Described by critics as one of director Ken Loach’s best, if not the best, it is a pity that the David Lean Cinema were not able to deliver Sorry We Missed You to the widest possible audience before this week’s General Election, rather than having it as one of the highlights of their January 2020 programme.
Because just as with Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, and so much of his other work, there can be few who have seen the searing statements on the state of this country that are made in his films who would then vote for the status quo.
Loach is, as is well-known, a Labour supporter, and in particular a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. They share a desire – a demand – for a fairer society for all.
Where I, Daniel Blake provided a heart-rending examination of the benefits system under Tory austerity, with unwell and incapacitated people being declared “fit” for work, and families dependent on food banks, in Sorry I Missed You Loach tackles the injustices inherent in the gig economy, of zero-hours contracts and insecure work and exploitative managerial practices.
“The story’s about parents trapped in precarious work and the consequences that has for the family,” Loach has said.
“For various reasons, Ricky can’t go every day because of family issues. He misses time, he gets into debt, and the only way he can get out of debt is to put in more hours. It’s like he’s a prisoner in the van, of the system, and you can see it breaking him.
“The propagandists for the system talk about the possibility of freedom, and how you are your own boss, but in fact, workers are now far more trapped than they were when I was young.
“Then, there was a 40-hour week at max and people had time to earn a living in a secure job that didn’t dominate their lives. They might not have been the best-paid jobs, but there was some degree of security. Now, because of the economic system, the interests of the employer and the interests of the worker are diametrically opposed, and people are in the position of the characters in the film, trapped, exploited, and bearing the full weight of responsibility for delivering the work.”
Next time a Conservative politician or supporter tells you that there are more people in work in Britain today, point them towards this film, and tell them to consider the quality of so many of the jobs which now exist after a decade of Tory austerity.
And having seen this film, you’ll probably never bellyache about a delivery driver again.
Tickets are on sale now for all of the David Lean Cinema’s screenings in January, as they start 2020 with some outstanding films, including Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen in their first big-screen collaboration, The Good Liar, and Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro in what is far from their first movie collaboration, The Irishman, which has been described as “a masterful film”.
- Tickets for screenings are £7.50. Concessions (Freedom Pass-holders, full-time students, claimants and disabled) £6; Under-25s are £5.
David Lean Cinema programme for January 2020
All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm, unless stated
Thu Jan 2 THE GOOD LIAR (15)*
2019 US 109min Dir: Bill Condon
Stars: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey
The enjoyable performances of the two leads, together on screen for the first time, are the real draw in this tale of silver-haired online dating — on the face of it for romance. However, Roy Courtney (McKellen), an experienced con man, is after Betty McLeish’s (Mirren) millions. She emerges as no pushover and the combative relationship that develops between them ratchets up the film’s tension.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss
Tue Jan 7 SORRY WE MISSED YOU (15) (7.30pm)
2019 UK/Fra/Bel 100min Dir: Ken Loach
Stars: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone
Director Ken Loach returns with another social realist drama, centred on character Ricky and his family in Newcastle. Ricky finally finds work as a delivery driver following a period of unemployment after the financial crash of 2008, but it fails to be the trip out of poverty that his family was hoping for. Loach is a master of the genre, and Sorry We Missed You is no exception, boasting honest and sincere performances from the cast.
Thu Jan 9 THE REPORT (15)*
2019 US 120min Dir: Scott Z. Burns
Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm
The Report is the story of US Senate staffer Daniel Jones investigating how and by whose order the CIA tortured suspects after 9/11. It shows how he worked and what he found with vivid flashbacks, and then his struggle to get his report published. A well-paced account which expertly brings together the strands of a complex plot.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss
Tue Jan 14 THE AERONAUTS (PG) (11am)
2019 UK/US 100min Dir: Tom Harper
Stars: Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel
Babes in Arms screening. Framed by dazzling cinematography, The Aeronauts tells a story, based on true events, of a scientist and a hot air balloon pilot attempting to learn more about weather prediction. The two face the incredible dangers of flight together, not to mention the fatally low temperatures. Reuniting on the big screen after The Theory of Everything, Redmayne and Jones well portray the tension of early balloon flight.
