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Tribeca Film Fest! A Glowing Review Of THIS IS ENGLAND!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. The last of our three Tribeca reviews today is for a film that I am just about rabid to see at this point. Shane Meadows is a great filmmaker who seems to be getting better with every film now, and if this is as good as I’ve been hearing, I’m really looking forward to it.

Hey Harry, I'm a longtime reader of the site and I've always meant to write a review. I see a lot of advanced screenings because i'm an NYU film student, but I'm usually too busy/lazy to submit anything. however, i saw This is England at Tribeca today and since I've read some advance press about it on the site I though you guys might be interested. So I'm sending you my take on the film; hope you enjoy it. If you use it, call me blueruinelf. So this afternoon I went to a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival of This is England, written and directed by Shane Meadows. Now, I bought a ticket to this screening because the title caught my eye (I’m a self-professed Anglophile) and the premise sounded interesting. I've also always been interested in the Eighties since i was born at the tail end of the decade. Then I went on Ain’t It Cool and noticed some positive buzz so I got really psyched for the film I wasn’t disappointed. I encourage EVERYONE who gets chance to go out and see this film (apparently it’s due for an American release sometime in July. It’s a very powerful film, both poignant and disturbing. Shane Meadows was there along with one of the actors, Andrew Shim, who played Milky, the only black member of the gang. Meadows explained that most of the events that took place in the film were based on stuff that happened to him growing up—he did fall in with a gang of skinheads at age 11, and he attended a few Nationalist movement meetings as well. He explained that his goal in making this film was to shed light on a part of English history that seemed to have been whitewashed over. And yet so many of the issues in this film were very relevant to the current topics of controversy in America—immigration and an unwanted war. I don’t want to provide too many spoilers and ruin the film, but it follows the story of Shaun, a young boy whose father died in the war. He gets picked on in school and fights back against kids twice his size. After school one day he meets Woody and his gang of skinheads, all around age 20. Woody feels pity for Shaun, dresses him up like a miniature skinhead—complete with the shaved head—and embraces him as a younger brother. When Woody’s old friend Combo gets out of jail he begins preaching racist propaganda against the immigrant population of England, which appeals to Shaun because of Combo’s charisma and also because of the death of his father in the war Combo claims as being “all for nothing.” Whereas Woody was like a brother to Shaun, Combo acts as a replacement father figure and begins personally grooming him to be part of the English Nationalist movement. Actor Stephen Graham plays Combo with such intensity and persuasion; when he gives the speech that quotes the title of the film I got goosebumps. Everything Combo says is repulsive due to the racist message, and yet he has the magic of a natural speaker, which makes him all the more frightening. The movie from there follows Shaun’s adventures with Combo and his small gang as they commit various small crimes against the people they call “dirty Pakis.” The climactic argument between Combo and Milky, during which Combo attacks Milky as a black man, was traumatizing, sad and featured riveting performance from both Graham and Shim. However, the true star of the film in every sense of the word is Thomas Turgoose, who plays Shaun. Apparently Meadows found him gambling in an arcade (at age 11), but his performance is very brave and convincing for an untrained actor. He is smart and witty and brave and sarcastic; I particularly enjoyed the scene when he tells his mother that he got picked on three times in one day just because of his flared trousers (it’s funnier than it sounds, trust me). It’s one of the best performances I have seen from a younger actor. The rest of the performances were strong as well. Meadows mixes old news footage form the Eighties into the film, particularly during the opening credits sequence, which I though worked very well in setting the tone. The soundtrack rocked, both the musical score and the pop songs used. Apparently it’s already available on Amazon UK, so people should check that out as well. Overall, the film is an eye-opening look at an intriguing time in European history. I had never even heard of Shane Meadows until this film, but I have a feeling from here his star will rise quickly. I would give it four out of four stars, no questions asked.
Readers Talkback
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  • May 7, 2007, 5:49 a.m. CST

    first

    by RokurGepta

    first

  • May 7, 2007, 7:13 a.m. CST

    Can't wait for this film.

    by Jakes Nel

    If it's anything near as good as Dead Man's Shoes....

  • May 7, 2007, 8:24 p.m. CST

    It's great - go see brilliant movie..!

    by workshed

    I've seen it three times now and it just gets better with each viewing. You will not be disappointed and Stephen Graham is blinding from start to finish.

  • May 8, 2007, 1:53 a.m. CST

    This is madness! ---- Madness?

    by Evil Hobbit

    THIS - IS - ENGLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND!!!!!

  • May 8, 2007, 5:45 a.m. CST

    Sounds fantastic!!

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    I will be watching this!

  • May 8, 2007, 7:16 a.m. CST

    skinheads and the media

    by pubcrawler13

    I've heard nothing but great things about this film and I'm really looking forward to seeing it, but I'm concerned about the fact that it seems to be the latest in a series of movies to portray skinheads as nothing but racist assholes. I know that I'll probably get questioned on this and have to defend it, but what the vast majority of people don't realize - mainly due to media portrayals such as these - is that "skinhead" is just another music-based subculture of the punk rock scene, and that the vast majority of skinheads are strongly anti-racist. Granted, most tend to have slightly conservative leanings politically speaking, but most - those who know the history of the scene and its roots in the ska/reggae/mod scene - hate racism with a passion. Of course, having said that, I do know that the film is set in England during the 80's when groups like the NF and others were recruiting a bunch of young toughguys and turning them into the kind of people seen here, but you also have to remember that the 80's were the heyday of the 2tone era and the time when skinheads started having to truly fight to disassociate themselves from this sort of blanket generalization. Anyway, don't want to preach about a subject on which most people's opinion won't change, but anyone who wants to know a little bit more about what the ska/punk/skinhead scene is really like is more than welcome to ask. Regardless, this film looks great and I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

  • May 8, 2007, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Re: pubcrawler13

    by terrytips

    I think you'll be pleasently surprised at how this film does portray skin heads as normal people, and one of its major themes is the rivallry between the racists and those brave enough to walk away.

  • May 8, 2007, 8:06 a.m. CST

    the war

    by gord

    That'll be the 1982 Falkland War against Argentina, he's talking about. Dead Man Walking was great, although dark it had one of the funniest scenes with the bunch of bad boy gangsters piled into a CV. Fab. Everyone says this is great, although as i understand it the film does not purely "portray skinheads as nothing but racist assholes" it shows them as they were at the beginning - a multi racial group that was not about nationlist politics.

  • May 8, 2007, 9:12 a.m. CST

    "Dead Man Walking was great"

    by Jakes Nel

    So was Dead Man's Shoes, gord ol' buddy.

  • May 8, 2007, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Thanks, Terry & Gord

    by pubcrawler13

    Thanks for the heads-up guys... I guess I misinterpreted the tone of the review and jumped to a premature conclusion. I'm really glad to hear it, and look forward to seeing this now even more than I was previously.

  • May 8, 2007, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Plant!!

    by DylanDenham

    Nah just kidding, and im glad to see films such as this getting so much +ve feedback on an American site. Films like Meantime, Nil By Mouth n other 'hard-hitting' brit films seem to get buried EVERYWHERE, which is presumably ppl like Ray Winstone take parts of Jack Nicholson's lackey when he cuda been that part! Just a teeny bit gutted Considine wasn't in this