

Viewing the film with such a huge crowd together with the live score patently heightened the experience, making it both more immediate and more communal. I first saw 2001 in NFT1 at the BFI, and I don’t recall hearing audible laughter at HAL’s snarkiness or collective gasps when HAL reads Bowman’s and Poole’s lips while they are conspiring in the pod at the end of the first half. Moreover, the venue inspires reverence – this is a place where there are free cough drops in the restrooms to encourage absolute silence. The majesty of Kubrick’s images were well-suited for this high-art venue.

The late Roger Ebert observed: “When classical music is associated with popular entertainment, the result is usually to trivialize it (who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger?). Kubrick’s film is almost unique in enhancing the music by its association with his images.” Some may prefer to imagine a late 19th century Viennese ballroom while listening to Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz rather than Kubrick’s space ballet. But Ebert’s observation is easily accepted in the case of Ligeti’s music. In addition to the aforementioned overture, his Requiem and Lux Aeterna were used as the theme of the monolith. (Kubrick had actually commissioned a score from Alex North that he later substituted for Ligeti’s contemporary pieces, without the knowledge or permission of either composer.) The Musica Sacra choir performed Ligeti’s pieces admirably under vulnerable circumstances – the vocal parts are cluster chords, which are extremely difficult to pitch. There was an extra level of surreal-ness, seeing forty-odd people coordinating to give voice to Kubrick’s monolith.

I was initially a bit worried that the orchestra would not play enough during the film for me to justify buying the ticket. But I needn’t have worried – several of the classical pieces did repeat throughout the film, and even the silence was heightened in Avery Fisher Hall, particularly during the scenes when all you can hear is the astronauts’ laboured breathing while HAL conspires against them. There was definitely added value beyond the live music; seeing 2001 with so many people in a beautiful venue with amazing acoustics was well-worth the price.

However, watching the end credits while listening to a live orchestra was truly odd. The audience understandably applauded the end of the film while the orchestra continued playing the Blue Danube Waltz on a loop. But since the house lights stayed off, there was a palpable awkwardness in the audience about having to sit quietly and wait for the orchestra to finish when so many of us are accustomed to leaving during the end credits; Strauss’ waltz did not feel worthy of our attention without Kubrick’s visuals. To Alan Gilbert’s credit, he attempted to fill the vacuum by conducting with added vigour; but he had to compete for the attention of the film buffs in the audience, who applauded when particular names appeared in the credits, hooting while our focus was meant to shift to the orchestra.

Despite this rather anti-climactic ending to the screening, it was certainly a worthwhile experience. Personally, I hope that Film Week at the NY Philharmonic becomes a traditional part of the season – I’m imagining screenings of Taxi Driver or Do The Right Thing with live scores…

If you have any suggestions of other films that would benefit from live scoring, I’d love to see them in the comments.

Blackfish | Review

At least the whale knew what he was doing.

At least the whale knew what he was doing.

By Ed Wall

Is Blackfish a film with a message but no meaning, or a film with a meaning but no message?

Although it’s not immediately obvious which of these dubious honours it might have garnered, the result is certainly not particularly impressive. Bursting with information, it singularly fails to cohere – a weak sum of potentially strong, individually compelling parts. You suspect that, had there been anyone on board with the same amount of passion for the subject as the makers of, say, 2009’s The Cove [Louie Psihoyos’ angry interrogation of Japan’s dolphin hunting culture], the result might have been a very different kettle of whale.

The purported subject of this mixed bag is Tilikum, resident of SeaWorld in Orlando Florida, the largest Orca in captivity and to this date responsible (depending on one’s definition of responsibility) for the deaths of at least three people. Through a combination of historical footage, interviews and data, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite attempts to profile Tilikum both as individual and in the wider context of ‘the industry’ of whale-based amusement parts, from shady, frontier-like beginnings in the 1970s to the current SeaWorld-dominated landscape.

