Loach. With multiple decades of documentary and television work (neither of which I really study) it’s a testament to Loach’s impact (especially with Kes) that he’s this high on the list. Loach’s case is Kes and his Loach’s devotion to sociopolitical realism. The case against him is that it is a pretty steep dive off in quality after Kes and he actually only has one film in the top 100 of its respective decade
Best film: Kes is the one film Loach has made that would rank among the best (maybe even the single greatest) work of the Dardenne brothers. I consider that a tremendous compliment to the Dardennes (and Kes). Kes is a tragic coming of age story and an important work in the history of cinematic realism. If cinema (and art) is divided into expressionism and realism you have to talk about Kes on that side of the fence just as you’d have to talk about Bicycle Thieves, Rossellini’s war trilogy and the Apu Trilogy from Satyajit Ray. It doesn’t hurt that these frames here from Loach perfectly capture David Bradley’s Billy character and the world that surrounds.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Kes)
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (Kes)
most overrated: Nothing. Kes is the only Loach film in the TSPDT consensus top 1000 and they have it at #187—I’m slightly lower at #319 but 100 spots give or take, unless we’re talking about #2 and #102 it’s a big gap.
most underrated: I actually do not have one here either. It’s the accumulative work from Loach that tells his story—not just one film that should be in the TSPDT top 1000 that isn’t.
gem I want to spotlight : I, Daniel Blake
- This social political drama won the Palme d’Or
- Reminded me of Kurosawa’s Ikiru– a damnation of Japanese bureaucracy
- Ellipsis editing- lack of music—it’s in the vain of cinema’s realism or neo realism (or neo neo-realism)
- Loach is a solid filmmaker but he’s not the Dardenne brothers- no handheld camera to create immediately and intimacy—not quite the formal rigor of the Belgium realist masters—nor their penchant for beautiful images
- A very rich, memorable title character
- Fits in Loach’s political filmography but not nearly as good as Kes
- In my archive but not in the top 10 of 2016
stylistic innovations/traits: Loach is a brand—his body of work bares the stamp of his work- political filmmaking, often involving children (a proud lineage in the neorealism mode from De Sica on down here), non-professionals, gritty, poverty—realism. They’re up against a stacked deck, a corrupt system, they take a beating. Loach, outside of Kes, doesn’t have the transcendent moments of cinematic style like Mike Leigh or Terence Davies who rank above Loach on this list. Loach’s camera is pragmatic, a vérité approach.
- The Wind that Shakes the Barley
- Sweet Sixteen
- I, Daniel Blake
- Hidden Agenda
By year and grades
|1990- Hidden Agenda
|2002- Sweet Sixteen
|2006- The Wind That Shakes the Barley
|2016- I, Daniel Blake
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives