Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A Quick Walk Through the 1980s...


... with Alan Clarke







Who says social realism has no style?

6 comments:

W. Kasper said...

School catchphrase: Whenever we were threatened with detention etc. we'd respond "Sahhhnd's great!" in a Tim Roth voice. Clarke had as much comedy value as Mel Brooks in my school (I say that as a compliment).

Actually we had a lot of Alan Clarke dialogue for catchphrases, but this is a family blog so I'll keep it myself - for the children's sake.

Phil Knight said...

I'm particularly fond of "Rita, Sue", largely because it's the kind of film about the working class that Ken Loach couldn't even conceive of making - at ease with the vulgarity of working class life, and not seeing it as an a priori sign of a reactionary viewpoint.

I suspect Clarke had no qualms about tucking into a meat pie at the dog track.

William said...

Apparently he used to say to his actors, "Let's let the pig out ... Let's have a look at him, and then kill him."

W. Kasper said...

Yeah that was Clarke's strength - which is is why so much of the audience could relate to it, while it still made its political impact. The kids in Scum or Made in Britain* are 'orrible bastards, but your still largely on their side by the end of the film. All the ugliness his characters have between each other (even the repulsive dad in R,S & BT) pales into insignificance compared to the social conditions they're trapped in (The Firm might be the exception, but the hooligans in that were affluent 'Loadsamoneys'). I remember Elephant being pretty devastating for that - drained of the usual political explanations you'd get in other dramas, it simply made clear Northern Ireland was trapped in a civil war - and its style certainly didn't leave the mainland govt off the hook either. The exploitation and desperation mostly outweighed the brutality of his protagonists.

Tellingly (in that it reveals his wee streak of idealising condescension, but nowhere near as bad as Mike Leigh's), apart from his TV work Loach's best stuff is about kids - like Kes & Sweet Sixteen. With too many of his films, I think "he/she wouldn't be THAT nice under those circumstances". I'm doubt everyone was that sweet during the Spanish Civil War, for example.


(*This is England is utter candy-floss bollocks in comparison.)

Phil Knight said...

Ken Loach always comes across to me like a well-meaning Church Of England vicar whose has come to ministrate amongst the poor. He's among the working class but not of them.

His films suffer from being inappropriately compassionate - he seems to think that ordinary w/c people who have tough lives, but are nonetheless well-adjusted, deserve the same kind of compassion as people who have crippling illnesses etc. Clarke, on the other hand, realised that there's a lot of fun in being working class - rough fun a lot of the time, but fun nonetheless.

W. Kasper said...

Another thing with Loach - he doesn't take in the moments of true weirdness & surrealism the working class can have (something that a few Scottish film-makers appreciate). All his characters have the same sense of humour or sexual conduct according to class, for example - a stereotype in itself.

Loach is 'necessary' I suppose. But the best thing he ever did was BBC's Days of Hope - polemical, 'domestic' stuff is always much more effective as television, I reckon. Then it's not just preaching to the converted.