Socialist Worker

Four dynamite films to make you laugh, cry or dance released on DVD

by Kelly Hilditch
Issue No. 1949

Vera Drake
Directed by Mike Leigh

Directed by Robert Bresson

Napoleon Dynamite
Directed by Jared Hess

Inside I’m Dancing
Directed by Damien O’Donnell

There are some really great films coming out on DVD this week. So if you missed any of these at the cinema I would definitely recommend seeing them now.

Vera Drake is Mike Leigh’s brilliant portrayal of life in Britain after the Second World War. The film uses greys and muted colour to great effect in recreating the feel of post-war London poverty.

Imelda Staunton gives an utterly believable performance as Vera Drake, the woman who “helps out” girls in trouble by performing abortions. And that’s how she sees it — in the same way that she helps other people in the community, with a cup of tea and a little sympathy.

This is a timely look at the reality of life for working class women when abortion was illegal. It takes a good long look at the subject without sensationalising it. As one of the characters in the film puts it, “If you can’t feed them, you can’t love them.”

Inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic Russian novel Crime and Punishment, Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket has been re-released. Filmed in 1959 it tells the story of Michel, played by Martin LaSalle. He is a young thief who is caught one afternoon, breaking his dying mother’s heart and shocking his friends.

The police inspector is unable to prosecute him, but the implications nonetheless sour Michel’s once firm social standing. It is a beautiful film which looks at notions of acceptance.

On a completely different track is Jared Hess’s directing debut, Napoleon Dynamite, a film which also looks at a man who is unable to fit into society. It is a very funny film that paints a sharp picture of small town America.

It’s also worth looking out for Damien O’Donnell’s Inside I’m Dancing. It follows two disabled Dubliners on their quest for independence.

Michael has cerebral palsy and has spent all his life in residential care. When new resident Rory arrives they become friends and manage to convince the authorities to give them a living allowance.

Funny and very real, this film looks at the way society treats people with disabilities.

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Article information

Sat 30 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1949
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