Directors: Ken Loach


BIOGRAPHY (from Wikipedia)

Kenneth Charles Loach (born 17 June 1936) is an English filmmaker. His socially critical directing style and socialist ideals are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as poverty (Poor Cow, 1967, and I, Daniel Blake, 2016), homelessness (Cathy Come Home, 1966), and labour rights (Riff-Raff, 1991, and The Navigators, 2001).

Loach’s film Kes (1969) was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. Two of his films, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and I, Daniel Blake (2016), received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the ninth filmmaker to win the award twice.

 

 


DIRECTOGRAPHY 

CINEMA TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY
Poor Cow (1967)

Kes (1969)

Family Life (1971)

Black Jack (1979)

Looks and Smiles (1981)

Fatherland (1986)

Hidden Agenda (1990)

Riff-Raff (1991)

Raining Stones (1993)

Ladybird, Ladybird (1994)

Land and Freedom (1995)

Carla’s Song (1996)

My Name Is Joe (1998)

Bread and Roses (2000)

The Navigators (2001)

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

Ae Fond Kiss… (2004)

Tickets (2005), along with Ermanno Olmi and Abbas Kiarostami

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

It’s a Free World… (2007)

Looking for Eric (2009)

Route Irish (2010)

The Angels’ Share (2012)

Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Sorry We Missed You (2019)

Catherine (“Teletale”, 1964)

Z-Cars (series episodes, 1964)

Diary of a Young Man (series, 1964)

The Wednesday Play:

  • Tap on the Shoulder (1965)
  • Wear a Very Big Hat (1965)
  • Three Clear Sundays (1965)
  • Up the Junction (1965)
  • The End of Arthur’s Marriage (1965)
  • The Coming Out Party (1965)
  • Cathy Come Home (1966)
  • In Two Minds (1967)
  • The Golden Vision (1968)
  • The Big Flame (1969)
  • The Rank and File (Play for Today, 1971)

After a Lifetime (“Sunday Night Theatre”, 1971)

A Misfortune (“Full House”, 1973)

Days of Hope (serial, 1975)

The Price of Coal (1977)

The Gamekeeper (1980)

Auditions (1980)

A Question of Leadership (1981)

The Red and the Blue: Impressions of Two Political Conferences – Autumn 1982 (1983)

Questions of Leadership (1983/4, untransmitted)

Which Side Are You On? (1985)

End of the Battle… Not the End of the War (“Diverse Reports”, 1985)

Time to Go (“Split Screen”, 1989)

The View From the Woodpile (1989)

The Arthur Legend (“Dispatches”, 1991)

The Flickering Flame (1996)

Another City: A Week in the Life of Bath’s Football Club (1998)

The Save the Children Fund Film (1971)

Time to go (1989)

A Contemporary Case for Common Ownership (1995)

The Flickering Flame (1997)

McLibel (2005)

The Spirit of ’45 (2013)

 


