THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN: Movie Reviews of I, Daniel Blake, Paterson and Neruda by Howard Casner

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rev-3Critics, at least those in the U.S., have at times complained about the dearth of movies that focus on the life of ordinary, often blue collar, workers. It’s not that it never happens. We’ve had our On the Waterfronts and Blue Collars.

But still, it feels that the lunchbox is more than a bit bare.

Great Britain has fared better, especially since the emergence of the angry young man stories and kitchen sink dramas in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

British director Ken Loach has even made it his focus to create films about those on the lower rungs of society, especially their struggles to get by. He might even be called the cinematic poet of the working class. Read the rest of this entry »

Movie Review of The Angel’s Share by Howard Casner

The Angel’s Share, the new movie written by Paul Laverty and directed by Ken Loach, is kitchen sink meets Ealing comedy meets The Asphalt Jungle.  I’ve been told that’s a bit of a mash up, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.   The mood is as whimsical as the kilts everyone wears for a disguise (something may sound off there, but trust me, it works).   The structure is all over the place and would kill a cat (the real plot doesn’t start until almost halfway into the movie).   And the accents would drive ‘enry ‘iggins to drink (Loach often uses subtitles, but manages to make do this time round sans texting).  But in the end, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.


Loach is one of the leading filmmakers that focuses on the working class and the underprivileged.  He’s always shown a great deal of empathy for people who don’t have a lot of options and this movie is no different, though perhaps a bit more light hearted and feel good than usual.  The story revolves around Robbie (played by first timer Paul Brannigan who gives a first rate performance) who narrowly avoids jail after severely beating up a young man.   His girlfriend is pregnant and he wants to turn his life around, but he can’t get a job, his girlfriend’s father wants him out of his daughter’s life, and he’s made an enemy of his victim’s brothers who want to do some serious bodily damage to him in turn.   As punishment for his crime, he joins a group of characters (with the emphasis on “quite a cast of”) to do community service.


His possible salvation comes in the form of whiskey and if you want to make jokes about the Scottish and their love of a wee bit of drink, it’s not what you think.  But how this all leads to Robbie discovering he has an expert’s nose for sniffing out quality spirits and a plan to steal a few bottles from a keg of whiskey so old that it gets sold for 1.2 millions pounds at auction, is something you’ll have to find out for yourself.   And don’t worry about whether you can get behind a group of criminals who are adding theft to their legal resume; one of the cleverest aspects of the screenplay is that you find it impossible to really tsk, tsk these people because anyone who would pay that much for whiskey not only can easily survive without a bottle or two, he actually deserves to be taken.