Our resident Wriggle movie-buff, Tim Oxley Smith, talks about why he's excited to see the new Palme d’Or-winning Ken Loach movie I, Daniel Blake at the Watershed this weekend.
This weekend sees the long awaited cinema release of I, Daniel Blake. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize the Palme d’Or back in May, it comes from veteran British director Ken Loach. You may have heard Loach referred to as a crazy lefty and by others as a cinematic genius (yes you can be both). But if you haven’t heard of him, or his films, before - his latest tale of Britain’s brutal benefits system is a great place to start.
What it’s about
Daniel Blake has suffered a heart attack and is deemed too sick to work by his doctor but not sick enough to claim benefits according to the government. He’s left to the queues and forms of the job centre - the chosen battleground of where Loach intends to show the void between bureaucracy and common decency.
Aside from the red-raw subject matter from the film’s writer and frequent collaborator Paul Laverty, you need to see I, Daniel Blake because it’s a British film that’s won the Palme d’Or. This is a pretty big deal. And on top of that, it’s the second Palme d’Or Loach has picked up - previously with The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006.
Secondly, I, Daniel Blake is a critical view of Britain today - which is an increasingly rare subject to see on the big screen - despite everything getting worse. At his best Loach distills the public mood and political climate of the time and converts onto film. Which is why now more than ever, Loach’s ability to encapsulate social injustice is needed.
Another reason to see I Daniel Blake is Loach’s ability to tell a tale. This side to his films gets overlooked; often being branded as Social Realism. This cold sounding genre classification is rather misleading and we must remember Eastenders is Social Realism too… kind of. When watching you’ll see that Loach’s appetite for drama is just as strong as his politics and it’s this unexpected mix that make films the veracious folk tales they are.
There’s also this sense of an added air of expectation around the release of I, Daniel Blake. It’s more than just a film, indeed, it’s more than just a Ken Loach film. It’s been likened to a Charles Dicken’s novel, summoning Britain’s philanthropic verve to change things for the better.
You're probably going to need a couple of drinks after this. Pop over to King Street for a couple of beers from the ever-changing Small Bar beer menu.