As a spin on the typical documentary format, Tilikum’s story is covertly presented as a kind of murder mystery/court case. It’s an unnecessary piece of directorial artifice, and the noose by which the film hangs itself. Cowperthwaite is a weak prosecutor, unable (or unwilling) to take a position beyond some bland notion of ‘objectivity’. In this context, the form is pointless; a purely superficial touch.

Cowperthwaite is a veteran of a particular breed of televisual documentaries, having worked for some of the big names (National Geographic, Animal Planet, ESPN, The Discovery Channel) in the past. There’s something in her style that’s vaguely, uneasily, reminiscent of the parades of cable TV documentaries you might flick through at hotel stopovers. There’s an indistinct impression of disinterest in the way she approaches the subject matter; some mercenary element that’s more focused on presentation and graphics than content. This commitment to superficiality imbues some weak information with too much significance, and sucks the life out of the stronger material.

While the film is happy to (rightly) suggest SeaWorld is to blame for a lack of compassion and common sense in relation to the treatment of its water-bound behemoths, the question of motivations is never explored. In an identikit series of inane interviews with wide-eyed former trainers, Cowperwaithe steadfastly refuses to pin any of them down on where exactly they think they might fit into the tragic picture as a whole.

Bar one square-headed nutter who, employing a logic that’s so perverse it’s almost laudable, tries to claim that whales performing like trained dogs for crowds of baying humans constitutes man honouring nature, one after another of these former SeaWorld devotees spit near-identical repentant/outraged tidbits. As though the goons in a fallen dictatorship had been given the platform on which to absolve themselves, Cowperwaithe presents this parade of disembodied characters spilling words and tears, tears and words – as though there was no inherent value in making sure any of it was honest.

Of all the individuals interviewed, the one who emerges from the film with the most credit is the rather brilliantly named Dave Duffus, an expert witness for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the case brought by the US government against SeaWorld’s working conditions after the last of Tilikum’s ‘accidents’. Duffus’ clear respect for Orca whales and his palpable anger at the whole sorry business transcends Cowperthwaithe’s lame ‘neutrality’. Oddly, it also means that, amid the confusion, he stands out in the film to a degree that makes him feel more central than Tilikum.

As a piece of documentary filmmaking I’m pretty sure it is, if not a total failure, then at least a weak specimen of the genre. On the other hand, the agenda it has little or no interest in using its scattergun stack of information to fully support is one that a lot of the people who will end up seeing it already subscribe to: that keeping animals in a state of captivity is inhumane. As one of these viewers it’s a challenge to know how to react. Your instinct is to agree, but something makes you hesitate. It’s like watching Bono preaching about the plight of children in Africa, but with the nagging suspicion he bought an extra first class seat on the plane for his hat.

It’s confusing, painful to watch, when someone with no clear view of which field they’d rather be in positively hurls themselves onto the fence in the apparent name of objectivity, writhing around for an hour and a half before ascending to that beige heaven reserved solely for those who were pure enough to desire purgatory. SeaWorld representatives, naturally, declined to be interviewed for the film. Given the all-forgiving tolerance of the interviews here, they might now be feeling that they missed a trick.

Frances Ha | Review

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By Ed Wall

Looking back as the credits roll on this touching and open-hearted NYC-set comedy/drama, it’s startling to think that the opening scenes could ever have felt so dubious. Something about the eponymous protagonist’s self-aware manner in those first few minutes really seems designed to rub the viewer up the wrong way. At this point, the near future looks bleak – an uphill slog through a bandwagon-jumping Brooklynite yarn. Will this be utterly, unbearably pretentious? Is Frances the epitome of annoying? You’re prepared to hate it. And then it surprises you.

Given director Noah Baumbach’s history, his documented perfectionism and meticulous use of openings to misdirect the viewer’s expectations in his prior films, you’d imagine this has been an intentionally cheeky manipulation. As important as first impressions usually are, Frances excels at not making – and then transcending not making – a good one. You fall for her, and for the film, rather despite yourself.

