Euro Cult Movie Forum => British Films => Topic started by: Paul on 06 Jul 2007 - 11:05

Title: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 06 Jul 2007 - 11:05
I was lucky enough to attend the first UK screening of Shane Meadows' latest offering, THIS IS ENGLAND at the London Film Festival. Having been a fan of Meadows' work since seeing TWENTYFOURSEVEN in 1998, I have anticipated each of his new films with excitement and great interest. Meadows' films defy categorisation and always exceed expectation, as anyone who has seen A ROOM FOR ROMEO BRASS or DEAD MAN'S SHOES will attest. THIS IS ENGLAND had a lot to live up to…

Set during the summer of 1983, THIS IS ENGLAND is the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose); a precocious twelve-year-old coming to terms with the death of his father. Shaun is soon inducted into a group of local skinheads; a fun loving bunch who spend days committing petty vandalism and listening to ska records. Although much younger than the other members of the group, Shaun endears himself upon them with his sheer determination and defiance, and is quickly embraced as their mascot. However, the frivolity and naivety comes to an abrupt conclusion when ex-member Combo (Steven Graham) is released from a spell in prison. Combo soon causes a rift within the group and becomes the catalyst for them becoming a militant, racist force.

Anyone familiar with Meadows' earlier work will notice many parallels between this and A ROOM FOR ROMEO BRASS; the film is told from a child's perspective and the corruption of youth/innocence is an underlining theme. Like ROMEO BRASS, THIS IS ENGLAND manages to balance the light-hearted and often hilarious, with menace and tension that's excruciating to endure. Many British films that attempt dramedy falter because one or the other/both is unconvincing, but Meadows manages to combine comedy and drama seamlessly; the laughs come thick and fact but the jolts come harder than a kick to the head.

Typically for a Meadows film, THIS IS ENGLAND is exceptionally well written with some infectious dialogue and fully-fleshed characters, though one of the film's stand-out attributes is that of Danny Cohen's cinematography. Being a film set during the 80s, its look plays a significant part in the audience buying into the film. Many 80s-set films have been betrayed by garish lighting and ultimately end up looking like contemporary people parading around in 20-year-old clothing. Cohen's photography really manages to encapsulate the bleak feeling that was evident of the time, and is both gritty and dour. THIS IS ENGLAND is a film without polished aesthetics and one that has the raw visual style that's not be seen since the films of Alan Clarke (SCUM, MADE IN Britain, THE FIRM).

In addition to the film's look, Meadow's has raided the vaults for a whole host of archive footage leading thirty-something viewers on a trip down memory lane. The credit sequence alone features footage from Roland Rat, the Falklands and Knight Rider; As a child of the 80s, I literally sat in the cinema beaming – It's a great hook into a wonderful film.

As assured as Meadows' writing and direction is, the film benefits greatly from its ensemble cast. Predominantly made up of teenagers, the cast of THIS IS ENGLAND excel beyond belief, without one putting a foot wrong. A ROOM FOR ROMEO BRASS' Andrew Shim is superb as Milky, as is Stephen Graham as Combo - who gives a terrific and complex performance. However, THIS IS ENGLAND belongs to Thomas ‘Tommo’ Tugoose – for a debutant child actor he is astonishing and effortlessly conveys the array of mixed emotions the material requires.

In conclusion, THIS IS ENGLAND is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in film. Once again Meadows has set a precedent for British filmmakers and has eclipsed many of his contemporaries. THIS IS ENGLAND may not make for comfortable viewing but it is cinema at its best.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 06 Jul 2007 - 11:05
I went to see THIS IS ENGLAND on Tuesday night – this was the second time I’d seen it, having seen it at the LFF, last year. I was really up for seeing the flick again, as it had been six months and I really wanted my missus to see it…

For a Tuesday night and being the film’s second week on release, the theatre was almost full – with only the front row unoccupied. My local Cineworld isn’t the sort of place where you get much in the way of audible reaction from the clientele – with scarcely as much as the occasional chuckle or wimper but THIS IS ENGLAND managed to illicit a strong reaction, with loud laughter and almighty gasps in all the right places.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the film quiet as much second time around, as there was no element of surprise. How wrong was I? The film most definitely plays better on a repeat viewing – knowing where the narrative’s going, so you can just sit back and analyse the performances and soak up the film’s amazing eye for period detail. In my initial review of the film, I had praised Tommo, Steve Graham and Shimmy for their performances, but watching it again, it’s becomes so much clearer how the film works as an ensemble piece, with every character and performance being integral to the storytelling and ultimately, Shaun’s journey.

