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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Classic Film Club: 'Raining Stones' (1993)



    British critics have an odd relationship with Ken Loach: while he's universally beloved on the continent, the home crowd seem to view his films as a little too stark and uncinematic, a little too close to TV (notwithstanding the occasional breakout hit like �The Wind That Shakes the Barley�). Whereas the defiantly chirpy (and frankly inferior) Mike Leigh is treated as a national treasure, Loach trundles on regardless, telling stories both grim and heartfelt, personal and political, bleak and, on occasion, brilliant. With his minuscule budgets, clockwork regularity, particular obsessions and black-rimmed glasses, perhaps Loach should be viewed as the closest thing we have to our own Woody Allen, albeit informed by John Grierson and Karl Marx rather than Ingmar Bergman and Groucho. And if this is the case, �Raining Stones� is surely his �Crimes and Misdemeanours�: dark, witty, intensely felt, bitterly nostalgic, frequently shocking and morally rigorous.



    The film centres on Bob � played by Bruce Jones (Les Battersby in 'Corrie� ) � a browbeaten, working-class dad struggling to raise money for his daughter�s communion dress, and taking part in various quick-cash schemes cooked up by his sad-sack sidekick Tommy (Ricky Tomlinson). The first act verges on comedy, as the pair attempt to steal a sheep, then get involved in turf-robbing from the local Conservative Club bowling green. But there�s a constant sense of impending threat, partly engendered by the harsh industrial/suburban coldness of Loach�s landscape, and partly by the deepening look of worry on Jones�s face as Bob's situation becomes increasingly desperate.



    Loach loads the film up with his customary political and sociological preoccupations: the character of Jimmy (Mike Fallon), Bob�s brother-in-law and a jobs counsellor down at the local advice bureau, stands for the reliability of the old socialist left. He�s contrasted with Tom Hickey�s Father Barry, a kindly, pragmatic priest whose clear affection for Bob doesn�t prevent him from exploiting the younger man�s good nature. These two men never speak � they barely share screen time � but it�s in the equal and opposing pressures they exert on Bob (and, by extension, Loach) that their conflict is made real. Its hard to say precisely whose side Loach is on: Father Barry is the more sympathetic character, but he�s also very much the puppet of an uncaring, money-making Catholic hierarchy; while Jimmy may have his political patter down, but he can�t tend to Bob�s emotional or spiritual needs.



    If this preoccupation with the struggle between earthly and spiritual concerns already strongly echoes �Crimes and Misdemeanours�, the final act makes the comparison unmistakable; though, ironically, Loach is much softer on his characters than Allen is. Where Woody had his Judah intentionally hiring a man to assassinate a woman he had, until recently, been in love with, Loach�s Bob is forced into accidental homicide by the utterly unforgivable and devastating actions of a local loan shark. But the conclusions each film reaches are remarkably similar: each deals with criminal acts, and consequent acts of self-forgiveness, filtered through ideas of religious guilt and moral certitude versus hard reality and universal impassivity.



    Fusing weighty themes with Loach�s usual hyperrealistic, almost soap-opera aesthetic, �Raining Stones� is arguably the director�s strongest film. Witty and beautifully observed, it�s also brave and psychologically challenging without ever alienating its audience. As a portrait of man�s eternal struggle towards the light, it manages to be simultaneously sympathetic, elegiac and inspirational; as a portrait of British working-class life, it deserves to be shown in schools.

  2. #2
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    This is my favourite Loach film and moves in so many directions, it is so poignant too, as are all Loach�s films. The relationship between Bob & Tommy is one that was duplicated in the area in which I lived as a young child, and I can empathise with the many emotions that are expressed by Bob and his journey in trying to get that dress for his loving daughter. Sometimes I feel that religion has a lot to answer for, but also very comforting.

  3. #3
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    You know, I'd almost forgotten about this film...what am amazing slice of life, of the type that only Ken Loach seems to be able to accurately portray. Terrific writing, terrific performances, a gritty realism which adds that most important dimension - truth - to the piece...brilliant. It should be enforced viewing for every film student!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Great film, superb acting,wonderful

  5. #5
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    Ken Loach is easily one of my favourite directors.