Tue Jan 14 JUDY & PUNCH (15) (7.30pm)
2019 Aus 105min Dir: Mirrah Foulkes
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Damon Herriman, Benedict Hardie
The premise of a now rather frowned upon violent puppet show, that has been part of British culture since the time of Pepys, is reversed in this impressively conceived fairytale of a woman turning the tables on drunken aggression. Set in a fictitious, vaguely medieval period, the film is visually rich, but the rendition of the diabolically humorous tone is the stellar feature of Foulkes’ feature debut.
Thu Jan 16 THE AERONAUTS (PG)
As Jan 14 above.
Sat Jan 18 THE IRISHMAN (15) (1.30pm)
2019 US 209min Dir: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Martin Scorsese returns to the mafioso territory of Goodfellas and Casino with this epic tale of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a WWII veteran and hardened hitman. Mafia boss Russell Bufalino (Pesci) takes a shine to him, and is soon recommending him to Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) — but as time goes on, Frank finds he cannot reconcile working for both men. Using digital technology to de-age the three leads, the film is able to take the story across the decades. A masterful film.
Tue Jan 21 THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO (15) (7.30pm)
2019 US 121min Dir: Joe Talbot
Stars: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover
Recently nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards and Gotham Awards, The Last Black Man in San Francisco wowed audiences in early 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival, winning two top prizes. Exploring the effects of gentrification on low-income areas in the Bay area of San Francisco, director Joe Talbot weaves magical fantasy through dismal reality. Eye-opening and honest, this film will have a lasting effect, especially due to its relatability for a youthful audience. Writer and star Jimmie Fails plays a version of himself in this fascinating and semi-autobiographical tale.
Thu Jan 23 LA BELLE EPOQUE (15)
2019 Fr 115min (French with English subtitles) Dir: Nicolas Bedos
Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet, Doria Tillier, Fanny Ardant
Depressed by the pace of modern life and thrown out by his wife Marianne, Victor accepts an unusual gift: an innovative theatrical company will put him at the centre of any scene he imagines. Choosing to recreate his own past, Victor is transported to Lyon in 1974, where he first met Marianne, and is rejuvenated by his enthusiasm for the project — causing chaos for the bickering actors and directors at his beck and call. You’ll have to go back decades to find a funnier French movie than this wildly entertaining comedy-romance!
Mon Jan 27 THE BIRDCATCHER (15) (7.30pm)
2019 Nor/UK 100min Dir: Ross Clarke
Stars: August Diehl, Jakob Cedergren, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina
For Holocaust Memorial Day
In German-occupied Norway, Jewish teenager Esther is forced to flee into the countryside after her family is caught by Nazis. Collaborator’s son Aksel takes pity on her and offers her support and sanctuary as she hides her true identity, disguising herself as a boy. The gorgeous cinematography of the snowy countryside takes the centre stage in this piece based on a composite of real stories of Norwegians in World War II.
Tue Jan 28 BY THE GRACE OF GOD (15) (7.30pm)
2018 Fr 138min (French with English subtitles) Dir: François Ozon
Stars: Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet, Swann Arlaud
Based on a true story that is still ongoing, the film follows the journey of three men who were victims of abuse by the same Catholic priest. They work together to build a community with other victims and uncover a long history of cover ups within the church. A strong emotional film showing the impact on the lives of grown men of the betrayal of their youth.
Thu Jan 30 KNIVES OUT (12A)
2019 US 130min Dir: Rian Johnson
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas
Arlan Thrombey is a best-selling crime fiction author whose money has been keeping his extensive family very comfortably off. When he dies in mysterious circumstances, no one seems to have a motive. But an anonymously hired detective, Benoit Blanc, has his own thoughts on the crime — and methods to solve it. Rian Johnson has updated the Agatha Christie murder-mystery template to great effect with a top-notch cast.
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