Although the film is set in the apparent hub of hipster culture right now, Gerwig’s Frances doesn’t easily fit any conceivable definition of cool. A reactive rather than proactive person, she’s a little lost, but not particularly concerned about it. She’s lazy, and spends time (as do a lot of us) talking about what she should be doing. Most of her flaws constitute what make her loveable: she’s a bit of a goofball, often quite annoying (but in a sweet way, unlike the character of Poppy in Mike Leigh’s irritating Happy-Go-Lucky, for example), has no self-censorship and no awareness of when she’s crossing the line with other people. As a character she feels intensely real, and Gerwig (co-writer of the film) plays her beautifully, with just the right amount of confusion and vulnerability hidden under the apparent spacey lack of awareness.

Fran’s friendship with Sophie (an impressive Mickey Sumner) constitutes Frances Ha‘s central relationship. As Frances refuses to meet her impending thirties head-on, the pair start to drift apart – a plot thread which accounts for much of the film’s emotional impact and dramatic tension. It’s also a blessed relief to see a contemporary comedy focused almost exclusively on a single female lead that isn’t ultimately concerned with the male love interest; the brilliantly casual way in which Frances casts off her first boyfriend is a good indication of the film’s lack of interest in her sex life.

In a number of ways, Frances and the film mirror each other. Frances is often casual to the point of being non-present, and while Frances Ha is ostensibly a comedy, its humour is often so low-key as to seem almost unintentional. This is a definite strength, in that it never seems to be actively looking for laughs. Baumbach’s choice to shoot in black and white doesn’t feel like an act of pretension so much as a Frances-like avoidance of having to choose colour schemes (although the film is visually rich, in a nicely understated way). It’s also brilliantly edited. Frances’ daily activities, often used as bridges between scenes, are briskly summated in montage-style vignettes which cut in and out of random exchanges and personal moments. In keeping with the film’s winning combination of frothiness and mild spikiness, these sequences at once lightly mock and highlight the bizarreness of peoples’ routines and behaviours. By making these observations awkward by robbing them of their immediate context, the film portrays life as a series of random, beautiful but ultimately meaningless instances. Yet, of course, the meaninglessness is what makes it all interesting.

I must admit I found the film emotionally affecting in a way I rarely find. Frances’ willingness, in the end, to open herself up to ridicule perhaps won my sympathies. If Lena Dunham’s fantastic Tiny Furniture (2011) was a film that encapsulated the knowingness of being in your early twenties, Frances Ha is definitely older, more world-weary, but conversely also more openly optimistic. It’s something like a pep talk to dreamers. The possibility of failure manifests throughout the film, daunting, concrete. And yet Frances’ steadfast refusal to allow that reality to exist (despite it so obviously existing) means the chance of a lucky break never seems beyond her. We create our own luck, it says, through an insane, bloody-minded refusal to believe there is no such thing as failure.

Frances Ha is in cinemas from Friday courtesy of Metrodome Pictures. Contributor Ed Wall can be followed on Twitter @edward1wall.

This Is The End | review

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Reviewed by Ed Wall

Loosely based on their 2007 short Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse, comedy-writing team Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have reimagined the End of Days from the perspective of a group of friends trapped in James Franco’s Hollywood home. As the Apocalypse rages outside, the group (Rogen, Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride) must come to terms with themselves, their friendships and the total, unequivocal destruction of everything ever. Cue the dick jokes.