    I was presented with an award by him a few years back, and I found both him and his wife, very easy to talk with, and yet both charming and humble at the same time.

    He is clearly very talented IMHO, but modest about his work, and was even surprised that I had heard of Cathy come home, let alone that I had watched it, and thought it was excellent.

  6. #6
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    Terrific film - gritty, realistic, permeated by a sense of desperation which is all too real for anyone who's ever been in the unfortunate position of needing money desperately - top notch in my opinion

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Ireland jimw1's Avatar
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    The wind that Shakes the Barley was probably the first "war film" that I have seen that did not over step the mark in terms of taking sides.

    It was extremely objective and a credit to Ken Loach for the accuracy of his research and the depiction of the times.

    Showing the Catholic Church in its True light' supporting the aggressors and Hiding behind the Papal Wealth

    A masterpiece of film making and a credit to the superb cast, particularly Murphy and Cunningham. I would rate it 9/10 But being Originally From Ireland and Growing up with the History of it all on my doorstep.....it perhaps Interests me more than Others.........

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    I love Raining Stones, but I don't see why Loach so often gets praised at the cost of Mike Leigh - they're not doing the same thing - except being unashamedly leftie. Yes, Leigh may be lighter (notwithstanding works like Naked) but that doesn't make his work less valid, does it? If I had to choose, I might choose Loach, but I might not - if I chose Leigh I wouldn't have to sit through poor (well-meaning but poor) stuff like Bread and Roses again.

    Luckily we don't have to choose ... so why do so many critics seem to think we do?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK mulberrybushfilmfan's Avatar
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    Watched this for the first time last night on film4 and thought it was very good. Even Bruce jones acting was ok because normally he is quite wooden. Cheers!

  10. #10
    Junior Member Country: England
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    i agree with all the previous comments but have to add that the loan shark in this film is one of the scariest characters ever .

  11. #11
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    Hey Comeon Bruce Jones was superb In this movie, I like him a lot

  12. #12
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    I really love Raining Stones, with the lead role brilliantly played by Bruce Jones (shame he hasn't really done a great deal since Les Battersby). I like Bruce as well, he was also good in the Shane Meadows film Twenty Four Seven.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK mulberrybushfilmfan's Avatar
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    Thats what i said - he was quite good in this unlike some performances i have seen him do! Cheers!

  14. #14
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    Shame he's only made one film ('Soul Boy') since his days as Les Battersby. He played another lead in a movie called 'Bob's Weekend' (1996 I think), that's something I've always intended to buy on DVD but haven't yet.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: England
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    Quote Originally Posted by Browny62 View Post
    i agree with all the previous comments but have to add that the loan shark in this film is one of the scariest characters ever .

    I second that!

    When I saw this film at the cinema, while that scene played out I felt myself being pinned back in my seat in terror...reminded me of being a kid hiding behind the sofa while watching a scary movie.

    I think it was the combination of the real-life setting that I could relate to (coming from a depressed town in the North), and the way the actor playing Tanzi just completely took control as soon as he walked in the room. I think it was also the possibility and potential of what he might have done or was capable of doing than any physical act, of which there was none anyway. But the thought of him harming the mother and child, cutting her fingers off for the rings etc was indeed a scary thought.

    I had read somewhere that Jonathan James who played Tansey was actually a local stand-up comedian.

  16. #16
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    For me, the scene where Ricky Tomlinson's daughter gives him �5 and leaves him choking back tears of shame is unbearably moving.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: UK mulberrybushfilmfan's Avatar
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    Kezzy, it's that scene which won him the royle family role. Cheers.

  18. #18
    Junior Member Country: Great Britain Maroona's Avatar
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    That movie gives a very good and lasting impression and maybe even acts as a remedy in some difficult life situations. Ken Loach is one of the most amazing British directors which deals with "social cinema". So i can't wait to watch his new movie "I, Daniel Blake" (watch the trailer - it's great! http://putlockers.video/489-i-daniel-blake-2016.html ))

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