Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jimmy's Hall

One of the great collaborations in cinema history is that of director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty. They have made what is apparently their final film, Jimmy's Hall. Ken Loach is truly the people director and Laverty has written some of the UK's greatest dramas for him. Here, the lush landscape of Ireland serves as the backdrop for a story about land rights and division of wealth that rings poignantly true in today's climate. With the encouragement and support of the locals Jimmy, based on the life of James Gralton, builds a community center that offers free art/dance/poetry/politics classes. Problems arrive when a pigheaded priest attempts to shut him down in a power play thinly disguised as morality. Most of the story takes place in the years just after the Irish/British war - so when the newly installed government starts removing farmers from their own land Jimmy and his crew stand up for the people and get involved. The film explores the complex relationship between the state, the church, the Irish Republican Army and the young people in the hall that are branded as communists. Jimmy's Hall is the summation of many of the themes Loach has explored throughout his 50 year career including the destructive nature of church power, community building and struggle against oppression. Loach's film is strongly anti-religion and he is just as brutally critical of the establishment as ever- not many young directors are brave enough to do what he does. This was released in the UK and Europe in 2014 but no sign of it playing in the states as of spring 2015. A damn shame not to get to see this masterpiece the big screen. Bravo Ken.

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