The cast is essentially a reunion of stars from earlier Rogen/Goldberg films, all friends in real life, and fully prepared to take the piss out of themselves by playing up to the common (negative) public opinion of A-list celebrities. They clearly had a lot of fun making this, which translates best in extended scenes of dialogue rather than the later CGI horror/action sequences. The film’s strengths naturally lie in the sharpness with which the character relationships are portrayed. Male friendship and bonding rituals have always been a big focus in the pair’s writing, and they’re particularly astute at revealing the nuances in male egos that make their characters feel solidly human. In the wrong hands This Is The End might have slipped into lowest common denominator gross-out territory, but Rogen and Goldberg provide customary vital touches of warmth and sadness. Like their other efforts it’s also genuinely funny, their expert way with a cutting put-down shining especially brightly here.

Where the film falls down slightly is in the concept, which is initially interesting, but ultimately tiring. There’s the gnawing impression that Rogen and Goldberg weren’t wholly clear where to take the idea, and that the clearly sizeable budget allowed for too much. The first disaster sequences are actually pretty tense, the shocks real. But herein lies the problem; if you’re going to start a film with tension it becomes obvious when the tension is lost. Much of the plot outside of the house in the later stages is half-baked – as though everything around the original scenario has been more or less tacked on. Rogen and Goldberg don’t seem interested in developing the setup in unexpected ways and thus come to rely heavily on star cameos to carry through the lulls. Besides that, the film slips into self-indulgence fairly easily. What you end up with is a movie that looks at first like a blockbuster, feels for a good while like a joke between friends, and then sputters around in the final third like a balloon that’s not been tied at the end, finishing (probably like the earth itself will) with a whimper, not a bang.

At the end of the days though (honk!) this is an enjoyable and very funny addition to the Superbad/Pineapple Express collection of US comedies with a bit more bite; perfect fodder, in our globally warmed times, for the excruciating and pathetic death-whimper of the British summer.

This Is The End is in cinemas from Friday. Contributor Ed Wall can be followed on Twitter @edward1wall

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) | review

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“It was worthwhile for what you see on the screen. Who cares if every grey hair on my head I call ‘Kinski’?”

Werner Herzog’s triumphant anti-epic concerning man’s crazed will to power – over nature, other men and adverse shooting conditions – is now being brought back to the big screen by the British Film Institute in all its compelling, insane glory.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God was Herzog’s first collaboration with genius/maniac Klaus Kinski, who works to evil, haughty effect in the role of the vaingloriously ambitious Don Lope de Aguirre. Towering, glowering, hyper-intelligent and totally unhinged, Aguirre hacks like a zealous devil through an unwelcoming Amazon on his singularly quixotic quest. With the mythical treasures of Eldorado as his goal, promises of boundless wealth, fame and power burning in his fevered imagination, Aguirre is the ostensible leader of an ever-more rag-tag group of lost conquistadors as they stumble towards their stifling Equatorial graves. With the uncomfortable nearness of the jungle translated vividly on screen, its dispassion and tactile intrusiveness so directly expressed, you imagine the film crew feeling a great kinship for this group of doomed fools as they followed their own bloody-minded leader into the unknown.

The film follows its own linear path, heading towards its destination with unremitting purpose, not so much written as bluntly forced into being. Which isn’t to suggest it is in any way brazen or simplistic. Rather, it’s incredibly nuanced, perversely conjuring poetic tragedy and weightiness through being light and actually somewhat silly. As Aguirre, Kinski’s performance is totally absurd and hilarious, but you wouldn’t dream of laughing within 20 miles of his face.

Within a barrage of sledgehammer blows, Herzog is engaging in subtle connections. Though the film is intently focused on its lead, there are some fantastic supporting characters: the noble yet short-sighted Don Pedro and his beautiful wife Inez, blind to the tide of fate that’s turning against them; the corpulent and childishly entitled Don Fernando; the grubby and sycophantic priest Brother Gaspar, calmly reshaping his influence to suit the interests of whoever happens to be the group alpha of the moment. And, of course, the Amazon itself: churning brown water framed by impenetrable jungle, untamed and unforgiving.

