Makes film-making look easy

Shane Meadows makes this whole filmmaking business look easy. How many directors could release a box set of four of their first five full-length features in which each film is extremely strong? How many directors have created two bona fide classics in that same time period?

His social dramas recall the work of Ken Loach or Mike Leigh but they’re never derivative. Whilst their essence is undoubtedly similar Meadows adds his own spin to proceedings, adding post-modern touches with a hint of the surreal and huge dashes of humour. It’s a device that allows these resolutely gritty topics to be infused with enough entertainment value to captivate an audience that wouldn’t necessarily be drawn into the whole kitchen sink genre.

Each of these films has a visual elegance rooted in simplicity, however, it’s the dramatic basics that make these films what they are; compelling stories, convincing characters and fine acting contributions.

It’s also encouraging to see that, chronologically, every film has seen Meadows progress. Romeo Brass adds a twist and some black humour to Twentyfourseven, DMS emphasises that dark side for intense extremity and TIE places that extremity in a more accessible format. It’s hard to see how Meadows can again rise above his last two features, but there’s plenty of indication that he hasn’t already reached a plateau and that should make his future work equally as essential for years to come. The box also features a host of bonus material including the Northern Soul and Three Tears For Jimmy Prophet shorts, a director’s diary for Romeo Brass and a documentary following Meadows around the launch of DMS.

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