SMALL TIME


Dir. Shane Meadows. UK. 1997.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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Emai


 
'This ain't London, it's not even f***ing Nottingham. It is Sneanton.'

A voiceover from Shane Meadows that serves as a statement of intent and purpose.  A voiceover to rival Ewan McGregor's in 'Trainspotting' - Meadows' first feature film 'Small Time' gets a DVD release from the BFI today and following on from the success of his television debut, 'This is England '86' it serves as a timely reminder of how a young talent was cultivated and developed.

Full of humour, sight gags, funny characters but with an underlying dark context it reminds of what is achievable when you mix talent with patience and with proper financial backing.

With more than a touch of naturalism or 'fly-on-the-wall' about it due to the energetic handheld camerawork and location shooting, Meadows is able to weave in his typical inclination for eccentric characters; the movie also serves as a time capsule for the moment (the women dropping in Power Rangers and Nintendo into a conversation) and the dress code of shellsuits and mad hair from the BritPop era.

The accomplishment of the film must be admired as it does smack of improvisation coupled with a sheer frenzy of guerilla movie-making but something that is better than it appears; it looks cheap in its production but the riches are in the layers; the ingenious comic dialogue, the acting (from professionals and unknown actors) and the direction.

Meadows has always been his own voice, never leaving his East Midlands homestead for the money and comfort of London; he is his own director and along with Danny Boyle the closest thing Britain has to an auteur from their generation.  His authorial fingerprint of gritty realism with a flash of whimsical sensibilites are heralded here and serve notice of what else was to come from his formidable filmography.

The DVD includes the extras of 'Where's the Money Ronnie!' Meadows short film homage to Akira Kursosawa's 'Rashomon', where four suspects give differing versions of a robbery. Also film notes and credits for both films.

SMALL TIME is released by BFI on DVD from 11 October for £12.99 RRP. Available from www.bfi.org.uk/filmstore
Jamie Garwood

 
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