Director Showcase – Shane Meadows
This weeks Director Showcase is being taken over by the much-loved Brit, Shane Meadows. Tom takes a look at this great director…
Born in Uttoxeter, just over twenty miles from my home town, Shane Meadows is a local legend who has created some of the most quintessential British movies of the past decade and has built up a solid fan base with his low budget dramas that usually focus on the working class and their struggles. Coming from a humble background himself, Meadows’ representation of the characters in his films is exceptionally accurate and the stories he tells often resonate with the viewers in a way that many directors can only dream of. For a director who will be reaching fourty this year, Meadows has had an outstanding career which has developed gradually over time and he continues to choose projects that interest him on a personal level and appears to be content working outside of the mainstream.
Although he recently took a hiatus from feature-length film-making to focus on the gritty TV drama This is England (which is itself a continuation of one his most successful films) he remains an important director who is not afraid to take a gamble on projects that most others would shy away from. Shane Meadows is a talent to be reckoned with and I sincerely hope that he continues to expand on what is already shaping up to be a very impressive filmography.
Dead Man’s Shoes
One of my all time favourite revenge thrillers, there really aren’t enough superlatives in the English language for me to describe how much I love this film. Paddy Considine is extremely intimidating as the veteran soldier who returns home to seek revenge on those who abused his mentally-handicapped brother in some of the most disturbing ways imaginable. Meadows’ fantastic direction ensures that key elements of the story are revealed gradually to culminate in a heart-stopping ending that pulls no punches. If you only ever watch one Shane Meadows film, then make sure it is Dead Man’s Shoes
This Is England
Meadow’s most successful film focuses on the life of a troubled young boy who finds companionship in a gang of local skinheads much to the frustration of his single mum. When the Neo-nazi ring leader of the gang returns from a stint in jail, things take a turn for the worse as Shaun attempts to prove his worth and loyalties are tested to breaking point. Its nostalgic look at Britain in the early eighties marks This is England as more than just another depressing kitchen sink drama, and Meadows as a director on par with the likes of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach
A Room For Romeo Brass
Dead Man’s Shoes and This is England get all the praise but A Room for Romeo Brass is a superb drama that hinges on the friendship of two pre-teen boys and the unhinged young man who comes between them. What starts out as an innocent relationship soon develops into something far more disturbing as the manipulative Morell takes his frustration out on the boys who initially look up to him but end up fearing him. Paddy Considine is incredible in his portrayal of Morell considering it is his acting début, and it is easy to see why Meadows continued to work with Considine as the pair consistently deliver engrossing films.
Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee – Criminally under-rated mockumentary that sees Paddy Considine teaming up with a rapper to support the Arctic Monkeys for a special one-off gig. Tinged in homages to Spinal Tap, it genuinely baffles me how this film has not got a larger cult following.
24:7 – Bob Hoskins stars in this gritty boxing drama as a trainer who resolves to get the local gang of kids off the streets and into the ring. Low budget film-making at its best, this would be an astonishing achievement for any film-maker, let alone a fresh-faced Meadows at the age of 25.
This Is England 86 + 88 – These TV dramas are just as harrowing as the film they follow and are equally compelling. The entire cast return and it is a genuine joy to see how the story unfolds as the years pass by.
Somers Town – Criticised by many who complained it was just one big advert for the Channel tunnel who bankrolled the film, Meadows still managed to fit a compelling story about friendship into a film that runs at just over an hour.
Films to Avoid:
Once Upon A Time In The Midlands – The only blip in Meadow’s career is not a complete wash out but it oozes mediocrity and lacks the impact of his other films. One for the die-hard fan only.
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Are you a fan of Mr Meadows? Do you find his work hard to swallow? Comment below…