The film’s power is also more evident, too. While I was moved by the final act when I saw it back in October, I found myself succumbing to a variety of different emotions this time. There were scenes that I found so uncomfortable, I actually felt nauseous and the film’s ending had me welling up! Now, I’m a little desensitised by all I have seen, therefore I crave ‘feeling’ when I watch films but seldom do. However, the plethora of mixed emotions I experienced when watching THIS IS ENGLAND again really underline the reason why it’s such a great film.

I really cannot fault THIS IS ENGLAND – it’s a remarkable example of how all the elements combine to create a perfect whole. Shane’s direction, Danny Cohen’s cinematography, the selection of iconic tunes, Ludovico Einaudi’s deeply affecting score and of course, the amazing cast all contribute to create what I know will be cited as a major British classic in the years to come.

When I saw THIS IS ENGLAND back in October, I was undecided on whether or not I preferred it to DEAD MAN’S SHOES – now, I’m completely sure – THIS IS ENGLAND is Shane’s masterpiece - a film that has instantly become one of my ten favourite films…

…and my missus loved the film too.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 30 Jul 2007 - 10:42
This is due out on DVD 3rd September (my birthday, hehe) and Play.com have a lovely exclusive cover:

(http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/9464/2contractrentallargesp7.jpg)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Jonny on 30 Jul 2007 - 10:50
This is due out on DVD 3rd September (my birthday, hehe) and Play.com have a lovely exclusive cover:

And that's the day after my Birthday! That cover is really smart! I'll not ask my missus to get me this as I'll be ordering it myself...
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Mart85 on 30 Jul 2007 - 12:12
Will be getting that when it comes out.  Thanks for the heads up.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Inspector Tanzi on 30 Jul 2007 - 13:16

When I saw THIS IS ENGLAND back in October, I was undecided on whether or not I preferred it to DEAD MAN’S SHOES – now, I’m completely sure – THIS IS ENGLAND is Shane’s masterpiece - a film that has instantly become one of my ten favourite films…
I prefered DEAD MAN'S SHOES myself.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Jonny on 30 Jul 2007 - 13:20
I preferred DEAD MAN'S SHOES myself.

Yeah, me too.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Chad on 29 Aug 2007 - 16:01
It isn't playing anywhere around me and I don't feel like waiting forever for an R1 disc to come out so I'll pick this disc up the 3rd as well. I trust Shane Meadows to make excellent films so I feel perfectly safe blind buying this one
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Phill on 30 Aug 2007 - 18:00
My copy was posted today from PLAY so with a bit of luck it should be here Saturday morning  ::)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 30 Aug 2007 - 19:42
My copy was posted today from PLAY so with a bit of luck it should be here Saturday morning  ::)

Same here - you've got to love their exclusive sleeve  ::)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 10 Sep 2007 - 23:22
I just watched the DVD with the audio commentary track on - forum member Phill gets a mention  ::)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Jonny on 10 Sep 2007 - 23:25
I just watched the DVD with the audio commentary track on - forum member Phill gets a mention  ::)

Amazing! Phil's famous! Well done mate!  :P
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 10 Sep 2007 - 23:26
Shane Meadows says something like "That's Phill and Darren off my website - they know more about me than I do..."  :-\
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Jonny on 10 Sep 2007 - 23:31
(http://b2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/00949/21/04/949194012_l.jpg)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: herman on 13 Sep 2007 - 14:01
I was a massive Two Tone fan and a skinhead in the early 80s and possibly around the age of the boy in this is england.

Watching the film really took me back to the era, it was so well done.  I identified with the characters who were small town skinheads who like me may not have got the opportyunities to attend gigs by Madness, The Specials etc but were well into the clothes the style and the music.

Three years ago it was the twenty fifth anneversary of Two Tone records and I was disappointed that the occasion did not get marked by British TV. It was the ideal chance to screen Dance Craze, Take It or Leave it etc.  I only had to wait a few more years though and then Meadows comes up with a fitting tribute to the era.

I never grew out of the 2tone thing by the way and am still a skinhead, still play my Specials though there is less hair to shave these days as the years have taken their toll.
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Kevin Coed on 13 Sep 2007 - 14:50
Tell me about it.

Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Phill on 13 Sep 2007 - 17:58
I just watched the DVD with the audio commentary track on - forum member Phill gets a mention  ::)

Good eh ? Only watched it with the Comm track on meself the other night couldn't bloody believe it !  ::)
Title: Re: This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2005)
Post by: Paul on 13 Sep 2007 - 19:19
I was dead proud of ya, mate!  ::)