Herzog’s genius lies not just in his ambition. It’s in his intuitive feel for what lies beneath, the hidden nature of things. Stripping away all the bombast and bullshit he shows the stickily glistening pulse at the core. From the breathless opening shot, men and women the size of ants forging their hesitant way down a mist-swathed Andean face, he places a supposedly cultured humanity back in the cycle of that same fierce nature which for years it seems to have been deluded enough to believe it had escaped. Back in the midst, oft-vaunted civility is openly revealed as a lie.

And there’s the kicker: on some level, everything which seems alien to us about what this film portrays is actually incredibly, intimately close at hand. As remote as Don Aguirre is, a coldly burning star in the void, like all anti-heroes there’s something painfully knowable about him. Despite the grandstanding, his motives are as simple, as proximate – as inane and ultimately pointless – as our own. There’s an absurdly comedic horror that as everything falls apart he only grows more certain; that, in the face of impeding failure, he’s only more committed to what he sees as the authenticity of his actions.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God is on limited release now. Contributor Ed Wall can be followed on Twitter @edward1wall.

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The Spirit of ’45 | review

the_spirit_of_45_dogwoof_copyright_bfi“The terrain is strewn with ideological rubble, and it’s there to be fought over.” – Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism

When the sweet, feel-good The Angel’s Share was released in 2012, critics all asked – where has Britain’s foremost firebrand and social realist gone, at a time when we most need him? Well, he’s returned. Well and truly.

Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45 is a wonderful, unremitting archival documentary that steadfastly refuses to sit on the fence. What are we doing?, it asks. What next? Bold, political and polemical, it dares to make an explicit case for change, reminding us of a time in the not-too-distant past when a set of ideals helped build a welfare state which many of us now take for granted as it is insidiously dismantled while we look the other way, distracted by one-eyed dancing mascots and an old woman in the rain.

The Spirit of ’45 grabs our attention. It raids the riches of the British archives and reconstructs a narrative, which – if selective – is nonetheless compelling: The post-war election, the rise of the labour party, Churchill’s decline and Attlee’s exciting rise to power, the nationalisation of utilities and major industry, the beginnings of a truly socialist Labour party manifesto. It goes on. Figures clouded in public memory are re-animated, the most moving being Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, the health minister who championed the working classes in the post-war years. Cut with interviews with retired doctors, economists, Tony Benn (a category of his own), miners, dockers, steel workers – all of whom witnessed the seemingly tectonic social changes of the ‘40s– Loach mines the archives of a British social conscience now obscured by neoliberal rhetoric.

It is, of course, a re-dreaming of post-war British public space, but in its nostalgia the film prompts us to discover what shared future we’ve lost. As an old steel-worker describes the council housing he was given after the war, and quotes from the Labour party manifesto appear onscreen, declaring that public space for culture and education should be integrated into the new estates, Loach prompts us to ask; if this was possible in the ruins of the great war, what fallacies have led us into this age of austerity? What ideology dressed up as pragmatism have we believed (or been too inert protest against) that has led us to see police battering students over education, deep cuts to welfare, and public spaces and institutions being treated like businesses, when any cretin can see that the logic of business and capital is a broken, vicious ill to society.

Some critics will call the film propagandist (for example), which it undoubtedly is. But it couldn’t be anything other, for as Mark Fisher writes in Capitalist Realism, “it is impossible to conceive or fascism of Stalinism without propaganda – but capitalism can proceed perfectly well, in some ways better, without anyone making a case for it”. The Spirit of ’45 – a socialist, collectivist spirit – can only be presented now in these terms, because capitalism is the all-pervasive norm. Despite an astronomic crash in 2008, and as countries in the EU fall, one by one, our policymakers and politicians blindly lead us further into the mire. Loach’s film dares to expose this as pure ideology, not simply the sorry necessity of the status quo, and for this the film should be celebrated, and beamed to every home in the country.

Contributor Basia Lewandowska Cummings can be followed on Twitter @mishearance. The Spirit of ’45 is released in cinemas 15 March by Dogwoof