Reviews

Total MovieViews Found: 27, showing 30 per page
PosterMovieYearCommentsRatingReviewer
Cathy Come Home 1966 A fascinating and horrifying slice of real life in the 1960s as a young couple fall fowl of the welfare state and slip into homelessness. Rightly heralded as a classic of British film-making.. 4.5 Gordon
Poor Cow 1967 Told in a documentary style, Ken Loach's debut film tells the story of a poor single mum in 60s London. Less moralistic than his later outings, but just as clear a social commentary as everything else that followed. 3.5 Gordon
Kes 1969 A poor working class boy escapes the misery in his life when he starts to train a Kestrel. Almost 50 years old and still an almost perfect film. Ken Loach is still going strong, but Kes will be hard to beat as his best and most loved picture. 5 Gordon
Family Life 1971 Overbearing parents and a forced abortion push a fragile girl to the edge. in a portrait of mental health in the 1970s. Ken Loach has crafted a drama that is far more terrifying than any horror film the period had to offer. 5 Gordon
Black Jack 1979 Despite being ostensibly a children's tale about a young boy in the 1700s who meets an unusually big and strong French man and a runaway girl from an institution, it bears all the social and political hallmarks of a Ken Loach film. Low budget, big heart. 3 Gordon
Looks and Smiles 1981 Loach takes another swipe at Thatcher's Britain and the hopelessness of youth. Based on the novel by Kes author Barry Hines, it is a great window into early 80s life though doesn't quite grip you . 3.5 Gordon
Fatherland 1986 Despite Loach saying this was 'a mess of a film', the tale of a protest singer exiled from East Germany and his experience of the West is both intriguing and interesting whilst engaging debates on capitalism, socialism and history. 4 Gordon
Hidden Agenda 1990 When a human rights activist is killed in Northern Ireland, the senior policeman leading the investigation stumbles on a bigger story about illegal interference in the UK election. An intriguing if not entirely thrilling conspiracy drama. 3.5 Gordon
Riff-Raff 1991 The story of a Scottish labourer and an aspiring Irish singer, it has all the hallmarks of a Ken Loach social commentary, but unfortunately the plot falls a little flat. Ricky Tomlinson is great in a supporting role. 3 Gordon
Raining Stones 1993 Bruce Jones gives a career best performance as an unemployed man desperate to find the money for his daughter's holy communion dress. Ricky Tomlinson is once again great in a supporting role as Ken Loach continues his exploration of British poverty. 4 Gordon
Ladybird Ladybird 1994 This tale of a mother looking for redemption after her children are taken into care is possibly the most harrowing film I have ever seen. With amazing performances including a very scary Ray Winstone, this is a wonderful though quite depressing film. 4.5 Gordon
Land and Freedom 1995 A superb look at the Spanish socialist uprising of 1936, as an Englishman joins an international militia in its fight against Franco's fascists. Perfectly captures the pain of war and why the good guys don't always win. 4.5 Gordon
Carla's Song 1996 When a Scottish bus driver falls for a Nicaraguan woman, he travels to her homeland to help her find her family. Out of his depth, he finds the true horror of war but also the warmth and generosity of the Nicaraguan people. 3.5 Gordon
My Name is Joe 1998 A recovering alcoholic struggles to balance a new relationship with life in the schemes of Glasgow. A superb performance from Paul Mullan shines through the gloom of poverty. 4 Gordon
Looking for Eric 2000 When a failing father sees his and his family's life fall apart, he enlists the help of his imaginary friend Eric Cantona. A wonderful tale or returning from the brink. 4 Gordon
Bread and Roses 2000 Loach and Laverty take their social commentary to LA with moderate success. The plight of low paid and mainly immigrant cleaners fight for the right to unionise is compelling, but the screenplay is lacking until its conclusion. 3 Gordon
The Navigators 2001 Five Yorkshire rail-workers try to keep their head above water following the collapse of Railtrack and subsequent split into various private enterprises. Another funny and though provoking film that highlights the plight of many in the industry. 4 Gordon
Sweet Sixteen 2002 A 15 year old boy risks his future to try and provide a new home for his mother when she comes out of prison. Typically gritty and realistic drama from the master Ken Loach. 3.5 Gordon
Ae Fond Kiss 2004 A heartfelt tale of a Glaswegian Muslim man and an Irish Catholic woman who must upset their families and their faiths when they fall in love. Ahmad Riaz is great as the gentle but traditional patriarch. 4 Gordon
Tickets 2005 Interconnected stories from three acclaimed directors showcase passengers on a train. An ageing professor in love with a colleague, a bullied ex-soldier and three Celtic fans on their way to a game. The third segment from Ken Loach is by far the best. 3.5 Gordon
The Wind That Shakes The Barley 2006 Cillian Murphy is great as a member of the Irish Republican Army fighting for freedom from British rule. With echoes of Land and Freedom, the dialogue is even more gripping than the action. 4 Gordon
It's a Free World... 2007 In one of Paul Laverty's best screenplays, a single mother starts her own recruitment agency after being fired, but soon starts to abuse the migrant workers to stay ahead. 4.5 Gordon
Route Irish 2010 After his best friend is killed in Iraq, a man searches for answers to what really happened. A fantastic look at private security contractors and the life they sign up for, both abroad and at home. 4 Gordon
The Angel's Share 2012 It is unusual to call a Ken Loach movie 'feel-good', but that is exactly what this is as a group of youths on community service hatch a plot to steal some very expensive whiskey. It still has the grit and squalor, but smothered in humour and fun. 4 Gordon
Jimmy's Hall 2014 After 10 years of exile in America, Jimmy Gralton returns to Ireland and must once again fight the 'masters and the pastors' to protect the rights of ordinary poor Irishmen. Typically heartfelt and beautifully staged and shot. 4 Gordon
I, Daniel Blake 2016 Will make you laugh, cry and rage about the hypocrisy and bureaucracy of the welfare state as a man who is too unwell to work finds he is not entitled to incapacity benefits and a young mother struggles to provide for her kids. 4.5 Gordon
Sorry We Missed You 2019 Another depressing slice of real Britain in Ken Loach's indictment of the zero hour and gig economies. Not as powerful as I, Daniel Blake but still carries a punch. 3.5 Gordon

The Verdict

  • Cathy Come Home
  • Poor Cow
  • Kes
  • Family Life
  • Black Jack
  • Looks and Smiles
  • Fatherland
  • Hidden Agenda
  • Riff-Raff
  • Raining Stones
  • Ladybird Ladybird
  • Land and Freedom
  • Carla's Song
  • My Name is Joe
  • Bread and Roses
  • The Navigators
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Ae Fond Kiss
  • Tickets (Ken Loach segment only)
  • The Wind That Shakes The Barley
  • It's a Free World...
  • Looking for Eric
  • Route Irish
  • The Angel's Share
  • Jimmy's Hall
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Sorry We Missed You
3.9

Summary

Whilst it is likely that your political leanings will affect how highly you regard Ken Loach’s work, it is clear that he is one of the all time greats of British film-making. With over 50 years of output that explores a century of social struggles across not just Britain but also Ireland, Nicaragua, America and Eastern Europe, Loach has certainly made a name for himself as a protest film maker. His work with regular collaborator Paul Laverty shows the versatility of both men and the ability to find real humour in even the most depressing of situations.

Despite reversing his previous threats of retirement whenever a new Tory government gets voted in, Ken Loach is at the time of writing 84 years old and although released both ‘I, Daniel Blake’ and ‘Sorry We Missed You’ in his eighties, it is unlikely we will see him helm another feature. If this is the case it will be a terrible shame for the industry, but his back catalogue will shine strong for many, many more years to come.

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DIRECTORS LEAGUE

This page will be updated as we watch more Ken Loach films and therefore his overall rating will change over time. You can see where {name} sits in the Directors League here.

 

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